October seems to be a month of changes in my life and becoming vegan was one of the best changes I’ve done and it was in October 1997. So this month I am celebrating 17 years as a vegan. I have written about my reasons to go vegan before so I won’t go back to it but I wanted to take a time of my day today to share with our readers who are not vegan yet a few tips to help you to go vegan.
Seventeen years ago I still listen to the same questions: “Do you find it hard to be vegan?” “Where do you get your protein?” “How about B12?” “Do you eat fish?” “Why not milk?”. Honestly I got used to them after all these years. When I was pregnant I got different ones: “You’re still vegan even pregnant?” “How about your iron?” “Do have cravings on meat or dairy?” and, as you can imagine, now most of the questions are regarding the fact that we are raising our son vegan: “How does he get all the vitamins?” “Isn’t it dangerous for him?” “What if he eats something non-vegan at someone’s house? Or in the creche?” “What if he decides to eat meat when he’s older?” As vegans we all know that the list of questions goes on and on. This is not a Q&A so I’m not answering any of them but I wanted to share what is one big aspect of becoming vegan: dealing with questions about your nutrition as you never had to deal before. So get ready for this and learn how to deal with them. Especially when you’re telling people you went vegan, questions will come and come. After all these years I realized that it’s not worth it to get angry (Oh, I got angry so many times about what people had to ask and say to me…). When I see that the person is genuine curious or interested, I answer with a more complete speech. If it’s just a form of bullying I just ignore, with a smile.
Questions are part of a biggest issue though: social life. I have to say, I am lucky. Really. My husband is vegan (veganism was the reason we started talking basically). My best friends are all vegans. My close friends are all vegans. Most of them are at least vegetarian. And, yes, I have friends who eat meat and my whole family too. But I know that most of the people who go vegan are surrounded by non-vegan people in a non-vegan world and going to family or friends parties, dinners, school, University, etc can sound like a huge challenge and it might be. Small tips here: breath and smile. If you’re going to a party or dinner where you know there will be no vegan options, eat before or after or take your own food if you can. Pack your lunch to school or University if they don’t offer vegan-friendly options. Learn how to cook if you have the chance too, it will make your life easier. Try to cook vegan food to your family and friends to show how tasty it is. And be patient. With time passing, people close to us get used – and more comfortable – with our choice.
Another tip: get informed. This is something to take with you forever. After seventeen years defining myself as a vegan I’m still learning. About hidden ingredients on foods, about GMOs, about animal rights. We never know enough. And it’s good to have positive conversations with non-vegans who want to learn more about veganism. Also, try to get to know more about other reasons to go vegan. My first reason to go vegan was animal rights, and then environment, but for years I wouldn’t care about heath. Today I try to connect my veganism with everything: animals (rights, compassion, preservation), our planet (environment, water, rainforest, preservation), yourself and human animals (health, compassion, peace, world hunger).
All these tips are for people who already took the decision and are in the first days or months of being vegan, right? But what about those who are still thinking about going vegan? Here’s a list of my top 5 websites and packages to encourage you to take this important step:
1. Try Vegan by The Vegan Society: The Vegan Society is one of the greatest source of information for any step of being vegan. Connect to them every time you think you need help or support!
2. Becoming Vegan: another website full of information, including food, clothes and other products.
3. Vegan.com Book Tips and more: yes, cookbooks are a great help. As I’ve said, learning to cook will be really useful and there are many great tips there!
4. Vegan Outreach Starter Guide: free to download (PDF format) and order a copy, this is a great guide covering from basics on veganism to nutritional advices.
5. Vegan Boxes: if you can afford their subscription, go for it! Getting to know about vegan products available in the market is great and you can be surprised by the fact that today there is a vegan version for almost everything non-vegan! My favorite ones are Vegan Cuts Snack Box (ships worldwide but free shipping in the US), The Vegan Box (Australia) and Vegan Tuck Box (also ships worldwide but cheaper to UK and Europe).
Vegan families and raising a vegan child: We’re planning to launch our new section soon! Please feel free to contact us if you want to get involved and if you have questions and doubts about vegan parenting!
Hope my tips were helpful and inspiring! Want to see many new vegans around here
And how about you, vegan readers, for how long are you living a cruelty-free life?