So, you want to go vegan. You feel in your heart that it’s the best thing to do. Maybe you watched a documentary on Netflix about horrifying factory farming practices or you’ve been following Forks Over Knives and learned about all of the amazing health benefits. Or, maybe you’re really concerned about climate change and the pleas of environmentalists to choose a more sustainable way of life have been eating at you. Perhaps it’s a combination of all three. Whatever your motivation, you know it’s something you feel called to do for strong reasons.
However, you’ve hit a snag. You just don’t know how to make it a sustainable part of your life. Your partner loves cheeseburgers, you do all the cooking and you don’t want to cook two meals and you’d feel guilty about feeding them salads and quinoa. You work in a restaurant that serves Southern barbecue. Your family are dairy farmers. You’ve never tried it, but you’re pretty sure you hate tofu. Whatever is holding you back, it’s important to realize that in this life we have to do the things that make us feel proud and confident in our decisions and if following a vegan lifestyle is that decision for you, make it!
We’ve put together a handy guide on how to get through all of the issues that might be holding you back from taking the leap and come up with a sustainable guide for a slow transition if you’re feeling sure about jumping in headfirst.
Set intentions and get excited about being vegan
You’re making a huge change and you probably feel pretty darn good about it too. That’s a great thing but the tricky part can be maintaining that excitement about the amazing choice you’re making and giving yourself a reminder as to why you need to follow through with this.
Maybe you want to set a wallpaper on your phone reminding you of animal sentience or maybe you need to have a date set in your calendar to revisit whatever piece of media impacted you enough to make the decision. On top of that, try making some vegan friends who understand that while you’re moving slowly, you have the best of intentions. A community can help remind you why you wanted to do this in the first place when it’s 2AM and you can’t get McDonalds out of your head.
Record all the non-vegan products you’re using
Make a point of learning everything you can about the products you use every day. Not only does that include your food, but also your cosmetics, clothing and household supplies. Learn the ingredients and make a list of everything that isn’t compliant with your new lifestyle. Research the best alternatives, but don’t worry about replacing everything all at once. Nobody has that kind of cash!
Use up the products you do have first and then as you finish them, replace them with cruelty-free alternatives. Now, vegan items can sometimes be more expensive and that can be a barrier to making choices that align with your views and we totally understand that. Vegan food doesn’t have to be expensive, however. If you follow a whole foods diet and limit the “treats”, it’s absolutely doable. Also, consider a membership to a bulk store as you can often get great deals on staples like pasta, quinoa and beans.
Obviously, things like cosmetics and household supplies can be trickier but if you’re on a tight budget you can definitely DIY a lot of things. There are so many recipes out there for household cleaners and skincare products out there that can be made when you’re short on cash and there are a lot of great indie brands that sell vegan cosmetics like lipstick and eye shadow if you gotta have that Instagram ready look.
Going vegan might not happen instantly
Now, we’re not saying don’t jump in wholeheartedly at some point but making sure you stay healthy is an important factor to take into consideration. Make sure you take a look at your macronutrients and how you tend to structure your meals. If you tend to go nuts over macaroni and cheese, what’s going to be your alternative? There are some great, veggie-dense recipes out there for cheese sauce. You just need to do the research. Take a long, hard look at how you’re going to meet your nutritional requirements.
If you hate beans, take a look into other vegan protein sources like tofu, tempeh and seitan. Not a fan of avocado? Fats are important, so look into flaxseed and oils you can add to your meals. Add a few healthy vegan recipes to your repertoire and find out what you love. Trust me, you don’t want to be living off of spaghetti with canned tomato sauce. It won’t do anybody any good.
Try out some vegan foods first before completely overhauling your diet. It’ll be much easier ahead of time to find out that you prefer cashew milk to soy milk.
Create a veganism game-plan
So, if you have decided to take your time to live an entirely cruelty-free lifestyle, that’s totally fine. However, it’s important to have a plan for how you want to do it. Will you try a pescatarian lifestyle first? Skip the fish and become a vegetarian? These are completely viable options and every choice you make to not consume animal products is a life saved.
The important thing to remember about this tactic is that there should be an end in sight. Maybe you’ll make the commitment to spend two months as a pescatarian before cutting out fish, followed by another two months of vegetarianism. Maybe you’ll start with cutting out cheese and milk and swapping it for a cashew cheese and oat milk. Whichever way you choose to do it, have a plan and then follow through with it. You’re making the right decision and it’s okay to take your time with it. The important part is reaching the goal.
Choosing to live a cruelty-free lifestyle is so important and it’s so great that you’re thinking about making the jump, it truly is. By taking baby steps, coming in with a solid plan, watching your nutrition and being intentional with why you’re making this choice, we just know you’re going to succeed with finding your way to a lifestyle that suits your ethics and when you get there, you’ll be able to live the rest of your life knowing that you’re promoting your health, protecting your planet and doing your part in defending the animals who die every day for no good reason. Also, if you haven’t tried baked tofu yet, get on it. Cooked properly, it’ll change your life just like choosing a vegan lifestyle is about to!