So you’ve decided to jump on the vegan train & see what all the fuss is about. CONGRATULATIONS – you’ve took the first (and most important) step!
Now I’m not saying that this blog post will make you an expert in veganism, but it will definitely make your first week a hell of a lot easier.
So firstly, what can you expect from your first week as a vegan? You will…
- Listen to at least 3/4 friends & family members lecture you on the nutritional benefits of meat & dairy – backing up their points with myths & shit they’ve heard on TV.
- Watch your closest family members turn into nutritionists, plant advocates, anthropologists & lions during discussions.
- Waste your time educating at least 1 person on why you’re vegan – for them to turn around as say “but bacon tastes good”.
- Hold back the urge to roll your eyes when someone asks you where you get your protein from.
- Buy ingredients you’ve never heard of before because you’ve seen someone use it on Pinterest (“what the fuck is nutritional yeast?”)
- Spend at least 483943 hours of your life looking at the ingredients on the back of every product that looks slightly vegan in the supermarket. (Or you can always check out The Ultimate Vegan Food Label Guide)
Obviously I’m joking, but seriously, veganism is NOT about limiting your food intake, eating unappetising meals & feeling hungry constantly. It’s about embracing a more compassionate lifestyle which saves the animals, the planet & your health – and you get to eat AMAZINGLY yummy foods on a daily basis!
I don’t know one person who has become vegan & complains about the changes they’ve noticed in their life. I think a big reason why a lot of people don’t want to try veganism is because people like eating meat – it’s normal for them & they don’t have to do anything differently.
But once you’ve experienced the energy boost, the mental clarity, the yummy foods & the endless amount of benefits from going vegan, as well as educated yourself on the horrors of the meat & dairy industry, I can imagine it would be very difficult to go back to eating dead flesh. The first step is always the hardest I guess!
So if you’re looking to throw yourself in the deep end & go vegan overnight, then listen up to these tips on how to survive your first week as a vegan.
Pinterest is your new best mate
Pinterest if your new best mate, end of story. Since day 1 of learning about the term “veganism”, Pinterest has been a life saver. There are bloody thousands of amazing vegan recipes from all different vegan blogs around the internet, and I have genuinely learnt everything I know about cooking as a vegan from the recipes I’ve found. And plus, it’s a FREE resource. I’d love to buy all the vegan recipe books, but I am frugal as fuck, and to be honest I’d rather spend the money on my next weekly food shop. Pinterest allows you to access millions of recipes for free, so why the hell wouldn’t I used it on a daily basis? I now have over 1000 pins on my Vegan Recipes board if you’re looking for inspiration.
Veganize your favourite meals
If you normally eat cereal for breakfast, then swap out the cow’s milk for soya milk. If you usually eat a beef burger for dinner, try a meat-free or veggie burger instead. If you normally have pizza for lunch then try making your own and adding vegan cheese. If you usually have mac & cheese, then try creating your own vegan cheese sauce – it’s super simple & really healthy!
Remember why you’re doing this
If you feel like you’re craving a beef burger or chicken nuggets, try to remember why you’ve chosen to give up meat & dairy. If you can, distance yourself from the thought that beef & chicken are food, and start looking at it as animals that died to be on your plate (morbid I know, but it’s the truth).
If you’re a carnivore looking to jump in the deep end and turn into a level 10 vegan overnight, then I would 100% recommend meal prepping. The jump can be quite drastic, and if you’re not prepared, then you’re going to struggle. Plan your meals, write a list of ingredients, go shopping & spend a few hours prepping your meals for the week ahead.
Don’t throw in the towel on the first day
If you’re finding it difficult & you seriously think you can’t go vegan, then don’t give up completely. Slowly start making small changes to your diet by trying more animal friendly meals. Choose the vegan/vegetarian option at the restaurant – try the tofu pad Thai instead of the chicken pad Thai, you might be surprised. Do your best, everyone is different & it doesn’t have to be vegan or nothing. I was a “part time vegan” for a good year, and it doesn’t bother me because I made the transition in my own time & did what was best for me.
Look out for vegan/cruelty free products
Shop around for your vegan/cruelty free products. In the UK we are pretty lucky because we have Superdrug which is convenient, budget friendly & the cruelty free products are easy as hell to spot.
Take B12 supplements
I would always recommend taking B12 just so that you 100% know you’re getting enough. If you’re not sure why B12 is important then click here to find out the benefits & why animals DO NOT produce B12.
Have fun with the process
For me, it was the best decision of my life to go vegan, and I just know that it can be the same for you! This is the perfect time to experiment with different foods, to try new flavours & to find out what your taste-buds like! If you’ve never heard of an ingredient before, search it on Pinterest, get inspired and start cooking. I can bet my life that you will find a recipe that you absolutely love! I’ve discovered that I now love avocados, tofu, mushrooms & radishes, all things I didn’t know I loved before going vegan.
And don’t punish yourself if you’ve made a few mistakes or if you’re slowly transitioning. Everyone has their own journey and will do things in their own time. Most of us have grown up eating meat our whole lives alongside all our friends & family members, and sometimes we get so comfortable it can be hard to make such a significant change in our life.
