5 TIPS FOR VEGAN BEGINNERS
1. Transition slowly
Don’t expect to become a hardcore vegan right away. Consider trying a vegetarian diet or or commit to removing one animal product at a time. It is likely that something shocked or inspired you to discover veganism in the first place. Perhaps is was a movie you saw, you had an epiphany, or learned some new information about how humans operate.
The more you research the topic, the stronger your resolve will be. Once I had done a lot of research on veganism it was easy to stay committed and I thought everyone would jump on board once they knew what I knew. In being told about veganism doesn’t really have a strong impact. What DOES work is seeing with your own eyes the cruelty and horror involved with animal agriculture. It is far more effective than anything that is sugar coated. However, the more you hit people with hard truths, the less people will want to listen to you. People are not very often concerned with their own health and drink too much alcohol, smoke, don’t get enough sleep so health sure as hell isn’t going to motivate anyone unless they believe their life depends on it. With this in mind, it’s unlikely that people would have any concern for the well-being of animals.
In order for people to commit to what may seem like a drastic lifestyle change sometimes the motivator has to be shocking or it’s painful enough to stay the same. For me, I saw that if we do not drastically change how we view and treat all life on the planet then the future looks bleak for my son. Period.
2. Go easy on the vegan junk food
By junk food I mean anything that is processed, like vegan meat alternatives or the usual fried sugary suspects. Don’t make the mistake of simply replacing the meat on your plate with a fake meat or even soy products thinking that it’s healthy. Those items are great in moderation and to boost protein intake, but they are still processed food.
At first It’s extremely hard to get your head around the idea that all meals revolve around animal protein. When I used to eat meat, the meat or fish portion was the main focus of the meal. I was very focussed on bodybuilding so I would never just eat a piece of fruit, it had to be protein above anything else so I would at least have to have some protein with it.
That would still be the case if I was on a contest prep but I still for wholfood sources like legumes, pulses and grains.If you are a bodybuilder or competitor you can still build muscle and get lean without using ANY soy or fake meat products. It would just be a higher carb diet than you may have succeeded with in the past.
That being said, focus on working towards a whole food plant based diet with lots of veggies and a wide variety. Get your protein from lentils chickpeas, kidney beans, pumpkin seeds and the similar. You’ll be surprised b y how much protein is in foods like oatmeal, brown rice and even broccoli and Brussel sprouts.
3. Remind yourself why you started.
True veganism is for the animals and their liberation
Learn about the ethical side of veganism. It’s important to learn what to eat in order to make a vegan diet sustainable for yor but without a deeply ingrained ethical stance you’ll be unlikely sustain the motivation to stick with it largely due to peer pressure. People close won’t be in a hurry to change, gatherings may have limited options for you. Most people have something unhelpful to say when you first break the news to them.
What I’ve experienced that their initial response usually has nothing to do with you and everything to do with why THEY are not vegan. Remember that. Rather than ask useful questions they will show concern for your soon to decline health, they will check to make sure your not imposing your unhealthy ways on close family, they’ll warn you that your hair will fall out, they will tell you about their soy intolerance, they’ll show you their canine teeth, tell you how they are top of the food chain and will worry about where you will get your protein from. You will get little support from the world around you so you will have to find ways to reinforce your own decision, watch all the documentaries, Earthlings, Dominion, What The Health Cowspiracy are good but once you have seen the brutal truth of the animal agriculture industry you cannot unsee it. Most people will not watch certain things because once you see it, you cannot in good conscience continue without deploying severe denial.
It’s been three years and for the most part the idea of consuming any animal products actually repulses me. I’m not tempted.
Now while veganism is not a health diet but rather an ethical stance it is important that you do take good care of your health. In fact once you have been vegan for a decent period of time and have shown yourself to be thriving, you’ll then find people start asking you questions and maybe showing a little interest in making a few small changes themselves.
4. Expect to have doubts, don’t let anyone define you.
Expect to have doubts along the way. At times you may not feel your best and you may attribute it to the vegan diet. There are many reasons why you may feel “off” it could indeed be a dietary deficiency, very few people eat perfectly all the time. If there is a question consider tracking your nutrient intake using an app like Cronometer. You don’t have to become a slave to a meal tracker but it doesn’t hurt to check in and make sure you are covering all your bases.
Get familiar with some vegan role models that represent the way you like to live but beware of hanging on their every word because even they make mistakes and sometimes create drama potentially just to get more online attention. If you see a “Why I quit veganism” scenario, learn a little more detail about why they quit. The more educated you about a healthy vegan diet, the less likely you’ll be swayed by the fickleness of pop culture. Sometimes people get caught up in themselves and their journey and after a period of time they forget about the animals.
At the end of the day it is your body and your life, it is up to you how you live it regardless of what anybody else says or thinks. It would be nice if we all lived without harming other creatures, but not everybody feels the same about that.
If you slip up, it doesn’t mean it’s over.
Yes it’s true, the definition of veganism states that one should avoid the harm of animals as far as is reasonably possible. If you have an old pair of shoes with some leather in them and you decide to wear them, don’t get all stressed about it. If you see another vegan in the street, and they happen to know you are vegan, and they happen to know there is some leather in your old shoes they may verbally attack you and revoke your vegan status, however that would be ludicrous when everyone else walking down the street is probably going to have a animal dead body part for dinner, so keep everything in perspective. Throwing out old leather is great if you feel better to do that or you feel uncomfortable using it but the harm has already been done. Focus on what you can do to grow the movement moving forwards and the most impactful way is to demonstrate that you can live a healthy happy life without exploiting animals. People need to see that.we are all human and we all make mistakes. If you make a non-vegan mistake it doesn’t mean you need to throw in the towel and abandon the ideology all together. If you have to step away for a while, keep it in the back of your mind to keep trying or at least to be as vegan as possible. You may not get a vegan badge, but you can always be plant based, which would keep you a few steps in the right direction.
5. Supplement with B12.
Yes we should get our nutrients all from food ideally, but if taking a b12 supp means you’re not contributing to animal suffering then praise the advancements in human technology. We kill and process animals using technology so we can avoid doing so with technology as well.
Foods often touted to be rich in vitamin B12 include unwashed organic produce, mushrooms grown in B12-rich soils, nori, spirulina, chlorella, and nutritional yeast.
Several studies show that while anyone can have low vitamin B12 levels, vegetarians and vegans may have a higher risk of deficiency. This seems especially true for vegans who are not taking any supplements. Vitamin B12 is important for many bodily processes, including protein metabolism and the formation of oxygen-transporting red blood cells. It also plays a crucial role in the health of your nervous system.
Some other vitamins vegans may want to consider supplementing with include:
Vitamin D (Usually obtained from exposure to sunlight).
Long chain Omega 3’s
Personally I’ve used supplements my whole life, long before becoming vegan. A non-vegan diet is not in itself more optimal. It depends on the choices that each individual makes regarding overall nutritional value.