Becoming Vegan - 7 Key Tips
I will be honest, transitioning to veganism is not the easiest things you can do but it will probably be the best, not only for yourself but also for the planet, your health and the animals of course. There was so much research that I wish I had done before making the jump, but then if I did it, Easy Way to Go Vegan probably wouldn’t happen! All the jumping back and forth, from one website to another made me think of this gem of a book that I hope will make everyone’s on the vegan journey life much easier. The book talks about veganism in general, it is not totally biased towards it though. It is put in a slightly different perspective to any of the other vegan transition books I read.
As a wellness coach and NLP practitioner I am fully aware of all the outside sources, conditioning and wiring that we go through from the very first moment we open our eyes. Before I went vegan I realised that eating meat is as much of a choice as being a vegan. Yes I know it sounds silly because we all know that, however if you truly dig deeper, most of us believe that we have no other choice but to eat meat. Why? Because our grandparents did, our parents did too and most of the other people around us do. We are fed dairy, meat and eggs from a very early age and just believe it is normal, because everyone does it.
But is the fact that everyone does it a reason to believe that it is normal?
I guess we all have the urge to conform with the majority, it's our instinct to do that. I personally thought that I had no other choice, but to eat meat, fish and dairy. I was absolutely convinced that if you didn’t eat any of these products, you would be seriously deficient of many key nutrients. Now I know I was wrong. Plant Based Diet (PDB) is probably the most nutrient-dense diet that exists. There is tons of studies proving that point. If you are in doubt, just check out Dr Caldwell Esselstyn, Neal Barnard, Dean Ornish, Dr TC Campbell and Dr Greger, to name a few pioneers of the plant based lifestyle. You will see that PBD is not only proven to reverse various diseases, but it also prevents them. Just like Hippocrates said “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”. That was said around 431 BC!
Another thing worth mentioning here is that you can either be conscious or unconscious when it comes to exhibiting certain behaviours, including your dietary choices. I believe that every omnivore or carnivore should make an effort to find out exactly where their animal derived products come from and how are they produced. If they do so, they are making a conscious decision about eating them, knowing exactly what happened before certain products reached their plate. Being unconscious about your food choices means that you simply do not know or do not want to know where they come from. You choose to be unconscious about it. It may be because deep down you know it may affect the choices you make in the future. In turn, you may be afraid to see things that may put you on the side of minority as once the brutality of animal agriculture is seen, it cannot be unseen. It has that strange way of coming back to mind every time you sit down at a dinner table. If you want to know few bits about mainstream animal agriculture in the UK, check out Land of Hope and Glory by Earthling Ed. By watching this you will be fully aware of the levels that animal agriculture goes to just to produce the food that the majority of the population continues to eat. I am not saying every farm is like that, some examples here may seem a little extreme to some however it was enough for me to completely eliminate these produce from my plate.
So how do you make the jump? The list could go on and on but below are the key things that I would recommend before you start your vegan transition:
1. Do your research. PETA, Vegan Society, Viva! or "Easy Way to Go Vegan" book are few of the resources I highly recommend. "Easy way to go vegan" book has all of the information I wish I had when I was transitioning to veganism. I comprised all of the key research points into one easy to read resource which will definitely help you in your vegan transition. Why research? Up until you go vegan, nobody cares about your diet, the moment you make the switch, everyone becomes a nutritional expert. You need to know how to answer the questions that will be thrown at you but you also should do it so you know why you are making this jump in the first place.
2. Decide how do you want to switch.
- Overnight vegan – You can go vegan overnight, however it is probably the hardest way to go about it. Your body might start craving the things it is being deprived of and can also be in a bit of a shock due to newly increased fibre consumption!
- Gradual transition 1 - Cut out one animal derived product and replace it with something of plant based origin. Continue these steps every couple of days or every week or so. This will give your body the time to adjust to the increased fibre intake and will be easier on your mind too.
- Gradual transition 2 – Switch one of your meals per day to a vegan one. After a week, add another vegan meal every other day or every day if it works for you. Continue until all of your meals are replaced with those of plant based origin.
