Vegans are usually born for one of three reasons: compassion for animals, care for our environment, or interest in personal health and longevity. In the end, though, vegans usually identify with every idea in this reasoning trifecta.
Let’s take a look at ten steps you can take right now to begin your vegan journey.
- Identify where you’re at right now. Do you consider yourself an omnivore, vegetarian, pescatarian, a Meatless-Monday participant, a vegan-before-six?
- Take a moment to think about why you are where you are with your eating habits. If you love animals but also eat them, why? If you eat chicken but not beef, why? If you eat vegan on Mondays but not the rest of the week, why?
- Consider what steps you are willing to take towards becoming vegan. Are you a person who needs to take baby steps or do you jump right in? Set realistic goals for yourself and start taking action. Many people say, “I’d go vegan, except I love cheese!”—so they dismiss the idea of going vegan entirely. But that’s not necessary! Are you willing to try new vegan cheeses; maybe even make your own? Can you eat mostly vegan and save cheese for last? Make the changes that feel easy first, and work your way up to the harder ones (like cheese).
- Clean out your refrigerator and pantry. You will be surprised to learn how many things you have in your home that are not vegan. Watch for tricky ingredients like honey, gelatin, whey, and casein, just to name a few.
- Find recipes—lots of them! What foods do you love? Do a quick google search for the name of the food, but add the word “vegan” in front of it. For example, a google search for “vegan macaroni and cheese recipe” will yield a ton of information and great recipes. If you are looking for a quick dinner, add the words “easy” or “quick” to your search. Invest in a few vegan cookbooks, and explore some vegan blogs. World of Vegan has a lot of free recipes right here!
- Use a calendar to create a meal plan! By creating a daily or weekly meal plan, you won’t have to worry what you are going to eat each day. Stock your pantry with delicious vegan snacks so there’s always something on hand when hunger and cravings strike!
- Go shopping! Once your meal plan is set, it’s time to purchase the ingredients. Chances are you have many of them in your home already. Did you notice that when you cleaned out your refrigerator and pantry? Have fun shopping for anything else you need. Remember, there’s no need to always go to a fancy, all-natural market. I’ve found some great, organic, natural ingredients in my local supermarket, and even places like Target.
- Yeah! Look at you! You’re on your way to a full-blown vegan lifestyle! What’s next? Cruelty-free home cleaners and beauty products. We often don’t consider these things when we hear the word vegan, but our lifestyle is all-inclusive. Think about replacing products in your home that contribute to animal cruelty with kinder, healthier, and more eco-friendly options. Check the labels on your cleaners, makeup, shampoo, etc. Is that cute little cruelty-free bunny on the label? If not, do some research (PETA has a great list on their website.) and purchase some products that are not causing our furry friends harm.
- Take a look in your wardrobe closet. Leather boots? Fur collar on your coat? Silk blouse? Wool scarf? The making of these products likely harmed animals. Lucky for you and animals, you can find gorgeous clothing that is cruelty-free! The world of vegan boots, sneakers, clothing, coats, scarves and bags is endless. You’ll definitely find some new things you love. And hey, who doesn’t love a shopping trip? Again, Google is your best friend here!
- Pat yourself on the back! It doesn’t matter how long it takes you to get to a fully vegan lifestyle, the point is that you are trying and progressing in the right direction. Each day you embrace your new compassionate life, you save animals. Will you slip up? Absolutely! Will you feel guilty when you do? No doubt. Don’t beat yourself up! You’ll learn and before you know it, you’ll feel absolutely fantastic.
There you have it, Veganism in ten steps! You can do it. There are so many resources available to help you. Whatever your initial reason for choosing this lifestyle is, one thing is for sure. You are about to become part of a truly compassionate, life-changing community. Congratulations—and welcome!
About The Author
Susan M. Landaira, MS, VCLE, is a certified vegan lifestyle coach and educator and a special education teacher. She is the CEO of Vegan Teacher LLC. Susan volunteers as a Coach for Vegan Outreach and her company is a member of the NYC United for Animals Coalition. Susan offers coaching, courses, lectures, food demos, pantry revivals, and more.