So you’ve made the awesome and enlightened choice to be vegan. Welcome to an awakened way of life!
Just to be clear, through the word awakened, I am in no way promoting a pretentious, holier-than-thou, high horse vegan attitude. Rather, I am alluding to the fact that once you’ve decided to align your actions with your highest values your awareness, mindfulness and compassion are poised for expansion. Giddy-up!
“Where does one even begin?” you may ask. I have three words: support, support, and health food stores. Ok, that’s only two but the variety of support that exists in the vegan world warrants it being represented twice in my eye. Let’s break it down:
Vegan Peer Support
You may very well find that you are the only vegan at your workplace, school, or even within your circle of friends. Beware: being a sole vegan will ultimately lead to a very unhappy soul. I cannot stress enough how we absolutely, positively need others with whom we can share our most intimate experiences surrounding our new way of life. And in this case your cat won’t cut it.
Having accepting people in your life who reflect your values, understand where you are coming from, and know that tofu done right is far from tasteless (!!) is crucial to being able to continue with your cruelty-free habits.
Don’t know any vegans?
Go to vegan meet-ups, search online for vegan groups in your area; ask your friends and colleagues if they know any vegans. Meeting one vegan friend is your inroad to being introduced to many others. Trust me, vegans know each other. From there you will get invited to all sorts of vegan potlucks (‘cause that’s how we role) and before you know it you’ll be eating like vegan royalty.
Not the type of person who likes to be out and about?
That’s fine too. There are many vegan online forums you can join, such as the vegan forum and there are oh-so-many groups, and Facebook pages, where you can interact with others who are like minded and who will be more than happy to offer support. Our Facebook page for example uses as a hub of support for all things vegan and you will be more than welcomed to join!
Need more of a personal attention? That’s available too. Join The Vegan Society’s Vegan Pledge and Mentoring program to recieve lots of info straight to your inbox and your very own personal vegan mentor too!
Podcasts and Apps
Before I considered becoming vegan, or even thought it was within my capacity as a human being, I began listening to an amazing podcast at the suggestion of a vegan coworker. Perhaps you’ve heard of Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, bestselling vegan author and founder of Compassionate Cooks? If not, check out her podcast, Vegetarian Food for Thought. This podcast planted the seeds that eventually wound up being the catalyst for my switcheroo from an on-the-fence pescatarian (no land animals but fish-eater) to a fully reformed vegan. And now that I’m vegan I frequently return to Colleen’s eloquent and informative spiels to sustain my passion and stay informed. There’s a wide variety of vegan podcasts out there so fire up your iTunes and find something that resonates with you. It’s an excellent way to stay abreast of all things vegan, from nutrition to excellent vegan products and brands.
Speaking of brands, as a vegan newbie how do you determine which ones are vegan friendly? Well of course you could search data bases such as PETA’s database or The Vegan Society’s, BUT there’s an app for that as well, several actually (I use iVegan – it’s free and it rocks). Not only are there apps for seeking vegan companies but there’s a myriad for recipes as well.
Vegan Food Blogs and Books
Don’t have a smartphone? Not to worry. There’s an abundance of free recipes online (check out our vegan food blog guide for some ideas and inspiration). You’ll find your favorites and get your cooking groove on. If you’re thinking “I don’t cook” that’s no excuse. Back in my pre-vegan days I lived off frozen dinners and canned soups. If I can be converted into a budding chef then no doubt anyone can. Start simple and you’ll be surprised at what you can accomplish with some veggies, spices, tofu or tempeh and grains. The possibilities are endless which is why I always say being vegan does not limit our feasting potentials but rather opens the door to a whole new unexplored world of healthy plant based options. Yum!
It goes without saying that at least one good book is quite essential. By good I mean one that explains how to get your vitamins and nutrients while demystifying any preconceived myths you may be unconsciously carrying about veganism. It helps having a book on hand whenever questions pop-up – “What’s the best source of iron again?” – and they will.
Health Food Stores
If you’re anything like me, a vegan in a health food store is the equivalent to a kid in a candy store. Here you can explore boundless vegan friendly products and foodstuffs. I’ll never forget my exhilaration at finding vegan cheese, the perfect size bag of ground flax seeds, sour cream flavored kale chips, and best of all, vegan brownies!!
One of the most important things to keep in mind as you embark on the vegan journey is to be gentle with yourself. Don’t expect to get it right and know it all right away. A lifestyle change is never easy but when rooted in respect and compassion for our fellow sentient beings the transition is not quite so arduous. Keeping a couple vegan cupcakes in your bag for when times get rough never hurts the process either…
Have more ideas on how to help make a smooth transition into a cruelty free lifestyle? Tell us in the comments bellow!