There’s never been a better time to go vegan. With the overwhelming abundance of vegan goodies on supermarket shelves, it’s easier than ever to live sans animal products. If you’re one of the multitudes of people who are interested in eating more plant-based meals, take heart. Embarking on a new lifestyle can seem a little bit daunting at first, but you’ll soon be surprised that you ever lived any other way.
For those who are just starting out on their adventure in vegan living, here are 10 things to keep in mind.
1. It's totally doable.
There really has never been such an abundance of available information, support, and products that will help make your transition to a vegan lifestyle easy-breezy. You can do this!
2. Visit an animal sanctuary.
There’s nothing in the world that will seal your commitment to eating plants faster than spending time with animals. I’d been vegan for years before I ever visited a sanctuary, and it was an eye-opener. Seeing animals as individuals with their own personalities and emotions makes enjoying a delicious vegan ice cream sundae so much more satisfying!
3. Check your stats.
If you’re worried about your nutrient levels, get ‘em checked. Your doctor can recommend a personalized regime, but it’s a safe bet that most vegans should take a B12 supplement. Knowing what you might need to adjust is much more empowering than just hoping that everything is as it should be.
4. Learn from folks who've been there, done that.
Want to find a great vegan restaurant in the farthest corner of the globe? Great! Chances are good that someone else has already been there, blogged about it, and provided detailed information on where to find what you want. Travel ideas, restaurant menus, amazing vegan fashion finds and more: there’s a website for just about anything you could ever need.
5. Find five go-to meals.
A big reason why people tend to fall back on old habits when trying to adjust their lifestyle is just that: habits are hard to break. Discovering five recipes that you can whip up on a busy weeknight when your brain is on autopilot will help keep your mealtimes stress free.
6. Have fun with dinner.
One of the most exciting things about adopting a vegan diet is getting to expand your culinary repertoire. Once you have your five solid, go-to meals nailed down, try one new dinner recipe each week. By varying the vegetables in your life, it’s easy to find new favorites.
7. Be nice to yourself. There’s no “wrong” way to go vegan.
Maybe you’re the type who wants to go whole hog(less) right this second, or maybe you’re going to start by just incorporating more meat-free meals into your weekly menu. Either way, accept that you’re making a change in your life, and that change can sometimes be difficult. Keep at it — like all shifts, it gets easier with time!
8. Be nice to everyone else, too!
It might happen that not everyone in your life immediately understands why you want to live this way. Have a couple of two-line answers ready for people who ask questions (“Where do you get your protein?” is a pretty common one!). For people who might be slightly more aggressive (read: rude), just smile, say that living a vegan lifestyle is working well for you, and leave it at that.
9. Show your support for companies that reflect your values.
When you buy products (be they cookies, couches, or clothes!), you’re supporting the companies that made them. Choosing which companies are going to get your hard-earned dollars (i.e. those that don’t employ animal testing, etc.) is one of the most fun things about going vegan, since you can directly support the brands that reflect your values.
10. Make it as fun and social as you can!
We all know there’s no such thing as a revolution without dancing, and I’m of the opinion that parties are one of the most effective ways to jump into the vegan lifestyle. Have a bunch of friends over for a DIY sushi bash, taco party, brunch buffet, or a pizza night (the possibilities are pretty much endless). There’s nothing better than bringing the people you love together with delicious, vegan food. Cheers!
Elizabeth Castoria is the author of How to Be Vegan, available now.
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