Back in January, Veganuary reported that a record 250,000 people signed up for their annual campaign swearing off animal products for the first month of the year. And Veganuary’s most recent data showed that nearly half of those participants are keeping it up, committing to staying vegan well past the end of the challenge.
Veganism is a growing movement with more and more people interested every day. So this week, I took to Twitter and asked longtime vegans to tweet at me their best advice for newbie vegans or people looking to go vegan. They had some really awesome tips.
1. Ease Into It
A lot of people assume you have to go vegan overnight but this could set you up for failure. Instead, give yourself a period of time in which you gradually switch over to veganism. One piece of advice I like to give people is to try giving up one animal per month until you’ve slowly replaced the animal-based foods you used to eat. For example, start with chickens, then cows, then pigs, etc. Before you know it, your meals will be 100 percent free of animal products.
2. Veganize What You Already Eat
This was a big one for me and my husband. Instead of trying to completely reinvent what we ate, we just veganized the things we were already eating. There are plant-based versions of everything nowadays. For example, if you eat a lot of chicken, try some of the Gardein products. If burgers are your thing, look for the Beyond Burger in your supermarket. Try some almond milk in your cereal or a vegan creamer in your coffee. And remember, many things you eat might already be vegan; think peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, pasta marinara, baked potato, etc.
3. If You Mess Up, Keep Going
Another misconception people sometimes have is the notion that if you slip up and eat something that contains animal products when you’ve already gone vegan, that you should just go back to eating animal products. Wrong. Don’t beat yourself up or give up, just keep going and do better next time. Focus on progress over perfection. Veganism is not about being perfect, it’s about making a difference.
4. Try Different Vegan Alternatives
There are many plant-based alternatives to animal products made by a bunch of different companies. If you don’t like one that’s fine, just don’t write off the rest. Give them all a try until you find the ones that most suit your palette.
5. Find Other Vegans
If you’re the only one in your family or social circle who is vegan, it may feel isolating at first. Try to find other vegans in your community through Meetup or virtually on social media and connect with likeminded people who are sharing this journey. You are not alone. There are millions of people around the world who are doing this too.
6. Google Recipes
There are thousands of vegan bloggers offering up AMAZING plant-based recipe ideas! Find them and get creative in the kitchen. Pinterest is also a great place to find delicious vegan recipes. Some of my personal favorite places to search are BOSH! and Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s website. Also, check out our top 10 vegan cookbooks list! Someone suggested finding five recipes that you love and keep them in rotation — I think that’s solid advice.
7. Don’t Be Afraid of Tofu
If you’re not already vegan or vegetarian, chances are the tofu dishes you’ve been exposed to have been pretty terrible. I’m truly sorry. Here’s the thing though, tofu is actually incredible when prepared right. First off, you have to know which type of tofu to buy and for which recipe. You may use silken tofu in a recipe for chocolate pudding or firm tofu in a stir-fry. Tofu is also available pre-seasoned and marinated. Experiment and google recipes that teach you how to cook with it. You won’t be sorry.
8. Subscribe to Vegan Podcasts
So many people find comfort and get excellent advice from vegan podcasts. There’s all different kinds too. Some concentrate on cooking while others (like mine) are more political. Some do weekly interviews with guests, some cover news, etc. You can search for vegan podcasts on iTunes or Spotify and they’re totally free to subscribe. Find one you love!
9. Chickpeas Are Magic
Seriously, I don’t know what I’d do without chickpeas. They are the main ingredient in hummus, falafel, and work as an amazing substitute for tuna salad. I also throw them in salads, roast them, use them in chickpea cutlets. My body is like 90 percent chickpeas — the other 10 percent is wine and chocolate.
10. Download the Happy Cow App
This is MAJOR. Happy Cow is a free app and it is essential. No matter where you are in the world, Happy Cow will tell you what vegan and vegan-friendly restaurants are in your vicinity. It’s fabulous! I’ve used it in Finland, France, Arkansas… LOL! Honestly, it’s lifesaver and users post reviews so you can read what dishes others ordered and what they liked. Can’t recommend Happy Cow enough.
11. Visit a Sanctuary
Nothing will solidify your decision to go vegan like a visit to a farm animal sanctuary. Once you see how cows, pigs, chickens, and turkeys are just as sweet and lovable as the dogs and cats you grew up with, you will never go back to eating them. There are sanctuaries all over the country, so find one near you and see when they do tours.
12. Educate Yourself
The more you discover about the horrors of factory farming and other forms of animal exploitation, the more it will affirm you decision to be vegan. There are countless books and documentaries out there. Allow yourself the space and time to learn more and don’t scold yourself for not already knowing this stuff. None of us did.
13. You Won’t Know Everything
When you go vegan, people will challenge you and ask questions that range from truly curious to just downright stupid. You are not expected to know everything nor are you expected to entertain every rube who walks the Earth. Saying I don’t know or just not giving people your time if they’re only trying to be a dick is totally acceptable.
14. Take B12
The only vitamin that isn’t abundant in plant-based foods is B12. Years ago, humans could get B12 from soil and even in water, but because we power-wash our fruits and vegetables and purify our water it is no longer available in sufficient amounts. B12 supplements come in sprays, sublingual tabs, even toothpaste. Also, many vegan foods are fortified with B12 like plant-based milks, cereals, and nutritional yeast.
15. Enjoy The Journey
When my husband and I went vegan together, we thought of it like a game. Honestly, it was fun to veganize recipes we had cooked for years and try new foods. Instead of viewing veganism as restrictive or focusing on what you won’t eat, concentrate on all the new things you’ve never tried before! Veganism is truly a lifestyle of abundance. But more than that, it’s a way of living that aligns your actions with your values — and nothing feels better than that. 💚