Want to go vegan but aren’t sure how to begin? Getting started is always the hardest part (to achieve pretty much anything!). We’ve put together 9 helpful tips to get you on the right path for your vegan journey.
1. If you are considering the switch – do it!
We often hear people say “I don’t think I could go full vegan”. We are here to tell you can! Going in with the belief you will fail is negative thinking that will only increase the likelihood that you will indeed fail. Be confident. Be optimistic. Tell yourself “I can, and I will”.
2. Understand your nutritional needs.
Do not take nutrition advice from strangers on the internet, or even your friends or family (unless they have credentials in nutrition) even though they likely have your best interest in mind. Do your own research (books, documentaries, scholarly journals) and seek out the input of those who have credentials in nutrition and dietetics.
Resources we suggest looking into:
- Plants for People (Certified Nutritional Consultant located in Lancaster, PA)
- Pick Up Limes (Plant Based Dietitian)
3. Keep meals simple.
If you cook your meals, don’t dive in too deep right away (and trust us, there is a very deep well of fancy vegan cooking, ingredients, and restaurants!). Try veganizing your favorite recipes by substituting plant-based ingredients in place of animal-based ones. For instance, for chicken corn soup try out vegan chicken (like Gardein or Beyond Meat), use a plant-based butter (like Country Crock or Earth Balance) or oil in place of dairy butter, and use vegetable stock in place of chicken stock.If you are more of a microwave chef than a home cook, there are quite a few vegan freezer meals available at almost every grocery store these days (Amy’s and Sweet Earth have tasty vegan options!). There are also many meal delivery services out there that are 100% vegan including Purple Carrot, Veestro and Green Chef.
4. Don’t get discouraged if you slip up.
Pick right back up and keep going. If you mess up, don’t get down on yourself, just learn from it and resume. Perfection is your enemy as your journey starts – sometimes because you didn’t know, sometimes because of temptation. It’s okay – being vegan is about doing the best we can.
5. Connect with the local vegan scene.
Veganism is (almost) everywhere now. Seek out local meetups, organizations and online communities. Connecting with like-minded folks is a great way to learn about the local vegan scene – where to eat, upcoming events, and how to get involved!
Check out the following on Facebook:
6. Dining out can be hard in the beginning but it DOES get easier!
Be prepared – eating out might force you out of your comfort zone. You may have to state you are vegan or request your meal to be made without meat, eggs, fish and dairy. Thankfully, veganism is catching on and more and more establishments have vegan-specific menu options, and some places have options that can be made vegan but you have to inquire about them. If you are in the SCPA area, check out our Vegan Friendly Restaurant List. If you are anywhere else, we recommend downloading the Happy Cow app to seek out veg-friendly food. Once you get used to ordering vegan food and are more familiar with your local options, it will become second nature (but can still be a bit of a hassle – don’t be afraid to ask questions!).
7. Know your “why”.
What is your reason for going vegan? Keep that reason in your back pocket at all times – when you are tempted by non-vegan donuts your coworker brought in, when you are desperately hungry and non-vegan food seems most convenient (we’ll get to this topic soon!), or you are getting pressure from your family about being “complicated” or “picky”. Keep reminding yourself of your “why”. As you try to kick habits and temptations, remind yourself of the animals, environment, and your health and link that in with whatever food is tempting you.
8. Visit a farmed animal sanctuary.
Meeting those who were bred and born with the purpose of becoming food but were thankfully saved and living peacefully, as they should, is the best way to not only become vegan but to stay vegan. Connecting with animals who are seen as commodities/ingredients, opens people up to seeing them for who they are – individuals whose lives matter. Going vegan for health and the environment are wonderful reasons, however, at the core, veganism is about living our values of compassion and kindness. Local sanctuaries include Here With Us (Seven Valleys, PA), Lancaster Farm Sanctuary, Whispering Rise Farm & Animal Sanctuary (Freeland, MD), and Huckleberry Trails Animal Sanctuary (Shermans Dale, PA).
9. Plan ahead.
Always have a snack with you. Whether it’s a banana, a granola/energy bar, a bag of pretzels or a burrito – be ready when hunger hits! It might be at work, a wedding, on vacation or on a hike… it never hurts to have something to nibble on. As far as restaurants go, call ahead to see if they offer any vegan menu items. If you are attending a friend’s wedding, ask if you could be served a vegan entree. During the holidays, communicate to your family that you would love it if they could make their Thanksgiving sides vegan. All you have to do is ask – it will make your experience less stressful and more enjoyable!
Would you like more resources – films, books, websites? Check out our Vegan Resources page.