A vegan diet has always been renowned for its underlying values of compassion and kindness towards animals. However, it’s now gained praise for its health benefits and over recent years, it’s attracted tonnes of attention. I feel the latter has gone hand in hand with the world’s increased focus on climate change, and the environmental benefits which a vegan diet has been proven to have.
Perhaps you’re here because you feel inspired to embrace a vegan diet or at least introduce more plant-based meals? If so, you’re definitely in the right place as I’m going to sum up some of my very best vegan tips below.
I appreciate that excluding all animal products from your diet (including dairy and eggs) can be a daunting thought considering how prevalent they are in your everyday diet. But with the positive impact it can have on your health, the environment and animal welfare, it’s a challenge many people (including you) are willing to have a crack at.
Before you start, I want to reassure you that it’s not as impossible or as hard as you might think. I’m a firm believer that you can achieve anything you want in life if you have the right mindset and motivation. Therefore, my first bit of advice is to take a moment to think about what is motivating YOU to embrace a vegan diet? Perhaps write a few things down or take a mental note. That way, you always have a strong motive to fall back on if you ever feel challenged on this journey.
Once you’ve considered your motivations, here are 10 genuine and insightful tips of mine which I hope encourage a healthy, stress-free and positive vegan diet. Even if you’re just beginning to meat-reduce, these tips are still a great way to kick start your journey…
10. Take it slow:
It’s quite easy to put a lot of pressure and high expectations on ourselves when we want to make a change somewhere in our life. I’ve definitely been guilty of this for various things. We become competitive with ourselves, don’t we?
We can put a tonne of pressure on ourselves to reach big goals we set while forgetting to break them down into smaller, more achievable ones. Too much pressure means we often forget to enjoy the journey to our success, and Life Without Meat is definitely a journey to enjoy.
For some people, going vegetarian and vegan can be quite a speedy process. For example, if you already eat tonnes of veggies and plant-based nutrition, you might find the switch to an entirely plant-based diet quite easy and effortless. However, if you eat meat and dairy with every meal and they both play a massive role in your diet at the moment, then it might take you a little more time and effort to re-think and plan your meals. There’s nothing wrong with that – we’re all different.
If you identify with the latter and want to make the switch to living Life Without Meat and eventually vegan, then one option I’ve always advocated is starting as Pescatarian. Eating a few weekly meals with fish while experimenting with more plant-based cooking can be a good starting point. It lends you valuable time to learn about plant-based nutrition and experiment with different options, all whilst gradually changing old habits of eating. It helps break the BIG goal of going vegan into smaller steps.
However, it’s imperative to keep your MOTIVES in mind & keep educating yourself on the benefits that will come to living Life Without Meat. Despite being helpful, a Pescatarian diet does have its own disadvantages. It acts only as a temporary stepping stone onto a more progressive and sustainable way of living and eating.
When you find you no longer miss red meat and poultry, you know you’ve achieved the first step in this habit change, and it’s time to move onto a vegetarian or vegan diet.
9. Do your research and stay mindful of your health:
I personally find it really interesting that many people worry about vitamin and nutrient deficiency as a reason not to embrace a more plant-based diet. For example, protein, B12, vitamin D and calcium all seem to be primary causes for concern. However, many people across the UK have low levels of essential vitamins and nutrients in general without adopting a vegan diet.
Therefore, it’s not really a matter of a vegan diet being problematic, but instead, how invested you are as an individual to ensure you’re getting all the right nutrients and vitamins.
As you embrace more plant-based foods, you’ll come to learn that there is an incredible amount which provides you with all the required nutrients and vitamins your body needs. It’s beneficial to dedicate some time in the early stages of your journey to do your own research on this. Key areas to focus on in the absence of animal-derived foods are:
• Vitamin D
• Folate (a.k.a Folic Acid)
There are tonnes of options for the above. It’s just a case of understanding what they are and adapting your favourite meals and making smarter food choices.
For example, swapping out refined grains, such as white pasta and white bread, for whole grains, such as brown rice and quinoa, adds iron and B vitamins to your meal (nutrients that are stripped out when the grains are refined). The additional fiber from whole grains will help keep you full, and may even support weight loss.
In my own experience, I feel that I’ve learnt so much more about food and nutrition since starting my Life Without Meat. I’m paying more attention to the foods I’m eating and also making more time to cook from scratch. Consequently, I feel far healthier in myself, and I’m excited for you to experience this bonus too.
Understanding plant-based nutrition will also help you…
8. Show confidence with your decision in the face of criticism:
There will always be someone who disagrees with you or doesn’t vibe with you. But it doesn’t mean you’re wrong. You’re just doing YOU and whatever makes you happy.
When you go vegan, you’re making an excellent decision for your health, the environment and you’ll be saving loads of animals. Having done your own research, you’ll be able to reiterate the facts to others who are open to listening.
However, there will times when people aren’t open to new ideas or even interested for that matter. People have different priorities and passions which are different from our own. No two individuals are the same, and that’s something we must accept.
