I have blogged a lot about why to go vegan, but I have not written much about how. Considering we are beginning a new year (resolutions anyone?), now is the perfect time to take the leap and try out a vegan lifestyle.
You can pledge to try vegan for the month of January here. It’s called Veganuary! Thousands of people all over the world are have already pledged. Whether you are interested in the vegan lifestyle for health, ethical, or environmental reasons, this is a fun and simple way to give the vegan lifestyle a try. So here are five steps to help smooth your transition to vegan!
1. Crowd Out Animal Products. A mistake many people make when going vegan is cooking the same meals, minus the animal products. This method certainly will not help you to maintain the vegan lifestyle long term. In order to stay satisfied and enjoy the vegan lifestyle, you must replace the animal products you eat with vegan alternatives. I recommend filling your fridge with many varieties of vegan protein, such as Gardein vegan meats, varieties of tofu, and tempeh, as well as vegan dairy products such as plant-based milks, yogurts, and cheeses.
People often ask me whether I miss eating animal products. It is easy for me to respond with no, because I now have plenty of delicious vegan foods I enjoy instead. So I recommend chasing away cravings by adding many new, exciting, and delicious vegan foods to your diet.
2. Research the Animal Industries. Before I was vegan, I was vegetarian for about a week. I had never done any research on the animal industries and had no clue how animals were treated. It was quite clear to me that meat came from animals who had been killed, but I was unaware of the cruelty in the dairy and egg industries. Because I thought that taking milk from a cow did not kill her, I still saw dairy products as food. But once I did my research and discovered the dark truth (Dairy cows are forcibly impregnated year after year, have their babies stolen from them so humans can drink the milk, and are slaughtered once their bodies are exhausted), giving up dairy was easy. So I encourage you to learn all you can about the animal industries through simple Google searches, watching undercover investigations such as from Mercy for Animals, and watching documentaries such as Vegucated, Cowspiracy, Food Inc, and Forks over Knives. Many are available on Netflix!
3. Find a Vegan Role Model. Chances are, you do not know a vegan in real life. I never met any vegans until I started college! So find a vegan role model, whether it be a celebrity or animal rights activist. My role model, who was part of my inspiration to go vegan, is Alissa White-Gluz. She is the singer for the band Arch Enemy, as well as a longtime vegan and animal rights activist. Having a vegan you admire and look up to will help you to stay motivated!
If you do know vegans personally, connect with them. To meet other vegans, join an animal rights or vegan group in your area. Alongside others who share the same lifestyle, you will feel much more confident in your decision to live vegan.
4. Veganize your Favorite Foods. What food is stopping you from going vegan? Is it ice cream? Cheese? Burgers? I felt much better about my lifestyle change once I had looked up recipes of all of my favorite foods or found vegan versions of them at the grocery store. It turns out, when you go vegan, you do not have to give up any of your favorite foods! Whatever your favorite non-vegan food is, chances are a delicious vegan version is out there or is simple to prepare. (You can even cook with the same recipes, just replacing the animal products with vegan alternatives.)
And be sure to give veganized foods a chance. Don’t expect them to taste exactly like your old favorites. They will taste a bit different, but embrace that difference. Different can be a good thing!
5. Learn from your mistakes. It is a given that you cannot be a perfect vegan. I have accidentally consumed animal products a few times since going vegan. In my first week vegan, I accidentally used a sauce that contained oyster extract. I once accidentally ate a granola bar that contained honey. I have accidentally purchased non-vegan makeup. The list goes on. But the key is to not let these slip-ups get to you. You are already doing all you can to help animals, and there is no way you can reverse your mistakes. Do not dwell on them, whether they be accidental or not. Simply move past them and continue working your hardest to help animals. All the good you are doing far outweighs these tiny mistakes.
These are my five steps to going vegan! I hope you find these helpful. I strongly encourage you to try vegan this January. You have nothing to lose! I promise, with proper planning, the switch to the vegan lifestyle will be far easier than you think. I always wonder why I did not go vegan sooner!
If you have any further questions, ask away! I would love to help you in any way I can. Good Luck!