Being a vegan goes farther than just food consumption. It also aims to promote animal rights. Though some people turn to the meat free life because of food intolerance, for others it’s a way of life.
1. Find a vegan support group
With anything new and challenging, it’s a good idea to have a few people in your corner supporting you on your new journey. Interacting with other people who are also new to the vegan lifestyle can reassure you that you are not alone, making the process much more exciting. Socializing with other vegans can also mean that you all get to trade your tasty recipes.
2. Read labels
Reading labels may at first seem like a very tedious task. However, it is necessary to know what you are consuming and not only that, but what products you are using that may do testing on animals. Eventually, this will start to become a habit.
3. Be open-minded
You can still enjoy your food while being meat free. You will probably need to reprogram your taste buds by trying a variety of new foods. Just keep in mind that it is a process and although you may not like the taste of a food, your body will begin to get used to the taste as you expand your palate and create some delicious combos.
4. Don’t deprive yourself
It’s essential to make sure that you are eating enough calories and consuming an appropriate amount of vitamins and minerals. Many people find that they may eat less because the vegetables they are consuming are high in fiber and very filling.
5. Find alternatives
Food is not just about the taste, but the texture seems to matter as well. There are many alternatives for meat. For example, you may see that a lot of veggie patties incorporate beans into their patties. Another alternative for meat that is popular in this community is tofu.
Tofu or bean curd is a dish made out of soy milk. Some people may find tofu to be quite bland, but keep in mind that there are hundreds of different brands you can experiment with that offer high-quality tofu with different seasonings and condiments. There’s even tofu bacon, tofu beef, and tofu chicken that not only imitate the taste but also the texture.
7. Experiment with combinations
Without the consumption of meat and dairy, it is safe to say that the majority of your diet will consist of vegetables and fruits. To spice up your meals and add flavor, you can use hummus or you can make a salad with your own homemade zesty sauces with herbs and spices.
8. Avoid going hungry
Try not to go too long without eating your meals. A lot of the time hunger can bring on cravings for “junk food”. Also, that’s one reason why you should never go grocery shopping on an empty stomach. In fact, a new study shows that individuals who eat after an overnight fast are more likely to ignore protein and vegetables, and go straight for high-calorie carbs and starches (O’Connor, 2012). You can pre-package your meals ahead of time so that you always have who prepared to eat.
9. Start with foods you like
New to veganism? It’s probably best to start off with foods you are familiar with and actually enjoy eating. You don’t want to begin exploring things you’ve never ate before as it may ruin the whole experience of adapting to this new lifestyle. The idea is to make a gradual change.
10. Find dairy alternatives
Eggs, butter, milk, cheese, and yogurt are all dairy products. Non-dairy milks that can be used as an alternative include coconut milk, almond milk, soy milk, rice milk, and the list goes on.
11. Research your products
Veganism isn’t just about not consuming meat or dairy. It is also about not using animal-tested products or wearing products made from animals. In fact, approximately 100,000-200,000 animals suffer and die annually from cosmetics (Humane Society International, n.d.). So, make sure you find a cruelty-free brand of cosmetics.
12. Discover plant-based proteins
Without the protein that happens to be rich in meat and eggs, you will have to find another source of protein. Nuts like peanuts and almonds are high in protein. Beans, lentils, and tempeh are also good alternatives.
Maintaining veganism and a meat free lifestyle will show benefits to not only you but to your environment. Start off slowly and gradually exploring new foods and products with an open mind, being sure to do your research.
Edited by: Jessa (Jan. 30, 2019)