Contrary to popular beliefs, going vegan doesn’t mean you’re left eating veggies for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The creativity that’s available with vegan cooking is equally as good (if not better), than traditional meat-eating cuisine.
When I first started out as a fully-fledged vegan, I didn’t understand how to cook, where I could eat or what I could or couldn’t buy. But that was a long time ago and times have changed.
What is Veganism?
A vegan diet is made up of only plant-based foods. You are to avoid all products that come from animals, specifically meat, eggs, dairy , and any other animal-derived product. Some vegans will also avoid more controversial products such as honey and figs.
Individuals may choose to go vegan for health reasons, to facilitate weight loss, or as part of a lifestyle choice to protect animals and make the world a more sustainable place.
Things can get a little more complicated when it comes to vegan clothing, but we'll cover that later.
You might feel really overwhelmed by the idea of changing your whole life all at once, so don't.
I started by having 1 day a week fully vegan, which I gradually increased by a day each week. By the time I had reached a full week of being vegan at home, I was still not fully plant-based when I would go out to restaurants or over to friends houses. My final step was finding plant-based restaurants and preparing my own meals for friends gatherings. You have to remember that not everyone is vegan, so you're not always going to be catered for. This is where preparation is key, we'll cover that in the next section.
It was a slow process, but I know that taking my time really helped with the transition and commitment.
Preparation can come in many forms. I found restaurants and a busy work week the hardest to tackle.
If you're heading to a restaurant, try and have some input in the one that's picked. This way you'll be able to find somewhere you know caters for vegans. If it's out of your control, make sure you read the menu the night before!! I cannot stress this enough. There is no greater temptation to break rules than finding out the restaurant you have gone to does not offer any vegan meals. While it is rare in today's society, it can still happen.
A hectic work at week often leaves me feeling tired and like I don't want to spend hours cooking after a long day. If I know I am going to be busy, I will spend Sundays prepping my dinner for the week. This helps me avoid quick fix supermarket foods and takeaways that are most likely running low on the vegan options. This also helped if I was going over to a friends house for food, I was able to bring my own rather than trying to get them to figure something out for me.
Channel Your Inner Chef
I would start by getting yourself a few good cook books.
I started by following recipes meticulously, perfecting all things 'vegan chef', as I liked to call it. Now I love to play around with my own recipes, mix some of my old favorites together and try more skills based cooking. Trust me, once you've got the basics nailed, you'll fly.
At first I would have days where I would cave, and eat the one thing I knew I wasn't supposed to have. It's hard jumping from a diet where you can eat whatever is put in front of you, to restrictions coming from every direction.
You need to remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Treat yourself with kindness, embrace your journey and start everyday with the mindset to be the best version of yourself. It really helped to keep me motivated.
Remember Why You're Doing It
Whether you're going vegan for a diet, or because you want to be the change you want to see in the world, you need to anchor that feeling and come back to it every time you start to struggle.
Remembering why you're doing this will keep you passionate, and, in turn, help you be successful on your journey to veganism.
Join a Vegan Community
Whether it's an Instagram chat, Facebook Page or jumping onto relevant Twitter hashtags, joining a community can really help you on your journey.
The main benefits of being part of a community is that there are people who have been through what you're going through, they can offer up advice, words of wisdom and general support - it can be a great support system.
You might even make new friends who will go to vegan restaurants or host vegan-friendly dinners with you.
Don't get hung up on the judgemental vegans that think you need to change every aspect of yours, your friends and your neighbours life all at once. This is your own personal journey, and you can tackle it however you see fit.
Looking after the planet is important, but you need to prioritise your health. It is recommended that you start by taking Iron, Calcium and B12 supplements.
As your knowledge increases, you will have a greater understanding of what food you need to have to give your body all the right nutrients and your need for supplements will decrease.
Always refer to your doctor about what supplements you will need to take.
As someone who is health conscious, and very much into fitness, my biggest worry was hitting my protein intake. I have never been a fan of plant protein, the taste and texture is not great for me and they don't have all the benefits I am looking for in a protein. Find out more about plant protein powder here.
V-Whey is a vegan-friendly whey protein powder. It is made using Perfect Day's process and the results are revolutionary. It is gluten, lactose, hormone, soy and animal free! Using microflora, plants, science and fermentation, California Performance have allowed me to have all the benefits of whey protein without any of the animal impact.
Veganism Isn't Limited to Food
Veganism means cruelty-free. This means anything from the clothes you wear to the beauty products you buy and so much more.
You'll have to do your research. Are your favorite beauty brands testing on animals? Is the belt your about to buy faux leather? Some other vegan clothing materials are things like polyamide, polyurethane, nylon, linen, and polyester.
It's not an easy journey, but it's definitely worthwhile.