HOW TO START YOUR VEGAN JOURNEY

INTRODUCTION

Now you have decided to become vegan. You have seen all the evidence that vegan lifestyle is the healthiest for you. You are ready to take the plunge. Then you pause and realize something. The only thing you know about vegan diet is that it does not contain any animal products. But what now? Are you going to prepare your food the same way you have been, minus the meat? That doesn’t sound appetizing. 

Trying to create a new eating habit and switch to veganism is something that more and more people are attempting to do each year.  A vegan lifestyle that used to be quite uncommon, but it has grown more popular as an option. Veganism has found and continues to find a massive amount of support in all walks of life.  Busy people who work two jobs, people who live in multi-million dollar houses and even the rebellious teenager down the block. This is the demographic of the vegan movement now.   But what does switching to veganism mean to you? 

First, it is important to clear some misconceptions. Many  people think that veganism is exactly like vegetarianism.  Even though they share several similarities, they are quite different. The similarity is that both vegans and vegetarians refrain from eating animal flesh. Vegetarians still consume some animal products like milk and eggs, cheese, yogurt and other similar products. Vegans do not eat any of those animal products. 

Honey is an interesting exception. Many vegans do not avoid eating honey and still use honey without negating their veganism. The reason they usually give is that even though honey is made by bees, the bees make it out or nectar from flowers (a plant product). The beeswax is formed from scales from wax-producing glands in the abdominal segments of worker bees. This is an animal product. The truth is that most vegans who eat honey do NOT eat beeswax.

It is generally known that vegetarianism is a much easier lifestyle to adopt since it is much less rigid.  A vegan diet is much stricter and can be much harder for someone to adopt. That is why preparation is necessary before adopting a vegan lifestyle especially if you are currently a meat-eater.

 Cold Turkey or Gradual?

The first question that you must ask yourself is whether you are going to go vegan suddenly or gradually. If you choose to go gradually, it is important to make a time table. Without a time table, you are likely to linger on for weeks, months, or even years without actually starting the vegan process.

If you choose to go with the gradual transition, you may start by eliminating red meat for a while. After that you could remove white meat, including fish, from your diet for a determined amount of time. At this point you are vegetarian. Do you want to stay vegetarian for a while before moving on; or do you want to proceed to vegan in a few days? This is a question you have to ask yourself.

Learning How To Cook Vegan

After determining a time table to go vegan, the next step is to learn how to cook vegan. I remember years ago when I decided to become vegetarian, a well-meaning acquaintance gave me some interesting advice. “All you have to do,” he said, “ is to cook with meat or fish to get the flavor. Then, after you have prepared the food, take out the meat or fish and discard it. There, is your vegetarian food.” Obviously, this is bad advice. Because cooking with meat or fish means the food is NOT vegan, by definition.

But how do you learn how to cook a vegan meal if you have never done it?

You can search the internet, Google, in particular and read articles that have been written about this subject. A better option is to watch YouTube videos on how to prepare a vegan diet. There may be tens or even hundreds of videos on this topic alone.

Choosing A Vegan Style

You have learned how to cook delicious vegan food, thanks to Google and YouTube. But you find yourself overwhelmed because of the sheer amount of information you have learned. Your head is full of vegan recipes but which one are you going to choose. This is where the type or style of veganism comes in. In a previous post, I dealt with the different types of vegan. You can find that information HERE. If you choose to be a dietary vegan or whole food vegan, you have chosen to eat starches, legumes, grains and vegetables and fruits.

Rice and potato dishes as well as pasta dishes will form the bases of your diet. So you can then concentrate on how to prepare stews and side dishes to go with the main starches you are going to eat. If you choose an Italian style of eating, you may concentrate on how to cook pizzas, and make pasta sauces. A Mexican style vegan predominance means you need to learn how to make burritos, tacos, enchiladas, and so forth. But the good news is that you can always mix and match one cooking style with another.

Prepare a Test Vegan Meal

The time has come, finally! You have done your vegan grocery shopping. As you passed the meat aisle,you paused for a short while and looked at what was on offer. Chunks of cow muscle and fat, pig flesh, dead chickens. They looked somewhat disgusting now that you are looking at them with a fresh set of eyes. You have picked all your grains, breads, dried beans, vegetables and fruits. You are pleased with yourself. Now it is time to cook some real vegan food as you learned on YouTube.

Invite your friends for the test cooking. Make it a fun thing. This way, you are relaxed and happy. Even if you make a complete mess of it, you won’t get discouraged. Your friend will be supportive. That is why you have invited only the friends who did not mock you when you announced you are going to be a vegan. As for the mockers, you will make the most delicious vegan meal for them one of these days when you have perfected your craft as an amateur vegan cook. You are sure that after you cook them this meal, they will never call you Bugs Bunny anymore. They will understand that being vegan is not just about eating a bunch of raw carrots!

Vegan Menu For The Week

Your test cooking went very well. You have cooked a few more vegan meals. It is now time to plan for the week. You want to pack some vegan food for work because it is not easy to find a good vegan restaurant. My advice is to do sandwich style vegan meals for work, at least, initially. Make some burritos or just plain peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for work. You could also make some tacos, using vegan “cheese”.

But what do you do on the days that you forget to pack your burrito or peanut butter sandwich? These fast food restaurants serve vegan burgers such as the Impossible Burger of the Beyond Meat burgers. You could go to any of them and buy one of these delicious burgers. Or you could get a bean burrito. Just remember that the “artificial meat” burgers are not what you want to be eating for lunch every day. They are processed and you want to eat as little processed food as possible.

Seek Out Other Vegans

You may be surprised how many vegans don’t come out to say they are vegan. Soome fear they may be judged or ridiculed. Even though this attitude is fading. But tell people at work that you have just become vegan and are seeking an experienced vegan for some direction. 

I suspect that you will get a lot of support. Vegans tend to be a little tribal as for many years they had to deal with an “us versus them” mentality. This was when veganism was a fringe thing for a few hippies. Now that veganism is mainstream, this mentality may still persist. In other words you are likely to get good support. You can ask for their favorite recipes and tips. Before you know it, you will be a pro at being vegan yourself!

Conclusion

After you have decided to become vegan for all the health benefits, actually starting the process can be challenging. 

  • You must first decide whether you will make the transition from a meat-eater to a vegan abruptly or gradually.
  • You then need to learn how to cook vegan foods. Google and Youtube offer great help for free. You can learn a great deal this way.
  • The next step is to do your vegan grocery shopping and then do a test vegan cooking at your place, inviting your supportive friends.
  • If you are a working person, you would then want to have a menu for your work week so you don’t have to partake of those awful office lunches. For the time when you cannot prepare a lunch for work, you can try some vegan fare at your local fast food place.
  • Finally, seek out other vegans at work and you will be surprised how supportive they will be. 
  • So don’t just sit there. Go start your vegan journey today!

Until next time,  this is the Natural Medicine Ninja, signing off. ADIOS!

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