If you’re reading this, you’re halfway there: you’re interested! Going vegan isn’t as hard as it might sound. All it takes is some adapting, some learning and some willingness to try out new things.
Find your why
There are three main reasons for which people usually go vegan: animal rights, the environment and health. Once you become vegan, it’s probable that you’ll feel like you’re vegan for all of them, and that’s great! But initially, you were most probably drawn to this lifestyle either because of your respect for other species (you don’t want to contribute to animal suffering and slaughter anymore), your concern for the environment (animal agriculture is terrible for our planet) or your desire to lead a healthier lifestyle (a varied vegan diet is much healthier than the standard diet with lots of animal products).
Go slowly if needed
There are people who watch a documentary or two or read about some of the benefits of veganism and then stop consuming all animal products overnight. There, however, aren’t many of them, and if you’re not among them, you have every right to go at your own pace. Try having vegan breakfasts the first week, then add some vegan lunches the second week. Eventually, try to have one full vegan day per week, then two, then three …
Don’t beat yourself up when you fail
It’s probable that you’ll eat something non-vegan accidentally or out of politeness at some point. Perhaps you’ll even be unable to resist a certain type of food. Don’t be angry at yourself and don’t give up. This is completely normal, and all you can do about it is to eat vegan at your next meal.
Find alternatives for your favourite foods
When you first go vegan, you’ll find yourself missing the things you used to eat every day or as a treat. Even if your final goal is to mostly eat healthy and minimally processed vegan food, you should definitely try out cheese, milk and meat alternatives if you wish to do so. You should also allow yourself some occasional treats, such as vegan ice cream, cake or chocolate.
Learn how to cook vegan food
The first few months on a vegan lifestyle can be confusing and stressful but at the same time interesting and adventurous. Not only that you’ll be trying out new foods and brands, but you’ll also have to learn how to cook some new dishes and veganise your favourite old ones. YouTube and Instagram are full of recipes, there are countless vegan blogs out there, as well as many wonderful cookbooks. Start exploring and surprise your family and friends with yummy meals!
Keep educating yourself
It’s important that you keep learning about the plant-based lifestyle because this will remind you of your why. Try to find some vegan friends by joining your local activist group or a cooking club, whatever is your thing. Follow vegan bloggers, doctors and athletes because it’ll make you feel less alone in this and more informed.
Don’t forget to take B12
B12 is made by bacteria and can be found in bacteria-laden manure and unsanitised water (which we obviously don’t consume). Many animal foods contain high amounts of vitamin B12 because the animals accumulate it during their lives and are often supplemented with vitamin B12 in their feed. Because vegans don’t consume any animal products, they must take a B12 supplement (in the form of pills, a spray or fortified foods).
Be patient with your family and friends
People close to you will most likely find your change of diet hard to understand at the beginning. They’ll think it’s unhealthy or even dangerous, even though the primary reason for people’s dislike of veganism is usually the fact that it makes them feel bad about themselves. Nobody likes to feel like they are not doing enough for other beings, the planet and their health. The thought can be pushed away as long as they see vegans as hippies or extreme, but when their friend, partner or family member goes vegan, it really makes them think. Explain your reasons, but don’t fight with them; they’ll get used to it eventually.
Useful documentaries to watch
- Forks over Knives
- What the Health
- The Game Changers
Useful books to read
- The China Study
- Skinny Bitch
- The Starch Solution
- Vegan for Life
- The Kind Diet
- That’s Why I Don’t Eat Animals