5 Tips for New Vegans
1. DON'T STOP EATING REAL FOOD
Seems pretty obvious but...
I remember speaking to someone who told me they admired how long I'd been vegan because they just couldn't do it. They'd been too hungry and eventually they gave in to the pre-seasoned chicken wings calling to them from the meat section at No Frills. But get this, when I asked them what they were eating they looked me dead in the face and said, "I ate a lot of lettuce."
???? That's... that's not food.
Don't starve yourself. Veganism is more than lettuce, spinach and kale. Find filling foods that you like and that remind you of what you ate "in your past life". If you didn't survive on salad before I don't know why you'd try to start now.
2. PLAN OUT YOUR FIRST FEW GROCERY TRIPS
When I first cut gluten out of my diet (yes, I'm gluten free too) I damn near broke down in tears in the middle of Walmart after putting back the 50th item I'd discovered was NOT gluten free. Needless to say, I didn't make the same mistake when I went vegan.
Before making my first grocery trip I spent years in my lab perfecting the formula for the best possible grocery list. Once I got to the store I didn't have to second guess anything, I knew what I was there for and exactly what would be coming home with me at the end of the night. I rarely make a list anymore since I've gotten the hang of it but when you're just starting out save yourself the embarrassment of a public emotional breakdown... make the list... check it twice.
3. SURVEY THE AREA
Eventually you're going to want to go out for a meal and instead of spending one agonizing hour starving on your best friend's bedroom floor trying not to pass out as you attempt to find a half decent vegan spot to eat... you need to be prepared.
If you happen to live in/around Toronto I've already got your back. I've been sampling restaurants here and there for quite some time now you can check out my page called "The Crawl" where I review different spots in the city. But you don't have to take my word for it if you don't want to. Do your own research, read reviews, go to vegan festivals, skim other blogs and figure out which places appeal to you so when your friends complain about how they don't want to go to the "nasty vegan restaurant," you already have a place in mind that will make them stop their vegan slander forever.
4. DON'T LET THE COMMUNITY SCARE YOU+ TAKE IT SLOW
Before (and even after) going vegan I think a lot of people have a negative image of the vegan community. We're often portrayed as condescending, judgemental, overly strict and unnecessarily annoying. All of those things can be true at times but there are also an overwhelming amount of people who are just average, friendly people.
This is a large community so naturally, there will be disagreements about what and who should/should not be accepted in the community.
I've seen so many things debated and contested. There is no such thing as a perfect vegan and despite what people may say there really is no singular definition that everyone in the community abides by. Don't worry about being perfect, worry about doing the best that you can in this present moment with the information and resources that you have.
If you can't do it overnight, don't worry. Take it slow.
5. KEEP AN OPEN MIND
This might seem kind of dumb but there are foods that I love now that I never thought I'd eat willingly while I was non-vegan. I used to hate broccoli but now my fridge feels empty without it. I hated spinach but now I throw it it literally everything I can: smoothies, pasta, rice.. everything.
Remember that as you shift your diet your palate/taste will change. So give new foods a try and give long-hated foods a second a chance. If I continued to try to eat all the same foods I ate as a non-vegan I'd be broke from trying to buy nothing but vegan substitutes and I'd be cheating myself of all the new foods and flavours I've grown to love over the course of the past year.
Two years ago I'd never tried or thought to try vegan cheese, jackfruit, asparagus or summer roles with peanut sauce. Explore the internet and find new and intersesting recipes to keep life and your meals interesting!