Veganism is a lifestyle path many Americans choose. Around two percent of Americans are vegetarian, while less than one percent are vegans. Many people choose this path for many reasons: health, diet, refusal to support animal farms or eat animal products, and more.
Admittedly, some may find it difficult to make the switch, especially if you’ve been eating meat and animal products for most of your life. These five tips can help you start your vegan lifestyle.
Try Vegetarianism First
If you’re finding it difficult to get meat out of your diet, try aiming for a vegetarian diet first before switching to veganism. Vegetarianism and veganism overlap in many areas, so the transition for a full plant-based lifestyle can be much easier.
While both vegetarianism and veganism turn away meat, the big difference between vegetarianism and veganism is how far both diets go to turning away animal-based products. Vegetarians can still eat eggs and dairy products. There are also different sub-sets of vegetarians based on the animal products they eat: lacto-vegetarians (only dairy), ovo-vegetarians (only eggs), lacto-ovo-vegetarians (dairy and eggs), and pescatarians (only seafood). Vegetarianism is mainly a diet as it only focuses on what people eat.
Veganism, however, can be considered both a diet and a lifestyle because it refuses animal products for food and for everyday items. Vegans do not eat eggs, dairy, or seafood as these are animal products. They also do not wear fur coats and leather shoes or support cosmetic brands that perform animal testing on their products.
If you’re finding the switch to a no-meat diet difficult, try aiming for a vegetarian lifestyle first. Going cold turkey on meat and meat products may make it more difficult for you to adhere to an animal-free lifestyle, so try to start small. Once you’ve become accustomed to a vegetarian lifestyle, you can slowly remove the animal products until you’re fully vegan.
Get the Support of Your Friends & Family
I know a friend who switched from an omnivorous lifestyle to veganism in their early 20’s. The problem was that they lived in a place with few vegan options and most of their friends and family were omnivores. Whenever they go out and there are no vegan options, or if there’s a family dinner and no vegetables are served, my friend would simply adjust and eat meat.
The problem with this mindset is that if you’re constantly eating meat, your friends and family will think veganism is flexible and won’t adjust to accommodate your new lifestyle. If you’re going to switch to veganism, you need their support, so put your foot down and assert that you need vegan options when you sit down together and eat.
You Don’t Have to Give Up on Snacks
A lot of people are turned off by veganism because they think it’s all fruits, veggies, and tofu. This actually isn’t the case because a lot of products you might be enjoying right now are actually vegan. If you like any of these junk foods, you won’t have to sacrifice them because they’re actually vegan-friendly:
- Lay’s Classic Potato Chips
- Ruffles Original
- Ritz Crackers
- Pringles Original
- Doritos in Spicy Sweet Chili
- Cinnamon Life
- Duncan Hines Chewy Fudge Brownie Mix
- SkinnyPop White Cheddar Popcorn
- Cracker Jack
- Sour Patch Kids
- Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup
- Lindt Chocolate Bars
- Monster Energy Drink
Pack Food for Long Trips
Some places are more vegan-friendly than others. If you’re not sure about the food available during a long road trip, pack enough snacks and meals to tide you along until you arrive.
Don’t Give Up If You Fail
Vegan beginners have only given up meat and animal products for a few weeks or months. Don’t compare yourself to vegans who have been practicing for years and don’t have to think too hard to live a vegan lifestyle.
If you’ve accidentally eaten meat or animal product, don’t take it as a sign to stop your attempt at veganism. Just remember why you’re switching to veganism in the first place and avoid making the same mistake again.