A Beginner’s Guide To Becoming A Vegan

Even though it has been practiced for thousands of years, veganism has seen a dramatic rise in popularity in recent years. With more knowledge of how food is made and it’s effects on the environment and animals, becoming vegan seems like a logical choice for many. You might think it’s a difficult task, but it’s actually easier than you might think. Vegan foods and brands can now be found in grocery stores, and new vegan restaurants are opening all the time. The fashion industry has also got on board. Labels such as Mat and Nat and Stella McCartney are proud to say they don’t use animal by-products in their collections. While being vegan has become more accepted and recognized, it can still be confusing for first-timers. This guide is for those who need some guidance and encouragement in the early stages of their transition.

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The first few days will be the hardest

Whatever your reason for wanting to become a vegan, you need to be passionate and feel inspired about it. This will give you the motivation and focus you need for potentially the rest of your life. But one thing that many beginners don’t realize is how hard the first few days can be. Some find the transition straightforward and deal with it with little stress. Whereas others can find it a struggle to begin with and experience cravings. This can force many to give up before they’ve had a chance to truly start. If you are committed to becoming vegan, knowing it will be initially difficult can help you prepare yourself. Doing research is key to help you get into the swing of things. You can look for inspiring vegan recipes and treats you can make at home in cook books and online. Instagram is another brilliant tool. You can use hashtags to find incredible individuals and groups who recommend recipes and brands. While also providing reviews and fantastic images. This could inform you of new places you can shop and foods you can try. You might want to try vegan pizza or chocolate smoothies for instance. Following vegan celebrities and clothing brands on social media could also be useful.

You might want to seek out advice from a vegan lifestyle group by attending some meetings. This can give you a valuable source of support and guidance from people who have experience about the process. The vegan community encourages people to ask questions and learn more. So don’t feel embarrassed or unsure about asking them even the most basic of questions. They will no doubt be more than happy to assist you and may recommend things you can try to make it easier. All of this will help you feel excited about making this change to your life, which in turn will make the first few day easier to deal with.

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Create a vegan-friendly kitchen

One of the amazing benefits of becoming vegan is how diverse it can make your diet. Instead of choosing meat based meals, your diet can become more diverse with vegetables and whole-grains. You can start eating foods that you’ve never eaten on a regular basis before, making each meal time far more enjoyable. While also making them less predictable too. But before you start experimenting with cooking and tasting vegan foods, you need to make sure your kitchen is up to scratch. You need to go through your kitchen’s pantry, cabinets and drawers to check what food you already have. This may take some time, but it will give you an excellent clean slate to start from. Check the food labels to see what ingredients have been used in your canned, packaged and jarred food. You may find that some have logos stating that they are suitable for vegans. But not all vegan products will have this included, so it’s always best to check the ingredients lists. Refer to online lists from vegan websites that will tell you every ingredient that is an animal by-product. This is quite an eye-opening activity that should make you feel more eager to get started.

Having meat or dairy based products in your kitchen will increase your chances of making mistakes and giving up quickly. So these items need to be removed before you start buying more vegan-friendly food and snacks. Instead of throwing them away, you could donate them to a nearby homeless charity instead. They can put it to good use, and you will feel all the better for it.

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Give yourself plenty of time

Adding vegan-friendly ingredients such a kale, beans and whole-grains into your meals can be very exciting. But it can also be time-consuming. Even though you have removed all animal by-products from your home, you might be unsure of which vegan ingredients to use begin with. Choosing and creating vegan meals can take some time to get used to if you’ve eaten meat for most of your life. This can mean that your meal preparation and cooking times take longer than usual as you get your head around new ingredients and recipes. In the early stages of your transition, give yourself sufficient time to cook and prepare your meals. This will give you time to taste the products and understand which flavors work with each other. Again, use vegan cookbooks and Instagram to help you find incredible meal ideas if you need help.

It’s likely you will occasionally buy vegan foods and snacks that you don’t like. As with most things, vegan brands can vary in quality. Try to persevere and try out the ingredients from different brands and with different meal styles. You may find that another vegan brand offers more taste and quality. Before long you will start to know which you like and don’t like, which will make shopping for groceries a lot easier.

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Don’t worry if you mess up

When you are just starting out, the chances of you making a mistake are quite high. This happens to a lot of first-time vegans and shouldn’t make you feel bad. You might accidentally eat a product you thought was plant based and it isn’t. Or you might buy a new sweater that includes angora or cashmere. You won’t be the first person or the last person to do this, so don’t panic. Instead of beating yourself up over your mistake, see it as a learning curve and  use it as an incentive to try harder. You can do more extensive research online to find out which food, clothing and makeup brands you can buy from. While also finding out which products and brands you should avoid at all costs. It’s unlikely you will know everything there is to know about Veganism overnight. So print out useful vegan lists and keep them on your fridge or in your wallet or bag. You might also want to connect with other vegans on social media or forums to gain support and guidance to get you back on track. Or again, attend a meeting or social event to ask for other vegan’s advice and ideas.

All of this will help you avoid making further mistakes in future and stop you worrying about what you can and can’t use or consume. If you are feeling stressed out or unhappy, it’s unlikely you will want to progress further which is a real shame. Getting as much knowledge and understanding as you can will make it far easier to make more informed decisions.

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Don’t be too judgemental

Just because you have decided to make this positive change doesn’t mean you should judge others who haven’t. In this day and age, we have the freedom to choose what we put in and onto our bodies. If you disagree with people wearing leather or eating dairy and meat, that is perfectly fine. But don’t lecture or preach to those who do. This will no do you any favors and you may find that people avoid you as a result. Making people feel bad for their lifestyle choice will just lead to arguments and upset that could have been avoided. It’s always better to lead by example rather than force your values onto others. Remember that not everyone may have the same values, knowledge and understanding that you do.  Why not invite your family members to your house and cook them a vegan dish. Or take some vegan snacks round to a friend’s house party or movie night.

This will give your loved ones some insight into your new lifestyle choice and could encourage them to change too. If they ask you questions about it, then great! But if they don’t, don’t be disheartened. It may not be the lifestyle they want for themselves at this moment in time, and that is perfectly fine.

Take what you have learned from this guide and use it to help you start this exciting new chapter of your life. Whether you want to be cruelty-free, environmentally friendly or healthier, a vegan lifestyle can help you. It can be difficult at times, but anything that is worth doing usually is. If you’re committed and serious about becoming vegan, the extra effort will be worthwhile.

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