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How to go vegan

Apr. 19, 2018
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I have been vegan for almost three years now, and it has been the greatest, most fulfilling lifestyle change I have ever made. I have learned so much, and I hope to help you with these six tips for beginning your transition to veganism.

Do it with a friend or group.

It’s helpful to go vegan with other people. I went vegan in my sophomore year of college, and after being inspired by my friend I joined my school’s animal rights group. The group provided me a space to share my own experience and taught me so much about the many topics that intersect with veganism. I am now the co-president with my friend who encouraged me to go vegan!

(Note: if you are in college and the dining hall options are limited, reach out to the dining staff to voice your opinions and offer suggestions. I have seen such immense change in the vegan options offered on my own college campus after reaching out to them.) 

Focus on intention, not perfection. 

No one is perfect. Don’t worry about “messing up.” If you are striving to eat vegan three days a week, that’s fantastic and makes a more positive impact than not eating vegan at all. Be proud of yourself for learning about and trying something new! 

Transition at your own pace. 

It doesn’t have to be all at once. Any change or substitute you make is a good and impactful one. I began by going vegetarian and cutting out fish and eggs, and I then swapped out dairy products for plant-based alternatives. Instead of using dairy milk in my cereal, I used almond milk or soy milk, and instead of opting for vegan meat alternatives (which can get expensive), I focused on eating simple foods that I knew were vegan like beans, fruits, vegetables, and pastas. 

Veganize your favorite foods or find alternatives for foods you eat most often. Have fun with trying out new recipes. Once you get into a routine, it becomes second nature. I don’t even think about having to opt for vegan food now, because it is so intuitive! 

Identify what is motivating you to go vegan. 

Having a strong reason behind your lifestyle change makes veganism easier and more rewarding. I initially went vegan for ethical reasons. I then learned about the environmental implications that animal agriculture has on our planet, so that became a secondary source of motivation for me. Find something about veganism that you are passionate about and educate yourself! (If you’re looking to watch some documentaries about veganism, I recommend Cowspiracy, Forks Over Knives, Vegucated, and Food, Inc.)

Familiarize yourself with labels, but don’t stress.

When I first went vegan, I skimmed labels to check for animal products and quickly got a feel for what types of processed products tend to have animal ingredients in them. In the beginning, it was easiest to reach for what I knew was vegan like fruits and vegetables. (Important note: Oreos are vegan, and you can order vegan at Chipotle and Taco Bell.)

When people ask you why you’re going vegan...

You can explain that it is a personal choice that you’ve made after educating yourself about veganism, and you can share some of the reasons behind your decision. Yes, you will get enough protein, and no, you will not miss bacon as much as people think you will!

Go in with an open mind. Remember that you are doing something that extends beyond yourself. 

I know that my personal choices have a direct impact on other living beings. Eating a vegan diet and making purchases that align with my eating habits continues to be empowering. Try new foods! You may love some and hate others. It’s about finding what work best for you. It takes a little trial and error, so have fun! 

Some of my kitchen basics:

  • Pasta
  • Beans
  • Tortillas
  • Seasonings
  • Vegetables
  • Fruit (frozen and fresh)
  • Oatmeal
  • Plant-based milk
  • Peanut butter 

Good luck!

photos by Julia Fromson