- Part time vegan – A lot of hardcore vegans may scold you for this, but I believe that we all do what we can with the resources we have available. If you think that you cannot go vegan full time, do it part time. If every single person on planet Earth switched one of their meals per day, every day to a Vegan one, it would significantly reduce the demand, meaning that the impact animal agriculture has on the environment, land, water and many other things would be significantly reduced. No matter how big or small your input is, it is still better than the person who is just sitting there doing nothing, thinking that one person won’t change the world. (And yes, one person can’t change the whole world, but it can change the world for that one chicken, pig or a cow!)
3. Join a Facebook group. Being part of a group can really help you stay motivated. Groups like Easy Way to Go vegan, Vegan UK or New Vegan Support are there to answer your questions, help you deal with your cravings and give you some of the most amazing recipes. If you feel that you have a craving or struggle to find alternatives just drop a line in the group and within minutes the response start flowing in!
4. Check your cupboard. A lot of the dried or tinned foods you have in your cupboard are already vegan! Dried pastas, most breads, peanut butters, jams (watch out for gelatine), marmite, beans, rice and quinoa are the main few worth a mention.
5. Prepare. As the famous saying goes “fail to prepare, prepare to fail”. Meal prepping hugely helped me stay on track in my first few weeks, mainly because I really didn’t know what to have and what to cook, since meat, eggs and dairy were usually my key ingredients. I decided to veganise my favourite recipes and made enough to have at lunch or dinner for the next couple of days. At weekends I would test new recipes of vegan burgers and sausages that I would later freeze and take out when I had a lack of inspiration. "Easy Way to Go Vegan" Book has over 40 fuss free recipes to make your transition to veganism easy and pain free! I also post new recipe every week on my blog!
6. Check the ingredient labels. Milk powder and egg powder are in just about everything for no particular reason whatsoever. By checking the ingredient labels you will make sure that no animal derived ingredients are added to your favourite foods. After a while it will become a habit and you will not even realise you are doing it. It has more pros than you may think, by checking the labels, not only do you realise how many products have animal derived ingredients in them but also how many more other, unhealthy things that are added to our foods. You will start making choices that are much better for your body and your health. Click here for a full list of animal derived ingredients to watch out for.
7. Don’t be too harsh on yourself. It’s ok to slip up. Sometimes we go through life automatically, if you slip up, it is ok. There is no reason to beat yourself up. I remember my first slip up, when I was back home in Poland for a weekend. My mom had my favourite little crunchy chocolate balls (similar to Maltesers), and since they were coated in dark chocolate I assumed they were ok and went in for a handful without even thinking. A moment has passed and as I was reaching for the next few, something told me to check the ingredients. When I did, I realised that there was the smallest amount of milk powder in there. It was done so there was nothing I could have done about it, but for the future, I know I should not be so eager!
8. Clothing, make up, alcohol and household cleaning products. You don't have to go all in straight away. It's ok to still use those but be mindful about your future choices.
- Clothing - I now check composition label of every garment I buy and watch out for wool, cashemere and silk to name a few. I own a leather jacket and few pairs of trainers and boots which I bought before going vegan but I do not intend to buy more. I was not able to replace everything but am now switching to vegan clothing items gradually.
- Make up and house hold products - I was a person who used to buy in bulk so it took me months to use up all of the things I had at the house. Right now I am more conscious about my choices and do my research before I buy. For household products I turned to Astonish (budget) or Tincture London (higher price point but well worth it). I check all of my skincare and household brands on Cruelty Free Kitty or Cruelty Free International. When it comes to my skin routine I went natural before going vegan due to a strange acne outbreaks. I now use organic coconut oil as a make up remover, Dark Angels scrub from Lush, Colloidal Silver as a toner and Perfect Balance Oil from Miss Organics as a moisturiser. Look for the logos below if ever in doubt:
- Alcohol - despite what you may think, not all alcohol is vegan. Isinglass (derived from fish bladders) is used at the early stages of production and since alcohol is exempt from listing ingredients list, unless it's labeled as Vegan you won't really know. I turn to Barnivore. They comprise a list of hundreds of brands and alcohol types to make our life easier!
Whether you decide to go vegan part time or full time, it is up to you. I would strongly recommend you to do your research and speak to your physician before making the jump just to ensure it is the right choice. I did it for the animals, the Earth and my health.
As always, with good vibes and gratitude,