Here are my tips for anyone out there looking to go vegan!
Unlike your typical vampire transition (shout out to all my ex Twilight lovers), transitioning into a vegan lifestyle is far less painful and surprisingly easy. When people discover that I’m vegan their usual response is, “I could never do that, it seems too hard”. It’s not a bad thing at all because to be quite honest I thought is was impossible too at first. Food has played such a big part of my life and by becoming a vegan I thought that I would have to give up a part of my life in a weird way. Some of my fondest memories as a kid are centred around eating. Today I want to give you a couple of tips that can help you make this lifestyle change go as smoothly as possible. If not, I hope this teaches you how you can start to slowly adapt a more plant based diet and how you can make simple changes in to your everyday life to better our planet. You might want to grab yourself a cold bottle of Kombucha and some popcorn, because this is not going to be a short post.
Taking the plunge
I think the hardest part for me in the beginning was making the decision to eat more plant based. This past February I made a video where I announced how I was going to be a part time vegan. Making that choice might not be a big deal to most people, but for me it was! For 20 years of my life I had been consuming meat, dairy, and eggs on a daily basis. When I attempted to be vegetarian for a week (this was many years ago), I failed miserably and gave in when I saw my sister eating salami. What possessed me to start eating this way? YouTube. One day as I was browsing YouTube when I should have been studying for my finals, and I stumbled upon this channel called hot for food. If you haven’t already checked them out, you have to! I had built this idea in my head that vegans only ate salad and bowls of fruit. However, hot for food and a lot of other vegan YouTuber’s have shown me how it is easy to indulge, create mouthwatering dishes, and be vegan all at the same time! Before going part time, I watched plenty of What I Eat in a Day and recipe videos which gave me ideas on what I could cook if ever deciding to eat plant based. I highly suggest you do the same. I have gotten comments in the past from viewers telling me how they are lacking ideas on what to make for meals, and it breaks my heart! There are so many dishes you can make that are quick and easy to make as a vegan! Get inspiration from YouTube, Instagram, and especially Pinterest!
Another tip is to get a buddy to join you on this journey. My roommate at the time and I decided that we would be vegetarian once a week together. It definitely motivated me to stay on track and by having someone to do this with it made the experience fun! The first day of our vegetarian journey was actually the day the first day I started being a “part time vegan”. Sometimes you just have to go that extra mile, buckle up, and do it!
Veganism is not a race. I know there are some people that can go vegan cold turkey (hats off to you), but personally for me, my transition was a slow one. Like I said, I was plant based on a part time basis so I was only eating like a vegan once a week. Doing this was a great way to test the waters and also challenge myself. As the weeks went by I gradually started eating plant based more and more and soon enough I was doing it every other day!
I think for a lot of people, taking your time is the best way to ensure you will be a successful vegan. By going cold turkey, you can sometimes lose motivation more easily. In the beginning you might feel great, but after the adrenaline is gone you completely burn out.
My advice is to pick a couple of days out of the week where you eat plant based. Maybe you want to do it on a day where you have more time to meal prep. As soon as you know it, you too will make that choice and go fully vegan!
Surround yourself with supportive people
As I said before, deciding to go vegan was a big deal for me. It’s a bit patronizing when people online make it seem like it’s no biggie, and sometimes you need someone who’s going to support you. Luckily for me I had my parents and amazing friends who really encouraged me and didn’t judge me for what I was doing. There’s nothing wrong with asking for help and admitting the fact that you’re struggling. Like I mentioned, taking your time to transition is going to ensure you don’t struggle, but still it happens. Social situations have been my biggest challenge as a vegan, since a lot of people are going to ask questions and have a debate with you about your lifestyle. If you’re reading this and you’ve teased your friend or family member about their choice to be vegan, please stop. I think people could use all the encouragement and support when making this decision, so be nice! I have a friend group from elementary school, which consists of 3 vegans out of the six. I am so lucky to have them in my life and when going vegan they were nothing but supportive and kind to me, they just let me do my thing. This past summer we decided to have a potlock and it was the non vegans who wanted us all to make vegan dishes! It was a great night filled with good food and drink, and everyone enjoyed themselves.
If you’re having a tough time finding support, there are tons of online vegan communities out there that actually have meetups. Go online and see who’s out there! I had the pleasure of attending the Toronto Vegan Food and Drink Festival this past summer and got to meet a couple of my favourite vegan YouTubers! Connecting with likeminded individuals or just nice supportive people, are going to make things 10 times better. And if you still need a friend, I gottchu!
Remind yourself why you’re doing this
I went vegan (fully) on April 25th 2016, and it has by far been one of the best decisions I ever made. At that time, I had just finished my second year of university and had just moved back home. It was the perfect time for me because being at home would allow me to have access to a fully stocked fridge of fresh produce. This gave me time to be more prepared to go back to school and be responsible for cooking and buying all of my own food.
As a vegan I get asked a lot of the time why I decided to pursue this lifestyle, and my answer in the beginning was always because of my health. However, as I educated myself more about the environmental impact veganism has on our planet, I realized how it is so much more than just eating plant based. As a vegan you are cutting out any food, beauty products, clothing, or any items that are not vegan and not cruelty free. However, there are times when I forget why I made this choice and during those times I like to think and reflect. This is something that is common for people just starting off on their vegan journey to experience. I personally like to read articles or watch movies that inspired me when I was starting off. Cowspiracy is a great documentary that goes into detail the environmental impact we have on the planet and a lot of people claim that this was the film that made them take the extra step and become vegan. Reflect on the reason why you made this change and remember that you’re doing your best! The first couple of months can be tough but it only gets easier!
I challenge you!
There is a big misconception about veganism. People think that this lifestyle is unrealistic and too hard, but it doesn’t have to be. As someone who used to love eating meat and cheese, I am telling you, this lifestyle change was the best decision I ever made. Everyday I wake up with so much energy and look forward to what the day holds for me. To my readers out there who are just starting out, I am so proud of you and you can do it! I hope this post helps you and makes your life a bit easier. I believe that you can’t judge something until you’ve tried it, and so I challenge you to pick 1 day this week and eat a plant based diet. Test out some of my recipes and tell me how you feel! Who knows, it could be the first day of your vegan journey!