We often have people tell us they would like to try a vegan lifestyle but don’t know where to start. Well of course we are all different and what works for one person may not be best for someone else. Rather than go in to depth discussing the merits of veganism, looking at meal plans, nutrients etc todays blog is just about giving you 10 simple tips that may help you on your vegan journey. So whether you are still eating meat, a vegetarian looking to try veganism or maybe just starting your vegan journey hopefully our vegans tips for beginners will be helpful for you.
1. Know your why?
This really is super important. Like anything in life if we are motivated we are more likely to succeed. Knowing why is also important because without doubt people will ask you, even question you particularly those with opposing views. For most of us it is the animals combined with the benefits to both the environment and our health. If you want to explore more reasons why then see our article on why go vegan?
2. Educate yourself
The media, big business, adverts and self-proclaimed specialists do great job in selling their products often confusing people. Sometimes I think it’s easier for them as people always seem to be looking for good news about their bad habits! The simple fact is that eating a whole food plant-based diet vegan is the best thing you can do for your health the environment and the animals. But of course you need to know why this is, so educate yourself.
The more informed you are the better able you to make up your own mind and understand the benefits. So look at the science, read books, listen to podcasts. It will further motivate you to go vegan and enable you to counter any arguments. Some great resources are:
3. Go For It
So you have found your why, or maybe even many of them. You have educated yourself and know all the benefits so now it’s time to get started. Well set a date and go for it. You might decide to start at the beginning of a new week or month, or before you do your next weekly or monthly shop, either way make a decision and decide this is the day you are going to start. This doesn’t mean you will be vegan from this day, but this will be the day that you start to make changes
4. Take it at your own pace
You will find lots of conflicting advice much of which has both pros and cons. You will see advice telling you to go “cold turkey”, excuse the expression! or replace one meal at a time or maybe go flexitarian. While much of this advice has merits as we have said before we are all individuals. Becoming vegan is a journey, and every journey requires you to pace yourself.
Some people can sprint and others will need to walk so don’t feel bad about taking one step at a time. It will help you to make a lasting change to your diet and lifestyle. The most important decision is finding a pace that you can stick to. Much like a race there is no point starting with a sprint of you can’t reach the finish line.
5. Make a plan
So we know we want to change and we know we should pace ourselves so let’s plan on how to start. I’m not going to tell you what to do but make a plan that you can stick to. For me I just decided one day to cut out all meat. I knew I could replace the meat in my diet quite easily with beans, lentils and vegetables. Once I was comfortable with this I then moved on to removing milk and eggs.
Many friends have just decided to start with a single meal such as breakfast or lunch and making that a vegan option. I must admit I have always found it easier to remove items entirely, find a replacement and move on. Whatever you decide to do make a realistic plan and stick to it.
6. Find simple go to recipes
This tip really can help you on your way and stop “slip ups” and that is find as many simple go to vegan recipes as you can. If you search vegan recipes you will find thousands online or you can treat yourself to one of the many great vegan recipe books that are available. We have some of our favourite listed here. Our tip is to make like for like swaps of your favourite dishes that way you don’t feel like you are missing out.
So if you like chili or curry search for vegan options and replace the meat with a vegan alternative. Also don’t be afraid to use “mock meats”, although we always advocate a whole food plant based diet, if you fancy sausages then by some vegan ones, there are some great ready-made vegan options that you can use as direct replacements
7. Be disciplined and treat yourself when shopping.
Be disciplined and treat yourself, what do I mean by that? Well by being disciplined I mean don’t buy non-vegan products. The easiest way to stop cooking and eating animal products at home is not to have them in the house. This really worked for me with milk in my coffee. I just decided to stop buying milk. I’ll be honest it took time to find a plant milk that I enjoyed in my coffee but by not buying cow’s milk at least I wasn’t drinking it.
This is true of any animal product and really is a top tip. So why treat yourself, well because you deserve it. So if you have a favourite vegan snack or cake then buy it and treat yourself and that way it won’t be so hard to leave the animal products behind.
8. Experiment in the kitchen and invite friends over.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with all the new and exciting flavours and ingredients you have as part of your vegan diet. We don’t always get it right first time but that can also be fun. The beauty is there is such a variation of flavours and textures that when we do master a new dish it is a joy.
And when you have some favourite dishes to share make sure you invite your friends over. Telling friends and family that you’ve decided to try veganism can sometimes be challenging. One of the best ways to quash any negativity is to serve delicious healthy food.
9. Go out to eat
It wasn’t that many years ago that vegan options at restaurants were few and far between. These days there are not just vegan options available at most restaurants but lots of amazing vegan restaurants. By going out and treating yourself you can see how many more people are also vegan. You get to experience new and delicious food and all without any worry about the ingredients.
Having options to eat out is also great for those who travel lot or are maybe just on holiday. The go to app is happy cow which is downloadable to your phone and no matter where you are in the world will find you some great vegan eateries
10. Read labels make mistakes and move on
Reading labels and understanding ingredients is important. In fact we should all have a better understanding of what we put in to our bodies vegan or not. For vegans this works both ways. Believe it or not there are a lot of items that are vegan that aren’t labelled vegan. These are known as accidently vegan and a few are listed here.
Unfortunately there are other items that you would think are vegan only to find that they have animal products added so it is always worth checking. We wrote a couple of small blogs asking is alcohol vegan? and what sweets are vegan? you can read them both by clicking on the links.
Despite reading the labels we can all make mistakes and even had the odd relapse, this happens to the best of us! It doesn’t mean you won’t succeed, it just means you are human. Like everything in life learn from it move on and continue with your journey.
Lastly enjoy yourself! If you start your journey happy and full of optimism believing that you will not only succeed but love it and have a great experience then you will! Do you have any great tips you think we should share? then let us know in the comments below.