Alright you’ve decided you want to give this vegan thing a whirl and are pumped. Way to go! But before you go running off to buy a year’s supply of kale you might want to think this through a bit more. Here are our four top tips for getting off to a good start:
1 – Know WHY you’re doing it
Whether it’s for the animals, your health, the environment, to lose weight or to try something new; be super clear about why you want to go vegan. By setting your intention at the beginning it will inspire you and help keep you on a plant-based path, plus help you to explain to every Tom, Dick and Harry who will ask why the hell you’re doing it. There’s a good chance your decision to become vegan was partly because of something you’ve learned, so make sure you continue on this path to get all the facts. There is an abundance of info out there. They say ignorance is bliss, but gaining more knowledge and understanding of what we’re putting into our mouths (where it came from, how it was produced, what damage it might be causing), will help you make the right decisions or at the very least mean you’re aware of all the issues.
2 – Know WHAT you’re supposed to be doing
Vegans don’t eat anything that was part of, or that came from an animal – so no meat, fish, eggs, dairy products and honey. Sounds simple enough but delve a bit further and suddenly you’ll realise that almost everything you’ve been eating has had an animal involved one way or another, even your innocent marshmallow and glass of vino (unless it’s vegan wine). So get looking at ingredients on labels and reading up on what food and drinks are vegan and what’s not. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at the amount of things which are actually vegan already – hello Oreos and Massel stockcubes! (check out this fun read from Urban List on things accidentally vegan). Also a great guide to help you out is the free Vegetarian Starter Kit from Animals Australia which you can get HERE. As a vegan it’s very important to make sure you’re getting sufficient nutrients too (we’ll be covering this in more detail in a future post), so going in blind is definitely not recommended.
3 – Take it SLOW
If you can go completely vegan overnight cold turkey, brilliant. For most people this is incredibly difficult and not feasible though. So don’t start chucking out food recklessly, maybe wait until something runs out and then replace it with a vegan option. If you currently eat heaps of meat, eggs and dairy like we did, then perhaps going vegetarian first is the best option. That way you can get yourself used to eating meals without meat and fish, before cutting out more stuff (trust us eggs are the hardest). You may even need to go slower than this and cut out only one thing at a time, e.g. chicken, then move on to lamb, etc. Or do ‘meat-free Mondays’ for a while and then gradually increase these days in the week. Whatever works for you do it. You might even just want to start with something super simple like swapping the cow’s milk in your coffee for soy or almond; or using maple syrup on your porridge instead of honey. Veganising meals you’re already buying or making is definitely an easy way to get started; such as replacing the beef in your stir-fry with tofu, using vegetable or vegan chicken-style stock in your pumpkin soup, or coconut milk instead of dairy cream in your korma curry. Every change you make, no matter how small, is a positive one. Breaking the habit and lack of time or inspiration can often be the hardest parts, so get looking up and trialing new recipes when you can because it may take you a while to build up a repertoire of 100% vegan meals. And each time you do nail something, make sure it goes on your list of go-to meals so you don’t forget about it (we’ll be sharing our favourite recipes soon!).
4 – Join forces for support
You’ll find it much easier to stay motivated and excited if you have a friend or partner on the plant-based path with you. Sharing recipes and info is what made us start this blog, plus you won’t feel so alone (if you’re surrounded by heavy meat eaters that is). Don’t know anyone else going vegan? Don’t worry, just get your ass online and start following groups like Vegan Australia or vegan blogs (like this one!). There are heaps of avenues for asking questions and getting support – you can do this!
What are you most worried about giving up? Or if you’re already vegan, what helped you transition to a plant-based diet?