Thinking about going vegan, where do I start?

So you’ve decided to go vegan, or maybe you’re just a curious soul exploring lifestyle alternatives. Either way, I’m excited that the thought is out there. It won’t disappoint, I promise you.

I’m in no way a know-it-all when it comes to veganism and I still have a lot to learn myself, but I think I’ve acquired some (hopefully) insightful points over the last couple of months that can help others set foot on this rewarding path the right way.

  • If interested, check out my personal journey to a life-changing decision or my environmental take on our food consumption. 

Below are a few brief tips on how to kick-start your journey.

Figure out why you want to be vegan – before you dive head-first into this lifestyle, you have to be absolutely confident as to why you’re choosing this path. Is it for your health? The environment? Animal ethics? All of the above? Only when you know exactly why you’re choosing veganism will you be able to fully commit and embody all that it has to offer.

Become informed – as you venture out on this path and begin your research, you’ll come across all sorts of articles and studies and finding the right kind of information can be overwhelming. Veganism truly does precipitate to all areas of life. Two things that are extremely important for starters: 1) becoming aware of how the food industry works and 2) learning how your individual consumerism makes an impact. A few months ago, I had absolutely no idea the kind of ecological footprint and health effects the meat and dairy industries cause. Holy shit was it eye-opening.

A small tip when reading scientific studies conducted specifically against plant-based and vegan diets: check your sources. Often times, studies that promote the consumption of meat and dairy are funded by the exact same industries who produce them. These industries don’t care about your health or the environmental impact, they only care about monetary profits. 

Below are some useful places to start:

Documentaries (personal favourite way to staying informed):

  • Vegucated
  • Cowspiracy
  • What the Health (a must-see for everyone, not just future vegans)
  • Forks Over Knives
  • Sustainable
  • Food Choices

Books:

  • The China Study – T. Colin Campbell and Thomas M. Campbell
  • Eating Animals – Jonathan Safran Foer

Podcasts:

  • #EatForThePlanet with Nil Zacharias
  • Food for Thought: The Joys and Benefits of Living Vegan

Public figures/influencers to peep (if you’re going to be on social media, let it inspire and influence you in a positive way):

  • Ellen Fisher (a vegan family living in Hawaii, GUARANTEED to infuse you with positivity)
  • Gene Baur (absolutely love this guy)
  • @theadventuresofjade
  • @ellagracedenton
  • Dr. Michael Klaper
  • FullyRawKristina

Familiarize yourself with optimal grocery shopping – you’re probably thinking “how do I make sure I sustain myself on veganism without overstepping my budget?” Veganism is often associated with expensive grocery bills, but it’s far less complicated to shop vegan than people assume. Remember, it’s the organics that shake up your wallet. During my first month of living on my own, I stupidly spent 2 months’ worth of my budget for groceries at a high-end vegan shop out of panic that I wouldn’t find the things I was used to eating. It’s extremely important to scope out your local grocery stores and food markets. For ex. a pack of natural oats can be bought cheaper at a local grocery store as opposed to a specialty store.

Another great way to shop smart is through farmers’ markets. Although this isn’t always an option, especially during the long winter months, it’s a great way to buy fresher and healthier options while supporting local producers.

If you’re lost in the kind of food items you should buy, I’ve put together a short list of possible grocery items:

IMG_8104 copy

Don’t forget about vitamins – unfortunately for vegans, the only way to obtain vitamin B12 other than from consuming animal products is through either B12 infused foods (sometimes coconut milk or other fruit juices) or by taking natural supplements. I personally take B12 in liquid form 1-2x a week, daily iron (in natural liquid form), general plant-based women’s health vitamins and the occasional magnesium. Aside from the B12, these are vitamins I would normally be taking regardless of being vegan.

Check out this diagram that perfectly breaks down vegan nutrition.

Take small steps – some people decide to dive into veganism overnight while others decide to go vegetarian first. Whichever it is, do what’s best for you. If you’re a consumer of the Standard American Diet (consuming large amounts of meat and cheese, foods in high cholesterol, eating lots of processed foods), take the time to transition properly. Play around with recipes or try going full out vegan for a week or two first to figure out what suits you. Regardless of the type of transition you decide to embark on, you’ll notice hugely positive changes within a few days of the vegan diet. It’s truly amazing.

Remember, it’s okay to have slip ups. Don’t kick yourself about the accidental egg-based croissant you just ate. Adapting to a vegan lifestyle is a huge change; it is a process and it’s completely normal that it takes time.

Get ready to be questioned a lot, and I mean A LOT – despite veganism being an increasingly popular trend among millennials, many are still unfamiliar with the lifestyle. Especially the older generations. As a Slovak, it is in my blood to live off of mainly meat and cheese based dishes. Explaining my lifestyle choices to my European family was rather challenging. I’ve truly been asked it all. I think my favourite comment was said by my meat-loving grandpa, “I thought you were a smart enough lady to know better”. Who knows grandpa, maybe finishing my degree will help me make “better” choices 😉 On the other hand, my parents are insanely open and positive individuals who decided to go vegan with me. You’ll certainly encounter questioning individuals who will make arguments against your way of life, but you’ll also meet insanely inspiring souls that will uplift you in so many ways. Just remember that the best way to advocate for veganism is to inform, not force.

Join the community – as with any other types of clubs or groups, being surrounded by like-minded individuals makes all the difference. Check out local vegan picnics, yoga groups or university clubs. Cleanse your social media following with like-minded individuals and vegan advocates. Start a conversation with your friends, co-workers or peers. You’d be surprised at the amount of positive energy that will come your way.

Lastly and most importantly, BE OPEN AND STAY POSITIVE – Veganism is all about love and compassion for yourself, others, the environment and animals. Having an open mind and heart is the greatest recipe for positively diving into the unknown. You’re about to embark on an extremely rewarding journey with so much to offer. You’re doing an insanely good deed for yourself and the world. The universe sees that and is sending all the love right back to you!

Positive energies always.

Nat

“When you make the decision to eat a plant-based diet for your health, you are showing yourself the ultimate love and compassion.” – Nancy Montuori

If you’re considering transitioning to veganism or just curious about the lifestyle in general and want to chat more about it, I’m more than open to conversation. Shoot me a message!

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