It is never enough is it? There is always some new tip to mention if we wanna help each other out and do this. There is never such thing as too much advice… or is there?
Thousands of people around the world are going vegan or preparing to adopt a plant-based diet in the new year as we reach 2021. I’m here to help, whether you’re going vegan for Veganuary, because a documentary motivated you, or because you’ve been waiting for the right time to give up animal products. You’re about to embark on a journey that will have a positive effect, despite its challenges. Many of us begin our vegan journey in the kitchen and some may stay there forever, while others often expand their view and become vegan after just eating plant-based for a while.
1. Do the research
It is incredibly important to do some research before starting and to make sure you are prepared for a smooth transition rather than jumping in without any knowledge.
I’m able to point out that vegan food is simply that: food. Though there are a few hidden weapon ingredients to keep an eye out for (nutritional yeast, for example), all you really need to get started is a healthy appetite for grains, beans, and produce.
Take a few minutes to review the fundamentals of plant-based nutrition before you get started. Explore your nearest bookstore for beginner vegan books to find a convenient, all-in-one resource. Someone will eventually ask you where you get your protein (or iron, or calcium), and though you might laugh it off, it’s much more effective to respond quickly and confidently.
2. Find out what’s vegan
There is a high chance that you are already eating a lot of vegan food without knowing it. Make a list of all the food that is already familiar to you and keep in mind how many things you are keeping in your diet rather than focusing on all the ones that you are removing.
3. Make a meal plan
During the first few weeks of your vegan transition you may want to try to make a meal plan to make things easier. A meal plan will allow you to prepare your food without stress, make sure you always have what you need in the fridge and generally feel less of a hassle in your everyday life. A meal plan can also allow you to look forward to trying new things without worrying what to cook every single day.
Easy vegan meal plan for dinners. If you are in need of another weekly meal plan (dinners only) to make your life easier, then this one is for you.
Enjoy a weekly meal plan for your plant-based dinner. Budget-friendly vegan recipes for every evening from Monday to Sunday! Perfect for beginner vegans.
4. Don’t hold back from trying new things
I’d never tried tempeh, kimchi, nutritional yeast, buckwheat or even plain tofu before going vegan… The list goes on and on. Being a vegan inspired me to try new foods and exposed me to more international cuisines.
Going vegan will open the door for you towards a lot of new exciting food that you would likely never think about trying before. Explore meatless dishes and recipes from around the world if you’re new to plant-based cooking (Indian, Ethiopian, and Middle Eastern dishes are some of my personal favorites). Clean out your spice cabinet and experiment with new spices in your cooking. Make the switch to a plant-based diet an opportunity to try new grains, legumes, and vegetables.
5. Understand reading labels
This one is a lot easier than you think. For the most part, most of the time you can tell whether something is vegan or not by reading the ingredients. Other times, you may have to just check online some unfamiliar words as you shop or check out what some of the E numbers mean. Soon enough, it will become like second nature and you will learn to do it automatically.
Further, popular allergens are bolded under each ingredient list. Keep in mind that just because something says “can contain” milk or eggs doesn’t mean it does. People with life-threatening allergies should be aware of this warning.
6. Set up your vitamins
The truth is that you will be just fine in the beginning without vitamins, but it will build a good habit for you just in case you ever need them. It is possible that you may get a good amount of every vitamin you need (except B12), just from consuming your food. However, that will highly depend on how varied and healthy you eat – just like if you were on a regular diet. Many people who eat everything are deficient in something simply because they are so used to eating the same thing!
While a vegan diet will provide all of the nutrients you need, everyone, vegan or not, should take a multivitamin. And B12 is always a must!
7. You don’t have to eat “healthy” if you don’t want to
Being vegan does not mean that you will just be eating healthy food all the time and that suddenly you will be an image of health. A lot of vegans are actually some of the most unhealthy people I have ever met! They say “I hate myself, not the animals!”
There is a lot of unhealthy snacky vegan food out there such as cake, ice cream, chips, burgers, pizzas and so much more… If that’s the food you need sometimes, feel free to indulge – nobody is going to judge! I definitely do not recommend making it a habit, but I do believe that you should allow yourself to sometimes get a treat.
8. You may not like it all at first
It is possible that you may find it difficult to eat so much new food – especially if you are someone who ate a lot of animal products to begin with. Your brain will for a while still be hooked on some of the substances found in those foods.
Just because we’re all vegan doesn’t mean we all have the same food preferences. Some people tend to consume only whole plant foods, while others prefer to eat plant-based meats and cheeses (veggies, fruits, nuts, etc). Some people begin to feel one way and then change their minds.
The important thing is to keep an open mind and if you don’t like one thing, try something else. Also, make sure to give yourself enough time to find out the vegan food that you do like, be adventurous and experiment with the food you eat. Don’t be afraid if some food you eat looks weird to others – you never know what the next culinary discovery will be.
9. Get ready to deal with mean people
People will be mean sometimes, aren’t they always? There will always be good and bad people, those who accept others’ different views and decisions and those who will try to make you feel bad because they’re unhappy with themselves. Expect some negative feedback if you’re a new vegan, particularly if you’ve chosen this path for ethical reasons. The sweetest people in your life could surprise you with some sass. This is normally the result of defensiveness, in my experience.
Even if you’re not questioning their lifestyle choices explicitly, the fact that you’ve opted to avoid animal products to protest animal abuse and cruelty makes them feel compelled to justify why they haven’t, or why you’re wrong. It’s natural – we tend to enter defense mode when our views are threatened. There are some who will just accept and move on, but there will always be those who feel threatened and push back.
10. Find support
When you have company, change is a lot less intimidating. If your family and friends aren’t interested in going vegan, look for other ways to connect. Look for a vegan meetup or potluck in your region. Make a habit of trying to connect with vegans that you see online on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter (or anything else you crazy kids are using nowadays). If you have a plant-based-cooking-interested mate, invite him or her over for some cooking, trying a new vegan restaurant in town or just a cup of coffee!
For me, the best community I have found so far is on Twitter! People there are really supportive and they will help you with any issues you may have. Vegan twitter is a blessing that I highly recommend!
Good luck with your journey and if you have any questions at all feel free to ask me in the comments, write me at firstname.lastname@example.org or message me on Twitter!