That looks deep. You could just dive in. Or you could hold off for a sec and see just how deep it is. If you chose the latter, then this article is for you – our short guide to transitioning to a fully vegan lifestyle! Read on for our advice on key matters like food, clothing and cruelty-free products.
What does it really mean to be vegan?
We love being vegan. Well, we haven’t developed any superpowers just by eating more of the fruits and veggies that everyone else eats (yet…), so why do we love it so much? For us, we love it because of what it means to be vegan:
Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.
It’s simple really – we choose compassion. We believe that all living beings should have the right to live their full lives free from human intervention and exploitation. And, yes, you read it correctly – as far as is possible and practicable. That means that we (and you) don’t have to be perfect, we just have to try. It takes a strong person to stand up for what they believe in, and with strong people we can make a difference.
Where on earth do I start?
In case you hadn’t noticed, we’re pretty into being vegan. Does that mean it’s been easy getting to where we are now? Well, for some, yes, and for others, not so much. This is why we wanted to write this article first. We’ve done the research, tried all the plant milks, veganized our wardrobes, raided our toiletries and cosmetics…you get the point. None of us were born vegan, so we had to go through that process if we wanted to live our lives the way we believed we should. What we mean to say is that, well, here would be a pretty good place to start.
The big one. This is where most people feel too overwhelmed with information which can cause unnecessary stress and a feeling that you’re never going to be able to do it. Well, you can. We did it and there’s nothing special about us…believe me. Let’s break it down:
Meat – this is seen as the main source of protein on your plate. Veggies are absolutely packed with proteins, too, though. How do you think those gorillas, buffalo, rhinos, elephants and giraffes get so big and strong? By eating plants. You could simply swap out the meat on your plate with convenient fake meat products (Quorn’s vegan range, Fry’s Family, Linda McCartney, Vivera, Tofurkey, VBites and supermarkets own brands too). They’re readily available in supermarkets and convenience stores across the U.K. If you’re more health-conscious you could swap out meats for things like tofu, tempeh, lentils (red or green – the perfect mince substitute), chickpeas, nuts, beans (haricot, kidney, black, runner, broad, green, pinto, lima, cannellini, butter…). There are many foods which can replace the meat in your diet.
Milk – another big part of people’s diets. All that calcium. Where can you get it if not from milk? Well, if you’ve been alive recently you might have noticed the abundance of plant milks gathering force across the nation’s shop shelves. Many of these come fortified with things like calcium, iron, iodine, vitamins B2, B12, C, and D. With a range plant milks such as soy milk, almond milk, oat milk, coconut milk, rice milk, cashew milk and hemp milk out there it’s now easier than ever to ditch the dairy and switch to plants.
Other dairy products like butter and cheese can simply be replaced with the growing range of dairy-free alternatives, from big brands like Flora, to supermarket’s own brands.
Eating out – this depends on where you eat out. For restaurants, the vegan options are usually marked with a ‘Ve’ to make it easy to know what your options are. However, that doesn’t have to be your only option on the menu. You can ask the restaurant staff to adapt meals on the menu to suit your requirements. For fast food, many outlets are improving their vegan options, with some even developing full vegan menus. Eating out doesn’t have to be difficult with a little forethought.
Vitamins – abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz. Yep, there’s loads of them. The simple solution is to take as complete a vegan multivitamin as you can find to supplement your diet if you have any concerns about getting enough vitamins and minerals. Products like nutritional yeast (B12) and fortified cereals can also be a great way of making sure you get what you need.
Cravings – we all get them, vegan or not. However, if you find yourself craving foods that you used to eat regularly, this is normal. Just remember that you are going through an adjustment period and to be patient. With that being said, a lack of calories can cause strong cravings for unhealthy foods, so make sure you eat your maintenance calories each day to avoid feeling that way.
Clothing is one of the more straight forward areas to make a change. Just refrain from buying clothes (or anything for that matter) containing animal skin (leather), fur, wool, cashmere, silk or feathers (known as down). Vegan alternatives to these products are widely available and many manufacturers are moving from animal fur to alternative faux furs.
If you, like us, believe that all animals should be treated with compassion, then you can reflect that by purchasing products which are not tested on animals. For cosmetics, brands such as B. (Superdrug’s own brand), Lush, The Body Shop, Original Source, Kat Von D, Jeffree Star, Inkia and Elf Cosmetics are all 100% vegan and cruelty-free. Brands such as Chartotte Tilbury and Revolution Beauty have vegan and cruelty-free options. For cleaning products, brands such as Method, Astonish and Bio D are vegan and cruelty free.
This is by no means a comprehensive guide on transitioning to a vegan lifestyle – we will expand on everything we’ve touched on here (and much, much more) in dedicated, detailed articles in due course. If you have any questions or comments regarding this article or the matters discussed within it, we encourage you to join in on respectful discussion in the comments section.
The GetVegan! gang.