So you’re thinking about going vegan but you’re a bit lost on where to start and how to start. We get it, we’ve been there, and for this reason, Vegan AF is sharing some tips that will help your transition go as smoothly as possible.
Before we start, we want to tell you how incredibly proud we are of you for making such a compassionate lifestyle shift and embarking on your journey! We love you and we will be here for you with tips, recipes and all the other resources you need on your vegan journey.
Find your ‘Why’ and Evolve your Mindset
First, it is important to figure out your ‘why’. What is your reason for wanting to go vegan? When you have this figured out, you want to start developing the right mindset. Just like for every sustainable, ethical, spiritual, physical and mental change you’d like to make, a shift in your mindset is necessary. In order to achieve any goal you set out to achieve, you need your mindset to match your aspiration so that you have nothing holding you back (Liz Huber). Changing your mindset can look like being open minded. For example, instead of thinking vegan food is expensive or bland, you can shift to thinking of how you can maneuver a vegan diet affordably (here’s our guide to going plant-based on a budget) and how you can make your food taste amazing by finding recipes online.
Nobody expects you to be the vegan Gordon Ramsey or the best vegan activist alive. You may make mistakes along the way, but what’s important is that you accept the mistake and take steps to do better in future. For instance, you may eat something that you thought was vegan such as potato crisps only to find out later that the brand you bought has milk powder. Instead of beating yourself up about it, take it as a learning experience and make sure to check the ingredients of what you buy on your next grocery run (and a tip before starting - you’ll always need to read the ingredients so get used to it!). When it comes to cooking, start with the already plant-based essentials that you already love like stir-fried vegetables, falafel burgers, pasta in tomato sauce and find more inspiration online from the tons of vegan content creators out there. You can also try veganize your favorite non-vegan meals.
Eat a Variety of Foods & Experiment with Plant-based Foods
More often than not, when one goes vegan, they tend to focus on what they can’t eat rather than what they can. There are over 20,000 edible plants (Plants For A Future) on earth. So really, a vegan diet isn’t restrictive or limited. Expose your taste buds to new tastes, flavors and cuisines from around the world, which luckily can be done from the comfort of your home because of the abundance of easy-to-follow recipes online. Find what you like, and what you don’t, and have fun experimenting with different tastes and textures. Be mindful and eat a variety of whole foods in order to gain all the nutrients you’ll need on a vegan diet.
Cut Down on Meat & Other Processed Foods
We understand that it may be difficult for some people to switch instantly while it seems effortless for some who switch overnight. Don't worry about that, as long as your intentions are good and you're making an effort to change your eating habits, just take your time and start slowly cutting out meat and dairy products and replacing them with plant-based alternatives. Start making meatless Mondays a weekly tradition and add more plant-based foods to your meals. For instance you can make the habit of adding veggies and fruits to every meal. You can also replace your meat for some cereals, instead of having your spaghetti’s bolognese sauce with minced beef, you can use mushrooms or lentils. Keep doing this and increasing your plant food intake and reducing your non-vegan foods until you get used to this new eating behavior.
Make Good Food Choices & Stock Up on Whole Foods
Being vegan doesn’t necessarily mean that one is healthy. One can eat fries, oreos, bread and other vegan junk food and still be vegan. Unfortunately a lot of the substitutes in the market are highly processed and full of saturated fats, refined sugars, salt and flours. Therefore it is important to be mindful of how you consume these products and enjoy them once in a while. For the most part, you want to focus on whole, nutritious foods and optimize your health. If you feel like you really need these substitutes, try and make them from home. For instance, instead of buying plant-based cheeze from the store, you can make cashew cheeze from home which is a great substitute and is better for your gut and pocket.
Lastly, be patient, kind and gentle with yourself. Transitions take time and much of it is trial and error - finding out what works for you and what doesn’t, what you like and what you don’t. Keep at it, be gentle with yourself and keep at it. Don’t be afraid to ask any questions you may have and find your groove.