For the Newbie Vegan!

So ya wanna go vegan… you’ve watched all the documentaries. You’re ready to give up animals. You’ve seen the cool recipes. You’ve been vegetarian for awhile or experimented with meatless meals. You’re ready to do the real thing. Congrats! You can do it. It’s a cool life, I promise. But becoming vegan is one thing, and staying vegan is another. So when the journey gets rough, feel free to come back here for encouragement/guidance. Here are my tips for becoming and staying vegan:

1. Keep doing what you’ve been doing: RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH! Books, current articles, documentaries, take it all in! The more you learn, the more you really aren’t gonna want animal products in your body. It’s just dead flesh departed creatures and their secretions at the end of the day. You got this!

2. Get comfortable in the kitchen, if you aren’t already. You’re gonna have to cook a lot.

3. Don’t get caught up in every vegan recipe you see. That can get very expensive because some of the ingredients will be very foreign to you and your wallet. Use recipes more as inspiration than a hard lined guide.

4. Try new vegan ingredients one by one so you can see what works and what you like. For instance, I never broke the bank on bulgar and nutritional yeast and jackfruit all at once. What I did do was perfect how to make rice & beans (complete protein), experiment with different vegetables, and learn how to use new things gradually. It look me forever to venture out and experiment with canned coconut milk but now I know it’s amazing.

5. Take snacks everywhere. Snack all day. Nuts, fruits, popcorn, trail mixes, granola bars, pb&j, etc. If you do this then you won’t be completely hungry & tempted to settle if you run into a situation where your diet can’t be accommodated.

6. Don’t feel like you have to defend yourself when people make fun of your diet or taunt you, just laugh it off. Most people literally don’t know any better, and I was one of them at one point. Don’t argue with anyone about it or go down the rabbit hole about why you’ve chosen your diet (unless they’re genuinely curious or it becomes an opportunity for an intellectual debate).

7. Learn what different ingredients are for, & it’ll help you navigate recipes better or make cheaper substitutions. Anything that can be done with quinoa can be done with rice, the same goes for butternut squash & sweet potatoes, mangoes & peaches, eggplant and mushrooms for example. Vinegars & lemons are usually interchangeable as well (recipe just needs acid), and brown sugar/maple syrup. The more you cook (& run out of stuff mid recipe), the more you’ll pick up on those kinds of things.

8. Shop sale produce. Pineapples were on sale for 98 cents at my local grocery store one week, so pineapple was my fruit of the week. If broccoli is on sale, buy it & learn how to make new broccoli dishes. Sometimes being vegan is trying new stuff, sometimes it’s reinventing the classics.

9. Don’t fall for all the meat, cheese, & dairy substitutes. You’re not giving up all that stuff just to reincorporate it in some way. Plus, they can be expensive, and research is very mixed on soy, which many substitutes are made from. I try a new one every couple of months. I haven’t found a cheese that I like, I try new veggie burgers when they’re on sale, and I’ve learned that I like the vegan mayo to make potato salad, and I like the whipped cream and ice cream. But I don’t eat substitutes often at all & usually they’re a luxury, not a go to. Find the milk substitute you like & you’re good.

10. Don’t beat yourself up if you’re not extremely strict. It’s hard to tell people sometimes that the food they made to accommodate you actually isn’t vegan. I have a hard time letting people down like that; the sneaky eggs and milk in baked goods can get you caught up as well. If you must: take a bite, move it around on your plate, and cleanse with a fast if you feel terrible afterward.

11. Don’t get overwhelmed! Keep it fun, take it day by day, and remember why you started. Listen to your body! At one point I got really comfortable and started eating tons of vegan ice cream, desserts, breads, and cookies. But my body doesn’t react well to too much excess sugar & wheat so I had to lay off of it some. So 3 years in and I still haven’t tried all of the vegan fads, some vegan stuff still doesn’t agree with my body, and I still research often and have not regretted my decision so far.

Hopefully this is helpful during your vegan journey! Got more vegan tips? Share them below!

Wishing you much LOVE and VEGGIENESS,

Bri

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