Going vegan is a challenge – it is a change not only of diet, but of lifestyle, and it can be quite a daunting shift. Jasmine has been a vegetarian for 18 months now, and is planning to convert to veganism fully within the next few months, so she turned to a fully-fledged, membership card-holding vegan: Lucy! Together, they’ve considered the most important things to bear in mind when converting to an animal-free lifestyle.
Jasmine’s tip #1: Cook From Scratch
In my opinion, embracing cooking from scratch is the best way to reduce on your animal produce consumption. One of the biggest issues I find with cutting out dairy is all the hidden milk and egg powder in preprepared foods, so the easiest way around that is to prepare your meals yourself! I have always enjoyed cooking, but I find now that when I cook curries, pasta dishes, and even cowboy dinners (the name I use for meals consisting of something, potato in some form, and a vegetable side), they are almost always accidentally vegan! It is so easy to produce delicious, easy dinners without even reaching for meat or dairy, so if you can get into cooking from scratch, you are likely to forget meat and dairy without even trying!
Jasmine’s tip #2: Try Out Alternatives
Probably the first step I really took towards cutting my dairy consumption was reducing the amount of cow’s milk I used. I was hardly drinking loads of the stuff, but I acknowledged that it was time to change. Since the beginning of 2018, I have never ordered a dairy milk coffee, and very rarely buy cow’s milk. Instead, I tend towards oat milk, but soya can be found in every grocery shop, and is super cheap and delicious too. I would say that switching to plant milk in coffee shops is probably the easiest step towards being vegan you can possibly make. It is delicious, even more so than cow’s milk, I would say, and it is usually free! Start with the small stuff, like your caramel latte, and keep that momentum.
Another huge step towards veganism, I found, is trying out alternatives for dairy products. Recently, I was baking, and realised I didn’t have any baking margarine, so turned to the vegetable oil instead. I’ve seen vegan friends use it as a fat source in baking, and thought what the heck! Let me tell you that there was absolutely no difference. It is so easy to use vegan alternatives, such as oils, apple sauce, tofu, and banana, and it gives you extra bragging rights when you can label your cookies vegan as well as delicious.
Jasmine’s tip #3: Make an Effort
This might sound obvious, but if you’re trying to go vegan – make an effort. It won’t necessarily always just happen naturally – we live in a world full of meat and dairy – but if you consciously decide that you will order vegan meals when out at restaurants, or choose vegan eateries, you’ll obviously find yourself eating vegan more often. Make conscious decisions towards veganism, and you’ll find yourself on the right path soon enough.
Lucy’s tip #1: Educate Yourself
This isn’t quite a tip on how to practically go vegan, but possibly the most important thing you can do for your journey is to educate yourself. There are so many resources now that tell us how detrimental the dairy industry is for us, for animals, and for the planet, and once you know this, it is pretty hard to look back. Educate yourself on why dairy and meat consumption is so bad, and you will feel empowered to cut it out of your diet. Furthermore, remember to educate yourself on cooking vegan! Watch cookery shows and videos, invest in vegan cook books – make sure you surround yourself with advice on how to cook vegan, and it’ll come easy.
Lucy’s tip #2: Warning!
In transitioning to a vegan diet, it is extremely important to do your research. If you search ‘Vegan’ on YouTube, you are overwhelmed with an array of vegan youtubers, diets and meal plans. It appears veganism has become somewhat of a diet craze, rather than an ethical philosophy. On social media, there are several popular vegan internet personalities who understand veganism entirely through the prism of a diet. Many are obsessed with finding the ‘cleanest’ and ‘healthiest’ diets, which involve extremely restrictive rituals and practices. If you want to stay vegan long term, feel healthy and happy, avoid juice cleanses, water fasts, fruitarian diets, liquid diets, and drinking your own urine (yes, you read that correctly. One famous ex-vegan, drunk his own urine and blamed his failing health on the practice of Veganism, not his restrictive and entirely absurd diet!). The supposed ‘health benefits’ of adopting such restrictive methods, are based primarily on pseudoscience. Those who practice such extreme measures, usually give up veganism in response to their failing health. There are a multitude of ‘vegan diets’ out there; from Keto, to High Carb- Low Fat, Wholefood, and Fruitarian to name a few. As a vegan for several years, I recommend you do as much research as possible and stay clear of anything that sounds intuitively bonkers!
If you are looking for nutritional advice, I highly recommend the following people:
Dr Gemma Newman, @plantpowerdoctor (Instagram)
Gojiman (Nutrionist, Youtube)
Healthy Cool Vegan (Nutrionist, Youtube)
Hench Herbivore (Nutrionist and Personal Trainer, Youtube)
Lucy’s tip #3: Keep the victims in mind
When you are first transitioning to veganism, it can be incredibly difficult. You will have to deal with ignorant friends and family, numerous critiques of your diet and lifestyle, and being the butt of several jokes. On top of that, you need to completely alter your lifestyle, from the clothes you wear, to the foods you eat, to the makeup you buy. Obviously, none of this is easy, by any stretch of the imagination. Nevertheless, there is one quick solution to render all the above: the animals. My best advice to anyone struggling with veganism is to keep the animals in mind. No matter how hard we think we have it, animals are subjected to torture, death, and rape on a daily, if not hourly basis. With animals at the center of your mind and practice it impossible to fail, whether that means watching Joey Carbstrong on Youtube, engaging in animal rights activism, or educating your family or friends, so be it! Good luck!