Hey everyone! Last week I talked about my vegan story; how, why, and when I went vegan. This week I wanted to share my top tips for new vegans! Whether you’re a new vegan, long-time vegan, or even if you’re just now starting to look into this kind of lifestyle, here are some tips that may be helpful!
Veganism has grown so much over the last few years, everyday more and more people are changing their eating and living habits to animal-friendly and environmentally conscious ones. It’s exciting! More vegan options are becoming available in stores and restaurants and vegan meat/egg/dairy replacements are on the rise. People in general are more open and getting used to the idea of veganism. It’s a good time to become vegan! So lets get on to the tips!
Obviously going vegan has a lot to do with food, so let’s start here!
Use potatoes: When we first went vegan we ended up eating a LOT of potatoes: potato fries, whole baked potatoes, roasted seasoned potatoes, and mashed potatoes. At the time I was trying to make our normal meals with potato as the substitute for meat alongside whatever we’d normally serve. So if we would normally have chicken with a side of broccoli and corn we’d have baked potatoes with the side of broccoli and corn. It worked really well for transitioning to plant based meals. We still eat all of those potato items but with a greater variety of meals mixed in.
Try all the plant milks: at least until you’ve found one you love! I’ve seen people say they tried almond milk or soy milk and then decide that plant milk isn’t for them. I encourage you, unless you're allergic, to try all the plant-based milks! They each have a different thing going for them! Even different brands taste different from each other so if you’re not a fan of one kind of almond milk try a different brand and/or flavor. Even if it takes you time to try each one, once you find the perfect replacement for you you’ll be glad you did! Our main use for plant-based milk is cereal, sometimes we like it as a snack or treat and our milk of choice is cashew milk. In our opinion it’s not overpowering or too thin or too thick, it’s great for anything you’d want dairy milk for. Also chocolate cashew milk is amazing! It’s the only chocolate milk that I can drink more than a glass of without upsetting my stomach. But still, try the different plant milks and see what you like! If you find one and it’s not doing it for you try a different one!
Finding new meals: If you find yourself in a meal rut or are simply trying to find out what other vegans eat try looking on Youtube, Pinterest, or Instagram for inspiration and/or step by step recipes! When I first started out, Youtube was my favorite source of vegan meal ideas. Not only did you see the meal but you’d usually see how they made it step by step. I’d type in things like “what I ate today vegan”, “vegan what I eat in a day”, and “vegan recipe”. Pinterest is another wonderful source because you can look at SO much so quickly. I think it’s my favorite method for finding recipes. You can browse all kinds of recipes by typing in “vegan” or you can follow a craving by typing in anything you feel like and adding “vegan” at the end. Instagram is a newer source of ideas for me as I’ve only joined recently but I’m already in love! There are so many amazing vegan food instagrammers on there! My favorite search tags are #vegan, #veganfood, and #vegandinner. You could also check out some of our favorite recipes that I’ve posted on the blog under the FOOD category at the top of the page. I post new meals/recipes often so check back now and then!
Find your quick / easy meals: Life gets hectic for everyone and as such it helps to have a few backup meals that are quick and/or easy to make in a rush or require minimal effort when you're busy or tired. The sooner you have a few quick or easy vegan meals the better because you won’t feel the pressure to make or buy a quick or easy non-vegan meal. Our go to quick or easy meals are baked potatoes (simply wash, pierce, cook for an hour and a half, then serve: easy), pasta, gnocchi, waffles, english style (but vegan) beans on toast, and vegan canned soup--to name a few. Those options are usually what we’ll do for a quick or easy dinner; for lunch we’ll make vegan sandwiches, wraps, or simply a big smoothie loaded with goodness! Regardless of what quick and easy vegan meals you choose, the point is to have them at the ready so you won’t have to worry about it when the time actually comes!
Smoothies: I love smoothies. I drink them every day, sometimes just one sometimes two or three. I listen to my body and if it sounds good (which clearly it usually does lol) I’ll go for it! In fact, I’m drinking a smoothie right now (it’s a purple one if you’re wondering, like in the picture). I’m making smoothies their own tip because they’re just so amazing! Smoothies make the perfect breakfast on the go or around the house. They’re quick and easy to make yet filled pure goodness. You can stock up on fruit or veg (I like frozen broccoli in mine) without having to worry about it going bad because it’s frozen. Plus you can make them completely different each time for lots of variety. This is a great example of Instagram inspiration #vegansmoothie will show you all kinds of smoothies and recipes. So if you’ve not gotten into the whole smoothie thing--try it! You could also try smoothie bowls which are pretty cool, #smoothiebowl check it out!
