By Mariella Irivarren, B.A.
Going vegan was probably one of the best decisions I have made. Since becoming one in 2013 I have had several friends and family members reach out wanting to know more about my lifestyle and how it has affected my health. They’ve also asked me for tips and recipes they could follow as they became more conscious of their own choices.
Now, I am not here to shame anyone! – I am here to educate people, share information, be a resource, and encourage others to make better choices for their health & lifestyle, in whichever way works best for them; and I commend anyone wanting to learn more.
If this is something you have been considering and don’t know how or where to start, this post is for you! So let’s dig into the steps towards adopting a more compassionate diet and lifestyle.
STEP 1 – DO RESEARCH
- Avoid becoming vegan just because it’s a trend. ‘Haters gonna hate’ and someone (or many) will question your choices. When you spend the time doing research whether by watching documentaries, reading books or articles, talking to health professionals, etc. you will be equipped to make INFORMED choices and decide if this lifestyle is for you. A few of my favourite documentaries include: Vegucated | Cowspiracy | Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead. There are several articles out there against veganism too, so make sure you gather research from reputable sources.
STEP 2 – FIND YOUR ‘WHY’
- There are different reasons why someone might go vegan: animal rights, environmental and health reasons are the main ones. Personally, my ‘why’ was animal rights. Yes, the impact in the environment and health were also reasons to consider, but what made me quit meat IMMEDIATELY was when I saw how the meat industry treated animals. My heart simply couldn’t bear with it! When you have a clear mindset as to why you are making this life-altering change, you will be more likely to stick to it when things get hard.
STEP 3 – START SMALL
- Some people go cold turkey (no pun intended) while others gradually make small changes. If the idea of going completely vegan overwhelms you, start small. Perhaps give up something you “wouldn’t miss” if it was no longer in your diet. Another alternative is to eat veg Monday through Friday and regular over the weekend, but be careful not to allow those weekend “cheat meals” to creep back into your everyday routine. If you are like me, you could go vegetarian first to see how it goes, and slowly transition to a fully plant-based diet.
STEP 4, 5 & 6 – FIND RECIPES, GO GROCERY SHOPPING & GET COOKING
- Going vegan can be easier than you think. Everyday meals can be easily “veganized” with a few modifications – pastas, stews, soups, salads, tacos, and more! My favourite vegan blogs include: Oh She Glows & Minimalist Baker –You can also check out this list of the Top 50 Vegan Blogs by The Academy of Culinary Nutrition.
- It’s harder to follow the lifestyle if your fridge is filled with meat or other non-veg food. Take the time to clear your pantry and get rid of temptation by replacing it with vegan-friendly staples!
- When it comes to cooking, practice makes perfect. My vegan cooking skills developed over time; so don’t worry if you have no clue how to cook with nutritional yeast or tofu. By following recipes you can learn along the way and it will become easier to incorporate these into your everyday meals.
For the next steps, please read our blog post GOING VEGAN 101 – PART 2