1. Eat out as much as you can
We found this piece of advice really helpful – and loads of fun. A great way to get a feel for vegan foods and dishes, or how to adapt classic meals to vegan, is to eat out as much as you can. We’re not saying take out a credit card and make like Mr. Megabucks, because that would be stoopid. Stick within your means, of course; but see eating out a little more often than you usually would as permissible research. Go to fully vegan restaurants. Order the vegan option in places that cater for plant-based. And if you feel brave enough, ask the waiter if a dish can be adapted to suit your diet. This is a great way to learn more about vegan foods and getting loads of meal-making inspo.
2. Don’t be surprised by your sudden love affair with hummus
We can’t really explain this one, but your hummus intake will increase by at least 500%. It’s just the way it is from now on. Learn how to make your own – it’ll save you money.
3. Make time to cook
Initially, you might have to feel your way around in the kitchen a bit. That’s all cool, because cooking vegan will become second nature to you in no time. To begin with though, do give time to meal planning and preparation. You don’t have to obsess over it, but turn it into a necessary pleasure. Plus, there’s nothing more rewarding that sitting down to eat a meal you’ve created from scratch.
4. The hunger pangs WILL subside
So here’s one that gets people a lot: how ravenously hungry you can feel in the first few weeks of going vegan. Seriously, it totally floored us. We’re talking yummy substantial breakfast, and then BAM! Crippling hunger pangs a couple of hours later, way before lunchtime. Big, juicy looking lunch and then POW! Bent over double hungry at 3pm, nowhere near dinner.
It’s different for everyone, but the hunger thing is a commonly recurring complaint. Don’t freak out: it’s your metabolism adjusting. And you are, in short, hungry. So eat! You’ll figure out that it’s a wise move to carry vegan snacks with you. Nuts are great, raw date and chocolate bars are scrummers, fruit of course is perfect too. Whatever sates those pangs, you’re good for it. The weird hunger thunder lasts only a few weeks – by which time, you’ll have adjusted your portions and got a feel for what keeps you going.
5. Watch the junk food intake!
Following on from the first three points, be mindful that just because it’s vegan doesn’t mean it’s automatically healthy! Vegan hotdogs, burgers, pizza and other fast foods are tasty AF, and may well be the better option when up against meat and dairy. But they still boast a hefty fat content and don’t necessarily contain other essential nutrients and vitamins. Enjoy the naughtier foods from time to time: as with all things regardless of your lifestyle choice, it’s all about balance.
6. Vegan is NOT an expensive lifestyle
In spite of the common misnomer, choosing to be vegan doesn’t incur financial penalty. In fact you’ll probably be better off now that fish, meat and cheese are off your shopping list. Vegetables and fruit are extremely affordable, especially if you get into the habit of shopping at market stalls. It’s like anything: if you go for the luxury, high end brand products, you’re going to pay more for them. It’s not rocket science, and it definitely won’t cost you a packet.
7. No chance of cutting the crap…
With sincere apologies to those who’ll find this point unsavoury or even completely absurd to include in our run down of advice, we’re down to Earth people here at Totally Vegan Buzz and we don’t want to miss anything out. Bluntly put, you will likely poo more. If you need this explaining, we’ll be quick: it’s much easier for the body to process plant matter, so it’ll turn up for its exit promptly. We’ve got friends who poop around four to five times a day, while some of us enjoy just one good ol’ steamer in the morning. Pooing out regular, healthy stools is good for you, and indicates that your gut and digestive system are in top notch working order. You can stop stifling the giggles now…
8. Get social
We’re talking about joining Facebook groups and liking pages, following vegan Twitter accounts, and scoping out the colourful vegan Insta community. This point is self-explanatory really: social network channels are awesome for connecting with peers across the globe, sharing resource, and getting a whole heap of inspiration.
9. Hit the internet for information and resource
In the same vein as connecting on social, the internet in general has millions of destinations where you can learn anything you want to about the vegan lifestyle. The only thing we will say about this is what we’d say about using the internet for research on anything: make sure your source is credible. There’s an almighty amount of questionable crap flying about in cyber space.
