When I went vegan a year ago, I was so lost! Luckily, I quickly adjusted to my new lifestyle, and completely fell in love with it. After one year I feel happier, healthier, and really feel like I am making a difference. I think that if more people knew how easy and awesome it is to be vegan, they’d be more open to the idea!
Since I know how tough it is to begin a vegan lifestyle, I wanted to give my top tips for someone who would like to transition to a vegan lifestyle, or those who have just started being vegan, but need some guidance. The vegan lifestyle is not as difficult or restrictive as people think (it’s actually quite the opposite!),
- Educate Yourself
There are 3 documentaries that I think anyone interested in going vegan should watch:
- Forks Over Knives (available on Netflix)
- Cowspiracy (Netflix)
- Earthlings (It seems to be on Youtube often and is easily accessible online)
Forks Over Knives covers the health benefits of a vegan diet. Cowspiracy addresses the environmental destruction that animal agriculture causes. Earthlings covers the ethical side of veganism. Warning: Forks Over Knives and Cowspiracy are pretty easy to watch, but Earthlings is very eye-opening and very heartbreaking. I cried while watching it and haven’t been able to watch it since. It keeps me very grounded and reminds me that my choices really do affect people.
Those 3 documentaries have really persuaded people to commit to vegan lifestyles. Each of them are so logical and well-researched. They are also extremely motivating.
There are also a few Yotuube videos that are highly motivating:
I watched all 3 of these presentations before viewing any of the documentaries and each of them inspired me to go vegan in one night.
2. Take Advantage of Online Resources
It is easy to feel alone when you go vegan. It is likely that you do not know many vegans, so knowing where to start can be difficult. Fortunately, there are so many web sources that can help you with anything you can think of. Here are a few of my favorite resources:
PETA is also an excellent resource for recipes, products, and more information on animal rights.
These are all excellent websites that offer guides to vegan food, nutrition, tips, and more information on ingredients to avoid and are great resources for furthering education. I still try to learn what I can about a vegan lifestyle. After a year, I still don’t have everything figured out, and I still like to learn as much as I can. These resources should help you with transitioning and sticking to a vegan lifestyle. Most of these websites also offer contact information so that you can ask any questions that you need. You are never alone.
3. Look for Recipes Online and Purchase Cookbooks
It is so easy to find vegan recipes online! Pinterest is an excellent place to start! Simply searching “vegan” will direct you to thousands of recipes. Buzzfeed is another site that shares vegan recipes frequently, usually in a “round up” form that will lead you to other blogs that likely have hundreds of other amazing recipes! Simply Overjoyed has dozens of recipes (and quickly growing!) that are excellent for a vegan beginner! I personally enjoy lots of vegan-friendly blogs, but I like far too many to name. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Oh She Glows
- Minimalist Baker
- Vegan Richa
- The Glowing Fridge
- Chocolate Covered Katie
- One Ingredient Chef
- Happy Healthy Life
- Emilie Eats
I also recommend checking out vegan cookbooks. These aren’t necessary when you are on a budget, but several cookbooks are excellent and offer amazing recipes. Here are my top recommendations:
Thug Kitchen (I would not recommend this to anyone who is offended by swearing, but the recipes are excellent)
Everyday Cooking (excellent for vegan beginners)
Happy Healthy Vegan Kitchen (also excellent for beginners)
I would recommend starting out by searching through Pinterest to see if anything interests you. Then check out a few blogs and consider buying 1 or 2 cookbooks. You may be surprised by how many recipes are actually out there and that may be overwhelming. You don’t have to search the entire web to find every recipe in existence. Just start with a dozen recipes to start with and go from there. If you don’t like a recipe, don’t give up. Some recipes just aren’t going to please everyone, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t thousands of other recipes that you will love!
4. Use Websites like Cronometer to Track Nutrients
Many people wonder if they will get adequate nutrition on a vegan diet. I understand the concern, but honestly, you can get all the nutrients you need without the excess cholesterol and saturated fat. I may be biased, but I believe that the vegan diet is the healthiest diet out there. However, I still think it is important to be aware of what you are eating and the nutritional benefits of your food. I recommend Cronometer for the first few months of being vegan because it is a free website to track nutrients. It shows your macro percentages, as well as all of your micros. It also shows if you are getting enough calories in for your weight goals (whether that is losing, maintaining, or gaining weight). If you have a hard time getting enough nutrients at first, don’t give up! See which foods are giving you lots of nutritional value and which ones aren’t and go from there. It is ok if you don’t reach all of your targets everyday. It is best to reach your nutritional needs by at least 80% every day. Try not to go under that on most days (every now and then is fine, though).
5. Stick With It
I have to mention this because I have found that many people quit veganism after only a week or two. The reasons: “I felt weak”, “I couldn’t get enough protein”, “it was too hard”, “the food wasn’t good”…and so on. Here are the real reasons why people quit:
- In regards to feeling weak or not getting protein, the reality is that they may not be getting in enough calories. I know that in my first month, I felt a bit lightheaded at first. I was eating a lot of fruit for breakfast and a small salad for lunch…not even close to enough food! Once I upped my calories and adjusted my macros, I started feeling amazing! If you aren’t feeling good, it is probably just a lack of calories or nutrients. Try tweaking your food intake and see if that helps, and don’t give up! Sometimes it takes time to figure out what exactly will work for you (took me a few months).
- People find being vegan hard because there aren’t a lot of vegan food at restaurants or stores, and the social aspect can be difficult. However, if you do your research on food options, the social situations get a bit easier. I will say that it can be awkward to explain why you won’t eat something, but I have found that most people aren’t as weirded out by it as you may think. Luckily, my friends have been very supportive, and we always go to restaurants and get snacks that all of us can have.