Ignore the haters
Ever heard the saying “if it was easy then everyone would be doing it?” Well the same goes for being a vegan. So many people jump on the vegan train, and when they discover it’s not the easiest lifestyle in the world, they give up. Don’t be one of those people! When people say why do vegans eat things that look like meat? Here’s a better question, if you could recreate the exact same product without the cruelty to animals, the destruction of the planet & the harm to your health, why the fuck wouldn’t you?
Listen to your body
If you’re craving chocolate, then eat some vegan chocolate. If you’re craving chicken, then eat some vegan chicken. Just because you want to attain a vegan lifestyle doesn’t mean you have to give up any flavours you love, but it does mean that you get to discover a whole different world of flavours which sounds a lot more appealing that eating dead flesh, who’s with me?!
If you’re jumping straight into the world of veganism then I would definitely recommend spending your first week eating meat alternatives. I think it helps the transition, as sometimes you’re not really sure what to eat when meat isn’t the main thing on your plate. I know that my first few months was the hardest, and if I’d had the “vegan starter guide” I would have found it 100 times easier. (The vegan started guide will be available ONLY for subscribers next week!)
Remember you’re not alone
Make an effort to join one of the hundreds of vegan Facebook groups out there (just search for them on Facebook). The people are supportive and share their recipes, tips & accidentally vegan products they’ve discovered which is really helpful. 7% of the UK is now vegan with means that 3.5 million people are on a similar journey as you!
Replace your meat with other foods
Eating plant-based doesn’t mean eating less, so don’t just take the meat off your plate, replace it with something else. Some really good meat replacements are things like jackfruit, tofu, mushrooms, seitan steak (recipe on the blog soon!) faux meat,veggie burgers, eggplant & legumes.
Try to focus more on what you’re gaining rather than what you’re giving up. You’re gaining the ability to try different foods out of your comfort zone, and you’re giving up the health issues that come with being a meat eater. There are benefits/cons to everything, and I find that being a vegan has waaaaaay more positives than being a meat eater ever did.
Don’t get sucked in by all the new vegan supermarket products
Don’t buy the vegan ready meals because you don’t know what to eat. They’re fucking expensive, and to be honest, most of them taste shit anyway. Spending a lot of money for a small microwave meal that I can easily make myself with basic ingredients is just plain stupid when you could make something 10 times more yummy yourself. And if you’re struggling with what to buy from the supermarket, then head over to “The Vegan Food Label Guide” to learn how to easily spot vegan food!
Don’t take offence to other people’s reactions to your new lifestyle
I can’t tell you the amount of vegan jokes I’ve heard in the past few years aimed at me. Or how many times I’ve been asked where I get my protein from. Or the look on people’s faces when I say “no I won’t eat that, I’m vegan”. I never take offence, why? Because unless someone said something extremely offensive, I take people’s jokes and comments as a sign that I am doing something right. I’m not forcing anyone to change their lifestyle, but I am making people think & question why someone would CHOOSE to not be vegan.
I see the world in a completely different way to the people on the planet who eat meat, dairy & eggs, and I am so grateful for that. Why would I be offended by someone who clearly just doesn’t understand the reasoning behind why I’m vegan. I love educating people about veganism, but unless someone is truly interested, I won’t go into detail as to why I’m vegan, because most of the time I’ve found that people only ask you questions to try and prove you wrong. So that means that when someone tell you that you need dairy for strong bones, don’t bite their fucking head off.
Remind yourself why you’ve chosen this lifestyle
Because the truth is, being vegan isn’t the easiest lifestyle. The way I see it, you’re not giving up anything, because meat, dairy & eggs were never yours to take in the first place. But as a vegan, you are gaining so fucking much! You gain compassion after years of numbing yourself to the pain you’re inflicting on the animals by buying into the meat industry. You gain the health benefits that come with eating a plant-based diet (more energy, better skin, weight loss – just to name a few). And you gain a whole new perspective on life where on a daily basis you make a conscious & ethical decision 3 times a day as to what food you put into your body.
Expand your taste-buds
If you didn’t like a certain food a few years ago, then try it again. You’ll be surprised at how many things you will suddenly start to like that you hated before. I used to hate (with a passion) Marmite, and now I eat it every day. Don’t be scared to try new foods, even if they have scary names like ‘nutritional yeast’, ‘tahini’ & ‘tofu’. I didn’t try soooooo many things for months into my new vegan lifestyle because I had no idea what is was, how to cook it & more importantly what to cook with it. And I can tell you now, I use all these ingredients every day & it’s a fucking life changer!
Was this helpful to start your vegan journey? Let me know in the comments below!
I love Pinterest! I get so many recipes from there!
I just stumbled across your blog via Pinterest. I am a newbie at being vegan and reading this article made me much better. Thank you.
Hi Nancy, glad you took the time to stop by! Hopefully you find The Vegan Afterglow helpful on your vegan journey! 🙂