10. Watch documentaries about veganism – or don’t
It was probably a documentary that sobered you into considering becoming vegan in the first place: Earthlings is often cited as a real kicker for a lot of people. There are loads of great docus and films out there which will arm you with all sorts of information regarding factory farming, the environment, human health and everything in between. Go for it, and if you feel you want to, share these films with others.
On the other hand, some of the content within documentaries can be upsetting, especially those that deal with animal welfare. If you can’t handle this, then don’t feel you have to. There’s no rule you have to follow about video content. Veganism should never be masochistic.
11. Cut out animal products slowly
As with any change to your lifestyle, the slowly-slowly approach is by far the best to a) lessen the ‘shock’ and b) sustain the changes. By cutting out meat and dairy bit by bit, your transition to plant-based won’t seem like such a major sacrifice, particularly if you’re going straight to vegan from omni. Start by switching your dairy milk for plant-based alternatives and leaving it at that for a few weeks. Then, maybe you want to consider opting for cheese free products. Just take it in your stride: there’s absolutely no rule to how fast or slow you should transition to vegan. Any change you make is only positive. It’s your body, your life, your pace.
12. Be patient with the experiment phase
You’re not going to get everything spot on straight away. For instance, finding a milk replacer that you like can take a few goes and try outs (it took your humble author one month to realize cashew milk was the dairy replacement for her). Getting used to cooking without ingredients like cheese and eggs can also take some adjustment, and sometimes the results will be pitiful. Don’t freak. The key to this phase is that vegan is not a sacrifice: it’s a major gain – and part of that is being excited by animal product replacers and foodstuffs you maybe wouldn’t try otherwise. If you don’t really like something, then move on and keep lookin’!
13. It’s okay to think vegan cheese is the worst
This might be controversial, but we’re split on vegan cheese here at Totally Vegan Buzz. Some of us love it, some of us can only handle it hidden on pizza, while some of us think it’s devil’s work. The short stuff on this is that vegan cheese isn’t a straight swap out with regular cheese, and it may well take some getting used to. This goes for anything, really: you don’t have to like every single vegan food alternative. Our tip with the vegan cheese thing? Once you’ve cut out the dairy variety completely, do not go near vegan cheese for at least three months. That way, when you do give it a whirl, you’ll be approaching it as a completely new foodstuff. It worked for us anyway…
14. The classic one about vegan being protein deficient…
This is such a weird one, but something non-vegans will say again and again. No one gave a s**t about your protein intake before; in fact, your parents probably freaked out about you not eating enough vegetables when you were a kid. Now you’re vegan? It’s all about your protein intake and only eating ‘rabbit food’. Unless you really are just chowing down on iceberg lettuce morning, noon and night, the likelihood of becoming protein deficient is so negligible, you’ve got more chance of being struck by lightning twice. On the plus side, you’ll notice an increase in your patience and humour levels…
15. Oh, and the one about Vitamin B12…
Another classic. This one usually comes right after you’ve explained about how you’re not lacking in protein. Obviously be aware that it’s harder to obtain B12 if you’re vegan, but it’s not impossible either. Marmite, fortified plant milks, nutritional yeast, and a range of seeds are packed with as much B12 as anyone needs to be healthy. Do a little research and some decent snack and meal planning and you’re all good.
16. While we’re on the subject of micro nutrients…
You don’t need a PhD in nutrition to be vegan. You don’t really need to know any more than anyone else about it. Point is, you probably will end up knowing a whole heap more than your omni friends, but people may well infer that you have no right to be vegan because you don’t have a degree in the subject. Those people can honestly go fish. For sure, clue up about stuff like B12, iron, calcium, protein and all of that jazz, and make sure what you’re eating is doing you good – but don’t feel like you’ve got to pull study all-nighters to qualify.
17. Cook for your friends
A great way to turn the opinion tide among your non-vegan chums is to get them over for dinner. Once you feel confident and have mastered a yummy dish you wouldn’t be ashamed to show off, get the invitations out. This a great way of lambasting misconceptions around vegan food and may even inspire some civilised conversation about your choices. Make sure you’ve got some dairy free Ben & Jerry’s in for dessert, topped off with some Booja-Booja choc truffles for some serious gob shutting!
