The idea of becoming a vegan may fill you with a warm fuzzy feeling and a superior sense of pride given that you have managed to cut out all meat and animal-derived ingredients from your diet. No longer will you wear leather shoes, you’ll find a newfound love for trail mix, and you’ll feel fitter and healthier for it. That’s the theory anyway. As any newbie or veteran vegan for that matter will tell you, the path to vegan glory isn’t that easy but it is ultimately hugely rewarding.
If you were ever one of those moody adolescent types who had a short-lived fling with vegetarianism only to fail epically when you smelled the smoky aroma of bacon sandwiches being made for breakfast on a Sunday morning, you’ll understand how the best-laid plans don’t always go smoothly. Don’t rush your new vegan lifestyle. To succeed you need to do your research, take it slow and enjoy the new foods, recipes and culinary creations that you will inevitably discover.
Think about why becoming a vegan is so attractive to you. Is it because you cannot bare to see cruelty to animals, reel at the sight of abattoir conditions and feel that you can achieve sustenance through vegetables and plants alone? If this is the case, your motivations are worthy of your vegan quest. There is no doubt that a vegan diet will see you with lower cholesterol, a reduced risk of heart disease and an all-around healthier lifestyle.
Becoming a vegan doesn’t happen overnight and can be a long drawn out process of cutting out certain food elements before declaring yourself a fully fledged vegan. If you’re eager to take the vegan plunge, take a look at why this could be the best decision you ever make.
While some people who become vegan find it relatively easy to adapt their diet, others can find it tricky. This is ok and you shouldn’t feel any sense of shame if you find it particularly hard to cut out one particular food group. Luckily, there have been mammoth steps made in the production of vegan alternatives to most things. Who’d have thought a tofu cheesecake tasted THAT good?! It’s possible to partake in an eggless, fatless raw chocolate fudge cake and enjoy the sweet hit of a dessert alongside the antioxidant properties of Ecuadorian cacao beans. Remember to go slow and alter your diet gently. Test out some of the alternatives. For example, cut out the cow’s milk and find your ideal substitute. There’s almond milk, rice milk and soy milk to name but a few. Next month, investigate some alternatives to butter. As with anything you may need to cut down first rather than going cold turkey.
It can be hard to envision a life without animal-derived ingredients, but you can and will learn to adjust. The main elements of your diet still need to be catered for. You still require the protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals that you obtained from your omnivore lifestyle and to begin with, it can be hard to see you achieving an equally balanced diet. But you will end up reaping newfound phenomenal benefits of a meat-free diet and feel healthier for it.
As a Vegan I hear ” where do you get your protein” on an almost daily basis, Fruits, vegetables and legumes are packed with protein! The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that men and women obtain 5% of their calories as protein. This would mean 38 grams of protein for a man burning 3000 calories a day and 29 grams for a woman using 2300 calories a day.
Aside from fruits veggies and starches one of the more popular protein source is tofu which is the perfect base for many one-pot wonders and dishes. To add flavour to your tofu stir-fries and curries consider adding a sprinkling of reishi mushroom powder or a pinch of cinnamon to liven up your dish. Both of these ingredients have an abundance of antioxidants, have anti-inflammatory properties and taste pretty amazing. Spices and herbs can be freely added to your new culinary creations. The chances are that you will discover a new love of cooking and relish the opportunity to cook with natural ingredients. You will be required to think outside of the box, shop in smaller independent stores and online, but you’ll achieve a new harmonious balance within your diet. You will find yourself feeling healthier and fitter than ever as you take a closer look at your eating and enjoy the discovery of new flavours and vegan recipes.
The People Around You
Your friends and family will support you. This doesn’t mean that they won’t be taken aback a little when you first tell them of your decision to go vegan, but they will inevitably act as a great support network.
You will need to get used to having some banter thrown your way. When out with your friends down at the local drinking establishment, don’t be surprised when someone opens a bag of steak-flavored crisps only to waft them in front of your face jokingly and semi-apologetic chuckling. When your mom pops over for dinner and brings you a cake that she has forgotten has butter in it and then tells you to have some, and it’ll be your little secret, you will have to learn to turn the other cheek. Their motivations are harmless, and you just have to ride it out. When they see how adamant you are about your new way of eating, they will ease off and take your decision to become a vegan more seriously.
You Won’t Turn Into A Hippy Overnight
Even though being vegan amongst meat eaters can conjure up images of skinny, gaunt-looking commune-dwelling hippies, this stereotypical view couldn’t be further from the truth. You’ll be the same person as you were before, just looking a little bit fitter and toned after the overhaul of your diet.
You may find yourself the centre of attention a little more. It depends on your personality type whether you welcome this aspect to your lifestyle choice or not. Overnight you will turn into a novelty. At functions, whether corporate or family, the chances are that you’ll be introduced as ‘Vegan Kate’ or ‘This is my daughter Kate. She’s a vegan.’ It seems to be a compulsion that every non-vegan has. You will find yourself talking about the same things, describing how awesome being a vegan is and smiling halfheartedly when someone cracks a lame vegan joke at your expense. It’s all part of the lifestyle.
If you want to, you could take on a missionary stance and try to spread the word of veganism, but no one likes to be screamed at and this may create a negative reaction from non-vegans. I personally believe that it’s more effective to show others how awesome this lifestyle can be by simply living it and letting others see how healthy and fit you are! Try to simply be a beacon and lead by example should anyone come to you and ask for advice.
As you venture down the vegan path, you will inevitably begin to swim in new and refreshing social circles. People with the same motivations as you will hot foot it to the same supermarkets, grocers and cafes as you. You’ll be able to venture to a fellow vegan’s house for a dinner party and not have to inquire as to whether there are any eggs in the dessert.
Your old friendships won’t wither away, but they will change. You may find that eating won’t form the central basis of your meetings. Whereas you may have met up for dinner with pals every other week, you could find this diminishing as your longstanding pals try and figure out how best to cater for your needs. Make sure you don’t allow them to feel intimidated by your new diet. If they want to try and cook you a vegan supper, give them some pointers, encourage them and thank them for their thought. Enjoy bringing a new viewpoint to the dinner table and ensure that your friends understand that just because you’re vegan doesn’t mean you can’t have as much of a giggle and a laugh as you did before your lifestyle change.
Leading By Example
You might not want to be put on a pedestal, but the chances are that you’ll find yourself there. You’ll be able to go to the gym, have a toned physique, eat well and look the healthiest that you have ever been. People will become interested in how you have managed to do it. Be proud of your new lifestyle and how you’ve managed to adapt. Don’t get preachy but encourage others to give it a go. Rave about your newfound energy, your glowing skin and your ability to concentrate better. You are now an advocate of veganism and you should take on the mantle willingly.
Enjoy The Journey
Becoming a vegan isn’t easy but the journey will be fruitful and you will feel a sense of pride at achieving your vegan goal. It may take you three months, six months or even a couple of years before you can class yourself as embracing the vegan lifestyle fully. The odd craving as your first venture into veganism is normal and if you find yourself succumbing to temptation don’t beat yourself up over it; simply give it a little more time. If you craving things chances are that you are not eating enough, so make sure that you eat sufficient calories on this lifestyle. Head onto forums to meet like-minded people who also wish to give veganism a try. You may find that these fellow vegan wannabes have strategies that will help you overcome obstacles and embrace veganism in a more effective way.
Congratulations on your choice to become a vegan and welcome to the fold.
Love & Peace