11 Tips For Going Vegan
Veganism is a lifestyle that excludes all animal products, including in the diet, the clothing and accessories you wear, as well as the skin care products you use. It attempts to limit the exploitation of animals as much as possible. There are many different reasons a person may choose to follow a vegan lifestyle, including:
One of the biggest benefits of a vegan diet is that it can reduce your risk of cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. There are many studies that show that people who eat a well-balanced vegan or vegetarian diet lower their cholesterol by up to 35%. Another literature review discovered that vegans reduced their total cancer risk by about 15 percent and decreased their heart disease risk by 25 percent compared to people who included meat in their diets.
Also, there are now multiple studies that show a link between eczema, acne, and other skin conditions and dairy consumption. Many people with chronic skin issues report clearer skin after going dairy-free.
Adopting a vegan lifestyle has a huge environmental impact. 1/4 of the world’s water supply is used by the dairy and meat industry. Research shows that one person going vegan can save over 200,000 gallons of water a year. Animal agriculture generates over 14% of global emissions; that’s more than all transportation emissions! Studies show that adopting a vegan diet can cut agricultural greenhouse gases in half.
Animal agriculture monopolizes the world’s resources, including water and land, to fuel its production. It has been estimated that 36% of the calories produced by the world’s crops are used to feed animals. And only 12% of those feed calories produced from livestock end up contributing to the human diet. It’s not a very efficient model.
One of the most compelling reasons to begin eating vegan and removing all animal products from your lifestyle is an ethical one. All aspects of factory farming are incredibly cruel. Animals are raised in cramped, unsanitary living conditions, some never seeing natural sunlight. Many spend their entire lives in small cages, are tortured and have constant diseases caused by this sad life. For some people, their vegan journey begins with no longer wanting to be part of an industry that causes so much suffering.
11 Tips For Going Vegan
Listed above are some of the top reasons a lot of people choose to go vegan. For me personally, it was health issues that were the deciding factor. I was already a lifelong vegetarian. But after I learned that dairy was one of the top trigger foods that caused flareups with my Hashimoto’s autoimmune disease, I decided it had to go. I follow a strict plant-based diet for going on 6 years now. There were times it was a little difficult and a good amount of things that I had to relearn along the way. So I’m sharing with you some of my top tips from my vegan journey.
Don’t Rush It
Some people may be able to make the switch to a fully vegan diet overnight and never look back, and that’s great! But a slow transition to help you learn vegan recipes and plant-based food options can help you adjust in a way that feels sustainable to you. And that’s great too! If You don’t know where to start, you can begin with “Meatless Monday” and then move on to 2 and 3 meatless days and so on.
Start With Dishes You Know And Love
Most dishes can be made vegan-friendly. Start with recreating your favorite meals by replacing dairy and eggs as well as meat with a vegan option. Once you find it easy to recreate these favorites, move on to exploring new dishes.
Don’t Be Afraid To Try New Things
There’s a lot of vegan food staples that most people have probably never tried. When I first tried Nutritional Yeast I really wasn’t a fan. Now I add it to my tofu, salads, and dressings, as well as my pasta. My kids love it on their popcorn. There are also so many different types of vegan cheese now. Give a few a try. They won’t taste exactly like dairy cheese, but I’m pretty sure you can find one you’ll enjoy.
Learn To Make Your Own Nut Milk
There are so many choices now when it comes to alternative milk. Almond, Cashew, Oat, Rice, Soy, Hemp, to name a few. However, I don’t believe anything beats the taste of homemade nut milk. Almond definitely being my favorite. And so easy to make. Let the almonds soak overnight, then blend them in the morning. Doesn’t really get easier than that!
Starting out your vegan journey with a friend can be helpful. You can cook together, check out new restaurants and hold each other accountable. But if you don’t know anyone ready to go vegan with you just yet, look around on social media. There are plenty of Facebook groups and vegan accounts on Instagram that can be a wealth of knowledge.
Find Some Vegan Restaurants
You’re not always going to be in the mood to cook. And sometimes you’re going to want to go out for a nice dinner. There are a lot more vegan restaurants these days than there were just a few years ago. And most restaurants are getting better at offering vegan options on their menus to accommodate the growing number of people following a vegan diet. One of my favorite resources I use whenever I’m traveling to a new area, even other countries, is Happy Cow. They also have an app that I keep on my phone, and it’s never failed me!
Vegan Cook Books
I know most people look everything up online these days. But I still love my cookbooks. I enjoy pulling a few down from time to time to thumb through them to look for new recipes and inspiration. A few of my favorites are Cooking With Kurma, which was actually the first cookbook I ever bought. It’s a vegetarian cookbook, but I just adjusted the recipes now to make them vegan. The Real Food Daily cookbook came from my favorite restaurants that I ate at almost daily for years. Sadly they closed the one that was close to me a few years ago. Luckily I can just make anything I want from home now. And Love Is Served, which is my newest book that I’m enjoying at the moment.
Take A Multi-Vitamin
Vegans have a hard time getting enough vitamin B12 from strictly plant-based foods. If you are worried about it, just take a multi vitamin, and you should be good.
Don’t Overthink Your Protein
With the typical American diet, people generally eat way more protein than is necessary or is even healthy. When a vegan diet is well balanced with vegetables, grains, and tofu or tempeh, it’s very easy to meet your daily needs. You can always add a vegan protein powder to your shakes and smoothies if you feel like you are not quite there.
Don’t Be a “Starchatarian”
I know that’s probably not a real word. But the idea behind it is an important one! When cooking and eating it’s important to focus on eating plant foods. You don’t want to replace meat with a lot of starchy foods like pasta and rice. While that’s fine to have in moderation, try not to let it make up the bulk of your diet.
Remember Why You Started
From time to time you might have a day where you find yourself annoyed with the extra thought that has to go into eating or you’re craving an old favorite. Just remember that everything gets easier with time. And remember what it was that inspired you to begin with. Whatever the reason, sticking to a vegan diet will have a positive impact on the environment, your health, and the lives of animals.
I thought I’d add a shortlist of some of my favorite vegan substitutes.
- Pacific Foods Organic Coconut Milk
- WestSoy Organic Soy Milk
- SO Delicious Coconut Milk Yogurt
- Wildwood Organic Tofu
- Lightlife Tempeh
- Follow Your Heart Organic Vegenaise
- Violife Cheddar Shreds
- Soyatoo Soy Whip
I love hearing from you guys! Do you have any questions or tips that you found helpful in your own journey? If so, add them to the comments below!