Veganism is on the rise these days and with good reason. People are starting to realize that you can live a compassionate, cruelty-free life without sacrificing anything. To those living an omnivorous lifestyle, though, the thought of shunning all meat, fish, dairy and animal products can be overwhelming. If you’re considering making the change, here a few tips to help you on your way.
If you’re seriously considering a vegan lifestyle, there are quite a few things to think about, and it can seem like too much to take on when you consider changing the way you eat, never mind everything else that comes along with it. Before making any changes, educate yourself. Go online, read some blogs, watch some YouTubers. If you can stomach it, watch some documentaries such as Cowspiracy or Earthlings – be prepared for some graphic content, though. Opening our eyes to what happens in factory farming is not pleasant. Having an understanding will help to form the way you think, and reading or watching others discuss their lifestyle is a great way to pick up tips and confidence.
2. Start small
A great way to head towards veganism if you’re a staunch omnivore is to cut down on your meat and dairy intake first before cutting it out entirely. By easing yourself in and finding some vegetarian or plant-based recipes you like whilst still eating what you’re used to, you’re much more likely to stay the distance. You could consider a vegan week or month to give you a taste. Veganuary (the worldwide campaign of going vegan for the month of January) is becoming more popular each year, and if you sign up the team will send you information, recipes and all kinds of other helpful things during your challenge and beyond. Finding recipes and replacements for things you enjoy before taking the plunge will offer you an arsenal of safe foods when you do make the change, rather than struggling your way through those first few weeks, not sure what to eat or do.
3. It’s not just about food
Something that many people don’t realize at first is veganism is a lifestyle choice, not just a diet. Changing to a vegan lifestyle means eschewing leather clothing, cosmetics and household products that have been tested on animals, or that contain animal ingredients. Once you’ve got the food sorted, other things start to pile up. When you’re researching, try to remember these other things as well. A great thing to do is to start changing your cosmetics and other goods to cruelty-free before you transition to vegan. This makes you much more aware of what companies are vegan and animal-friendly. It’s worth noting that large brands may sell in China, where animal testing on cosmetic products is currently required by law before products can be sold in the Chinese market. Logical Harmony is a great resource for finding out which cosmetics brands are cruelty-free and have vegan options, and many brands such as Barry M, Kat von D, and Revolution are actively labeling their products vegan nowadays. Waitrose, John Lewis, Method, and Ecover are some cruelty-free and vegan household brands that can be considered as a change to other brands that may test on animals.
4. Stock up
Fill your cupboards with basics – rice, pasta, and other grains, beans, lentils, spices, herbs. It can be alarming to see products you never eat cropping up in recipes – prepare yourself so you can try out as many new things as you like at first. Don’t forget your vitamins, either! It’s perfectly fine to use meat substitutes to recreate some of your omnivorous favorites, so having a supply of vegan mince or sausages to stash in the freezer will give you a chance to try your hand.
5. Enjoy yourself – forgive yourself
Veganism, for most people, is a lifestyle choice that they intend to keep. If you view veganism as a long-term commitment, it’s easier to forgive yourself when you make a mistake or drunkenly cave into some chicken nuggets. It’s about learning, and many vegans have accidentally consumed some dairy, gelatine, lactose, or other sneaky animal ingredients at some point. Sometimes foods change their ingredients and add non-vegan elements to the recipe where previously there were none. A tiny slip up isn’t going to impact the environment or animal agriculture if you go on to live another thirty years as a vegan, is it?
Armed with all your research, well-stocked cupboards, and exciting new vegan products you’ll feel ready to take on — or, more accurately, be kind to — the world.