Tag Archives: vegan advice

Top 10 Pieces of Advice When Becoming a Vegan!

5 Jul

 

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About The Author: Hi! My name is Hanna and I am a Junior at the University of Iowa majoring in Journalism with a Sustainability Certificate. At the University of Iowa, I am a member on the public relations team of my sorority and starting in the fall I will hopefully be writing for Iowa’s school newspaper, The Daily Iowan. After graduating from Iowa, I hope to be writing on the topic of the environment or attending law school to study environmental policy. Outside of academics, I enjoy practicing yoga and channeling my creativity through different forms of art. Being a vegan for over a year, I am frequently spending my free time finding new plant-based recipes and learning more about the vegan lifestyle.

Hi Everyone! Depending on your starting point, becoming a vegan may involve some transition and change. Sometimes when we are making a change, no matter how big or small, we can feel overwhelmed, clueless, and maybe a little nervous! Fear not, being a vegan is one of the best choices you can make for yourself. I have put together my top 10 pieces of advice for anyone who is trying to go vegan, is a vegan, or just curious about veganism!

1. Change Your Mindset

Remember that being vegan is a lifestyle choice, not a diet. Yes, your “diet” consists of all plant-based foods but veganism stretches further than that. Chances are once you embody this lifestyle, you won’t want to go back.

vega picStart looking at your food with new lenses. Break down what exactly you are consuming into separate ingredients rather than the final product. That non-vegan cookie you’re debating on? That isn’t just a cookie, it contains many different ingredients including eggs and dairy. Try to then connect these non-vegan ingredients to larger ideas like your health and ethics. Practicing this break down helps you make the connection from your food to veganism and creates a bigger picture for you to see that your choices do matter.

2. Tap Into Your Creativity, and Eat the Rainbow

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Here is my go-to! Base: Banana “nice-cream” w/ vegan chocolate protein powder (The brand I use is “Evolve”, absolutely delicious!) Toppings: Banana, raspberries, blueberries, pumpkin seeds, goji berries, cocoa nibs, chia seeds, and hemp seeds

Start embracing the saying, “Make your plate colorful” and eat the foods that make you beautiful from the inside out. Pack your meals with fruits and vegetables that are not only rich in color, but also rich in nutrients!

One of my favorite things to do is to decorate a breakfast bowl for myself in the morning! I use either banana “nice-cream”, acai, or coconut milk yogurt as my base and then use all different types of toppings to create a beautiful design! Taking the time to do this for myself allows me to appreciate the natural beauty and the beauty that we can create eating a plant-based diet. It’s very therapeutic 🙂

3.Use Replacements to Hold Your Hand

When I was first transitioning to a plant-based diet, I used replacements for my “comfort foods” which helped adjust to the new lifestyle. I frequently ate pre-made veggie burgers, veggie-dogs, vegan mac-n-cheese, vegan cookies, basically anything in the grocery store that had “Vegan” on the label! There are vegan options for pretty much everything so chances are you won’t have a hard time finding exactly what you want!

Using vegan replacements for the foods that you are used to eating can help introduce you to all plant-based foods without bringing you out of your comfort zone too much! But remember, whole and unprocessed foods are better for you than pre-packaged foods so don’t depend on these replacements for your main nutrient source!

4.Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions

This tip applies to living your vegan life outside your home. I will be the first to admit that when I was first becoming vegan I would turn to my mom if we were out to dinner and say “Mom, can you please ask the waiter/waitress if *item on menu* has dairy in it?”. I quickly had to get over my fear of inconveniencing people with my questions and dietary choices. Now if I am unsure about a food or drink item on the menu I have no problem asking all the necessary questions in order for me to know exactly what I am consuming. At the end of the day sticking to my morals and values trumps me being too much of a baby to ask questions!

5.Create New Norms

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Here is a picture with one of my new norms, I wasn’t kidding about the bananas!

Before I was vegan, I never thought that having 2 sweet potatoes as the main portion of my dinner was “normal”. I definitely never thought that walking into Whole Foods once a week asking for one 40lb box of bananas to fuel me would be a part of my weekly routine (yes, I basically just shared with you that I consume 40lbs worth of bananas per week). But these are are just two examples of what is “normal” to me since becoming vegan.

When you become vegan, you will find what works best for you and create new norms for yourself. These norms might seem strange or extreme to other people or even to you at first but remember that you are fueling your body. So embrace your new norms!

6.Become a Student Again

Just like anything new in life, becoming a vegan and being a vegan is a constant learning process. You are learning how to view your food differently, how to eat differently, cook differently, how to grocery shop differently, and how to eat out differently. Bold statement, but I would honestly say I learn something new relating to being vegan every few days. We only get one body in this life, and it is our responsiblity to do what is best for it, which is why I love learning about plant-based nutrition!

Resources, resources, resources! When I was first exposing myself to veganism, I used almost every tool at my disposal. I watched a crazy amount of YouTube videos, lectures, and talks, followed several vegans on Instagram, searched “veganism” on Pinterest, and used google search almost everyday (I linked some of my favorite pieces at the end!). We live in a period where information is at our fingertips, so take advantage of the inter-9webs and get ready to absorb the knowledge!

7.Be Patient

The biggest advice I can give you regarding the mental aspect of going vegan is being patient. Be patient with veganism, be patient with your loved ones and their acceptance, and most importantly be patient with yourself.

vegvegvegEveryone’s vegan story is different. Some people take a few days to transition, a few months, a few years, and for some it is an overnight change.

