In health life vegan

How to Finally go Vegan

Going vegan or vegetarian has been something I always wanted, but was never able to actually do until recently. There are a lot of reasons a person decides to give up meat and possibly dairy. And the more I researched a plant based diet, the more I realized it was what I wanted.

I feel like I read a lot of articles about lifestyle changes because I'm one of those people who's always trying to improve myself. And what's annoying is that they're often too broad and don't have any solid advice. Today I'm sharing a few actually helpful tips if you're wanting to go vegan.

As some background I should mention that I'm 22 and living in Texas, cattle country. But going vegan can be hard no matter where you live. Mainly because there's a social stigma around veganism and for some reason a lot of people hate us. I think this is partially because vegans can sometimes be preachy, or come off as stuck up for their choices. Most vegans are normal, chill people who don't want to convert the world, and the few preachy people give the rest of us a bad rep. Does that mean it's bad to be a preachy vegan? No, because we all have different ways of sharing what we're passionate about, and that's ok.

Today's tips come from my own personal experience, not some regurgitated listical, so let's get in it.
Ellen Fisher is one of my fav Vegan Youtubers!

Casually Expose yourself to Veganism

The first thing I started doing before going vegan was to casually expose myself to the vegan lifestyle. I don't watch a lot of TV, but I do watch a lot of Youtube, so I subscribed to a few vegan Youtubers. I watched a bunch of "What I eat in a Day" videos and added them to my usual browsing routine.

A few of my favorite vegan youtubers include Ellen Fisher, Cheap Lazy Vegan, Mic The Vegan, Pick up Limes, and Kate Flowers

This did a few things; exposed myself to what vegans actually eat (hint: it's not just salads and smoothies), gave me ideas for different meals, and showed me that vegans can look like anything, not just hippies living in Austin. I also started looking up a few vegan recipes on Pinterest and generally browsing about veganism.

Research a lot

Once I got a good feel of what veganism was I really wanted to know more about why people chose this lifestyle. I like to read a lot, so I obviously scoped out a bunch of vegan books to motivate myself. There are a lot of scare videos out there of slaughter houses, don't feel like you have to watch those but you can if you want. There are tons of articles, documentaries, books, blogs and more about veganism so dive into your interests and find your own reasons for going vegan.

One book that spoke to me was Eating Animals by Johnathan Safran Foer, which went really in depth to animal agriculture. There are also a lot of documentaries on Netflix like Cowspiracy, Forks over Knives and more. At this point I was actively seeking out information about the lifestyle, and found answers to my questions I had. Is it healthy? Is is sustainable? Is it hard? and so on.
Photo by Nirzar Pangarkar on Unsplash

Start Slow

Ok I said these tips weren't going to be regurgitated from other articles, and this tip is in tons of other "going vegan" articles out there. What those other articles don't tell you is how to start slow, so here's what I did.

I made a plan to only cut meat from my breakfasts and lunches, but not with the end goal of going completely plant based. I normally make my own breakfast, and pack a lunch for school or work, so that would be the easiest for me to start with. I did this as a first step without completely committing to see how hard it would be to cut meat from two thirds of my day.

Spoiler alert: it was super easy. When I went to lunch with coworkers on occasion I chose non-meat options from restaurants, and when they asked I told them I was trying to cut back on meat and carried on, no stress.

Once I was regularly avoiding meat for breakfast and lunch, I focused on dairy and eggs. Then after a while I started avoiding meat and dairy at dinners too. I recommend taking about three to six months to get use to your new diet before trying to cut something else out, but do what feel right for you.

Learn to Order at Restaurants

I feel like half of my google search history since going vegan is "Vegan options at (Restaurant name)." My boyfriend and I eat out at least once a week with friends or just by ourselves, so learning to navigate menus was really important to my transition. Start with finding options at restaurants that you visit often, mine include Chuy's, Chipotle, Pei Wei, and Panera Bread.

At one point Adrian and I went to a new burger place and there was nothing for me to eat besides french fries. He said he felt bad but I was super content with my mountain of fries and ketchup. I also went to a cajun place and got a $9 salad with no bacon, no cheese and no eggs and felt really ripped off. Some places will have lots of options for you and others will only have one or two things. I try to not dictate where a group goes to eat because of my dietary choices, but having a few go-to restaurants is really helpful.

Normally vegetarian options can be "veganized" by removing non-vegan options. Just be open to trying new things and do some homework before going out. Now when we get invited to a restaurant I'm not familiar with I instantly look up the menu and find something I can eat.

Don't feel awkward asking for specialized food at restaurants, most servers are totally chill about special requests and get them often. If my food ever comes out wrong I try to be polite as possible about it, but if it's something small then I'll normally over look it. For example, I got a burrito from Chuys with sour cream on the side touching it, I'm not about the send the whole thing back.
Photo by jwlez on Unsplash

Tell those you eat with often

The social aspect is one of the most difficult parts of going vegan for me. Living in the south there seems to be meat everywhere, BBQ dinners, pot lucks, pho, menudo, and so on. Eating is such a social event that you can easily feel left out if you're not participating. 

