In August 2015 I decided to go vegan, six months later still vegan and feeling wonderful, now one year later and of course still feeling great, besides a few non-vegan related health issues, I dread to think how bad they would be if I still ate animal products. For my one year vegan post I thought it would be a good idea to share some tips for those interested in making the change and becoming vegan, I promise you won’t regret it.
- Try new things! As children we often develop favourite go to meals and these soon become a staple in our daily routine, hard to break free from, even as adults. It is completely normal to go weeks eating the same meals day in day out or at least very similar. I mean how often do you eat some form of meat and potato? One of the things I love most about being vegan is how open I have become to trying new things, of course my recovery also plays a huge part in this but either way I love how experimental I now am. I remember when I first turned vegetarian I used to hate mushrooms even though I had never really tried them, now I could eat them with every meal, the same goes for so many things. Experiment with new recipes, ingredients and flavours- you never know unless you try. Break your food habits and be open minded- very open minded, especially when it comes to nutritional yeast, lentils and putting sweet potato into a brownie.
- Don’t say goodbye to your favourites, make them vegan friendly. I maybe contradicting myself here but as well as trying new things it is important to include your favourites, even your childhood favourites, I guess it is all about balance; new favourites and old favourites. For me vegan ‘meats’ are great for this kind of thing, one of my childhood favourites was chicken nuggets and chips so now and again I like to have fry’s family nuggets. You can also have things like veggie sausage sandwiches, beans on toast- I believe there is now even beans with veggie sausages in them? There really is all sorts of things like this out there, quorn now do vegan options to, just be sure to check for gluten if your intolerant to as quite often they are made with wheat.
- Never restrict yourself, if you find yourself craving something, some milk chocolate, a hot chocolate, a buttery slice of toast, a milky bowl of coco-pops or maybe even a homemade cupcake; you can still have it! Just find a way and I promise you there is a way (pinterest is your friend) of creating a vegan friendly version. If you really don’t fancy getting creative in the kitchen then check out Accidentally Vegan UK or #accidentallyvegan there are so many things out there that you would never think are vegan.
- Don’t let eating out put you off, always have a handy snack and prepare to search for a vegan friendly restaurant or adapt a menu. There are so many options for eating out vegan, now more than ever, the Happy Cow app is great for this kind of thing, do your research, a quick Google search and you will probably find somewhere. This is often one of the reasons people doubt becoming vegan ‘the social side’; there is no need for it to be a reason, if I can eat out being vegan and gluten free I am pretty sure you can to.
- Remind yourself why. When your struggling to remember why you made the decision to change remind yourself by reconnecting with others, spend some time with your pets, your friends pets, go for a walk and meet some cows, sheep and horses, take a trip to your local animal shelter or petting farm, watch a documentary, research some facts or read a vegan book; do something to remind yourself and re-inspire yourself to make the decision over and over again.
- Research! If you are struggling to think of meal ideas, quick snacks, baking recipes, vegan friendly restaurants, shops, make up brands, maybe your bloods have dropped a little in something -they really shouldn’t, mine actually improved but if so do some research find solutions- don’t let what ever it is stop you, be pro-active and change it for the better, remember ‘knowledge is power’. Read books, blogs, websites, watch videos, social media and download apps! There is so much vegan help, support and information out there, fill yourself with it, let it help your journey and who knows you might even pick up some vegan friends on your way.
- Explore, from exploring your local area, to near by cities and even whilst traveling, find vegan stores, cafes, restaurants, meet ups, fairs and festivals. Exploring is not only a great way of finding new foods but also meeting new friends, sharing information and of course in the long run helping those who need help. It is also a wonderful way to get out and find places you might not have even known were there. Check out Vegfest’s events Calendar for events in the UK and Meetup for vegan meet ups that might be in your area.
- You can only do your best and do your best for YOU. Remember we are all different, even as vegans. There is so many fads around these days, don’t allow yourself to be bombarded with them, especially when researching, be prepared to be faced with all of the labels and ‘diets’; raw till four, fully raw, high carb and so on. You have to find what works for you, if like me you don’t like labels or diets then just be vegan, eat what you like, when you like, be cruelty free and just do your best. Never put pressure on yourself, this will just steer you away from being vegan, slip-ups will happen, that’s life but each day we make a difference.
Thank you so much for reading; I hope my eight top tips help you on your vegan journey. Please let me know if they do, your thoughts on the post or if you have any tips yourself please comment and add them to the list.