Have you been considering going vegan?
With the new year and all of the resolutions that come along with it, I’ve had a few friends and family members ask me about going vegan: how to do it, how to enjoy it, and how to make it easy.
(This is not going to be an article about why to go vegan, but more so a little advice for those who are ready to make the transition. There are plenty of people who can explain the merits behind a vegan lifestyle much better than I’ll ever be able to. If you’re curious, I’ve heard that Earthlings and What the Health are great places to start.)
I want to start by saying that being vegan is not always easy. Just like any major change, it takes some getting used to—and sometimes, it’s simply not feasible. Focus more on being practical and doing the best that you can. It is okay if “being practical” means only being vegan for certain meals, only being an at-home vegan, cutting out everything but your favorite cheese, or eating free food regardless of what’s in it. While you’re not technically vegan if you do those things, anything is better than nothing.
If you haven’t already, do your research. At first, meeting some nutritional needs will require a little extra attention. If you just cut out all of the animal products in your diet and fail to replace the protein, calcium, and other nutrients you only got from those foods, you’ll feel terrible and your new vegan diet will be to blame.
I’ve been vegan for a year and a half, and while making sure I get what I need is now second nature, I definitely struggled for a bit. Even though vitamins D and B12 can be found in a vegan diet, I highly recommend supplementing them to ensure you’re getting enough. Also, find a few basic foods and recipes that provide good amounts of protein, calcium, and healthy fats, and make them staples in your life. If you’re struggling to find recipes, YouTube’s vegan community is a wonderful resource, and a simple search for “high-protein vegan” will get you right on your way.
YouTube is also a great way to get to know imitation products; there is a review for basically every vegan product or brand sold in stores. Look into fake meats and cheeses before you buy them—a lot of them are amazing alternatives that make the transition to a vegan lifestyle so much easier and enjoyable, but many are simply not worth your money.
Imitation products are a great segue to a common misconception: vegan does not always mean healthy. While you can easily be healthy on a vegan diet, don’t let a lack of junk foods deter you from making the transition. There are tons of incredible vegan ice creams—my favorite is Haagen Dazs’ Chocolate Salted Fudge Truffle—and accidentally vegan products, including Oreos and Hershey’s chocolate syrup. Also, with veganism on the rise, many of your favorite restaurants likely have a few options for you. While these products are often a little more expensive, they can make transitioning a much easier process.
All in all, props to you for considering veganism. I can say with absolute certainty that I am much happier as a vegan; I love the food I eat and, while there are still issues with the agricultural industry outside of the animal sector, veganism is much more in line with my morals. If you take anything from this: transition slowly, go easy on yourself, and do your best to make it something that you enjoy.