Thinking of becoming vegan?
You’re in the right place! I’ve been there, done it, and bought the t-shirt (literally).
Transitioning to veganism can be a mental minefield, I get it. So before you dive into e-numbers and aquafaba, take a look at my super simple top 10 tips for the absolute ‘veginner’.
1. Take It Slowly
You want to become vegan after finding out about the horrors of the farming industries. You want a clean slate, a lovely fresh start. You wake up on a Monday morning, all motivated and ready to go. Then realise you still have Saturday night’s meaty leftovers in the fridge, and £50 until payday to restock every cupboard with vegan food. Oops! No can do.
Does this resonate with you?
We all love to start afresh, and I’m known for the ‘health kick starts Monday…honest’ cycle. But please, don’t put too much pressure on yourself! Make it do-able. Replace your milk with a vegan alternative first. Try out different vegan cheeses to see what you enjoy. Find out what your local supermarket sells. You’ll also avoid waste by consuming what you already have, before buying vegan alternatives. The more pressure to be 100% vegan from day one, the more likely you are to fail because for some people, there’s a lot to change all at once.
Interested in starting the transition? Learn more about getting started.
2. Identify Your Vices
We all have that one food item we could eat and eat until we’re sick. Mine’s biscuits. Delicious, sugary bourbons dipped in tea. I can eat a pack in one sitting and not come up for air.
Yours? Whatever it is, there’s a vegan alternative that you’ll love.
Use your vice as assistance in going vegan. If it’s chocolate for example, always have a small bar of the vegan version stashed away. Then, if you crave a non-vegan item, you’ve got a little treat, a distraction, without resorting to old food and familiar habits. Plus that new food you’ve discovered will remind you how awesome veganism is. You probably wouldn’t have found it if you hadn’t made this change!
Seriously, it works for me and bourbons, and a load of other delicious biscuits I discovered as a vegan. Who needs cow’s milk in biscuits anyway!?
3. Make Your Own Mould
The vegan community is AMAZING. But *deep breath* just like in any group, there are the rare judgemental folks lurking around. Are you a ‘real’ vegan if you drive a car (pollution!), eat fake meats (yuk!), love junk food (so unhealthy!), make an honest mistake (do better!)?
Let’s make something clear – those who say otherwise are wrong! It’s fantastic to be healthy. It’s admirable to never slip up because
you’ve been vegan for years and know every product like the back of your hand, every sign to look out for. But it’s also ok to do what’s right for you and follow a learning curve.
As a vegan following a well-balanced diet, you will feel better than ever. But, it’s ok to indulge in vegan snacks now and then. It’s also equally fine to follow a healthy raw vegan diet. You may miss the taste of meat and load up on similar alternatives. There’s nothing wrong with that either!
It doesn’t matter if it takes you a few months to move to a fully vegan diet because you’re still learning the ins and outs, if you enjoy vegan treats, or aren’t zero waste. Every step you make saves lives, so focus on the progress, the positives. Get there as quickly as you can, for the animals you’re saving, but acknowledge mistakes may happen. The rest will fall into place. You’re amazing already for doing this!
4. Create Motivational Items
The practicalities of going vegan can be confusing initially. Going out for a meal with friends and trying to find a vegan option. Seeing your favourite dairy chocolate on offer in the supermarket and resisting the purchase. Even general cravings and bodily changes. They can all cause us to think ‘one meal won’t hurt’.
For me, the first month of being vegan was the hardest. It wasn’t instinctual yet. I had to break many lifelong habits and keep telling myself why I had made the decision.
To stop you from ordering that ice cream sundae at the dessert shop, have something nearby that reminds you of why you went vegan. A photo on a key ring, a list of reasons on the fridge, a recap of that Youtube video that converted you, or even a print out of a baby calf! Whatever resonates with you. These are the motivators that will keep you on track and reinforce the fantastic decision you’ve made.
5. Don’t Take Criticism To Heart
Veganism comes with a whole community of support and advice from people who have been vegan for decades. But, if you are a
social media user, you probably already know that everyone has an opinion on everything. Unfortunately, vegans are no exception. We are a passionate bunch, and why not!?
There will be others out there, who are extremely dedicated and enthusiastic vegans, but perhaps less than tactful. Don’t feed them fuel! Ignore them, block them if you need to. Take only constructive criticism and integrate into groups that support and advise, rather than moan and attack. You need encouragement, great tips and new friendships. This is your journey, not theirs.
I actually think this point relates well to life in general too, not just veganism!
Remember, you can join us on social media for support and positive chat, anytime.
6. Get Friends And Family On Board
If you become vegan without warning, it might be a shock to people at first. Mainly due to practicalities, such as what will they feed you when you visit, how you can go for meals together, why are you doing something so ‘difficult’? This usually just comes from a place of misunderstanding, or lack of knowledge.
