Vegan tips for beginners
Having the right vegan tips will help you make your transition to veganism easy. Here are the top vegan tips for begginers!
Go at your own pace
Once you decide to go vegan, you may want to jump off the deep end immediately. This can work for some people- especially those with excellent willpower- but for others, it will be too overwhelming and won’t last long. You could start by cutting out one type of food per week until you’re not consuming any animal products, or you could go vegan one day a week, and then two, then three, until you’re completely vegan. If going cold turkey is more your thing, perhaps consider going vegetarian first, and then vegan when you feel ready.
Have an open mind
If you go into it feeling negative, like you’re being punished, you won’t last long. Start looking at all the positives. Don’t ponder over the products you miss; focus on the new things you have the opportunity to try. Think of the reason you’re doing this. If you’re going vegan for ethical reasons, think of the animals you’ll save. If it’s for health reasons, think of the wonderful things this will do to your body. Watch vegan YouTubers for inspiration. And if you really miss something, you’ll probably be able to find a vegan alternative.
If your pantry is still full of animal-based products, donate them, and make room for all your new vegan products. Find out what alternatives you should purchase and have them on hand. Unless you’re existing solely on mock meat, this won’t be as expensive as you think. Then learn a few simple but satisfying recipes- there are thousands on Pinterest. Since you won’t be used to cooking solely vegetable-based meals, allow yourself some extra cooking time until you find your feet. Learning how to cook tofu will save your life. It has a bad reputation, but properly prepared tofu can be amazing.
Also, research your local shops and restaurants. See what vegan options they have. That should avoid awkwardness if you go out to dinner and find that everything on the menu contains some kind of animal product.
Research “accidentally vegan” products
You’d be amazed at how many of your favourite products just happen to be vegan. You won’t even have to give up Oreos. You can find an “accidentally vegan” list online for the mainstream supermarkets, and similar lists for the main fast food chains. And if you want something but aren’t sure, just check the label. Allergens like milk and eggs are usually highlighted, so you just have to skim the ingredients list.
Learn about vegan substitutes
You’ll still be able to eat most meals, you’ll just need to replace a few things. Depending on the recipe, you can replace eggs with applesauce, mashed banana, chia seeds, silken tofu, boxed egg replacer or nut butter. You can substitute cows milk with soy, almond, coconut, rice or hemp milk. And meats can be replaced with lentils, chickpeas, cauliflower, beans, eggplant, tofu, tempeh, textured vegetable protein, textured soy protein and commercial meat substitutes. Some varieties of margarine are dairy-free and can be used instead of butter, and you can make or buy cream, yogurt and ice cream. You can play around and decide which products you prefer.
Be ready for changes in your body
Everyone’s body is different, but usually, when you first go vegan, your body will detox itself of your previous diet. You may temporarily realise changes in energy levels and headaches, but these things will pass. And to be quite honest, you just may experience an increased need to, well, crap. All these symptoms should go away after 2 weeks, once your body has adapted. If you really don’t feel well after two weeks, talk to a specialist! You may just need to adjust your diet or eat more.
Keep lots of vegan snacks on hand
Another change is that you may feel hungrier at first. Plant-based foods are usually lower in calories, so you won’t feel as full after eating. Keep quick snacks in your kitchen and your bag or adjust your portion sizes. When your body adapts, you’ll stop feeling so hungry.
Find like-minded people
If you’re the only vegan in your family or friend group, you can feel pretty alone. You can find vegan groups on social media where you can talk to other vegans and share recipes, advice and stories. Most areas have a local Facebook group where you can organize meet-ups.
Going vegan doesn’t automatically make you healthy. If you survive on mock meats and Oreos, not only will you feel lethargic, you’re also less likely to stay vegan for very long. You can enjoy a Beyond burger every now and then but eating processed nuggets for every meal won’t do you any favours. You don’t have to eat only raw organic vegetables, but stick to a well-rounded diet. If you’re having trouble, see a nutritionist. They can help you choose healthy foods that you enjoy. If this isn’t an option, there’s always the internet. There’s plenty of information on how to keep a well-rounded diet. You can still eat those nuggets, but not every night, and with real vegetables on the side.
We all have that family member (or 5 of them) who makes the same old vegan jokes at every meal, who sends you pictures of bacon and eggs, and who sarcastically asks you the same tired old questions. Even if they aren’t asking the questions seriously or politely, answer them respectfully. Use this as an opportunity to educate them on why you are vegan. Even if they don’t listen, someone else within earshot might. Don’t get angry. They’re trying to get a rise out of you, and giving it to them will leave them feeling like they won. Hearing the same outdated vegan joke from every family member may make you want to bang your head against a wall after a while, but if you stay patient and present veganism in the best light possible, it will be worth it.
Bring food with you
If you’re attending a party or event, don’t assume there will be food there that you can eat. There is nothing worse than sitting awkwardly to the side at a birthday party while everyone else devours party pies and cake. Bring something with you, even just a small snack.
Don’t beat yourself up if you make a mistake
Most of us slip up at some point. No matter how careful you are, there will probably be some silly embarrassing little mistake. Maybe the restaurant served you something with butter in it, or you missed something on the ingredient list or you absentmindedly reached for a sandwich only to realise halfway through that it contained chicken (true story). Don’t beat yourself up- you tried. Don’t feel pressured to give up just because you made one human mistake. You’re still doing a good thing. Going vegan isn’t a pledge for perfection. If you strive for absolute perfection, you may be disappointed. Accept the mistakes and be compassionate with yourself.