HOW TO GO VEGAN?
5 tips & tricks for transitioning to a vegan diet
One of the most common messages I receive on Instagram is requesting advice on how to change to a plant based diet.
I’m passionate about the idea of striving to do your best to help the lives of animals, the environment and your health, so I’ve put all my thoughts together in a blog post in a hope to inspire others looking to make the change.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a vegetarian looking to cut out eggs & dairy, a fully-fledged meat eater, or just somewhere in between, checkout the below tips & tricks to help you get started.
1. Realise your ‘Why’
Consider the main reasons you want to make the change and work on developing your knowledge in the area. That could be because you want to reduce your environmental impact, stop supporting the cruelty of the dairy industry, or make a positive change in your health. (Or, all three).
For me personally, I was vegetarian for over 10 years prior to going vegan and slowly started to cut out eggs and cheese, then all dairy. To be honest, at first I really struggled to cut it ALL out due to there being milk powder in just about everything (this sucks, but once you start checking and double checking ingredients you will start to realise there is a whole lot of other junk in those foods that you probably don’t want to consume anyway!)
Initially I found myself eating fully vegan at home, but occasionally sharing friend’s birthday cakes, or eating snacks off a platter at social events.
It got a lot easier for me when I started to do my own research and find out more about the dairy industry in NZ. When I realised that milk was not a ‘no kill product’ as I had once assumed, it was much easier to say no thank you at social events and I started to feel confident and happy in my decision.
So my number one tip is, do you research! There are so many amazing podcasts, documentaries and articles online that you can look into.
- Forks over knives
- What the Health
- Game Changers
- Plant Proof
- Deliciously Ella
- The Vedge Talk
2. Get connected
I find it helpful to connect with other like-minded people on Instagram – that’s how Eden.Vegan started out!
There is so much information online about vegan food options available in your area, new plant based products coming to market, where the best vegan friendly spots to dine out are and what cruelty free beauty options are available.
It’s a great way to constantly learn helpful tips, tricks & easy vegan swaps. Simple recipes for just about any vegan meals are available online and it’s also a great way to find out if that packet of corn chips you are holding in the supermarket is vegan friendly.
There is so many vegan Facebook groups in NZ, with multiple helpful and to be fair, unhelpful discussions happening.
I personally love to connect with the Instagram community as there is so much positive energy in the space.
- Earthling Ed – UK based activist
- Elsa Wholesome Life – Aussie dietitian and plant based lifestyle
- Gaz Oakley – UK Chef
- Minimalist Baker – hub for plant based recipes (filter to see only vegan)
- Thriving on Plants – AU based foodie
- Victoria Faith – vegan beauty
- Nourish Mag AU – source of all round inspiration
- Loving it Vegan – full of vegan recipes
- Tess Begg – vegan foodie in Sydney
- Plant Proof – fantastic resources and facts
3. Be prepared
Find you favourite swaps.
Try out all the plant milks. Oat, Almond, Coconut, Rice, Soy, Cashew… there will be one for you! If you’re a cheese lover, start slowly trying all the vegan cheese brands (Angel food mozzarella is amazing on pizza, Savor cashew feta for cheese platters… maybe I should do a whole blog on vegan cheese?)
Once you have all your ‘swaps’ down pat, another piece of advice is to get planning!
Organising as much as possible from your snacks to your meals is a fool proof way to stay on track. If you stock your pantry with delicious vegan food and know what’s vegan friendly in your local areas you will be set. Maybe pick-up some vegan friendly chocolate on your first shop to beat any cravings for dairy sweet treats! (Now is a good time to mention that Whittakers chocolate that is 50% cocoa and over, apart from the salted caramel, is vegan friendly!)
If you find yourself stuck on figuring out what foods are vegan friendly,
Make sure to check the fine print ingredients. Gelatin, milk powder and shrimp paste are common ones to find in the foods you least expect. As well as codes for ingredients, which I find easiest to google and check on websites such as the below:
4. Start today
Even if you’ve still got lots of food in your pantry and family dinners coming up…. plant the seed and get started!
It’s not always realistic to go fully vegan overnight and some people find it works best to cut out one food group at a time (eg. meat, then eggs, then dairy) as it can be less overwhelming than overhaul your whole diet. The main thing to know is that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing at once. Every change made is a positive, and even if you mess up you can still keep trying.
In regards to the life style aspect, when I transitioned into a vegan diet I didn’t go throwing out all my beauty products and starting again, as that would be a waste. Every time a product ran out, I purchased a cruelty free alternative. I found the same in my wardrobe with wool products.
5. Get cooking and get creative!
This is the fun part.
Here are some suggestions for ways to get on board.
Start to find all your favourite vegan dishes by cooking them yourself. Pickup one new item a week that you’ve never cooked with before and experiment. That could be a different vegetable from the farmers market or a soy product such as Tempeh. Now more than ever there seems to be new plant based products released in NZ every week, there is a never ending list of foods to try!
Have a challenge with your flat mates on who can cook the best plant based dish at home! I do this with my partner as don’t have any other flat mates and we are both so competitive it turns into a mini master chef show in our apartment – haha.
Aim to try all the vegan eateries in your city over time. What a better way to start your vegan journey than to go out for dinner (plus a great excuse to go try some amazing vegan burgers or dumplings).
Try out some vegan snacks you’ve never had before. V1 Vegan in Wellington is a stockist of – pretty much all the vegan treats available in NZ. I really recommend you check it out if you’re a welly local (they’re also online). V1 even has a pick n mix section full of gelatin free candy and stock raw goodness slices in their cabinet.
I hope these five tips inspire and help you along your plant based journey. As always, feel free to contact me with any questions at @eden.vegan on Instagram.