There will be times when you’re faced with loads of questions which may lead into big debates. Sometimes, people can make you feel awkward or inconvenient when you tell them that you are vegan. Some research has shown it can be even harder for men to go vegan.
Even though the reasons for choosing Life Without Meat are incredibly valid and backed up by solid research, I feel it’s crucial to show acceptance for everyone’s whereabouts along the journey. If one person is living Life Without Meat to the full and another is an avid meat-eater – it’s a matter of two people on different pages in life.
There’s no need to insult or get frustrated with one another as many seem to do. Instead, encourage healthy debates and discussions when the time is right (not over dinner lol). Don’t make people feel awkward for their choices, and Just TAKE AN INTEREST in someone’s WHYs, and stay positive and grateful for everyone doing their bit to help the world. This quote sums the latter of this point up perfectly:
Therefore, it’s vital to…
7. Find your own community.
So you can focus on those who are willing to listen.
Change is hard when there aren’t many people around you who share the same interest and passion for it. There are some studies which have suggested that failure to stick with a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle is associated with feelings of “being different” or isolated. Much like any significant change. But change is a lot less daunting when you have company and the sense of a community to enjoy it with.
Therefore, another top tip of mine for overcoming any feelings of loneliness is to find your community in other ways. Explore vegan meet-ups in your local area, join local Facebook groups, follow lots of vegan and veggie accounts on social media (including mine haha). Then, where you do find new friends or inspire existing ones to join you, invite them over for a cooking sesh or dinner. Even explore your local vegan restaurants together.
For the people that you’d love to join you on this journey…
6. There are fun ways to share the experience of going vegan with others.
Even if there are people who aren’t strictly going vegan with you, there are ways to showcase it to them without being forceful or ‘preachy’.
For example, you can host vegan dinner parties for family and friends to enjoy. You can organise vegan brunch, lunch and dinner dates out. You can share time to watch some interesting vegan documentaries together. You can encourage your spouse or children to take more interest by doing some home-cooking together. There are even vegan festivals to enjoy!
There are all sorts of things you can do, but most importantly, stay positive and enthusiastic with it all; and don’t let someone’s difference of opinion dim your sparkle.
5. When it comes to food, begin with the meals you love.
When you start your Life Without Meat and working your way towards a more plant-based diet, it’s helpful to start with the dishes you know and love. Often it can feel overwhelming taking in a tonne of new information, but starting with what you know makes things a little more breezy.
Simply think about the ingredients within your favourite recipes which come from an animal, and swap them out for an equally nutritious vegan alternative.
Many of these alternatives can be found in your high street supermarket. For example, dairy-free milk, yoghurt, cheese and butter will be in the free-from fridge section. Meat-free protein is always stocked nearby or in the frozen section, and I’m sure you’ll be exploring tonnes more fresh fruit and vegetables.
4. But also try to be adventurous with new foods:
Living Life Without Meat has encouraged me to explore new ingredients, and it’s also introduced me to more global dishes which I’ve loved every minute of. There were some foods which I had never heard of before going vegan.
It’s been a fantastic learning experience in so many ways and expanded my taste palette too. I’d love to hear about your experience with it, so stay in touch on social media – tag me in your wins and the different points along your journey.
Perhaps you could try some of my vegan recipes which I have here on the blog?
3. Allow your creativity to flow in the kitchen:
Remember that you’re never restrained to one way of making a meal. Different methods can produce different tastes and textures. If you don’t like a particular vegetable, there may be other more appealing ways to cook it which you’ll love.
For example, I’m sure broccoli is one of the most hated vegetables, but it’s so good for you and you don’t want to miss out on its nutrition. Instead of traditional go-to cooking methods (e.g. boiling or steaming), you could roast it, you can whack it in a stir fry, you can put it in a curry, you can blitz it into a soup, you can grate it and mix it amongst rice. There are so many ways to incorporate more vegetables into your meals.
I also find it helps to look at traditional recipes purely to see the type of seasoning used – this helps me recreate similar tastes in my vegan meals. For example, the primary spices used in traditional curries wouldn’t change in the vegan alternative. Therefore, I rarely ever compromise on taste in my vegan cooking.
By being a little creative, we can transform our way of eating into a thoroughly enjoyable and freeing experience. It’s all about…
2. Staying open-minded
Always stay open-minded to new ideas, new information, new foods and different ways of cooking along this journey.
1. Show acceptance, kindness and compassion towards yourself and other people’s individual journey
The values which lead us to live Life Without Meat often encourage us to make better choices elsewhere in our life too. Not only food but our choice of cosmetics and finding other ways to live more sustainably. At the centre of it all is the value of kindness & compassion which applies to humans as well as animals.
For most people, Life Without Meat isn’t an overnight win. It’s a journey to embrace and enjoy every step of. No two people are the same in this experience. Therefore, I would love to encourage you to approach this choice with patience, kindness and compassion towards yourself and others.
Providing you take on board all the above tips of mine, I’m sure you will LOVE the whole experience of going vegan.
I hope this has helped shed some light on the different ways to make a vegan diet a more positive, stress-free and breezy experience for yourself.
You’ve got this.
Much Love, G x