For me, it took be about a year to be ready to commit. Summer of 2015, I watched YouTube videos almost everyday of girls my age from around the world of what they eat in a day being vegan, why they went vegan, vegan grocery hauls, and vegan recipes. Because it was a big change to my previous diet (standard American) I personally needed as many facts, exposure, and real world examples, and experiences that I could visually consume before I made the change. I started small, making small replacements of everyday foods, and choosing the vegan friendly option when convenient. Then, March of 2016 I decided to cut all meat out of my diet. Because I was away at college, I decided that as soon as I came home from school for the summer I would go full vegan. So summer 2016 is when I officially went plant-based, that is one full year after my first initial thought of going vegan.

Once I went vegan it took me about a month and a half for my body to adjust to my new diet. After that time period I no longer craved meat, dairy, or eggs and instead craved sweet potatoes, avocado toast, and of course, bananas. I had to learn to be patient with my body, after all, I had 19 years of certain foods to get out of my system.

Was I perfect through this transition? Absolutely not! I am human after all. When I did slip up I tried not to be hard on myself and move on while keeping my eye on the end goal of being fully plant-based.

8.Listen to Your Body

After exposing yourself to the vegan lifestyle you will most likely come across all the different “types” of vegans. Some common vegan diets are raw-until-4pm, raw, and as-long-as-it-doesn’t-involve-animals. Regardless if you follow one of these diets, the most important thing is to listen to your body. Pay attention to how certain foods make you feel because what works for one person might not work for you. Maybe your body thrives off of eating different types of melon in the morning, or oatmeal, or a massive green smoothie, or 6 bananas like me; whatever it is, experiment with what you thrive off of!

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Listening to your body includes intuitive eating which involves the practice of labeling your cravings. Our bodies need three macro-nutrients for fuel: fat, protein, and carbs. When we get a craving, that is our body telling our brain that we need one of these nutrients! Say you are craving a big bowl of ice cream (vegan of course), that is probably your body saying “I want some fat!”. So instead of reaching for that cashew milk ice cream, maybe reach for a healthier option like an avocado or almond butter which are both high in healthy fats! Taking that second to break down what you are craving into the necessary macro nutrients instead of the individual food gives you that space to really listen to your body and choose the healthiest option for yourself.

9.Block Out the Haters

leovegan memeEveryone knows the vegan joke, “Oh you’ll know if someone is a vegan because they’ll tell you”, or the stigma that all vegans are crazy, hippie, peta-preaching, extremists who live off lettuce. I don’t know about you, but all the vegans that I know are extremely kind, compassionate, and intelligent people who would gladly have a civil conversation about veganism if asked. Some people just have this “image” of who can be a vegan when in reality veganism is all inclusive.

When sharing your new lifestyle of being vegan, you will find that you get reactions that can probably fit into these 3 categories: positive, stereotypical, and just straight up uncomfortable.

Positive: These reactions are the easiest. The most frequent ones I have come across is something along the lines of “Oh, that’s cool!”, “How long have you been vegan?”, “What made you go vegan?”, “Do you feel different?”, and “What do you eat?”

Stereotypical: These are the ones that may make you internally eye-roll. These reactions are usually “Where do you get your protein?”, “Don’t you miss bacon?”, “Oh, I love cheese too much”. The stereotypical reactions almost always end in, “I could NEVER be a vegan.” to which I reply “Hey, I grew up with ground beef on taco Tuesday, pizza on Friday, and steak-dinner on Sundays. If I can do it, you can do it”.

Uncomfortable: This type is my favorite! These reactions seem to happen when the person has no idea how to react to you being vegan. The most awkward reaction I’ve gotten is when I was out to lunch with my ex-boyfriend and his grandparents and shared with them that I was now vegan. His grandmother ordered steak tacos and I kid you not, offered to build a wall between me and her tacos with menus from the restaurant. I appreciated her thoughtfulness and said that building a wall wouldn’t be necessary.

Chances are you have experienced, or you will experience each of these reactions. My advice is just to laugh off the uncomfortable ones and let go of the negative ones because unfortunately someone will always be judging you. Just like every other decision you make, there will probably be someone that disagrees with you being or going vegan. At the end of the day, being vegan means that you are choosing to live your life with compassion and health. If someone has a problem with that, that is on them and not you.

10.Discover the Purpose

why vWhen I first went vegan, I did it for myself. I was drawn to veganism for the health. Now, when someone asks me “Why are you vegan?” I say, “I am vegan for everything”. The more you expose yourself to the lifestyle, the more you will learn that being vegan isn’t just about you, its about the preservation of life. Every choice we make has an impact, whether we see it first hand or not. Being vegan impacts your health, the animals, the agriculture system, the oceans, society, world hunger, the environment, and our home Mother Earth. Being vegan is not just a plant-based diet, it is a moral choice.

We all have a chance to make a difference in this world. The question should not be “Why go vegan?”, the question should be “Why Not?”

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this. I hope that I could help you in some way! Listed below are some of my favorite pieces that helped me go vegan!

From “Excuse-itarian” to Vegan- Colleen Patrick-Goudreau

101 Reasons to go Vegan

Nutrition Facts

There are extremely eye opening and thought provoking documentaries that also played a huge role in my decision to go vegan (“Meet Your Meat”, “Earthlings”, “Forks Over Knives”, “Cowspiracy”).

Hanna’s Instagram

Hanna ❤

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