Are you interested in learning more about being vegan? This post will give you provide you with information that will help guide you on your path towards plant-based.
What does it mean to be Vegan?
"Going Vegan" is a change from consuming animals to a plant-based lifestyle. In terms of food and drink, it means no dairy, eggs, or meat. This also applies to items such as furs, wool, and leathers in your clothes and clothing accessories. Then finally making sure the products you use like make-up, shampoos, and soaps are not animal testing companies.
This seems like an overwhelming en devours, but do not stress; this post will walk you through how to make this change in your life. I must admit, I never sought out going vegan and kinda thought vegans were some strange group of brainwashed people. Now, after a decade of being vegan, I look back on how going vegan was one of the best decisions of my life.
Why go vegan?
This question will be different for each person. My story began about ten years ago when I traveled to Cape Cod and was very excited to have some Cape Cod lobster. Once I saw the process of a living lobster being thrown into a pot of boiling water, simply so that I could eat it, left me with an intense feeling of sadness. I didn't know what this meant at the time, but over the next few months, I asked myself more and more questions about my consumption of animals and realized it was something that I did not want in my life. I took to the internet for more information. I began a vegetarian diet, and a few months later, after observing the cruelty in the egg and dairy industries. So I went vegan and never looked back!
You should not take my word for it that these industries are cruel, barbaric, and inhumane. You need to do your research. This is a must. Merely reading the words on a computer screen will not provide you with enough feeling, emotion, and knowledge to help you be vegan for an extended period. Because you will forget about these words, but I still can remember the images and screams of videos from nearly a decade ago when I first googled the meat and dairy industry. A google search on dairy, egg, or meat industry will give you a lot of haunting images and information that will change you. I know it is horrible but imagine the feelings of those animals.
I recommend the documentary Earthlings. I'm not going to sugarcoat it; this documentary will ruin your day or week. But it is essential to know. Then documentaries like Forks Over Knives will be useful to learn about the health benefits of going vegan. The China Study is a great book to educate yourself on the health benefits of the plant-based switch. Jonathan Safran Foer's Eating Animals is another excellent book to help you understand why go vegan? Then utilize you-tube. Personally, it is hard for me to stomach all of those images and videos chronicling the animal industries. Still, they are way more easy to stomach, knowing that you are doing what you can by going vegan to combat such sectors.
Another significant influence is the environmental impacts of animal industries. You can not call yourself an environmentalist and eat meat. It is akin to driving a hummer and making the same claim. The meat industry has a substantial negative impact on greenhouse gasses, pollution, and water. By going Vegan, one person can save approximately 219,000 gallons of water a year.
What do I eat?
This is a question I always get when I tell someone I am vegan, and I still have a difficult time answering it. The reason is there are a million options for vegans. There are healthy vegans, junk-food, athlete vegans, and vegans who are a bit of each collum. You could go the route of using meat and dairy substitutes. Fake meats are hit or miss. The quality of fake meats is increasing with each passing day. I feel as if I find a new one every day. When I first went vegan, I used them way more than I do now. I would instead make meals like pasta dishes or Buddha bowls rather than grill up some fake meat. Ideally, you should try and make as many whole foods as possible. But, I do love several meat alternatives.
There are many high-quality veggie burgers and ground beef. Its probably one of the closest taste to real meats. Amys veggie burgers are amazing! Beyond burger and Impossible Burger are the gold standard for me in terms of veggie burgers that taste most like the real thing. But they are a bit on the pricey side. So I usually buy them when I want to treat myself a bit.
Hot Dogs/ Sausages:
There are a few different brands that I routinely get, such as field roast sausage or tofurky sausages. These are delicious and insanely high in protein. They are great on the grill. I like to load them up with potatoes, onions, and peppers!
For me, Almond Milk is a must for everyone, not only vegans. It is delicious, and even non-vegans love it. Some enjoy soy or cashew milk so you can experiment with what you like the best. There are a lot of almond milk yogurts, creamers and whipped creams available.
There are a ton of vegan desserts. Personally, I love to make my own cookies and other baked goods. But, there also a lot of high-quality vegan desserts at grocery stores. The first thing that comes to mind is almond milk ice cream. Ben and Jerry's now dairy ice cream is one of many great on dairy ice creams. There are a few other great brands that have great vegan ice creams including almond dream, Haagan Daz, Perrys, and So Delicious. Then there are too many types of desserts to name but, Eat Pastry cookie dough is a favorite of mine and I have a bad habit of eating a whole carton of raw cookie dough in one sitting... Whoops! There You can have the same favorite desserts that you had before.
In every vegan kitchen, you will find nutritional yeast. Now the name does not give it much appeal, but this is something that every Vegan season their food with. First of all, it is crazy good for you. It has so much b12 and other great nutritional benefits. It also has a cheesy taste. I go through this stuff like crazy. TVP is another staple for the vegan kitchen. It is Textured Vegetable Protein. Again the name does not help itself, but this has a ton of protein. I like to put this stuff in when I am making chili or a rice bowl. Tofu is another staple in the vegan kitchen. I don't know how tofu became synonyms with being vegan, but tofu is a great item to have in your kitchen. Just remember that tofu will take on the flavor of what it is being cooked in. For me, I had to learn how to cook tofu. My first attempts were pretty disgusting, but now I'm pretty good with it. I would recommend making a simple tofu scramble! Seitan is a must! I love Upton brand seitan because they have various flavors. They have the consistency of steak and are excellent in sandwiches and burritos.
When I first went vegetarian and vegan. I decided that I would buy Vegan from that point on but did not have the means to replace all my non-vegan clothes. I was a broke college kid, so I did not have the money to repair shoes, coats, and my whole wardrobe. This took about a year or less to get all my clothes vegan.
When buying things like shoes, do your research on what the item is made out of. You would be surprised how many have faux leather of human-made leather. So, buying shoes or other leather products should not be as difficult as you might think. You don't have to buy "vegan" labeled leather products because they tend to be a bit higher in price. Just look at the labels and choose a product that says" handmade materials" or "faux leather."
For buying make-up or other accessories:
Look on the label for a cruelty-free label on the bottle. This indicates that the company does not test on animals. Or just check this directory of companies that do not test. Very simple!
Are you going out to eat?
This was quickly the hardest part of being vegan for me when I first started. I hate having the attention on me and being difficult for the waitress. I hate everyone looking your way or asking, "what can you eat here?" but you get over it. You realize that there are a ton of vegans, and restaurants will have vegan options. So you could seek out vegan specific restaurants which generally do have the best vegan food. But you can find fantastic food in all kinds of restaurants. Just do your research on the restaurant on sites like a happy cow. Or just ask the waitress for a recommendation!
Join the community
It is important to join vegan groups and pages on social media. It is a great way to connect with other people in the community. I live in Rochester NY, and I love being on the Facebook group Rochester Vegans. It allows me to get real updates on new restaurant vegan options or simply to have relatable topics to talk about. it can be difficult to navigate being vegan when you don't have any like-minded people in your life. For me, it's great to know that I have a connection to people who think as I do which helps you realize you're not alone.
"Going Vegan" was one of the best decisions in my life. I always am asked if I miss meat or regret my choice, and my answer is still no. A plant-based life is a much happier one for me. I do believe that putting dead things in your body that have experienced so much pain must negatively affect you. Living a more compassionate and purposeful life will yield positive results. This will carry over in how you interact with yourself and people. So give it a try and go vegan!