The Modern Chef: 5 Simple Steps To Help You Go Vegan
What is veganism? A vegan refrains from any form of animal exploitation including consumption, wearing of leather, fur or silk and also using products that have been tested on animals.
As probably most of you guys, I also grew up eating meat and dairy. If you would’ve asked me to go vegan back then, I would’ve laughed and said. “never, why would I?” I did have a few episodes where I randomly stopped eating beef, for example, but I would always return to allowing it back into my meals.
After my father passed away in 2012 I went through a major self-reinvention. I big chopped my hair and went natural, I cold – turkey quit smoking cigarettes, I worked out daily and lost 40 pounds and then finally, I went vegan. It felt so good to switch my life around and become a better and healthier version of myself.
My transition started pretty spontaneously. It was August 2013 when one of my Facebook friends posted a short clip about a video of animal exploitation (Earthlings-must watch!). It immediately caught my attention and I got suckered into watching documentary after documentary. The way those innocent beings are treated is terribly heartbreaking and even if your intention isn’t to go vegan at this point, please take a few minutes out of your day and watch some of the following documentaries: Earthlings, Forks over Knives, Cowspiracy and definitely Gary Yourosky’s speech.
The last time I ate meat was August 2013; first I went pescetarian for six months before finally switching to a vegan lifestyle in January 2014. I feel so much better, have lost a lot of weight and have glowing skin.
Now, if you’re interested in joining the vegan movement, here are some tips on how to get started.
- Know WHY you want to be vegan
Whether it’s for weight loss purposes, health concerns, animals or for the environment all around; knowing why you choose to be vegan makes a big difference and can assist you in staying disciplined and firm on your decision. I for example do it for my health and for the animals. I know eating animal products is not good for my body and I want to do the least harm as possible.
- EDUCATE yourself
This is very important, too. When I first tried to go vegan it was cold-turkey and I only lasted for five days. I didn’t know what I was supposed to eat, constantly felt hungry and felt as if I was only eating side dishes. It was then that I discovered my passion for cooking. Watch documentaries, but also read up on where to get certain nutrients from and browsing through a bunch of recipes (Check out my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/veganwithdanielle). Some of the websites I’ve obtained knowledge from are peta.org, vegansociety.com and vegancoach.com. Once you know what you’re doing, you will feel less insecure about this great big step.
- Take some TIME to go grocery shopping
I wrote ‘time’ because it does indeed take time for you to figure out which products are really a 100 percent vegan. For instance, I still take my time and browse through Whole Foods’ isles to read every label of the items I pick up. It helps you learn what to look for and remember which products are or aren’t vegan. There are also many vegan mock meats, cheeses and vegan milk; just in case you have cravings. Now to the fun part; let the kitchen be your canvas. Mix, stir, and experiment. It’s the only way you’ll get to know your preferences.
- AVOID temptation
At least for the beginning, because breaking out of habits isn’t always easy. The more you surround yourself with people who are on the same journey the easier it will be for you to stay on track. Perhaps you could ask your sister, roommate, or friend to join you. Eating out is also another thing I advise you avoid at first. One, because it’s tricky to know whether it’s vegan or not and many confuse veganism with vegetarianism. It also depends on how extreme you’ll be though. I for example don’t eat fries if they were fried in the same oil as chicken; never. That makes it non-vegan for me because it’s coated with all the chicken fat and taste. However, it’s up to you to decide how far you want to take this. But consumption of any kind of animal-product (meats, fish, milk, cheese, honey) is not a part of veganism. So unless you have a vegan restaurant close, it’s probably best if you stick to cooking for yourself.
- Be PATIENT with yourself
Last but not least. This step is very important. Like I said above, breaking out of habits isn’t always easy. Some can do it cold turkey while others may need a little more time. Either is perfectly fine. Don’t beat yourself up over sneaking in some milk in your coffee on your second day. You can still be vegan, give it time. Learn from those little ‘mistakes.’ Next time, how about some Coconut, Soy or Almond Milk – those are all delicious and the best part is that they’re 100 percent cruelty free. You can do it!