January is Veganuary, a time when people all over the world are inspired to try the vegan lifestyle for the month or permanently. As this year marks my 8th year as a vegan and I thought I would share some vegan tips!
In 2011, my green journey led me to adopt a vegan lifestyle, read more here. It is important to note that people become vegan for one or more of the following reasons, whether it be ethical, environmental, and or health. Whatever your reasons, the fact that you are on this vegan journey is amazing! Here are a few vegan tips that I hope will help you along the way.
THE VEGAN SOCIETY
“Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.”
1. Do your research
It’s important to understand the vegan lifestyle, as it is not just about what you eat. The above quote from The Vegan Society is a great synopsis of Veganism. The part ‘as far as is possible and practicable’ is noteworthy because vegans are just ordinary people trying to do the best they can. We are not perfect and we are not all the same. But what we all have in common, is that we don’t want to contribute to animal exploitation and cruelty, in any way. Many vegans are green vegans like me who also care about the impact we have on the environment.
We became vegan because our research exposed the harsh reality. The internet is full of great resources and there are many amazing documentaries to watch and books to read. I will be adding a ‘books & documentaries’ section to my blog shortly, which will showcase the ones I feel are a must watch and must read.
One evening in 2011, I watched a graphic factory farming documentary called ‘Meet your Meat‘ and the next day I became Vegan. Admittedly my green journey led me up to that point but I took the leap overnight. Not everyone can do that, and that is okay.
2. Go slow
If you are thinking of going vegan, and the idea of cutting out all animal products from your life in one go freaks you out, then I would suggest you take it slow.
Do whatever works for you. Maybe start by eliminating the obvious things first, like red meat, fish, and chicken. And then move to eggs, cheese, milk, butter, cream and possibly palm oil. If you have done the research you will know that there are vegan versions of all these products.
Being vegan does not mean you have to eat salad for the rest of your life. I love a great salad, but I also love burgers. If you love salami and cheese on your pizza, why not try the vegan alternatives. They exist, all you have to do is join a local facebook vegan group and ask where to get them. And if you have tried one vegan cheese and didn’t like it, there are many more on the market for you to try. Have a look at some vegan products I love, here.
Eating as a Vegan is not a sacrifice, it is a joy. Invest in a few vegan cookbooks to help you with the transition. As a Vegan, I enjoy my food so much more than I ever did before. If there is a favourite recipe you love, why not try to Veganise it by substituting the animal products. I love to make cottage pie, lasagne, spaghetti bolognese, hamburgers and many other dishes. My ingredients are just a little different. Have a look at some of my recipes here.
Once you have mastered the vegan foods you may start to eliminate animal products and by-products from your life, including suede, beeswax, wool, fur, silk, down & leather. And you may stop buying products that have been tested on animals. I am not saying you have to throw out every item that contains animal products or has been tested on animals. You decide how you want to do this. Maybe you want to use these items until they eventually need to be replaced with vegan alternatives. Or maybe you don’t want to use them anymore and would rather sell or donate them right away.
I have a single pair of suede sneakers from before 2011, which I still use, though admittedly not often. I actually didn’t even notice that they weren’t vegan until last year. I’m considering donating them to an animal charity shop and replacing them with vegan ones. And for years, without realising it, I was using beauty products that were tested on animals. Of course, I have since switched to vegan alternatives.
At some point, you may start supporting animal sanctuaries, and stop supporting places where animals are kept in captivity for profit such as zoos, aquariums, and animal parks. The entire transition period may take you a week, or a few months, or even a year. However you decide to do it, what you are doing is amazing and don’t let anyone else tell you differently.
3. Ignore the bullies
Although veganism is increasing globally every year, vegans are still the minority. You may be the only vegan in your family, your workplace and your social circle. When I became Vegan in 2011, I did not know a single vegan and I found that most people did not know what being vegan meant.
As soon as I told people I was vegan, a few suddenly became medical experts, telling me I can’t live without animal products. What I realised is, the idea of eating only plants, is so foreign that they think it has to be unhealthy. They are unaware of the fact that fruit and vegetables contain calcium, protein and most other nutrients, and who can blame them.
From a young age, we are told that the only way to get calcium is to drink the milk from another species, when in fact I am proof that this is not true, as I don’t consume dairy, or take calcium tablets and I am not calcium deficient. This makes them realise that they don’t need milk to survive but simply consume it because it is what they are used to and they like the taste.
And this realisation also sometimes happens when I eat my cruelty-free vegan meals (sometimes vegan meats) in front of non-vegans. Some people then become very aware of what is on their plate and where it comes from. Some simply don’t want to be reminded of that reality and react negatively towards me. Sometimes it is in the form of horrible jokes and other times it is pure aggression because deep down they know the truth and they don’t want to be reminded of it.
Although one gets used to the negative reactions, every now and again one gets an unexpected reaction of curiosity or genuine interest. Those positive moments make the negative ones bearable.
4. Find fellow Vegans
Online, you may be inspired by many vegan youtubers and or bloggers. Each with a different focus, including fitness, food, beauty and more. Find and follow those that interest you most. I will be adding an ‘inspirational people’ section to my blog soon which features people who inspire me.
Your vegan journey may be made easier by following a few local vegans on social media, especially ones that live in your area. Not only will you be inspired by their recipes, but also by their lifestyle. You will learn about vegan products you didn’t even know existed, as well as local vegan eating out spots. I learn something new every day from the people I follow.
Your vegan world will grow as you learn about vegan markets, cooking classes, and other events. I urge you to attend as many as you can. Not only is it a great way to expose yourself to the local vegan world, but it is also a great way to meet fellow vegans IRL. They have been where you are now and can help you in so many ways.
I hope you find these vegan tips useful. Let me know in the comments below. Remember to take it a day at a time, remind yourself why you are doing this, and before you know it, it will become second nature.
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