When I first seriously considered going vegan it was suuuper daunting. I didn’t really know any other vegans, my friends were omnivores as were my family and my whole life I had been brought up eating meat and dairy and boy did I love it. I could of easily drank two pints of milk a day and given a choice of what to have for dinner, every time I would choose steak steak steak. But after admitting to myself why this was wrong I forced myself to make the change. This is just a brief list of things which I wish I had been told when I first became vegan. (I hope its not to buzzfeed-y).
FIRST up – Educate yourself. You better prepare yourself for a whole heap of judging and doubting and interrogation from non vegans. Its just the way it goes. I became vegan thinking “Oh this is so great I have made a positive change to my life which I stand by “. My bubble was soon popped by EVERYONE (basically) who laughed, joked, and mocked me for this decision.
“You’ll never last”
“oh my god no why have you done that”
“Why have you become so extreme?!” etc etc etc
It really isn’t a nice feeling but that is why you have to educate yourself thoroughly and know WHY you are doing it. Whether it be for animals, for health, for the planet or for humans, you have to be sure so you don’t crumble from the negative peer pressure.
Another strand of this is that you have to hit them back with hard, solid facts. Ain’t no one arguing with facts (they will try but they’ll look stupid and retreat soon). At the beginning, for me at least, I wasn’t sure of the solid facts. I’d read them, and watched documentaries so I knew what was going on and that it was wrong but I didn’t have the ammunition of stats that are necessary to defend yourself. 3000 animals a second die in slaughterhouses around the world roughly 56 billion a year. BAM. You Win. Write it down.
The third strand of this is that you have to be clued up on all things health – although I’m not the best on this topic you do have to know what your body needs and how much of it. A vegan diet does offer everything you need but make sure you do eat enough spinach to get your iron and take your B12 supplements.
- Food Inc
- The Ethics of What We Eat – Peter Singer
- Gary Yourofsky Best Speech Ever
SECONDLY, this is just a little tip, but keep snacks on you ALL the time. When I first went vegan I would get peckish and find that there was nothing I could eat that I had access to. So nowadays I keep little Tupperware boxes full of nuts on me wherever I am, sometimes I treat myself with my peanut butter cookies (shameless self promotion) but basically you have to eat when you are hungry so make sure you can.
ANOTHER thing that is really important when you first go vegan is to find a community of other vegans. You may not know anyone in person but Facebook is full of vegan groups to keep you updated on news and offer support and help. Generally they are pretty friendly (apart from the odd palm oil debate) and are happy to offer advice both to those new to veganism and vegan veterans. Personally, I have found Facebook and Twitter to be a great help in letting me know when local vegan events are taking place so I can meet up with other like minded people. To establish myself as part of a community was a huge motivator in creating this blog as it offers daily encouragement which sometimes is just what you need.
ALSO changing your diet is obviously part of the vegan lifestyle and it can be stressful when you have to plan meals but the only thing you can think of is pizza and shepherds pie. What I found the most useful, was to really throw yourself into cooking and baking, expand your knowledge of food and the possibilities are endless. Everyone assumes that all vegans eat is salad, salad, hummus, and salad – they could not be more wrong. The vegan community are basically wizards when it comes to replacing animal products with vegan alternatives ( I bet you have heard of the new aquafaba craze. I know. Its witchcraft). So if all you can think of is pizza then make pizza, just use vegan cheese, find a vegan base ( or make your own) and top with loads of great vegetables. Easy as pie. Speaking of pie, make shepherds pie with lentils instead of mince. DONE. I recently have been getting into cooking tagines, curries and experimenting with Asian food which I never would of done before. Just throw yourself into it and it all gets easier and easier.
FINALLY, and probably most importantly – Don’t beat yourself up if you accidentally eat meat, dairy or eggs. Even if you relapse when your drunk or you feel pressured or you just did eat it and there is no reason. It happens, we have all done it. Veganism is a process and it takes time, you may have gone a week without having any animal product but then first thing Monday morning you can’t resist a bacon sandwich. Don’t worry about it, honestly, the same goes for if you haven’t replaced all of your cosmetics with vegan cosmetics or your wardrobe isn’t rid of all wool and leather. It takes some people years to live a 100% vegan lifestyle, go at your own pace and reward yourself for even making changes in the first place.