If you read my first article, you know that being vegan is more than the food you eat. That being said, what you eat is the largest component of being vegan and I sense that many people are seriously considering transitioning which makes my heart SING. Thus, I thought I would share some insight as to how I transitioned. I hope that this will keep you on the straight and narrow and prevent you from turning into those “I tried going vegan for x amount of time, but [insert excuse to continue eating animals] ” type folk.
#1: Learn how to cook
I have always been creative in the kitchen, so when I went vegan I didn’t see the dietary restrictions as limitations, but more as fun challenges. I understand that this is not the case for everyone and honestly there is no easy way around it: you will need to learn how to cook. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself dependent on frozen meals, take out, and restaurants which are not the healthiest or cheapest alternatives. Listen, even if you’re not ready to go vegan right away, try out new recipes and test out different cooking methods and styles, it will make your transition that much easier when the time comes. If you remember nothing from this entire post, remember this: season your fucking food. Tofu will taste like straight up cardboard unless you prepare it well and it’s not because tofu is trash, it’s because you suck at preparing it. There, I said it. It’s especially key to season your food if you’re vegan on a budget. I would recommend checking out @amyythevegan for cheap and delicious meal ideas on Instagram and youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCBU6TbyfMrkyjw_tlBIKdjA
#2 Find your reasons
Before going vegan, I was an on and off vegetarian for years because I felt bad about factory farming, but not THAT bad. Even though I knew what went on in slaughterhouses and factory farms, I just couldn’t bring myself to completely ditch animal products. What worked for me during those first few weeks was constantly rewatching clips of factory farming videos. At the time, I was the only one in my surroundings who was seriously considering veganism and it was easy to slip back into old habits. Therefore, every time I would have cravings for animal products, I watched videos of animal cruelty to remind myself of why I was going vegan. It may seem a little intense, but I needed to see those graphic videos to stay plant-based during those first few weeks. Watching Earthling Ed’s videos also really helped me in that they made me realize the cognitive dissonance that was required to eat animals (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVRrGAcUc7cblUzOhI1KfFg).
The excuses I would have to come up with to rationalize eating animals were so exhausting and I eventually understood that going vegan was the bare minimum I could do on an ethical front. I would legit go to bed and hear Ed “Taste or life? Which one has more value?” (hint, life has more value-drop the cow cheese) and it would immediately shut those cravings down. Not to mention that there are now a ton of vegan alternatives that taste just as good if not better than the animal versions, so there was no compromising, just a lot of unlearning to do with regards to what I considered to be food.
#3 Do your research
When you first go vegan, people will bombard you with questions such as, but not limited to: “What if you were on a deserted island?” ; “Did you know that meat is the only source of complete protein”; “What about ethically sourced meat?” etc. And to these lines of questioning I say: first of all, I am not on a deserted island, if and when that happens I’ll write you a letter and send a carrier pigeon to let you know if I had to resort to eating animals or not, secondly there is a large body of evidence that indicates that a plant-based diet is suitable for all human life stages, and thirdly there is no ethical way to kill someone who does not want to die. You can get into the details once you gather up enough facts, but until then just throw them that line and go. Many people are just curious and mean no harm whatsoever, but some days you just don’t have the energy or time to deliver the veganism 101 talk and that’s okay. In case you are ready to drop some truth bombs, some great resources for plant-based nutrition are How Not to Die (https://nutritionfacts.org/book/) and the China Study (https://nutritionstudies.org/the-china-study/ ).
# 4: Tackle your cheese addiction
This next step wasn’t intentional, but I think it helped my transition: I did not rely on vegan cheese substitutes to curb my cow cheese cravings. Vegan cheeses are comparable to dairy cheese, but they are not the same. Here’s why: cow cheese has casein in it, which when digested releases casomorphines. Thus, cow cheese is a drug and you shouldn’t be too hard on yourself for struggling with giving it up. Anyway, after about a month of being vegan and not eating cow cheese, I introduced vegan cheeses in my diet but at that point, I didn’t have that itch for it. Now and again, I’ll purchase some if it’s on sale (my favourite brand is Follow Your Heart), but I’ve found that my meals are flavourful and satisfying without vegan cheese. Remember, cow cheese is a drug and there should be a vegan rehab centre for folks to wean themselves off of it. In lieu of such a program, I have written this insightful paragraph. You’re welcome.
#5 Follow vegans online
Last, but not least, I found inspirational vegans on social media. Even before I went vegan, I followed accounts like sweetpotatosoul https://www.instagram.com/sweetpotatosoul/, domzthompson https://www.instagram.com/domzthompson/, sofreakinvegan https://www.instagram.com/sofreakinvegan/, and brownvegan https://www.instagram.com/brownvegan/
on Instagram. Yes, I only listed black vegans (I am black-shocker I know). The face of veganism is still SO overwhelmingly white and I needed to see black vegans from different walks of life thrive on plant-based diets to be convinced that veganism was a possibility for me as well. Whether veganism is on your radar or not (though it should be HELLO), find some vegan accounts you love today. You will see just how doable veganism is and you will be empowered with tools that will make your transition that much smoother when the time comes (recipes, meal ideas/plans, plant-based nutrition resources, ethical vegan brands, etc.).
Happy transition y’all! I encourage you to continue (or start) choosing compassion over convenience and always remember that you can follow through on whatever you put your mind to. You got this ❤