So, you’re planning to go vegan. That's awesome! Going vegan is one of the most planet-friendly actions you can take.
Transitioning to veganism can be a little scary due to the social, nutritional, and lifestyle obstacles one has to navigate. The purpose of this article is to help you sail smoothly over these obstacles. Going vegan offers a bunch of not-to-be-missed adventures, and being a vegan will be an ongoing source of pride for the rest of your life.
Here are 8 tips to keep in mind when going vegan.
1. Understand the why
Keep in mind your reasons for going vegan. There’s a long list of amazing reasons to choose from. As Jack Norris and Virginia Messina, authors of Vegan for Life: Everything you need to know to be healthy on a plant-based diet, put it, “A vegan diet is the world’s most simple solution to a host of complex problems.” Of course, different reasons for being vegan resonate more strongly with different people. Reasons include improved physical health, cognitive wellbeing, helping to solve world hunger, spirituality, environmental protection, and climate change, kindness to our fellow animals, working conditions for the people in factory farms and slaughterhouses, and enhanced empathy. Yet another reason has recently been added to many people’s lists for why to go vegan: eating animals leads to pandemics. The recent pandemic has raised awareness of the role that animal-based diets play in creating the perfect conditions for the development and spread of zoonotic diseases like COVID-19.
2. Don’t walk alone
Any new habit is easier to implement when we do it together. Fortunately, many communities – in-person and virtual – offer support for new vegans. These communities include social media, activist groups, YouTube channels, and Meetup groups. You can even start exploring abillionveg, if you haven't already! Explore until you find one or more that seem to fit your style. Or you may like to work things out for yourself, lurk to see what others are doing, and look inward for support. Whatever works for you.
3. Communicate with your loved ones
Why you’re going vegan may be clear to you, but your loved ones may be skeptical. Starting with the why, the arguments for being vegan seem to constitute an urgent and air-tight case, and some – but not most – vegans are successful in bringing family and friends on board with their ideas. For family and friends who aren't coming to terms with your decision, communicating by example may be the best method, rather than engaging in long, unproductive arguments.
4. Communicate your needs clearly
Many, who are unfamiliar with veganism may be confused by what vegans can and can't eat. We really can’t blame them with so many other terms out there, including vegetarian, pescatarian, pure vegetarian, vegan friendly, plant-based, and plant-forward. Thus, at eateries and stores, be prepared to patiently, clearly, and perhaps multilingually communicate what vegan means and – who knows – maybe you can also explain the Why and win someone over.
Going vegan opens the door to experiment with so many new food experiences, especially these days when mouth-watering vegan options are popping up in so many eateries and stores, both brick and mortar and online. In addition to new foods, vegan choices can also be found among traditional cuisines that have been around for thousands of years, including Mexican, Chinese, Thai, Middle Eastern, Polish, and Ethiopian cuisines.
While it’s convenient to enjoy food prepared by others, perhaps the most satisfying food experiments will be those you conduct in your own kitchen. The beauty of cooking for yourself is that it gives you total control over what goes into your dishes. For example, lots of prepared foods are loaded with SOS (Salt, Oil, and Sugar) and other ingredients you may wish to avoid.
6. Be easy on yourself
Doing something new can be tricky, as there’s likely to be a learning curve. Plus, trying to do anything new at a level of 100% perfection can be super tricky. For instance, the world of food is loaded with hidden ingredients. One example of these land mines is the food additives classified with e-numbers, as the same e-number can have both plant-based and animal-based versions. Similarly, some beers are vegan, but other beers use fish-based ingredients in the brewing process, but you won’t find anything about that on the label. So, if you mess up sometimes, and consume something that isn’t 100% vegan, just smile and keep on keepin’ on. In other words, don’t sweat the small stuff.
7. Keep the Big Picture in Mind
Plant-based nutrition is a fascinating area, with new studies being published every day and lots of reputable, frequently updated information sources, such as nutritionfacts.org, veganhealth.org, and vegansociety.com. Remember: as the authors of Vegan For Life state, “A vegan diet isn’t difficult; it’s just a different way of meeting nutritional needs.” But, as you know, health is much more than nutrition. We need to pay attention to the big picture, which also includes exercise, rest, stress level, and social support.