Find your favorites: When you first go vegan you might feel suddenly restricted, don’t worry you’ll soon see how meal ideas open up and you’ll feel an abundance of options again--it just takes looking for them and/or trying new things! It helps to find your favorite meals and staple items early on so you have things to be happy about rather than focusing on your “restrictions”. Again, a great source for this would be Pinterest, Instagram, or Youtube. You could, for example, type in “vegan mac and cheese” if you’re a mac and cheese fan or “vegan hot dogs” if you love hot dogs, or “vegan caesar salad”--you get the idea. If you have a favorite food item that you know you’re going to miss, start by looking for a vegan replacement. For Adam and I, we wanted to find vegan waffles since they’re our favorite “quick but super fun meal”. This is the recipe we use and love! So jump in and look for your favorites!
Try the vegan replacement: Although Adam and I don’t use vegan replacements like vegan butter (we use olive oil), mock meat, or replacement cheese, if it’s something you know you’ll miss or couldn’t go vegan without it--try them! Or at least find your favorites so you can use them when the moment strikes. Some of you may absolutely love mayo or ranch dressing or cheese--if so try the vegan version!
Don’t try to define yourself: It’s easy to get wrapped up in what kind of vegan you are when what really matters is that you're vegan in the first place! At the end of the day you’re still helping animals, helping the planet/environment, and eating better! When I first went vegan I personally felt like I had a standard to live up to, that unless I was fully raw or raw until dinner I wasn’t a proper vegan. Yet at the end of the day regardless of how many Oreos I ate or smoothies I drank it’s still been two years since I knowingly ate an animal or their byproducts. And regardless of why, that’s still two years that I’ve chosen to be more conscious. For you this may be 2 days or an hour or 10 years, the point is don’t get wrapped up in what kind of vegan you are and just be vegan.
Track your intake: When we first went vegan I used Cron-O-Meter to track my food to make sure I was eating enough calories as well as getting all the different vitamins, minerals, and fats I needed. Using cron-o-meter is amazing--and FREE! You can track your food’s nutritional value, your exercise, and your progress (if you're trying to lose or gain weight). As well as add recipes you eat regularly to make tracking easier. It’s recommended to use some sort of method to track these kinds of things if you're newly vegan so that you know you’re on target with everything your body needs. I don’t really track my eating anymore but now and again I’ll add in new meals/recipes or track for a few days at a time to make sure I’m not lacking in anything. It’s also great because it tells you what foods are giving you what nutrients and it will help you learn which food is good for what if you’re not already sure. (ps: here's a little info from them on vitamin A, good to know!)
Find your community: Adam and I are lucky because we’re both vegan and supportive of each other and have each other to talk to about veganism. That, plus my younger sister Darla is vegan, and our families are supportive of us and our choices. This isn’t always the case for everyone so if you don’t have someone who you know is vegan or a supportive ear to talk to I highly recommend finding an online or in-real-life vegan community. That way, if someone says something and you don’t have a good response you can go talk to your peeps and find the information you need or to even just talk about how excited you are that you found something vegan you didn’t think was in the first place! You need a community who will share your successes and help pick you up if you’re feeling low. I recommend r/vegan on Reddit, or even just hanging out on Instagram or Youtube and talking with other vegans in the comments. There are also different Facebook groups out there like rawtill4 where people come together to talk about their journeys. Find your peeps!
Stay informed: I find it helpful, encouraging, and fun to keep up to date with what's going on in the world in regards to veganism. I love hearing how dairy is on the decline in different parts of the world and when major companies start making vegan products. My favorite ways to stay informed is Reddit’s r/vegan, and Plant Based News on Youtube. Staying informed is a great way to keep the bigger picture in mind and may help you from feeling discouraged if you’re hearing about how many other people are also making the switch.
There you have it folks! My top vegan tips for new vegans! I hope you found them helpful, if so share them! If you have any you would like to add I'd love to hear them in the comments below! Have a great weekend everyone!