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Lifestyle,  Veganism

You Just Went Vegan…What’s Next?

Welcome to my second coffee chats post, featuring my medium roast coffee with soy milk. I’ve been blogging for quite some time now and I just realized that I have never talked about my vegan journey or given advice to new vegans. I have talked about budgets, benefits and I have many recipes; but I think it’s time to give some unsolicited advice based on my experiences.

Spark notes version of my journey…

At about 16 years old, I made the decision to be vegetarian. But I wasn’t a strict vegetarian, so I had been vegetarian on and off until I was 20 years old. Around two years ago in January, in my mind I told myself I was going to be vegan for the animals and for environmental reasons. From that January to March, I had been experimenting with plant-based meals. Then one day in March (I can’t remember if it was 2016 or 2017), I made the plunge. I went totally vegan and I didn’t look back.

Make a plan…

I love to make lists and I prefer to stay organized. Something that helped me in the beginning of my journey was to write down what groceries I needed. I also wrote down vegan recipes to try and I wrote down what products to avoid (both in food and in skin care/beauty). I basically just wrote down reminders and this helped me avoid accidentally buying non-vegan things. It is perfectly normal for new vegans to slip up. Please do not beat yourself up over mistakes and please do not give up because you’ve made mistakes.

It’s all about intention…

This goes hand in hand with making mistakes. Making intentional choices is a part of veganism. Your intention behind your choices matter. There is nothing wrong with being plant-based for health reasons. However I have noticed that people who make an ethical connection to the lifestyle, typically become life long vegans. Also when I became more mindful about what I ate/bought, it made being vegan that much easier.

Learn…

Educating yourself is crucial. Research how food is produced, research plant-based diets, etc. Learn from other vegans and learn why you resonate with veganism. Watching documentaries can help, but it’s not necessary. Personally, it’s too painful for me to watch slaughterhouse documentaries. Also, know some facts. Understanding basic nutrition can benefit you. A well-balanced plant-based diet is not harmful and has been shown to have health benefits. Protein deficiencies are NOT common, especially in the western world. This is probably the hardest thing to explain to people. Yes, animal products have all essential amino acids. However, a combination of plant sources can easily provide enough protein and iron. Most people only require around 50 grams of protein, but of course it depends on your lifestyle. If you are worried about protein, here is a helpful article. As for iron – dark leafy greens, nuts/seeds, and fortified foods are good sources. Consult a nutritionist or physician if you are worried about sources of calcium, iron, and protein. Additionally, learn how to effectively communicate your beliefs and reasoning for a vegan lifestyle. It is not the norm to be vegan and so people will question you or even try to discredit you. Instead of becoming frustrated, calmly explain why you are vegan. Come from a place of love and not from a place of judgement. Not everyone will be perceptive and you have to accept that, just do your best to set a good example.

Avoid the orthorexia trap…

People in the vegan community do not talk about eating disorders enough. Some people use a plant-based diet to cover up their disordered eating patterns. I recommend a diet of mainly whole plant foods, but I also recommend balance. I would avoid following “influencers” that promote extremely low-fat or low-calorie plant-based diets. Just because someone talks about plant-based nutrition on the internet, doesn’t mean they are an expert. I do not claim to be an expert. You have your choice of vegan diet. There is raw, hclf, wslf, balanced, keto vegan, raw till 4, etc. I would just suggest not pressuring yourself too much, especially when you are starting out. I mainly stick to a vegan form of intuitive eating. I eat when I am hungry and I allow myself to indulge in vegan ice cream when I feel like. This way I actually avoid binging and my vegan lifestyle is much more realistic. I used to be on an extremely low-fat plant-based diet and I wasn’t enjoying my food and I wasn’t any healthier than I am now.

Eat the foods you like…

You don’t have to give up your favorite foods, you just go for the vegan version. More and more grocery stores are selling meat and cheese substitutes. Some even have a similar nutrient profile. If you can’t find the substitutes, you can make them! Learning to cook makes the lifestyle so much easier. It is also just a basic life skill. I liked burgers before and I still like them, I just make a black bean burger or a lentil burger. It’s going to take some getting used to, but not harming animals is worth it in my opinion.

Enjoy yourself…

Veganism isn’t about struggling. It’s about compassion and it should only change your life for the better. You can still do your favorite things, there is just more intention behind your choices. It becomes second nature. I put this piece of advice in here because some people take themselves too seriously and veganism becomes a burden. I enjoy making yummy plant-based foods. Some people enjoy visiting animal sanctuaries. Others enjoy animal rights activism. Find what you enjoy about the lifestyle.

Here are some helpful articles…

Happy Cow

A study on ethical vegans

Peta

Information on factory farming

Making an effort to incorporate plant-foods and cruelty-free products into your life is the best way to start on this journey. You don’t have to do everything overnight. I could literally give unsoliticed advice on veganism all day long, but I think I will stop here. Share your thoughts in the comments so we can continue the conversation. Thank you for reading!

*I am not a medical professional nor am I licensed to give nutrition advice. Please seek help from a qualified professional before making any serious lifestyle or diet changes.

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earthskyair
Guest

Nice post – lots of great advice and encouragement here.:)

pickingtheapple
Guest

Heads up for the orthorexia / eating disorders section!

theminimalsimple
Guest

Love the resources you’re providing! I’ve been a vegetarian for quite a few years now and I’m gearing up for the switch to veganism, so I’m constantly on the lookout for tasty recipes and just general inspiration. Thank you!

justmemillymay
Guest

Thank you so much for this post, I have been trying to go completely vegan, I know it will take some time but I do want to do it in the future.
I am 70% vegan but I eat eggs but eat soya / non dairy products.

Caroline
Guest

Thank you so much for sharing!

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