Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Top 8 Tips for Being Vegan

One of the top questions I hear when asked about being vegan is, "Is it hard?" To be honest, I can always respond with a confident no, but through the years I have definitely developed a lot of tips and tricks. Just like any new lifestyle change in your life, veganism is learned and practiced, but through consistency it's as simple as getting dressed in the morning.

Here are my top 8 tips for being vegan:

Invest your time in educating yourself  through documentaries/YouTube/books.

Now that you've decided to become vegan, one of the best things you can do is to educate yourself on why you've become vegan. You will be asked many questions about your decision and you will want to be prepared with how to answer those questions.
One of the main reasons I have been able to stay vegan and have confidence that I will always be vegan is my conviction of animal cruelty, environmental concerns, and health. Through my own experience I know these topics were rarely, if ever brought into a conversation while growing up, therefore it was all about going beneath the surface and educating myself. Because I have educated myself and continue to educate myself, the thought of anything that isn't vegan repulses me. Cheese, eggs, and dairy are so out of my realm that I don't even care how good something could potentially taste because I am able to associate abuse and sickness on top of it.

Stop caring about how other people view you.

In our society, people get very defensive about food/food choices. If you aren't eating what they are eating, there is a tendency for them to get upset and have the sense that you attacking them, although that is the opposite of what you are doing. Food is food, and especially in America we should know that what you choose to put in your body is your choice whether you are vegan or eating a standard American diet. Do not let this get to you. People will look at you funny and may say rude things to you, but it is YOUR choice. Be confident in your decision and through educating yourself this will get easier and easier. However, I would like to point out that just because someone is getting defensive with you doesn't give you the right to attack them as tempting as it may be. Always remember to stay calm. This will give them no reason to keep attacking you. Getting defensive or attacking someone will only do more damage than good, especially with your loved ones.

Eat real food.

Eating real food means skipping all the vegan meats, cheeses, etc. These foods are nice and convenient if you are transitioning into veganism and you feel the need to eat something similar to what you used to eat. However, most of these imitation foods are not even good for you and can be very costly. Through time your taste-buds will adapt and you will learn to love healthy food. Or, if you are wanting something similar to a hamburger, learn how to make your own. Sticking to whole foods will not only make you feel better but it will be cheaper as well. Keep the imitation foods as treat foods.

Make health a priority.

When I see a lot of vegans fail, I can't help but notice that they weren't making health a priority. Just because you are vegan doesn't automatically make you healthy as there are plenty of "junk-food vegans" out there. The problem in this is you will eventually start to feel sick and could blame it on the diet instead of recognizing that you were just eating the wrong things. Eating enough food can also be a huge problem as plant foods are naturally less calorically dense vs. animal products, therefore you need to be eating bigger portions. Make sure you're getting in lots of greens, vegetables, fruits, plant based starches, plant based proteins, and healthy fats. Veganism should make you feel GOOD. If you are starting to feel sick, reevaluate what you are actually putting in your body and what you could be missing.

Buy groceries and learn how to cook.

One of the things that won't be as easy for you anymore is being able to go out to any restaurant you want and order anything. This is especially true if you live in small town, USA like myself. Therefore learning to cook is KEY. Cooking may seem like a big stride for you, but honestly I am one of the laziest cooks around and can usually get my cooking done within 15 minutes...which is potentially faster than getting in your car and driving somewhere. Learn how to make rice, potatoes, and pasta and make a stir-fry on the side or to go on top of your carb source. Start researching new recipes that you would like to try and make a collection. Cooking will get easier the more you do it as I didn't even know how to cook until I met my husband 3.5 years ago. On a even bigger plus side, you WILL save money. There is a big misconception that you lose money in buying groceries. This is only true if you waste your groceries, but if you are eating at home every night there is no reason you should be wasting anything.

Always be ahead of the game (restaurants, snacks, drinks...etc).

Just because you may not being going to restaurants as much doesn't mean friends and family won't want to go out to eat on occasion. In this case, find out where you are going and look up their menu. If you find that there is essentially nothing you can have, either find another restaurant and give that suggestion or pay attention to what they have for sides. A lot of the time you can get a baked potato and vegetables (with request of no butter) with no problem. It is also easy to talk to your waiter/waitress and tell them that you are vegan and most of the time the chef is more than willing to work with you.
It is also important to plan your snacks ahead of time. If you are going to be outside of your home all day, pack snacks. If you're already grocery shopping, you'll have nuts/seeds/fruits on hand that you can just throw in your bag. Another tip: Cliff Bars and Larabars are lifesavers. Trust me, putting in a little more effort will go a long way.

Find other vegans/watch other vegans on YouTube/follow vegan blogs.

It's easy to feel alone when you are the only vegan you know. There are many vegan meet-up groups you can be apart of or you can find other vegans to follow on YouTube or follow vegan bloggers. This will help you feel like you're not alone and knowing that there are many like-minded individuals helps in the transition process. This will also help you stay on track as many vloggers/bloggers are posting new and valuable information about being vegan and how they live a vegan lifestyle.

Have a supportive partner.

From experience I know that having a supportive partner makes the transition way easier. I was lucky enough to even have my husband (boyfriend at the time) become vegan with me. However, I do not think that your partner needs to go vegan with you for you to be successful. The best thing to do is to let them transition when they are ready and not make them feel like you are pushing them. It is important to educate them and let them know why you are doing what you are doing and tell them that their support is important to you. It would be hard however, if they were the one in your ear telling you that what you were doing was not a good decision. The key to any relationship is mutual respect and communication. Let them know that you need them to respect and support your decision.

Veganism is a journey and by no means will you learn everything in a day or even a month. I've been vegan 3 years strong and still learn knew things everyday. Consistency is key and don't let anyone tell you that you can't do it.

Now, go on and you do you!

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