Tips for Becoming Vegan
For me, the decision to go vegan was an easy one. I decided that I was going to do it, and I did it. The first couple of days were hard and now seven weeks on, I still sometimes feel like I could demolish a whole wheel of Brie cheese, but in general I have found it pretty easy- to the point where I sometimes wonder if I am doing it wrong! Isn’t it meant to be difficult?Am I sleep-eating meat and cheese and chocolate which is why I don’t miss it?!
I think the most important thing is to always remember why you are doing it- health or wellness or to be cruelty-free – whatever your reason is, always remember it and let that be your motivation! Here are some other tips that have helped me and things that I have realised along the way:
- Don’t let yourself feel like you are ‘missing out’ on anything! For example, my boyfriend isn’t a vegan so when we go out to eat, he may order a meaty, cheesy meal. I might feel jealous for a minute or two, but then I remember that what I am eating is just as delicious and flavoursome, and better for me 😉
- Don’t let yourself get too hungry! This is a big one for me. If I am starving, I am more likely to start craving certain foods (cheese). Fill yourself up with fresh, tasty whole foods and make sure you snack during the day. The less hungry you are, the less you think (obsess) about food and the better your choices will be.
- Don’t think of non-vegan foods as something you ‘can’t have’. We always want what we can’t have, right? So think of them as foods that you ‘don’t eat’, in the same way that some people don’t eat bread or don’t eat gluten. Focus on all the food that you can eat- and I guarantee that there are more than you think!
- Get creative in the kitchen! Start with a couple of your favourite recipes at a time, and veganise them. You will find that the basis of the meal remains the same, and you probably won’t even realise that the meat/cheese/ egg etc is missing! If your food is tasty and satisfying, you definitely won’t focus on what is not in it. There are also some good ways to ‘trick’ yourself into thinking you’re eating meat when you are not- and a lot of the time we eat with our eyes first, so if you can see that your meal looks like it did when it had meat in it, then that’s half of the battle already won! For example, lentils can easily substitute mince. One of the first vegan meals my mum cooked for me was savoury lentils- which looked exactly like savoury mince and was far more delicious! You can do the same thing with spaghetti bolognese.
- Find vegan snacks- you might find out that something you already love is actually vegan. This is actually a lot easier than I thought it would be! For example, I love to snack on roasted seaweed, which is vegan without being purposely vegan. The PETA website has a great section called Accidentally Vegan which is a list of foods that are vegan by accident. You might be surprised at the vegan foods you have been eating all along.
- Don’t over-complicate it. This was probably one of the biggest things for me. As the name of my blog suggests, I am definitely not into anything too complicated or time consuming! But it has actually been super easy. Start with things you know you like- there are no rules! I enjoy brown rice and wholemeal pasta so I make those the basis of my meals and work up from there, adding veggies, beans, legumes, sauce etc.
- Don’t listen to the haters! People seem to have it in for vegans and some people will say and do thing to try and get you to change your mind. I work with someone who is always coming up with (dumb) arguments against being vegan and saying things like “just eating one piece of cake/chocolate/ meat etc won’t hurt you”. It may not ‘hurt’ me but it will definitely set me back! I just think of how far I’ve come and I don’t even feel tempted. I don’t force my way of eating onto others, but for some reason they think it’s ok to make fun of mine? As far as I’m concerned, I am in control of what I put into my body, and its none of anyone else’s damn business 🙂 Some people will say anything to get a reaction or make you feel belittled- just brush it off! You don’t have to justify your eating habits to anyone.
- If you’re going out, phone ahead or look at the menu online so you have an idea in your head of whether or not they cater for vegans, and what can be ‘veganised’. Often you will be left with limited choices when you eat out however most places I have been to are more than happy to cater to dietary needs, especially if they have some warning beforehand. Calling is a really good idea- we went to a Thai restaurant one night and I had looked at the menu online beforehand which said that there were vegan options, however when I got to the restaurant and asked, the waitress (not so politely) informed me that all Thai food is based around a fish-sauce base and so there was only one meal I could eat, and the chefs weren’t happy to change any of the meals to accomodate!
- Don’t feel bad if you slip up! Like any changes, becoming a vegan takes time to get used to, and you will have habits that need to be broken. A couple of weeks after becoming vegan, I was making mini-quiches for my boyfriend (yes, with egg and cheese and bacon….) I pulled them out of the oven and without thinking, picked a piece off one of the quiches and ate it! I suddenly realised what I had done and felt ashamed- but I decided not to beat myself up about it! Part of my reason for becoming a vegan was to become more conscious of what I was eating and I had just proved my own point- I needed to be more conscious!
- Know that there is always a way out- if you are transitioning from an animal-based diet to a vegan, plant-based diet, it can seem pretty daunting. In the beginning, it is a good idea to take it day by day. I told myself that I would do it for two weeks and see how I felt. If I hated it, if it was too hard or too time consuming or too much of an imposition on my lifestyle, I would go back to eating how I did before. However, by the time that two weeks was over, I was already feeling better and didn’t want to stop! I had also faced most of the challenges I was expecting like going out to dinner, a breakfast buffet with minimal options and a birthday cake in the office, and I had survived them, so there was really no reason not to continue!
- Herbal tea is your friend! In the first couple of days, it wasn’t meat or cheese that I missed the most, it was sugar! And the withdrawals were real! Those first couple of days, herbal tea was my best friend. I got a cacao and coconut blend from T2 and drank it like it was going out of fashion… but it really helped.
- Follow vegan pages on Instagram and Facebook, and look for some vegan recipes. You will see how exciting, tasty and easy vegan food can be!