I’ve been vegan for about four years now, and vegetarian for three years before that, and up to date I still think going plant-based was the best decision I’ve ever made in my life.
When I first started to think about going vegan, however, this lifestyle was not very common at all, at least where I’m from. I did know a couple of people who were vegan, but it was much harder back then to do research and generally speaking veganism was still a niche that few adepts ventured in.
Because now veganism is so widespread (whoo!), I would like to add my own contribution in the hope that it’s going to be of help to whoever is considering turning to this mega cool lifestyle.
I also noticed that, because this is no longer a new thing for me, I feel like I’m not as passionate about veganism as I used to be. Don’t get me wrong: I still believe in it 100%. However, when I first started I would research like crazy and post lots of results and findings on my previous blog, spreading the wisdom as much as I could. So I’d like to get back on track and dust off my own groundwork for other people to get inspiration from.
So here’s a starter kit I wish I’d had back in the days.
- Do your homework
If you’re interested in veganism, chances are you’ve already done some research (otherwise you wouldn’t have come across veganism in the first place). Take your time to surf the net and learn what veganism is. There are tons of websites out there that can help you grow your vegan roots.
You’ll find that educating yourself on veganism will come in handy not only to make sure you know what you’re doing, but also to show people that it’s not that hard to get informed if you’re really interested in it.
- Get a physical
Go see your doctor and have a chat with them about your decision to go vegan. Discuss what you’re planning to eat and make sure you’re introducing all the nutrients your body needs. At the beginning you might want to consider incorporating supplements (especially iron and B12) before you adjust to a balance diet and you probably won’t need them anymore.
Also remember that vegan is not synonym with healthy (French fries are vegan after all), so it’s a good idea to go back for regular checkups throughout your vegan journey and make sure you’re managing to keep on track and still not missing out on nutrients even once you’ve established a standard diet.
- Go at your own pace
Turning vegan is not only about food: it’s a lifestyle change. So don’t worry if you need some time to adjust. Some people just wake up one day and decide to be vegan, but some other people prefer to transition more gradually – and both approaches are totally fine. It’s really all about what works best for you. Taking your time also means you’ll be fully conscious of the changes you’re making, it will be easier for your body and mind to adjust to a new diet, and overall it will feel less of a change at all.
I personally took it a step at a time: I started off with one vegan meal a day, then two, than I would have a couple of days a week when I would eat completely vegan, until I transitioned to a 100% vegan diet, every meal, every day. But again, don’t worry about how long it takes you: you’ll get there eventually.
- Think positive
Veganism shouldn’t be a sacrifice. It should be something that brings you joy. To me, veganism is the most selfless act I can think of. It’s about living your life without hurting other lives. It’s about avoiding cruelty whenever possible. What’s better than that? Don’t focus on what you’re missing out, think about what you’re gaining.
- Find your motivation
Trust me, you won’t last as a vegan unless you know why you’re doing it. It can be for environmental reasons, for the animals, for health issues, or for whatever other reason you can think of – as long as it’s the reason why you’re doing it, it will keep you going.
To me, veganism is nothing but the logical consequence of the principles I’m basing my life on. I choose to live a life of compassion and kindness, as well as as healthy as possible. Veganism simply means aligning my actions with my values.
- Know your comebacks
Especially at the beginning of your transition people will ask questions. Lots of questions. But mainly the same questions.
You eat fish, right? Isn’t is expensive to be vegan? Don’t you know that human beings evolved to eat meat? Where do you get your proteins from? I read somewhere that plants have feelings too.
Nothing is worse than being caught unprepared. Go back to point one and do your homework, so you’ll always have the perfect comeback.
(A separate post specifically on this will be up soon.)
- Go nuts in the kitchen
With hundreds of veganfoodporn Instagram accounts out there, we shouldn’t be wasting time debunking the myth that vegan food is boring. By now even my Grandpa knows that I eat more than just salads.
Now, it’s important to understand that vegan food will taste different from what you’re used to, especially if you come from the standard American/UK diet. I suggest you don’t try and replicate the same exact dishes you were eating pre-vegan. A bacon cheese sandwich doesn’t taste like a facon sheese sandwich. You need to accept the fact that your food is going to taste different, however this doesn’t mean it’s going to taste bad. It’s just a matter of adjusting your taste buds to a new range of flavours – just be creative and start experimenting with spices and condiments, and you’ll get used to it soon enough.
Personally, I’m not a fan of “alternatives” such as vegan cheese, vegan ham and all that jazz – I found that they all taste the same and they are pretty much just the same ingredients shaped in different forms. I’d rather go for simpler, whole foods like rice, potatoes, legumes, and fresh fruit and veggies. It’s a much easier and cheaper choice, and the flavours are way more authentic as well.
- Don’t get mad
Transitioning to veganism can be difficult, but try to stay calm and focused. You’re going to make mistakes, people will ask questions, you might be made fun of. The worst for me was being surrounded by people who didn’t seem to understand me. But try not to lose your marbles.
Also don’t get mad at yourself! It’s ok to make mistakes, that’s how we learn. Remember you’re doing something wonderful, you will find people who support you and you will turn into the best plant-based version of yourself.
Aaand congratulations, you’ve done it! Welcome to the world of happy herbivores.
Remember you’re doing the right thing and I’m so proud of you.