How and where to start your vegan journey
As discussed in our previous post, there are many benefits of going vegan and if you feel ready to give it a try, we are here to help. Below are some good solid tips and great resources to get you started and guide you in your journey.
Empower yourself with knowledge so you can make educated decisions. There are plenty of books, documentaries and websites on all aspects of veganism. Here are some of our favourites:
Books: Eat Like you Care by Gary Francione & Anna Charlton
Documentaries: Forks over Knives, Vegucated, Cowspiracy, earthlings (not for the faint of heart)
Podcasts: Food for Thought
Remember, you don’t have to know everything before you get started. Pick a couple of books, documentaries or blogs that seem interesting and leave the rest for later. It will be useful to have a couple of go-to resources that you can refer to along your journey.
Read the labels
Whether you go vegan or not, reading ingredients labels is necessary nowadays. Try to stick to whole foods and products with ingredients that you can recognize. Keep an eye out for hidden animal ingredients especially dairy by-products such as whey (we even found it in prepackaged herbs). There are a couple of helpful apps that simplify the process. The app “Is It Vegan?” can identify if a product is vegan or not just by scanning the barcode. You can also use Animal-Free to look-up ingredients you’re not familiar with.
Focus on what you can add to your diet
Start by adding more vegetables and fruits to your diet and don’t worry too much about what you need to remove from it. If your palette is not familiar with foods like nut milks, avocado, and dates, you might want to give your taste buds some time to adjust. Start slowly phasing out animal products in meals. For instance, skip the feta cheese in your salad and replace it with some nuts like almonds or walnuts. Start your day with a delicious smoothie or a chia pudding. Have a fruit salad for dessert or try banana ice cream instead of your daily frozen yogurt.
Eliminate your least favorite animal products
Figure out which products you can easily live without and stop having them all together. Let’s say, you are not a big fan of Greek yogurt, but you still have one every day because it is a convenient high-protein snack. Did you know that 100g of hummus has about 8g of protein? That’s not much of a difference compared to Greek yogurt that has 10g of protein per 100g. Go for hummus with raw veggies to add even more vitamins and nutrients to your snack.
Clean your pantry
How can you not crave those snickers bars if they greet you every time you open your cupboard? Get rid of all temptations and fill your cupboards and fridge with fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nutes, seeds, and all kinds of plant-based whole foods. Update your grocery list and try to plan your meals in advance. Here is a good example of a vegan shopping list to get you inspired.
The best way to know exactly what’s on your plate is by making it yourself. If cooking is not your thing, we’ve got your back. We will be sharing simple, easy healthy recipes that require little to no skills at all. There are thousands of great recipes online but here is a yummy list of simple quick recipes. And for those days when you just don’t have the time, be sure to take a closer look at your local supermarket’s products. Most of them have a green or organic aisle and there are more and more vegan prepared meals on the shelves. One of our favourite brands is Amy’s Kitchen. Their delicious affordable frozen meals are available at most big super markets.
Go cold turkey
Try 100% vegan for 1 day, then if it goes well keep it going for 2 or 3 days. You might be able to keep it up for the rest of your life. Sometimes, drastic change can be exciting and motivating. Just take it one day at a time and do not stress about making mistakes. It is not a competition and every little effort will bring you closer to your goal.
Joining vegan groups can offer valuable insight and support. You can easily find them online. For example on Facebook, we love the Vegans and Vegetarians of Alberta (VVoA) group. You may also find vegan Meetups in your area like Edmonton’s Vegan Delight meetup group. Some of these groups can pair you with a “Veggie Buddy”: a vegan mentor who will show you the ropes and introduce you to all the vegan options in your community.
You are starting a new chapter of your life. How exciting is that? You are learning new things, trying out new foods, and thriving to be a better person. Whether you go vegan, vegetarian or just reduce your animal products consumption, you are making a change for a better life. Well done!