I only started telling people I wasn't eating meat once I cut it out from my dinners. At home, where I do most of the cooking, I started making similar dishes sans-meat. Things like chick pea tacos instead of ground beef, or spaghetti with no meat in the sauce. I live with my boyfriend, and don't mind cooking meat for him, so it works out.

Once I told my parents and friends is when I started getting a lot of questions. Sometimes people will be genuinely interested and others will ask questions out of politeness. Don't feel like you have to really go into your reasonings, and don't try to convert them. If they're interested in the benefits then they can do some research on their own and ask you questions, you don't have the be a vegan cheerleader if you don't want to be.

Prepare to answer Questions

I found that a lot of people ask questions because they're genuinely interested. Again, don't feel like you need to explain everything to them, but I'd look up some answers to FAQs. At one point a friend asked me why I chose to go vegan over dinner and felt really uncomfortable telling them all about factory farming while they ate a hamburger. While it's good to answer questions don't do it if you feel it's not the right time or place.

It was weird the first time I told someone I was vegan because it felt like a huge sign on my head making me stand out. To my relief the people I were with were totally cool with it. They asked questions like where I got my protein, and if it was hard making the switch which I answered to the best of my ability.

Find your favorites

I really enjoy cooking, but I don't get to do it enough when school and work get busy. I did a little experimenting and found a few solid week-night dinners that always satisfy. I keep ingredients for these in the apartment at all times. I also try to keep a bunch of snacks on hand to avoid moments of weakness. Going vegan doesn't mean you have to give up all your favorite foods. There are vegan options out there for pretty much everything. Pinterest is one of your greatest assets when looking up new recipes.

Also don't feel like you have to buy into the hype of certain foods. There are some really pretty Instagram worthy vegan foods, but don't feel like you have to like them to be vegan. For example, smoothie bowls make not effing sense to me. Why would I put a smoothie in a bowl? Use a straw! If you know you don't like a certain ingredient don't feel like you have to try it to be a good vegan. Mangos? Hate them. Coconut? Disgusting in all forms. You can go vegan and still eat foods you enjoy. Blaze Pizza is still my number one, now I just get vegan cheese!

Accept Imperfection

As a new vegan you are for sure going to be tempted and make mistakes. My mistakes include not realizing egg was in a certain dish and breaking down and getting a burger after coming home from a party. It's important to remind yourself that you're doing your best and to keep going. It can be easy to say well F it because I already messed up today so why bother. When you make mistakes try to get right back on track by reading a few articles or watching a few videos to get yourself re-motivated.

We live in a non-vegan world, so there are going to be times where we make mistakes. What matters is you're aware of the benefits of plant-based and you're trying your best.
Photo by Samantha Lorette on Unsplash

F the Haters

You may have someone in your life who's really annoying about you going vegan, which sucks. My person kept tagging me in anti-vegan videos on Facebook and giving me a hard time at group dinners by "bragging" about how good their meat looked–gag me. You can approach these situations with as much tact as you want, but don't feel the need to contradict them or get defensive. My approach is to ignore them for the most part, but if this person keeps bugging you about it then feel free to get assertive if that's your style.

RELATED: How to deal with difficult people

Don't worry about why people are concerned with your dietary choices. At the end of the day you need to focus on yourself and remind yourself why you chose this lifestyle in the first place. Many people don't stay vegan/vegetarian because of social influences. Going vegan is hard, but it isn't that big of a deal to others, and if someone keeps bugging you about it then question if you really want that person in your life.

In Conclusion

Overall veganism is a journey that I hope more people start taking. Even though it can be hard to become and stay vegan, the benefits far out weigh the costs. I've never felt better since going vegan and don't see myself going back any time soon. Focus on what's right for you and be patient with yourself during the transition. You've got this!

Are you trying to go vegan or vegetarian? What other challenges are you facing or tips do you have?

Photo by Epicurrence on Unsplash

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  1. Ommmmmg yes! Thanks so much for this post! It was definitely very inspiring for me! Finally taking a step in being healthier too! Right now I am in the process of eating both vegetarian and vegan. I am constantly watching those what I eat in a day too hehe! :) I've been trying to do a lot of research too. Have you watched "What the Health" on Netflix?

    xo, Chloe //

    1. No problem! I loved What the Health, the people's stories in that documentary were so inspiring. I think people really forget how much food can be medicine!

  2. I've thought about going vegan a lot, but I know it would be so hard for me! I love the way you eased into it though. I think I could probably cut meat out of breakfast and lunch. I can see how once you got used to that, doing more might be easier.

    1. Definitely give it a try. Not pressuring myself to do too much too fast really helped me stick to it!