Have your reasons ready! Be clear on why you have chosen to transition to veganism. Support them so they can support you. If you’ve already been vegan for a few weeks, tell them how easy it is and how much better you feel already. Let them know how easy it is to buy vegan food. Make it clear that they are welcome to try your delicious meals and find out more if they want to (it could be their first step into veganism too… who knows!).
When I became vegan, I was asked ‘why’?
It wasn’t a huge shock to the family, as I was already vegetarian and sensitive to animal rights. It helped when people saw that I was committed to it, and knew why I was doing it.
I also took food to my mum’s, until she learned what and where to buy. Now it’s second nature for her. She makes beautiful vegan cakes and has a freezer full of goodies for me when I visit!
Be mindful that not everybody will agree with veganism. There’s always one person who takes it as a personal attack and tries to change your mind! Don’t get drawn into arguments and make clear points calmly. You may be the first vegan they’ve met, so you can show them how easy it is!
For help on answering that, check out our page explaining ‘why vegan?’
7. Join A Community
There’s something about chatting to like-minded strangers, people that won’t judge you.
You can be open, honest, ask questions and share problems.
You’re in luck! There’s an amazing vegan community out there, online AND in your local area. Utilise the power of the internet first of all! Try popping your town + vegans (eg. Stafford vegans) into Google and Facebook to see where your fellow vegans are hanging out. Introduce yourself and get talking. You’ll find interactive blogs, Facebook groups, Pinterest boards and a whole world of support out there. From easy recipes, to vegan pregnancy, to vegan weightlifters. If you have a specific hobby or pressing question, chances are there’s a group for it!
If face-to-face socialising is more your thing, many of these groups hold meals, events and meet-ups in person too. The number of vegan fairs held in the UK is also growing rapidly. People arrange lift shares, meetups and volunteering to them. You can find at least one every month!
8. Try New Foods Frequently
Vegan food is amazing. You can get a substitute for anything these days, even haggis, caviar and black pudding!
Keep trying new things. The first vegan cheeses I tried were awful, they smelled like old socks and wouldn’t melt on toast! Of course, I was just unlucky, there are hundreds of delicious cheeses out there. I persevered, and now I know exactly what to buy for my taste. There are many different styles of chocolate, fake meats, tofu. When I speak to fellow vegans, they always say that their diet is much more varied and interesting now. It’s an amazing opportunity to diversify and find what works for you.
For a great range of products, check out online vegan stores, independent health food shops, and vegan fairs. The festivals are especially great to visit, as you can grab items not found in shops, save on delivery, and they often have event offers on too!
There’s also the obvious places to visit like large supermarkets and Holland and Barrett. They do great staples like cheese, yoghurt and sandwich ‘meat’.
Read reviews and recommendations online too. Other vegans will be able to give you detailed descriptions of what products taste like, and great vegan alternatives for your old firm favourites. In other words, variety really is the spice of life!
9. Plan In Advance
If you’re THAT person – the one who makes dinner plans when they arrive home from work, you could try advance planning. It is much easier to follow a varied vegan diet if you know what you’ll be eating, have the ingredients in, or even partially prepped. You won’t be tempted by a snack on the way home, because something delicious will be waiting! It doesn’t have to be a week’s worth of complex meals, just a few days ahead. Choose easy options when you know you’re home late, and use weekends for experimentation. Being organised can be handy AND fun!
Slow cookers also save us from ‘hanger’. Make use of one! Pop a casserole or curry in before you leave the house, so dinner is ready when you’re home. Make extra portions of meals to freeze, so you have your own ready meals on lazy days. Do online shops too – you can filter for vegan foods at most supermarkets now and have them delivered to your door. And if you’re a takeaway fiend, know what the vegan options are beforehand. This works well at restaurants too – know your choices before you go! Preparation is your friend.
For a variety of easy and lazy recipes, we’ve got you covered!
10. Be Kind To Yourself!
This actually may be the most important point. Becoming vegan is a
transition. It takes some people longer than others to get their head around it all and progress. That’s why we are here to help!
I’ve made a ton of mistakes along the way, so don’t beat yourself up if you make them. Learn from them and move on.
And remember – being vegan shouldn’t be viewed as a hassle. It’s a whole world of possibilities, with new foods to try, a fantastic community to mix with, amazing ethical fashion. It’s a new compassionate way of living, and you should be proud that you’re taking this path.
You can find loads of inspiration and positivity on Pinterest – it’s full of vegan quotes from Learner Vegan and others!
So what’s your next step?
Firstly, go and grab the FREE ‘Easy Being Vegan’ pack for even more help with your transition! It includes a shopping list, easy meal plan, personal action points for staying vegan, and my BONUS favourite egg and dairy substitutes.
Feeling motivated and ready to go vegan? Why not learn more about what vegans eat?
Don’t forget to share this with your friends who need a nudge in the right direction.