9 Tips for Beginner Vegans
So it’s basically January and you’ve probably got veganism on your resolutions list if you’re reading this. Maybe you’ve decided to try it out for a whole year. Maybe you are just joining Veganuary. Or maybe you haven’t pulled the trigger yet but want to know more about the how to’s of it.
Well, I’m definitely not an expert on veganism, but as I am a year and eight months past the beginning, I think I might have a good enough understanding on the beginning stage.
Here are some tips for beginner vegans:
1. Know your why – do you research. Why are you making the step? Is it for the animals? For the environment? For your health? It doesn’t matter as long as you know exactly what it is! It will help you with the criticism, with your own doubts, with shopping and declutter decisions… There are plenty of resources out there to help you on your journey and the more you get stuck, the more interesting it gets!
2. Be prepared – either by always having a snack in your pocket or researching the restaurants in the area just make sure you’re a step ahead. I would advise a NAKD bar and the Happy Cow app. It will be just a short transition period before you get into the habit. After that you’ll know exactly which pubs have their own vegan menu, on which isle the tofu is and when the afternoon snack period is.
3. Keep it simple – when shopping and cooking veganise recipes that you already know and cook regularly. Use vegan mince, sausages, milk, tofu and whatever else you find in recipes like sausages and mash, sheppard’s pie, stir fries, soups, etc. Some people aren’t too keen on using those, but if you expect to have some struggle with the transition – the substitute products will be your best friend. And they also taste amazing! Also stock up on Oreos and some crisps – for some more guidance on UK options – go to ‘Now You Know It’s Vegan’.
4. Variеty - If there is one thing you’ve done right is join the veganism movement in 2019. A plain carrot is no longer the only option for us. You can have literally anything you want (especially in the UK). I might be more of a foodie now than I was before going vegan, and believe me, that is tough to beat.
5. Cravings go away – once you have your reasons not to eat something you stop wanting to eat it. My cheese cravings disappeared within a week of going vegan. Not only that, but for me after enough time, animal products actually started tasting bad. I never expected that eggs would be so repulsive to me.
6. Be kind – a lot of conversations will arise from this decision you’ve taken. A LOT! Whether with your friends who are already vegan, the ones that look like they never would be, the family that has to cook for you or the waiter who can’t be bothered with your dietary requirements, you will have to talk about it! We don’t need another angry vegan, just take a minute and decide what is the best thing to do. If you don’t want to talk about it, just kindly ask people to leave it be. If you do feel like standing your ground – go for it. You have enough information already, and even if they manage to shut you up, you will go home and find the right argument against it. Just be kind so people would be open to co-operating and listening. (This is coming from a lot of personal conversations! Just keep your cool and smile, otherwise it goes bad, primarily for you!)
7. Don’t label yourself – so, the vegan society has so many different types – raw food, whole food plant based, low fat high carb, raw till four, frutaritarianism, junk food, etc. You have so much to explore, do not limit yourself from the start. In order to stick to it long term, you can’t expect to go all in first day. Let it settle, experiment, see what your body and spirit like.
8. Don’t be wasteful – especially if your leading reasons for going vegan are the environmental ones. So you’ve started your 31 Day Veganuary challenge, but there is a block of cheese still in the fridge. Please give it so somebody or even eat it! There’s nothing worse than food waste! I put cheese on my pizza for days 4 and 5 of going vegan, because Nic decided to join me and there was no one else to eat it. If you’re still wearing your most comfortable leather shoes, let it be so. I still have about 5 pairs of leather shoes. They will be replaced by vegan ones, when the time comes.
9. Keep learning – new “stronger arguments” will be coming your way. Sometimes you won’t be able to respond at the time they come. That’s why it’s good to be prepared for the next one. Usually when someone throws me a curveball I go home, watch the correct Mic. The Vegan video, and next time I am ready to stand my ground. You will never know it all, but every time you can know a little bit more. Also, at one point those recipes will get boring, so keep looking, keep discovering.
Bonus - Reintroduce slowly – if after all you’ve decided to go back to your standard diet, please spare your body the trouble and reintroduce the animal based foods slowly back into your food. The body gets used to your new way of eating quite quickly, so it will be a complete shock if all of a sudden you bombard it with all these hard to digest foods.
These are the ideas I followed a year and eight month ago and I dare say they led me to a good place. I hope it can do it again for somebody else.