I’ve been at this vegan thing for close to four months now and, while there’s still a lot for me to learn, I wanted to talk about some of the things that made the transition from a typical American diet to a totally plant-based one easier for me. When you’re first starting out it can seem like a daunting task, especially when you’re not familiar with many, or any, other vegans. Thankfully there are tons of resources out there to take advantage of, and lots of friendly fellow vegans are around to help you on your way.
1. Research, research, research!
Now, I don’t mean to sound like some professor hounding you about researching for a paper, but research will be your best friend in the beginning of the process. No matter what reason you decided to go vegan, it’ll make your life a lot easier if you can fall back on facts when your motivation runs low. It’s also good to know what you’re talking about when people question your choice – and believe me, they will. Researching is as easy as typing a few words into Google, and is still something I do frequently. I also recommend watching documentaries like Earthlings, Cowspiracy, and Forks Over Knives, as well as the YouTube channel Mic. the Vegan (I can’t recommend him enough).
2. Put together a list of recipes
Again, this is as simple as typing a few words into Google. There are also a ton of vegan recipe channels on YouTube, and Pinterest is a great resource as well – take a look at my Vegan Recipes Pinterest board. Vegan food is easy to make – throw some rice and beans together with veggies and you have a meal – but it’s fun to see what’s out there. I’ve learned about and made so many new foods since going vegan and it has honestly been one of the best parts. And this is coming from someone who didn’t think she could cook.
3. Join a vegan community
If you don’t have a bunch of vegan friends, it can start to feel a little bit lonely. As great as your friends and family are, most of them just won’t get it, at least not at first. If your city has vegan restaurants, hang out at them, or find a group that meets up once a month. I don’t have anything like that close by, so I rely on the internet – YouTube, Facebook groups, and the vegan subreddit are a few places I visit often. Even if it’s online, having some people to relate to really goes a long way.
4. Read up on nutrients
It’s very easy to become a junk food vegan – chips and Oreos, anyone? – but only eating junk food will make you feel gross and tired, just as it would if you were still eating animal products. You can get every nutrient you need from a plant-based diet (except for B12 – I recommend a supplement), but you need to know where to get them. For example, tofu is a good source of iron and beans are my holy grail for protein. I like The Vegan Society website for nutrition information as well as a lot of other helpful tips. If you aren’t lazy like me, you can also track your nutrients on websites like Cronometer.
5. Go at your own pace
I didn’t go vegan overnight, and you don’t have to either. If you can, that’s great, but don’t feel like a failure if it takes you some time. You are doing a world of good by working towards your goal, and if it’s something you really want, I know you’ll get there eventually. If it helps to buy some “slightly” processed vegan foods (I’m a pushover when it comes to the Boca chik’n veggie patties) to start out, more power to you. If you eat some snack only to realize later that it had dairy in it, don’t beat yourself up (another quick tip – read labels!!!). It’s a learning process, no doubt, and we all have our own way of doing it. In the end, just remember that the animals, the planet, and your own health will thank you.
That’s all the tips I have for now! If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments below.