So you are interesting in transitioning to a vegan lifestyle. Congratulations! You have already made the first important step towards a cruelty free existence. Expressing curiosity for veganism has now opened the door to the information that has given countless others the courage and motivation to alter their eating habits and consumer choices. Changing a habit that is so integral to your current life can be a challenge and it does take practice. But hopefully this article will give you a few essential tips to help you get started.
- Educate Yourself –
The most important thing you can do as a vegan is expose yourself to all of the information surrounding it. There are generally three different facets of veganism. There is ethical veganism, which focuses mainly on the abuse and inhumane conditions that these food animals are subjected to. The videos in this area of veganism are particularly hard to watch, but important to know. Earthings is a documentary highlighting these horrors and can be found online for free. Other aspects of veganism include health concerns, sustainability, and the environmental impact of the meat and dairy industries. Documentaries that educate on these topics include Forks Over Knives and Cowspiracy respectively. There are also many books and scientific articles, including How Not to Die by Dr. Michael Gregor, that extensively cover the varying reasons supporting veganism.
- Cut Out Meat First (Vegetarianism) –
If you are like me, you may find it difficult to cut out all animal products at once. It may be easier for you to begin your journey towards veganism by taking the stepping-stone of vegetarianism first. This involves eliminating all meat, including fish, from your diet. As most American diets rely on mainly meat and dairy products for the bulk of their meals, starting by cutting out meat is a good way to ensure you will not lose motivation after becoming overwhelmed by lack of ideas for food options. Eventually you will discover vegan recipes and alternative products.
- Always Read the Ingredients –
As a vegan, you will soon discover that milk products, animal fats, and flavorings are hidden in all sorts of products. Even items labeled as “dairy free” often contain things like casein and whey, which are milk derivatives. Seemingly innocent products like “seasoned lima beans” also contain chicken fat. It seems tedious at first, but as you gain more experience as a vegan you will begin to recognize certain products as vegan right away. You will also gain incredible speed-reading skills!
- Expect Opposition –
Much like being a member of any other type of counter culture, you should expect a lot of opposition and questioning from the general public and sometimes even more so from your friends and family. It can certainly be frustrating having to constantly defend yourself on an issue that is so obviously not understood by the general public. Just try to keep in mind that while this may be the millionth time you’ve been asked something stupid like “how do you get enough protein?” it may be the first time this person has had the chance to ask. Try to be polite and stand your ground on the facts. (This is one reason why educating yourself is an important first step.)
- Never Give Up –
No matter how much opposition you face or how many hurdles you find you have to jump through in a carnivore’s society, don’t lose hope. There are millions of people out there just like you, fighting to save the animals, the earth, and even mankind. Even if everyone you know still consumes meat and dairy, feel the small victory for the animals that were able to live because of vegans like you. Don’t lose faith in humanity. Keep reaching out to others. Spread the vegan message. Be a voice for the animals, the most innocent and vulnerable among us.