Recently, my brother and I read some of the comments on the Earthlings documentary on YouTube (be aware it may be difficult to watch as it exposes the reality of factory farms and animal abuse that we pay for when we choose non-vegan products). We noticed in the comments that so many people said the movie helped them become vegan, but a lot of people also said they wanted to go vegan, but didn’t know where to start. Those comments inspired me to make this blog of eight things you should do if you want to go vegan.
To start, I will quickly share my story of the first time I considered going vegan – and I wish I had come across a blog like this one. I was on my Instagram explore page and somehow ended up seeing video clips from slaughterhouses and dairy farms. The posts explained how mama cows are exploited, forcibly impregnated and then their babies are stolen from them. As a life long feminist, I felt extreme cognitive dissonance and couldn’t believe that females (even though they were from another species) were being treated like this and I had no idea. No, this isn’t when I went vegan, but I went onto PETAs website and ordered their “how to go vegan kit” which arrived literally 12 months later (yikes!) and I had already become vegan. I wish I had come across a list of things to do if you wanted to be vegan. So, here we go! Please share this with anyone and everyone you think is considering, or should consider going vegan.
Open Your Mind
If you are at the point of considering veganism, it is likely that your mind is already open. I would encourage you to keep your mind open and try to break down all of the societal “facts” that you are told, perhaps the ones stopping you from going vegan. For example, you need meat to survive, milk and dairy help grow strong bones, you need protein to be strong and fit, and any other myths you may believe based on the world we grew up in. Once your mind is open and you are willing to hear alternative information, carry on to step two.
If you, or anyone you know, has access to Netflix, then I recommend you watch Cowspiracy and What The Health. They will likely shock you and challenge everything you were taught growing up, but so many vegans say that these movies are the ones that made them go vegan overnight. I did not watch these documentaries before going vegan, but recently watched them as a vegan and was still so impacted by their content. I would also recommend watching Earthlings, as I mentioned above. Watch with caution, as many people say it is extremely challenging to watch. But, if you say you love animals and aren’t vegan, I definitely recommend watching it (with a box of tissues and someone else by your side). Of course, if you feel the need, you can follow that up by reading the research referenced in the documentaries and doing your own research as well! Be cautious of who is funding the studies you read; the egg, dairy and meat industries are currently funding biased research because of the rise of veganism.
Find Your “Why?”
In order to dedicate to veganism, you need to find your “why”. Whether it is for the animals, for your health, for the planet, or for all three – your motivation will help keep your lifestyle on track. You will likely find your “why” from one (or all) of the listed documentaries.
Make A Commitment
This one really comes down to a personal preference. I went vegan overnight, and my husband went vegan a few weeks later over the span of 2-3 weeks. I felt so strongly for the animals and was immediately disgusted by what I was previously eating, where he needed time to find replacements and alternatives to the foods he enjoyed. Neither way was better, and we are both still thriving, healthy and dedicated vegans. So, if you decide to go vegan overnight, then go vegan overnight. If you decide to slowly replace items in your fridge with vegan products, then do that. Just make sure to keep your goal of becoming vegan.
Eat Real Food
If you jump into veganism by having a meal packed full with vegan “mock meats”, you might find it unsatisfying (and not very healthy). I would recommend making a healthy meal without adding in vegan replacements and see how amazing you feel! You can make a vegan Buddha bowl by adding rice or quinoa to a big bowl and topping it with cooked veggies, avocado, raw veggies and cooked beans or chickpeas. I remember the first time my mom (who’s also vegan) cooked a bowl like this for me – I had been vegan for 2 months or so, and it was easily the best meal I had ever had – and now I make them at least 4 times a week!
Try Vegan Replacements
Once you realize that not all meals have to be centered around a meat product (like we’ve been taught our whole lives), try introducing some vegan replacement products into your diet to substitute the animal products you used to love. Some of my favourite cheeses are the Follow Your Heart (the brand is called Earth Island in Canada) shredded and sliced cheeses, plus they have amazing mayo products and salad dressings. Most specialty food stores carry them. If you see the brand Gardein in your frozen section (ask your grocery store if they carry it – sometimes its hidden!) then I definitely recommend them! They have vegan versions of chicken tenders, ground meat, fish fillets and tons of other products that taste like the real thing, but have absolutely no cruelty in them. If you love the taste of meaty burgers and you don’t live in Canada, I would obviously recommend the Beyond Meat burger (not the Impossible Burger – they had to do animal testing which unfortunately takes away from the fact that they’re supposed to be vegan!). They are available in Vancouver (Meet on Main, Meet in Gastown and Meet in Yaletown all have them) and some other restaurants may have them, just try Googling in your area! I love the Yves “Good Veggie Burger” for my own burgers because they have a very neutral flavour and really take on the flavours of your toppings.
Follow Vegan Influencers on Social Media
You’ll notice when you decide to go vegan that everywhere you look, you’ll see animal products. Before going vegan, I followed so many fitness influencers on Instagram and YouTube that loved egg whites, chicken breasts and whey protein shakes and just couldn’t handle the amount of cruelty I was seeing on a daily basis. So, I un-followed most of them and followed a bunch of vegan accounts! Some of my favourite influencers are Earthling Ed, James and Carly, Lauren Toyota (and Hot For Food!), Liv B, Avante Garde Vegan (just to name a few!). Waking up and seeing vegan posts from them always keeps me inspired and makes me feel like I’m not the only vegan out there!
I attended my first vegan activism event on Saturday and I cannot explain how important and amazing it was! I participated in the Vancouver March to Close All Slaughterhouses, and it really did rebuild my faith in society (at least the vegan society) because there were so many like-minded, animal-loving activists! I made friends, felt empowered and inspired, and I’m already looking forward to the next event! Another thing you can do to get involved is join Challenge 22. It’s a challenge to go vegan for 22 days, and you get access to Facebook groups where mentors help you by sharing recipes and moral support. I would also recommend finding someone to go vegan with! Having an accountability buddy will make everything easier.
If you’re still reading this far down the list, I am so thankful and grateful for your support! I really do think the future is vegan, and I’m so excited for you to continue your vegan journey. If you read this and decide to try veganism, send me a message on Instagram or use the contact form above – I would love to hear from you!