How To Go Vegan: Veganism 101
As I've said countless times, going vegan is one of the best decisions I have ever made. With going vegan, I started eating much healthier and included lots more whole foods into my diet. Following a vegan lifestyle increased my energy levels, cleared my skin and all-around inspired me. If you are thinking about going vegan, then kudos to you! You are taking a step in the right direction. Whether you are concerned about your health, worried about the environment or simply do not want to contribute to the suffering of animals, I believe that going vegan is a great way to solve those problems.
Now, a disclaimer before I start. When I decided to go vegan, I decided that I wanted to quit animal products overnight. And if you also have the ability to simply quit cold turkey then I applaud you. But many people understandably need to take it a little slower. So for those who want to go vegan but don't know where to start, this article is for you.
START WITH VEGETARIANISM.
Before going vegan, I had been a vegetarian for 9 years, so cutting out meat wasn't an issue. After talking to a couple of friends who were making the transition to veganism, they told me that not eating meat was the part they most feared but was a lot easier than they expected.
"But what about protein?"
There are about a million and one sources of protein that are derived from plants. For example, legumes such as beans, quinoa, chickpeas, and lentils have lots of protein and lots of fiber.
CUT OUT MAINSTREAM DAIRY PRODUCTS.
There are lots of hidden ingredients inside products that many of us wouldn't think would be dairy and this can be confusing for many new vegans. When starting out, it is important to cut out any mainstream dairy and products and then learn to read labels more closely. Examples of mainstream dairy products are milk, butter, cream, and cheese.
FOLLOW UP WITH CUTTING OUT EGGS.
For me, once I cut out dairy, cutting out eggs was no problem. I rarely ate eggs on their own and most things that had eggs in them also had dairy. To stray away from eggs, be sure to not consume any ingredients that say eggs, egg yolks, or egg whites.
LEARN TO READ LABELS.
Reading labels is a very important part of veganism, as many products have hidden animal ingredients. At the bottom of every ingredients list is an allergen warning in bold, which will tell if the product contains milk or even contains traces of it. If you are confused about any particular ingredient, check out this list by PETA of animal-derived ingredients to look out for.
LOOK FOR THE "VEGAN CERTIFIED" SYMBOL.
The "vegan certified" symbol, as shown in the picture at the top, means that the product you are about to consume was inspected by Vegan Action and deemed animal-free. To learn more about their mission, visit their website.
EAT MAINLY WHOLE FOODS.
Now, I get it. For someone who has never read an ingredients list before, this all may seem very confusing. But an important thing to know is if you eat whole, plant-based foods -- ingredients lists won't be a problem. For example, fruits, vegetables, legumes, and nuts are all examples of whole foods.
There are many great vegan documentaries on Netflix which really helped to reinforce my decision to go vegan. A few documentaries I really liked were:
- What The Health.
- Forks Over Knives.
- Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead.
HAVE FUN WITH IT!
As much as I do advocate for eating healthy, I'm not here to say that vegans shouldn't indulge every once in a while. There is vegan ice cream, vegan cookies, vegan cake, vegan brownies and much more treats to satisfy one's sweet tooth.
Tweet me your favorite vegan recipes and be sure to subscribe to my newsletter for important updates.