Hi everyone! Today I am sharing my top 3 tips if you are wanting to become vegan. You can check out my Youtube video for the 3 tips in 3 minutes or scroll down to read more details.
ONE: View this as a journey.
While there are definitely people who can become vegan overnight, it has been more of a journey for us. We initially decided to just try out a vegan diet for one month only. By the end of the month, we liked the changes we made so we decided to move forward with being vegan full time. We only bought vegan groceries and cooked with no animal products, however, if we got a craving for ice cream or a cheese pizza, we would go out to eat! After about 8 months or so, we no longer got the cravings for meat. We would still get the occasional cravings for cheese (especially cheese pizza), but about a year of being vegan we could no longer eat cheese. After that we would occasionally eat items that had small amounts of dairy or egg, a cupcake at a party or a milk chocolate candy on a road trip. A year and a half in, we no longer could stomach any animal products whatsoever. We got to the point that even eating a small amount of milk in candy or baked goods would make us physically sick. The main message here is that it took 1.5 years for us to go fully vegan, refusing to eat any animal products whatsoever.
My point is to give yourself room to be human. Allow yourself to give into the cravings or social settings.
Don’t give up because you caved and ate cheese! For us, it worked best to gradually change our cravings and comfortability in social settings. We’ve been vegan for two and a half years now and we both could never imagine eating animal products again. If not for the way it makes us feel, then for the animals, for the environment, and for the ways so many factory farm workers or farm owners (thanks to big companies taking over) are treated.
This doesn’t have to happen overnight. You are allowed to take this on as a journey. You are allowed to create your own path.
TWO: Make Connections
Nate and I were lucky enough to not only join in on this journey with each other (which I know is a huge deal), we also had my parents who went plant-based about 6 months before us. This was so helpful! We had someone to share recipes, tips, and just have conversations about our new lifestyle. I also found many vegan communities to join by following accounts on Instagram and my mom belongs to various plant-based groups on Facebook. Community is so important. It’s why many popular religions and organizations meet so often!
Sharing conversations with people that have a common value or interest as you is important and essential. Having a community is beneficial in feeling understood and staying on track for your own journey.
At this point, many of my family members (over half of my family) is plant-based! It’s so fun to talk about and share recipes and tips with each other. I highly suggest in finding others to connect with. You can always reach out to me or Google different online groups. Also, finding blogs or websites you like for recipes and tips is important as well. There are some blogs or recipe developers that I always go to because I know they create quality, healthy recipes!
I am a big believer in community to begin with, but it is especially important in terms of food – something all of our lives revolve around.
THREE: Remember Why You Started
For the animals? For your health? For sustainability? Whatever your reason, remind yourself of it often. I took a Sociology of Food class in college which wasn’t a vegan course, but it did spark my interest in my food consumption. I started to get more curious about where my food came from and how it affected me. A few months later, I found a study linking dairy consumption to an increase in migraine for migraine patients. If you know me well, you know that I have suffered from migraines (debilitating at times) for almost half of my life. Nothing ever really helped. When I drove 2 hours and spent $100 to visit a specialist, he rolled his eyes and wrote me a prescription for a drug that actually made it worse. I was so angry. It seemed like no one really cared or understood how migraines interfered with my daily life and actually stopped me from doing things I loved (Side note: for the whole year of our engagement I was worried sick over having a migraine on our wedding day. Aside from how it made me feel, it physically changes my face and I did not want my wonky migraine eyes in our wedding photos).
I tried everything to treat the migraines: medicine, hydration, ice packs, putting my feet in ice cold water with a heating pad on my neck at the same time. Nothing worked – until I cut out animal products. The difference was clear almost as soon I started. Even having a few bites of ice cream would bring on the pre-migraine feelings. It was to the point that when I would get the craving for cheese or cake at a work party, I remembered the way dairy made me feel and I stopped myself. I remembered that I started this to create a better, less painful life for myself. I still do get migraines (fragrance used in candles, air freshners, etc are triggers for me and it’s hard to completely avoid in others’ homes and public places), but they’ve been reduced by more than 90%. I get maybe 2-3 migraines PER YEAR now. Before, I would get 2-3 per month.
All of this to say, let your why propel you forward. Don’t forget why you started to begin with.
There are times when it might be difficult or maybe you’ll feel awkward in a social setting, but don’t let that overcome your why. Remind yourself that you’re doing this to be healthier for your kids or grandkids. Remind yourself about the inhumane slaughter of billions of animals per day. Remind yourself just how harmful factory farms are for our earth.
Definitely don’t judge yourself for having a cupcake at a work party, but also don’t push your why out of your mind. Hold onto it. Let it ignite a passion in you.
I hope these tips inspire you and make starting a vegan journey less intimidating. Do you have any tips? Share them with me in the comments!