If you had asked us as non-vegans, what we thought about veganism, we probably would have said that it sounds like a jail sentence!
In all honesty, we never even knew what veganism was… we had only ever heard of vegetarians and that was the last thing we ever imagined we would be … let alone vegan!
Thinking back to 2008, before we were vegetarian and before we had ever even met a vegan, our objections to changing our diet would have sounded very similar to: “I love meat too much to give it up, what else would I eat, everyone else eats animals, I was raised eating animals”.
And perhaps ahead of all these objections would have been: WHY, HOW, BUT IT’S TOO HARD!
Years later, having spoken about veganism with so many non-vegans, we now know addressing these questions and objections are a pivotal part in someone making a change in their diet and lifestyle, or not.
So, as we approach our 6 year vegan anniversary, we thought it would be helpful to share our Top 5 Tips that will help address WHY, HOW, BUT IT’S TOO HARD”.
Tip 1: Education is key!
We can’t emphasize this enough. It’s very difficult to make such a significant change to your diet and lifestyle if you don’t understand why it’s important to do it and how to do it.
In the past it was definitely more challenging to find readily available information about going vegan. But luckily with the increased popularity of social media, information is shared so quickly and easily, that it’s actually difficult to not learn about veganism!
There is a multitude of documentaries, videos, and books available to learn more; we’ve listed our recommendations under the Our Tools tab on our website.
But to make life super simple, here are your go-to documentaries that will give you all the information you need about why going vegan is the best you can do for your body, the planet, and the animals. Links for all can be found in Our Tools.
Tip 2: What to Eat
Once you’ve got the education and understand why it’s important to be vegan, the next question is often “what do I eat?!” Our second tip is to eat whatever kind of vegan diet you think will make this transition as easy as possible, and also sustainable.
Many people don’t realize that there are as many ways to eat vegan as there are to eat non-vegan. That means you can be super healthy, super junky, or somewhere in between. The best available balance of science is telling us that a 100% plant-based diet focused primarily (but not necessarily exclusively) around whole plant foods, is optimal for human health.
Having said that, if you are transitioning to a vegan diet from a standard western diet full of animal products and processed foods, then jumping straight into a healthy whole plant foods diet may not be the most practical option. Don’t get us wrong, if you can make that leap, then do it! But if you can’t, then it’s better to use more processed vegan foods to help you transition away from animal products.
More processed vegan foods vary in terms of their health qualities, for example, obviously almond milk is a lot healthier than vegan donuts! So you can certainly choose healthier options of processed foods (and even if you have a vegan donut every now and again it’s always going to be healthier than the non-vegan version, let alone better for animals and the environment).
The great thing about going vegan today is that there are so many plant-based alternatives for meat, dairy products, and even eggs. So if you need to use the vegan alternatives for animal products, then do so – don’t hold back. You can find vegan alternatives in many regular supermarkets these days. If you can’t find what you need, ask other people on vegan social media groups like Facebook. As you become more comfortable with your vegan diet, over time you might find that you don’t need to rely so heavily on vegan processed foods and you might feel ready to change to a healthier diet by increasing
Tip 3: Keep it Simple
So many people come to the vegan lifestyle and over-complicate things when it comes to what to cook. They might even buy a vegan cookbook that looks amazing, but is far too complex and time consuming. Here’s where it’s important to keep perspective and remember that you already eat a mostly plant-based diet! Think about it … all you have to do is remove meat, dairy, eggs, and bee products … everything else you eat is vegan! Fruit, vegetables, rice, bread, pasta, beans, seeds, nuts … all vegan (just read the labels for bread and pasta as they sometimes contain dairy and/or eggs).
With the realization that so much of your diet is already plant-based, the easiest way to keep your new vegan diet simple, is to continue making the same or similar meals as you always have, but drop or replace the animal products. For example, if your breakfast is usually cereal with cow’s milk, switch the dairy for a plant-based milk (almond, rice, soy, coconut, oat, hemp etc). If the cereal you usually eat isn’t vegan, you can try a honey-free muesli, or our favorite, oatmeal. Add some fruit on top for sweetness.
Use legumes to add “bulk” to your meals and replace meat. Make your usual meals of meatballs or burger patties using plants instead of meat.
We have a free vegan meatball recipe for you when you subscribe to our website. Making similar meals to what you’re already used to cooking is going to feel a lot less daunting than doing a total recipe overhaul!
And once you’re more comfortable with cooking vegan meals, you can then venture into some more creative recipes and expand your culinary repertoire.
Tip 4: HappyCow
By now you may be feeling confident to prepare vegan food in your own home, but what happens when you eat out or are traveling? Many new vegans, and vegan-curious people, feel very stressed about this and some people shy away from fully embracing living vegan because they think eating out is too hard. Our tip is to download the HappyCow app on your phone.
It’s the world’s largest online restaurant directory for vegan/vegetarian/and veg-friendly establishments around the world. You’d be surprised how many restaurants provide vegan options … and some of these places might even be right in your area but you’ve never known about it. It’s important to remember that restaurants are a business – they want customers and they want to make money. So even if a restaurant is not vegan, if there are enough people asking for vegan options, then they’re likely to want to meet that demand and supply the vegan options to keep their customers happy and business flowing.
We have been using the HappyCow website (and more recently the app) for over 8 years now, and it’s incredible to see how many vegan listings there are. Whenever we’re out or traveling, we use it to help us find a place we want to eat at. So we highly recommend it as an excellent addition in your “how to” vegan toolbox.
Tip 5: Be Prepared
The reality is that being vegan in a predominantly non-vegan world can be challenging at times. It’s not always smooth sailing and sometimes you might find yourself in a bind. So our 5th tip is to be prepared. Yes it takes a little extra planning sometimes, but that can often be the difference between having a great vegan experience, or going hungry and hating the day!
Think about the day ahead and prepare yourself – if you know you’ll be on the road for work and there might not be a place to grab a quick vegan meal for lunch, then bring your own meal. A great idea is to make extra
Always have some basic essentials in your cupboard and fridge at home so you’re never caught out of food, starving, and tempted to just order
This means that you can always whip up a super fast and simple meal. You can also have a loaf of bread in the freezer and just take out a few slices at a time as you need them. Another idea is to cook extra and freeze the leftovers so you’ve got a go-to meal on those super busy days when you get home late. In fact keeping a bag or two of frozen veggies in the freezer is also a good idea… fresh is ideal, but it’s better to eat frozen vegetables than not at all!
When traveling, we always carry our snap-lock travel containers so we can buy vegan food as we find it and take it away with us to eat in transit. There’s nothing worse than being hungry on the road, so we can’t recommend enough the need to think ahead and pack your travel container!
We hope these top 5 tips have helped … please share this page with anyone you know is thinking of going vegan, or new to the lifestyle and needs some help.
There are many, many more tips … but that’s for another blog post.
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Thank you for the tip about making a little extra food at dinner and then taking the leftovers with you to work or school. My sister has been thinking about going vegan, but she never has time to prepare food. I wonder if she could find a way to help her with getting meals on the go that are vegan.
Hi Sandra, thanks for reading and for your comment 🙏 Sorry for the late reply, we were on our European animal rights activism tour back when you commented and so we couldn’t respond at the time, and we’ve only just come across your comment again now! Glad the tip was helpful. Not sure where your sister lives but we’ve noticed our local supermarket here in Australia now has ready-to-go plant-based meals, and we suspect that they will be widely available elsewhere before too long. A ‘Challenge 22’ mentor could also help your sister with ideas and tips based on her location http://bit.ly/Challenge22Days