going or staying vegan?
Here's some tidbits that may help on your way to your
new lifestyle. If
you have any tips you'd like to share please let me
out WHY you're going vegan
If you can't summarize your reasons for going vegan right now then stop what you're doing and figure it out! If you don't have motivation for doing something then you will one day find yourself wondering "why am I doing this?" and possibly give up. Take a few minutes to really decide why you want
to live a vegan lifestyle. Take more time if you need to do some soul searching.
Is it ethical? - do you wish to avoid
causing suffering and death to other living creatures?
Is it health? - do you want a diet
that will benefit rather than overtax your body?
Is it environmental? - do you want
to stop participating in a lifestyle that causes world
hunger, massive environmental destruction, and
impoverishment for so many?
Your answer(s) to that question will help gauge what
YOU will need to stay within a vegan lifestyle. If
your reasons are ethical you will find solace and
unwavering motivation in learning about the conditions
which animals are tortured and killed in. The same
will be true if your reasons are driven by health,
the environment, or anything else.
I would highly suggest getting "The
Vegan Sourcebook" and "Being
Vegan" from the library or book store and
at least flipping through chapters that you are unfamiliar
with. When I first went vegan I got the Sourcebook
and was amazed at the things I didn't know about the
ramifications of veganism. I didn't know the horrible
way dairy cows and laying hens were treated, or that
world hunger could potentially be eliminated with a
global vegan diet (see World Hunger: 12 Myths), or that there are tons of health
misconceptions that people have thanks to whitewashing
on behalf of the meat & dairy industries. Now
that I know these things my vegan lifestyle is a breeze.
My resolve and knowledge are strong enough that I'm
not tempted to "cheat" and I could never
imagine going back to a lifestyle that I feel is so
deplorable. Knowledge and an
open heart are the best tips out there : )
Read up and get your
Beyond the obvious changes to your diet and lifestyle,
one of the most amazing things you'll notice is that
you are going to learn A LOT as a vegan. You'll be
a more informed consumer, you'll start thinking about
that you put into your body (see this massive Animal Ingredients List), you'll learn about
new concepts in nutrition, and a wide array of problems
that your vegan lifestyle is helping to alleviate.
I've been vegan for several years, and am an avid
reader, but I'm still finding out new and amazing
vegan information! You'll also be surprised when you
start seeing all the ways that you've been coerced
and tricked by meat/dairy industry advertizing. It's
important to me to be an aware and informed consumer
so, although I deplore half truths in advertizing,
I do enjoy being able to see through them. (A very
contemporary example is the "Happy
Cows" campaign, which depicts California
dairy cows as living freely on a large farm. Having
all ready learned that most dairy cows never see the
sunlight except for the day they are shipped to slaughter
made me shake my fist at the TV the first time I saw
one of the ads. At least PETA
sued the dishonest California Milk Board because
Anyway, the two most
important things to learn about are;
1) The way animals are tortured and killed
to become "food" (or drink, or clothing,
or test subjects, or entertainment...)
This is going to help you make ethical AND informed
decisions about the lifestyle you choose. It's also
nice to have answers when omnivores pester you with
questions like "what's wrong with milk?"
and "where do you get your protein and calcium?".
2) How you are going to eat a healthy diet
and get all the fuel your body needs
This is obviously very important because a vegan lifestyle
wants to do the least harm, and that includes humans
like yourself! You won't be a very good example if
you're making poor food choices and damaging your
health. The majority of people all ready believe that
a vegetarian or vegan diet is not sufficient enough
to be "healthy", so looking like a sickly
sack of bones isn't going to convince anyone otherwise.
You owe it to yourself to make
meal plans that make up a balanced diet and keep you
in good health. But it's not all just research,
you'll be learning about and eating delicious, interesting
new foods. Make yourself a copy of the vegan
food pyramid, crack open the Vegan
Sourcebook (or any other great book you find with
veggie meal planners), and get ready to discover some
Talk to other vegans
Having a support group or at least one good vegan
friend will definitely be helpful. It's a nice feeling
to share interests with people, especially ones as
large as lifestyle choices. You can start by looking
online for groups like the ones on Yahoo
or the message boards at VegSource
or Vegan Represent.
There are also Veg*n
Vegan Meetups, and
local chapters of Animal Rights or Vegan
groups. Vegan social networking sites are becoming more popular so why not post your profile at Vegan World, Vegan MySpace, or Vegan Passions?
In the real world you can either join or found a vegan
club at your school, attend a dining club, eat
restaurants, go to local lectures or animal rights
demonstrations/protests, and just keep your eyes open.
You might see a relevant sign on a telephone pole
or be standing in line with another vegan at the whole
foods store. I like to try and start conversations
with people who wear veggie message t-shirts because
I know we all ready have something big in common.
Find the strategy that
works for YOU
Chances are everyone has tried to stop a bad habit,
but what works for one person isn't going to work
for everyone. One smoker might quit slowly, while
another stops by quitting "cold tofu" (Har
har). The same is said for making the change to a
vegan lifestyle. If you feel that quitting all non-vegan
food and activites all at once is the best solution
for you then great! If you need more time to let yourself
adjust to veganism by slowly cutting out items then
that's OK, too. Veganism is not just a diet, and it
not meant as a short-term solution as most diets are.
Veganism is a lifestyle that
affects almost every aspect of your life and should
be treated as a life-long decision. Whatever
you need to do to ensure that you can make that commitment
throughout your lifetime is fine, as long as you don't
hurt yourself or others in the process. (i.e.- starting
a vegan diet immediately without any nutritional information
is a good way to make yourself sick, and could possibly
turn you off veganism because your body feels unhealthy
If you don't enjoy cooking then make sure to stock
your kitchen with pre-made vegan meals (available
at health/whole foods stores) or find local vegan-friendly
restaurants. If you do enjoy cooking then just make
sure you have lots of ingredients and recipies to
experiment with. If you find yourself tempted by certain
foods then learn more about where those foods come
from. After seeing and hearing footage
of animals being beaten, boiled and "bled"
while alive, having body parts amputated and being
castrated without anethesia, being unable to lay down
or turn around in tiny crates, being unable
to stand due to untreated disease and genetically
altered body proportions, and screaming out during all this torture... the "food"
you once craved quickly becomes less appetizing.
If you still have questions or are having difficulties
adjusting to your new vegan lifestyle then feel free
me. I get a lot of letters so sometimes I am slow
to reply, but I will always be here. Trust me, it
just gets easier and more fun