18. Never underestimate the power of humor
People will wind you up. People will deliberately try and fluff you into a flummox. Don’t let them. When in doubt, turn up the humour knob to 11 and shut it down with a joke: the one about vegan being a cult and ‘seitan worship’ works well.
19. Don’t be put off by the stereotype
There’s an unfair stereotype that has vegans down as furious, humourless hippies who split their time between boiling lentils and beating drums. This couldn’t be further from the truth. We’ll wade in quickly here and say that there’s nothing wrong with hippies – they’re great – and we withhold judgement on people’s personalities, hobbies and cupboard contents. But vegans can be anyone at all. Vegans can live in regular flats and houses. Vegans can sport the latest trends in beauty and fashion, no problem. Vegans can have regular jobs and careers and have whatever the hell they want to have in their cupboards. Don’t think you don’t measure up to the vegan e-fit because, frankly, there isn’t one.
20. Don’t be put off by people who claim to be more hardcore vegan than you
Listen: being vegan does not = perfect. There are some right arseholes out there who also happen to be vegan. Vegan is not a magical personality cure. For instance, Hitler was a vegetarian (many of your omni friends will probably remind you of that). There are arseholes in every faction of society, and you will probably encounter one or two who give you face along the way. One of our favourite debates was with another vegan who wanted to vie over who was the more hardcore. Dumb as f**k, right? Whether it’s because some folk feel they’re owed more credit for a super orthodox approach to the lifestyle; because they’ve been vegan for as long as you’ve been alive; or whether they simply have anger issues, don’t let shouty, aggressive people kill your vibe, ever.
21. You know, you just don’t have to tell anyone to start with
The temptation to shout your decision to go vegan from the rooftops is a huge, and because it’s a change to part – if not all – of your lifestyle, you’ll need and want to talk about it. In our experience, however, keeping your veganism on the down-low is a serious stealth move. You’ll be less likely to feel battered by negative reactions, people’s opinions, and you’ll find your groove with less faff. If you are challenged by someone, you’ll have more of an informed opinion to fall back on. The other plus to keeping it quiet is that no one’s going to call you out if you have a wobble or mess up.
22. You don’t have to overhaul your wardrobe or makeup bag immediately
Unless money really is no object for you, going all-out and chucking things like wool, silk, leather, and non-vegan makeup, beauty products and toiletries is going to cost you a fortune. Chill. Use what you already have until it’s finished or worn out, then simply replace with vegan-friendly items. Simple. This is by far the least wasteful approach, as is far more aligned to the broader aspects of a vegan lifestyle.
23. Don’t beat yourself up
In the early days, sometimes you’ll suck at being vegan, or you’ll screw up, or there’ll be occasions when you just don’t have the confidence or energy to be a stickler. Social and family events can be especially tricksy: if it’s more hassle than you feel you can deal with, then don’t worry about it. Equally, extremes are counter-productive – going hungry because full vegan isn’t available doesn’t make your choice look healthy or attractive to others. Remember that cutting down on your dairy and animal product intake is still a hugely positive step.
24. Don’t let the bastards grind you down
A cold fact that vegan is still a challenging concept for a lot of people. People will challenge you and they will try and trip you up. People will ask you utterly maddening questions. There may even be an argument or several to head off. And some peeps will be so dismissive and belittling of your choice that you’ll want to run off and cry. Our advice? As hurtful, annoying and anger-inducing as these exchanges can be, hold onto the knowledge that you are not mad, you deserve to make choices for yourself, and the people who challenge you likely don’t know a fraction of what you do about how a vegan lifestyle can be thoroughly sustainable and enjoyable.
25. Be the example vegan you’d like to see
Following the previous point, part of being vegan is demonstrating the positives to other people who have yet to get on board with it as a viable life choice. Think about the kind of person who is or would be an inspiration to you: are they chilled? Are they knowledgeable, or patient, or unpatronizing? Do they look healthy and like they’re enjoying their vegan lifestyle? To use a modern motivational cliché, be the change you’d like to see.
What advice do you have for people who are thinking of trying veganism out, or for those who’ve just switched up? We’d love to know! Drop us a comment below.
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