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Are you committed to a more compassionate lifestyle and going vegan? Awesome! Here are 10 strategies that will help you along the way.
If you haven’t already, I highly recommend reading my post about 5 Things to Do Before You Go Vegan to set yourself up for success. This is a marathon, not a sprint! It’s a big lifestyle change and it’s important to think about your motivations before you dive in.
I’m a long-time ethical vegan and these strategies come from my own experiences, trial and error, and things I’ve learned from others.
The ultimate goal is to make the transition as easy as possible, while educating yourself, taking care of yourself and surrounding yourself with supportive resources and people!
Replace Rather than Eliminate Animal Foods
My number one tip is to focus on substitution rather than elimination. Simply ridding your life of meat, dairy, eggs and other animal products will send you down a path of deprivation and malnutrition.
Swap in plant proteins for animal proteins, fortified plant milk for animal milk, vegan ice cream for animal-based ice cream, and so on.
We’re lucky that even in small towns, there are vegan meat options! For example, Walmart carries vegan brands and Aldi has their own line of frozen vegan meats.
Try New Recipes
While it’s fun to veganize traditional recipes, it’s also neat to try totally new vegan recipes! Head to Google or Pinterest (here’s my board of delicious vegan recipes) or check out some of the vegan food blogs listed on my resources page.
Here are some of my favorite stand-by vegan recipes:
- Easy Hummus Recipe from Inspired Taste
- Italian Farro Soup from Dietitian Debbie
- Lentil Bolognese from I Heart Eating
- Meatless Sloppy Joes from Tasty
Explore New Cuisines
Speaking of new recipes, going vegan is the perfect time to expand your horizons and try lots of new flavors! I’ve heard from so many people that going vegan was what opened them up to a wide variety of foods they had never tried.
You might find that going vegan expands your food options rather than limits them!
If you live in or near a bigger city, you likely have access to lots of different global cuisines. And you’ll be surprised by the options in smaller towns, too! I wrote all about cuisines with vegan options here.
My favorites are Mediterranean, Thai, Vietnamese, Ethiopian, Indian, Costa Rican and Cuban. They usually have dishes with tofu or beans and loads of veggies!
Build Your Vegan Library
Rather than get lost in the internet rabbit hole of confusion and misinformation, invest in some helpful books about veganism.
Here are my recommendations:
- How to Create a Vegan World: A Pragmatic Approach by Tobias Leenaert
- Vegan for Life: Everything You Need to Know to Be Healthy and Fit on a Plant-Based Diet by Jack Norris, RD, and Virginia Messina, MPH, RD
In addition, Vegan Outreach has a really helpful 10 Weeks to Vegan email program that is free and consists of 10 weekly emails loaded with helpful tips and information.
I recommend staying away from books about plant-based dieting and anything that makes promises that sound too good to be true. There are lots of people pushing an agenda and relying on faulty science and sensationalized claims.
Also, just because you’re vegan doesn’t mean you have to subject yourself to horrifying and traumatic content of animals being abused and killed. I’ve shed way too many tears over depressing videos and don’t need that in my life to be an advocate for animals. Once you know what goes on, you don’t need to see that anymore.
Research Vegan Companies and Products
While more and more foods and products are clearly labeled vegan, odds are you’ll need to do some investigative work when it comes to purchasing decisions.
You might be surprised by all the stuff that isn’t vegan. Such as beeswax in some lip balms, gelatin in some chewing gums, lanolin in some moisturizers and casein in some lactose-free cheeses.
People have different views on whether it’s “better” to mostly support vegan companies, or support vegan options from non-vegan companies. I personally think a mix is good.
If you prefer to spend most of your money on products from vegan companies, that will take some extra research.
Join a Vegan Community Group
Socializing, volunteering and demonstrating with like-minded people will be super helpful as you transition to a vegan lifestyle.
You can find local vegan groups on Facebook and MeetUp. Vegan groups often host potlucks, protests, documentary screenings and speakers. Having vegan internet friends is cool too, but nothing comes close to real life interactions when you’re fighting for a cause.
Community organizations were extremely important to me as an early vegan. I was involved in my university’s animal rights group as well as my city’s animal rights group. I was involved in many forms of activism and made lifelong friends.
Work with a Vegan Registered Dietitian
Make sure you’re getting the nutrients you need (and not unnecessarily restricting certain foods) by working with a vegan registered dietitian.
We offer one-on-one nutrition counseling for vegans and help them learn about vegan nutrition, planning vegan meals and any dietary supplements they may need.
Whether it’s to fine-tune your meals and snacks, or help you with a health condition or disordered eating, we can guide you to improve your relationship with food!
Find a Vegan Mentor
Feel like you need personal guidance as you navigate this new lifestyle? A vegan mentor is a great idea!
This can be informal and happen naturally through someone you already know or someone you meet through a vegan community group.
Or, you can sign up for a vegan mentor through a vegan mentoring program.
Connect with Farm Animal Sanctuaries
Spending time with animals you help save is a fun way to boost energy and reap the benefits of a vegan lifestyle!
There’s nothing like petting the belly of a rescue pig, safe and snuggled up in a pile of hay. Or watching a former dairy cow frolic around a pasture, enjoying the freedom she thought she’d never have.
Check out your local sanctuaries or plan a trip to visit one if there aren’t any in your area. You can visit the big Farm Sanctuary in upstate New York (and stay at one of their tiny homes) or support smaller sanctuaries with much smaller budgets.
Most sanctuaries host tours as well as volunteer hours.
Also remember to donate to sanctuaries as your funds allow. And if your family and friends like to give gifts for holidays and birthdays, you could ask for donations to animal sanctuaries and vegan advocacy organizations.
Accept that There is No Such Thing as a Perfect Vegan
You can’t rid every single animal-derived product from your life. It’s just not realistic. But, you can make animal-friendly choices when you have the resources and ability.
If you find yourself having anxiety over veganism, it’s time to talk to a professional.
Ready to commit to a vegan lifestyle, balanced eating and self-care? Let’s go!