Six Steps to Veganism: Our Tips for Making a Change
Turning vegan means to eliminate all traces of animal products from your diet and daily lifestyle. This includes the food you eat, the clothes you wear, and even the cosmetic products you use. Let’s face it- switching to a vegan lifestyle can be a bit intimidating. A huge percentage of products on the market are not vegan, and even if they aren’t made of animal products, they often contain traces of animal-sourced ingredients in them. If you’ve been following a standard non-restricted diet, you should know that a vegan diet will be a complete overhaul of your current ways. You may have to change your toothpaste you use every morning. Your favorite leather boots are now on the list of things to get rid of. But although it may be intimidating, it doesn’t have to be hard. By preparing for the switch and following the proper steps, you’ll ensure that your change to veganism goes as smoothly as possible.
Start with Why
To begin, you need to have a clear understanding of why you’re looking to adopt a vegan lifestyle in the first place. Simon Sinek, a well-known author and motivational speaker, preaches that our actions should start with why, not what. When you have a deep understanding of why you’re becoming vegan (or doing anything for that matter), you’ll always have something to fall back on when times get hard. A few examples of “Why” could be a deep passion for fighting against animal cruelty or wanting to finally get your health in check and lose a couple pounds. Start with why, but make sure that your “Why” means something to you.
Although a vegan diet is (perhaps) the healthiest diet anyone could follow, there are still a few things you should know. In order to ensure a positive and successful experience, you should first educate yourself on the many aspects of vegan, such as proper nutrition, foods to eat abundantly and foods to avoid, etc. For example, you should know that despite being very healthy, the vegan diet tends to be deficient of a few vital nutrients, such as vitamin B12, calcium, iron, and zinc. You should also know that you should avoid those overly processed vegan options. Not all nutrition is created equal, and this is indeed the case with veganism. If you properly educate yourself on all the ins and outs of veganism, you’ll have a much easier time switching over.
Find a Community
Having a great support system is an often overlooked step when people decide to become vegan. However, a great support system can be one of the most beneficial actions you can take. A good number of people try to make the switch on their lonesome, which over time can be lonely and make the switch a lot more difficult. Oftentime, these people have difficulty finding a community to join, mostly because their initial idea of a community is a group of people that they can spend time with and talk to in person. A community doesn’t have to be local, however. In fact, some great options you can turn to are Facebook groups, online forums, and even Instagram hashtags. If you search the #vegan hashtag on Instagram, you’ll find literally millions of vegans worldwide for you to connect with and gain support from. One of the greatest things about vegans is that they are passionate about helping others along their journey.
Revamp Your Pantry
You’ve probably seen advice floating around that you should gradually ease into a vegan lifestyle, slowly removing certain animal products from your shopping list. This may work for some, but what tends to happen is people get stuck in the “in between” phase, where they simply eat more vegetables and fruits, but can’t seem to get rid of their favorite animal product. Instead, revamp your pantry completely and in one go. Gather all your canned goods and donate them to your local food bank. Give your frozen animal foods to friends and family (or toss away, your choice). Once you’ve completely rid your pantry of any and all animal products, it’s time to go shopping. Make a shopping list full of vegan staple foods (such as salads, fruits, vegetables, breads, oils, etc.) and head to the grocery store. When you revamp your pantry to have only vegan options, you’ll put your daily decision-making on autopilot. Plus, your first vegan shopping experience can be very fun and inspiring.
Meal Prep in Advance
This step goes hand-in-hand with revamping your pantry. Now that you have a pantry full of healthy and cruelty-free goodness, it’s time to go to work in the kitchen. A good schedule to follow is to make all your meals on Sunday for the week ahead. If you find yourself troubled with what meals to make, no worries. There are thousands of amazing vegan recipes that you can find in a quick Google search. There are also a great selection of cookbooks available to purchase. Preparing your meals ahead of time will help you proactively make vegan decisions when you might otherwise be faced with the decision to eat meat.
Make it Fun
If you want anyone to do anything, one of the best ways to motivate them is to make it fun and enticing. The same goes for adopting a vegan diet. So many people (perhaps even you) see a vegan diet as being bland and tasteless. The typical vegan meal that comes to mind is usually a salad or sauteed vegetables. The exciting truth is that vegan meals are much, much more fun and tasty than you’d expect. You can make your vegan journey fun by searching for vegan versions of some of your favorite meals. Some examples of delicious vegan meals are cauliflower pizza, tofu scrambled “eggs”, and mac and cheese. Since these recipes often call for new ingredients such as nutritional yeast, you’ll be more engaged and excited as you experiment with ways to use these new ingredients. Although the last step listed, this step is perhaps just as important as finding your “why”.
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