Turning vegan isn't scary: Here's how I did it
Veganism is more popular than ever, and there's never been a better time to make the change.
I went vegan back in 2014. Here are my five tips for getting started and staying on-track.
1) Start as soon as you feel inspired
Turning vegan often starts with deciding on a date to officially commit and 'make the change', and the New Year feels like the perfect opportunity.
But the best time to make a change is in that moment of motivation. If you give your motivation time to disappear, you'll just end up in the dreaded cycle of 'I'll start next Monday…'
As soon as you begin to think about turning vegan, start making notes and lists. If you're already out, buy a vegan lunch. Think of what you can have for a vegan dinner that night. Get the cogs turning. Only you can make it happen!
2) Keep kitchen essentials in stock at all times
It can be overwhelming thinking of all the changes you'll have to make to your shopping list. But once you've done two or three shops, it's totally easy.
I try to have these at all times:
- soya milk
- non-dairy butter (I like Vitalite)
- baked beans
- peanut butter
- frozen vegetables
- veggie stock cubes.
Owning a blender is great for making a quick soup. Just blend a stock cube, water and any leftover vegetables in a pot. These are a must for a vegan student.
3) Overcome the tedious label-reading
Being vegan can sometimes feel like having an allergy. Shopping can become a long process of reading the back of the packets.
But thanks to the poor people who do have allergies, a lot of the no-go ingredients for vegans are in bold, as most animal products are listed allergens. Milk, eggs and shellfish will be listed in bold or CAPITAL LETTERS, saving you from strained eyes!
4) Learn the healthy staple meals
One vegan myth is that the diet has a lack of nutrients. Meat, dairy and eggs are protein, iron and calcium-rich – but they can also be high in cholesterol.
Some healthy, nutritious and affordable vegan meals include:
- beans on toast
- stir fried vegetables and wheat noodles
- hummus and veggie wraps
- spaghetti bolognaise
On a student budget, don't feel the need to buy organic, top of the range vegan products – you'll find everything you need in standard supermarkets.
5) Beat the cravings with substitute goodies
One of the main things people struggle to give up when turning vegan is cheese. It was something I struggled with as well because it's a flavour that's difficult to replicate.
I replaced the craving with other strong-flavoured foods, such as marmite, hummus and olives. You can also try some of the vegan cheese alternatives, such as Violife or the supermarket own-brand versions.
I also used to watch and read vegan influencers to motivate myself to carry on.
Stick with it and don't look back
Thinking about going vegan? I hope these tips help. If you decide to give it a try, remember you're doing something great for your health, for farmed animals and for our planet. Read more about why to go vegan at the Vegan Society website.
Almost four years later, I can safely say it's the best decision I ever made.