Advice for New Vegans
New to veganism? We've been there! Check out this article for some tips on this amazing new lifestyle!
After months or perhaps years of considering a vegan way of life, you’ve finally made the plunge to adopt a plant-based diet and vegan lifestyle. Congratulations, you’ve done a wonderful thing for your health, the animals and the planet! This is just the first step in the amazing journey you are about to embark on. However, with any new beginning that you undertake, there may be a few bumps along the way. I too remember the challenges I faced with this transition from non-vegan to vegan, thus I have created the following points to assist those who are new to veganism.
Find a Vegan Community Finding a vegan community may be one of the best ways that you can help yourself maintain a vegan diet and lifestyle. Prior to becoming a vegan I found it challenging to maintain a 100% vegan lifestyle due to lack of community. I did not have any vegan friends nor did I have an online vegan support system to assist me. When I finally became a vegan it was much easier as my husband adopted a vegan diet at the same time. I realize that many of you do not have the luxury of having a vegan spouse or partner, thus I strongly encourage you to find a vegan community. Within Vegantana we have created the Vegan Thriving membership which is dedicated to helping vegans and vegan curious individuals thrive. By joining this membership you will also have access to a private Facebook community group of supportive vegans. Other ways in which you could build community is by joining a vegan social media group or participating in a Meet Up where vegans get together in person.
Know how to Select Vegan Food
Now this may seem like a no-brainer but you would be surprised at how many brands and restaurants incorporate animal products into everyday foods. Below are tips for when you’re at the grocery store and at a restaurant.
Grocery Store Shopping
As a new vegan, I highly advise you to consistently read food labels while at the grocery store to ensure what you’re purchasing is vegan-friendly. I don’t know how many times I’ve assumed that a product was vegan only to get home and read the label and find out it was not. This may seem time consuming in the beginning, but trust me it is worth it for the peace of mind. The more labels you read the quicker you will identify non-vegan ingredients. I also recommend getting familiar with vegan food brands. Once you familiarize yourself with several vegan brands, you can be sure that anything you purchase from them is 100% vegan-friendly. This will make shopping much easier for you.
Ordering at a Restaurant
Now that you’re a vegan you’ll most likely be inquiring into vegan-friendly options while dining out. This question alone may introduce you to some like-minded people who are also vegan! I’ve met my fair share of waiters who also mentioned that they were also vegan once I inquired about vegan options. They often have great recommendations on what to eat. On the flip side however, you may encounter establishments where getting a vegan option is slim pickings. My advice is to do your research beforehand (if possible) if there are any vegan options at the restaurant. Most likely you will find something to eat, though it may not always be to your liking.
Aside from community support, it’s also important to have resources to lean on. Vegan resources run the gamut but may include plant-based nutrition websites, cruelty-free brands, cruelty-free clothing companies, and everyday vegan-friendly products. It’s also important to stay up-to-date on current happenings in the world such as new vegan establishments openings, or advancements in animal welfare and protection. By staying aware of what’s happening in the wide world of veganism, you’re able to tap into resources you may not have been previously aware of as well as connect with other vegans.
Educating yourself about the truths behind veganism is incredibly important as you may receive many questions about why you have decided to become a vegan. By educating yourself on the truths of factory farming, animal cruelty, environmental destruction and the health benefits of veganism, you are setting yourself up for success with whomever you encounter. This will help you if at any time you feel attacked or judged because you’ve made this decision. Knowing the truth will also help you during times when you may question your decision or feel pressure from others.
Have Compassion and Patience with Yourself
Throughout this transition to veganism it’s important to have compassion and patience for yourself as there will be times when you slip up. Veganism does not equal perfection, it is about doing as little harm as possible to ourselves, the animals, and the planet. There will be times when you eat a non-vegan food item or you wear something that is not cruelty-free. If this occurs remember that as a vegan you are striving to better the planet on a daily basis. Learn from your mistakes and move on.
Contrary to what public opinion may think of the deprived lifestyle of a vegan, I can definitely attest that you can thrive as a vegan, and have a good time as well! There are many great vegan-friendly restaurants and activities to participate it. Keep a fun lightheartedness about your vegan journey and don’t take yourself too seriously!
Veganism is about much more than just our food choices. It’s also about making the best choice for our body, planet, and animals. As a new vegan, there may be times when you’re tempted to give up due to external stresses, challenges, or public opinion. I encourage you to stay strong and remember the reasons why you became vegan in the first place. Find community, reach out to others, and be an agent for changing the world for the better.