I know some people want to try Veganuary and there are many who are just wondering how it might be going vegan. We’ve been vegan for almost two years now and flexitarians for another year and a half before that, so if you need some advice, here’s mine.
1. Your heart has to be in the right place – Find your WHY
What’s your motivation? The reason behind anything you do determines if you’re going to be successful or not. There are people who do it for health (plant-based diets were proven to be very efficient in heart-related problems) or people like us, who do it for the animals and the planet.
There are many resources out there – watch Cowspiracy or Earthlings (or even What the Health, regardless of the controversy), read on PETA’s website, browse Veganuary. Here’s a link with statistics on animal farming and how it affects the environment.
2. We did it in small steps, and that worked for us
I know many vegans will say – “if you’re vegetarian you’re not doing enough”, “make the transition immediately, what are you waiting for?”. But not me. I think everything counts. Want to try just one day a week at first? Fine! One week a month? Fine! Want just to be vegetarian but use cruelty-free products? Fine! As long as you don’t make the problem worse, that’s ok.
If you’re doing it Big Bang style, you’ll probably eat a lot of junk food. Junk food = heart disease, heart attacks, etc. A dead vegan is of no use to the cause. A failed vegan is of no use to the cause. Find what works for you. We did it in small steps:
- We first started eating healthy – lots of fruit, veggies, whole grains – while still eating meat (for about six months)
- Next, we gave up meat but kept fish (6 months)
- We gave up fish (2 -3 months)
- Then, we started eating plant-based on most meals, but occasionally had eggs, dairy and even fish. (2-3 months)
- Lastly, we gave up eggs and dairy. (100% vegan on the 16th of May 2016)
- We started introducing meat substitutes
- Had to replace our house products one by one – we only bought a vegan laundry detergent when the old non-vegan one ran out. Don’t throw things away, that’s waste. (completed end of 2016)
After each step, we learned enough to make the transition to the next step. We took our time. It took us a year and a half. But we’re healthy and happy and with a clear conscience.
3. Make it a discovery journey
We didn’t have too many soy products until recently. Until you give up milk and dairy during the last step, you have no reason to get more protein, you already take it from the animal products. But now we do eat soy and it’s such a nice journey – it’s like a mission to find the best vegan sausages, the best vegan doughnuts, the best vegan burgers, the best brand of vegan chocolate. A whole new world opens up to you! Think about what you’re given, not what you’re missing.A whole new world opens up to you - it's like a mission to find the best vegan sausages, the best vegan doughnuts, the best vegan burgers, the best brand of vegan chocolate! Click To Tweet
4. It’s not just about the food
Remember what being vegan means. You refuse to take part in anything that involves taking advantage of an animal. Wearing leather or fur, horseback riding, going to the zoo, using products tested on animals, swimming with dolphins. Animals are not ours to use. There are many species facing extinction, it’s sad. Even giraffes are now on a red list because they’re hunted excessively. Someday some of our favourite animals will not be here anymore. Can you imagine a world without giraffes or elephants? There are many organizations that are fighting for this causes, so even if you can’t help, don’t make the problem worse. Do no harm.
5. You have to accept that some people will not understand
I don’t try to convince anyone to turn vegan, and most of our friends understood that this is how we are now. There may have been some mean jokes at the beginning, but not anymore. And if there is an odd one, we try to laugh it off and move on. But with some people, it’s impossible to avoid confrontation, so it’s up to you if you want to keep being friends with them :).
We have a Vegan Favourites series on the blog to help you make the transition. Have a look at Episode 4; you’ll find the rest there. On each post, you’ll find a food, a snack, a beauty product, a cleaning product and a source of information. We also have a list of vegan staple foods, if you need a good shopping list.
If you want to start with being a healthy vegan, I sincerely recommend the Vegan version of the 28 Days Reset meal plan. You’ll have all the recipes, the shopping list and the full meal plan for your first 28 days as a vegan. I used it last January to lose my Christmas belly, together with the exercise routine.
One of the best channels on YouTube is Mic the Vegan, as his claims are always backed by science. Dr Greger from Nutrition facts is… a doctor, so he often talks about the impact of a plant-based diet on our health. Cheap Lazy Vegan has a lot of easy to make vegan recipes on a budget.