- If you don’t like the food, I think you’re trying the wrong recipes…seriously! There are so many amazing recipes out there, so if you try one or two that you don’t love, keep trying! The internet has millions of free recipes out there, you are bound to find one or two that you like. If you are looking for good recipes for beginners, I would recommend my Peanut Soba Noodles with Sriracha Tofu, My Burrito Bowl recipe, and my Tropical Green Smoothie Bowl. My blog is still fairly new, so I don’t have thousands of recipes to share with you, but I post new recipes on a weekly and sometimes a bi-weeky basis. Many other blogs have hundreds of recipes, so if you search through them, you’ll probably find something you like! Not sure where to find blogs, simply google: vegan blogs. You’ll find a bunch of them!
Adjusting to a new lifestyle is difficult, but if you keep trying, you may find that the vegan lifestyle is awesome. If you just take the time to figure it out for yourself, your chances for being successful are going to be much higher. If you need help, never hesitate to contact me. I am not qualified to give professional advice, but I can give you some ideas and some advice.
6. It’s Ok to Take Steps
This might just be my personal opinion, but I think that it is ok to take steps toward a vegan lifestyle, and these can be big or small steps. Maybe start with cutting dairy and red meat, then gradually cut other meats, eggs, foods with hidden animal ingredients, etc. I am personally still taking steps toward using 100% vegan and cruelty-free home and beauty products. You don’t have to immediately throw away any of your old food or products if you don’t want to. You really don’t have to go vegan overnight if you don’t feel comfortable doing that. I figure that any effort is better than no effort at all, so if you take your time to ease into the vegan lifestyle, it is perfectly ok. You should ultimately do whatever helps you the most.
7. Don’t Worry if You Make a Mistake
I think every new vegan has made some mistakes. I have definitely accidentally purchased products that contained milk or egg. I have also accidentally purchased products that are not cruelty-free. Going vegan can be overwhelming, and all you can do is your best. You will most likely make the same mistakes that I did, and that is completely ok. Your effort is what truly matters. Read labels, do your research, but if you make a mistake, just move on from it. You’re still vegan, and the fact that you are trying is excellent. Just learn from the mistake and keep trying. It is very difficult to be 100% vegan, so just do your best and that’s all that matters in my book.
8. Be Approachable and Kind
Look, I know after educating yourself on the truth about the meat and dairy industry, it is so easy to get angry, passionate, and preachy. I have been that way as well. When you know that something is killing innocent beings, harming our health, destroying the environment AND virtually causing world hunger, it’s pretty understandable that staying silent is so difficult. It’s hard enough that everyone asks about being vegan. Seriously, I get so many questions, and it’s easy to get carried away by overly preachy and confronting. Again, I completely understand because I’ve been there. I think that the vegan movement and the issues of the meat and dairy issues are very important issues to talk about. You don’t have to be silent about it.
However, I have found that some people just aren’t ready to make those connections. Some people aren’t ready to change their lifestyle and find the vegan lifestyle to be intimidating. It is also very difficult for people to accept the fact that we’ve been lied to for our entire lives. The idea of not eating meat just seems wrong to some people, and no wonder! With all the propaganda out there, it is no surprise that there are many misconceptions, which is what the meat industry wants. Being vegan is all about empathy, and that is not exclusive to animals and the planet. Be empathetic to those who are just not ready to face the facts. There are a few people in my life who are starting to realize the benefits of going vegan and are beginning to see the ethical connection, and I choose not to rush them or pressure them. Lead by example and show how happy, rewarding, and awesome the lifestyle is. Be approachable and be easy to talk to. Answer questions kindly, and do your best to help others who have concerns about their own diet choices. If you do this, you’d be a shining example of what a vegan should be. Now, all those people out there protesting and fighting for animals rights, I give them all the credit in the world, but don’t think that just because you are vegan that you have to be that way as well. Only if you want to.
9. Never Stop Learning
Once you’ve been vegan for awhile, and you’ve been through the educational aspect of it all, it is easy to think “Ok, now I know it all”, but I think that you’d be surprised by how much there is still to learn. There are so many educational documentaries, videos, presentations, books, articles, etc., and I still check them out all the time, and I have found that I almost always learn something new. Don’t pass on new documentaries or new books. Check them out, and I can promise that you’ll learn something new. It may even keep you inspired and keep you motivated to continue being vegan. I know that I still check out new content on veganism, and seeing all the information out there is showing me that the movement is growing, and it is makes me proud to be a part of it.
10. Make the Ethical Connection
Now, I’m not trying to push an animal rights agenda, I just believe that if one makes the ethical connection to veganism, they are much more likely to stay on the lifestyle. When you are consciously aware of the suffering of innocent, sentient beings, being vegan becomes really important. Even if I didn’t care about my health, I would still be a “junk food vegan” and would still strive to live a cruelty-free lifestyle. After watching the videos, I have seen what I need to see to feel that eating meat, wearing leather/fur, buying animal tested makeup, etc. is just not worth the suffering. It is so easy to live an ethical lifestyle, and I think that if you give it a try, you’l see how true that really is!
I hope that my experience and my tips help you to ease into a vegan lifestyle without any real difficulty. I think that it is easy to overcomplicate the vegan lifestyle, which makes it seem super restrictive and impossible to follow. The reality is that it can be really easy if you take it seriously and do your best. Your first week won’t be easy, but your 3rd month could be. Patience and determination is key.
I am here to help! You can always contact me with any questions you have. My advice cannot replace professional advice, but I am someone who has been through it and has stayed on a successful vegan diet for a year, so I could definitely be some support for you and can help you as much as I can.
Thank you so much for stopping by!
I’m off to go eat some delicious vegan food!