Top 6 Tips on Going Vegan
- Familiarize yourself with ingredients. Besides the obvious such as eggs, honey, cheese and milk, there are less realized animal based ingredients such as: gelatin, whey, casein, confectioner’s glaze, isinglass, L. cysteine and yes, beeswax. Food labels have become easier to read and usually have MILK listed as an allergen. Some proudly list Vegan on the packaging.
- Join a local group or online community. Search Meet-Up, Facebook, and Health Food Stores for vegan potlucks, outings and events in which you can participate. Meeting other like-minded people will inspire you on your journey and support your decision. Consider attending a Veg Fest, which are annual food festivals with all vegan or vegetarian products, demonstrations and speakers. Here is a link to a list of vegetarian and vegan groups and here is the Veg Fest local to the Raleigh, NC area.
- Watch a documentary. But first, consider your emotions. I only needed to witness a few videos before I had seen enough. I know the abuse is still happening everyday and the images I’ve seen are etched in my mind forever. When I see a hamburger I recall these images. There are several films that are very graphic in nature (slaughterhouse & factory farm video) and others that are more health-based and skip over the ethics of animal rights, in favor of the nutritional benefits. Other fall in between. They are all eye-opening. Some good ones are:
- Visit a Farm Sanctuary. A farm sanctuary is not the same as a farm. Farm animal sanctuaries are safe havens for animals who have endured the victimization of factory farming. The animals are rescued, medically treated when necessary and live out their natural lives at the sanctuary. Tours are common as well as volunteer work days and special events. There are sanctuaries in the USA from Arizona to Wisconsin and International, too. Here is a link to a list (note: the listing under France did not work for me.)
- Tell your family and friends. Ask for support in your decision. This might be the toughest of all. There are many spiritual connections, traditions and emotions that revolve around food; especially with parents. If they raised you on meat and dairy, and now you refuse it, it can be taken as an affront to their parenting skills and decisions. It’s not impossible to still have parties and entertain but it’s important to speak your truth and not give in to guilt. “I made it just for you, it only has a little cheese and three eggs.” There are tons of recipes available that are 100% vegan and delicious. Perhaps, share your new favorite vegan recipes with your family and friends.
- Enjoy the Process. Going vegan doesn’t have to be an overnight event…although it really is for many people. It may take time to transition to a new way of eating and possibly, a new lifestyle altogether. Consider what you eat for breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner and learn how you can gradually make your meals meatless. It may mean leaving an ingredient out of a meal or it may mean simply replacing it with a plant-based substitute. Remove one animal product at a time (refer to number 1 above). Adding vegan-friendly foods to your diet (such as fruits, vegetables, oats, non-dairy milk, nuts, grains, tofu, tempeh, legumes, and avocado) helps create fantastic eating habits that will serve you well. Be inspired by colors and keep your meals fresh, balanced, and simple. Try not to be tempted by all the processed and packaged convenience foods commonly available, although there are some great tasting meat and cheese substitutes. Smart Dogs and veggie burgers are ideal for entertaining or bringing to a party. Share your new food. After a little time, compassionate eating will be a natural choice. Be kind to yourself on your journey.
If you’ve made it all the way to the bottom, thanks! I have this post available in PDF Format; let me know if you’d like a copy sent to your email. ~Karin