Transforming to Veganism – becoming vegan
Changing your whole diet and lifestyle from the standard, modern method of doing things to a vegan way can be challenging without the proper planning. For most new vegans, their metamorphosis means more than just saying so long to hot dogs and ham and cheese sandwiches. Because this lifestyle encompasses health concerns, a deep environmentalism, and a way of caring about animals’ rights that is outside the norm, becoming vegan involves every aspect of a person’s life. But this way of living and being in the world will bring personal, emotional, physical, and global benefits.
No one can tell you how exactly these changes will occur in your life, because each individual has a unique set of circumstances to consider. Who you live with, where you live, what your job is like, and how much support you have all make a difference. If you’re a butcher in Wisconsin, for example, you’ve got your work cut out for you. This chapter can help you decide when and how to make the switch from a meat and dairy diet to a vegan one. Just remember that every step forward toward a vegan lifestyle, whether fast or slow, is a positive step for yourself and the greater world around you
Going Cold Tofurky
going cold Tofurky is your preferred method of vegan transition, be aware that you may have some slip-ups. Don’t beat yourself up over a bacon cheeseburger a few weeks in. A full transition will take time. In fact, you may find in the end that it’s more difficult to live a completely vegan lifestyle with all the clothing, furniture, and products necessary than just focusing on eating a vegan diet.
The pros of becoming vegan quickly
Immediately getting rid of every morsel of meat or dollop of dairy can be a really satisfying experience on many different fronts. Consider these benefits of converting quickly:
- You may notice the health benefits quickly: For someone who has health problems that are exacerbated by meat, has excess weight to lose, or is sensitive or allergic to dairy, this method can yield near immediate positive feelings. Imagine that you’ve been having asthma, a runny nose, or allergies for years, and then all of a sudden your phlegm disappears because you stopped drinking milk and eating cheese just a few days ago — it’s a terrific feeling, and you’ll want it to continue. How’s that for an incentive?
- You can be relieved that you’re no longer contributing to animal cruelty: If animal rights and the moral issues behind veganism are an important part of your decision, you’ll immediately feel so much better about eating food that doesn’t contribute to the pain and suffering of others. When you realize how inhumanely animals are raised and feel compassion for the creatures that humans eat, it can be really heartbreaking to continue eating them yourself. So making the switch quickly will be a huge relief to your conscience.
- You can be energized by the change in lifestyle: Many people find it fun and exciting to have a life full of purpose and a new way of doing their daily deeds. Buying different foods, exploring new shops and Web sites, and discovering the complexities of a vegan life can feel truly energizing
Take a look!
The cons of going too fast
Your health may initially be affected and can cause you to crash and burn or get sick during a busy workweek. Detoxing from meat and dairy foods is a possible side effect when you choose to go vegan. When the body stops storing the constant influx of unhealthy fats and proteins, it will finally have a chance to let go and cleanse. This cleansing can be physically uncomfortable and may result in headaches, acne, tiredness, or the urge to invade small countries. Your digestive system may not be accustomed to such large amounts of fiber, so you also could notice some bloating and increased bowel movements at the beginning of your transition.
You may go broke trying to replace every animal product in your home. Donating or throwing away everything that was tested on or was once part of an animal can leave your cupboards bare and your house and closets empty. Replacing the leather sofa costs money as will filling up your refrigerator with vegan food. Think about how much you need to throw out to be truly vegan — and how much money you’ll need to spend to replace it.
You may make mistakes if you don’t do the proper research beforehand. You’re probably going to mess up in the first few weeks of being vegan. If you go too quickly and don’t research all the foods, ingredients, and products you buy and use, you may continue using things that were tested on animals or that use animal ingredients. Still, messing up isn’t a good reason to give up — if you trip going down the stairs, do you swear off stairs forever? No. You get up, dust yourself off, and start walking down again. Keep it up, and you’ll figure it out. And eventually you’ll be sliding down the banister!
Making healthier decisions by planning your meals ahead of time
Planning your meals in advance is the best way to make a healthy, less-stressful transition to veganism. Your diet may be changing drastically from bacon three meals a day, or you may just be eliminating dairy from your already vegetarian diet. Either way, you’ll feel much better if you set your eating goals and write down a week’s worth of menus. And think how great you’ll feel when you stop buying bacon!
Purging nonvegan products from your life
Some of the nonvegan foods you’ll be avoiding are pretty obvious: cheddar cheese made from cow’s milk? Chuck it. Steaks in the freezer? Give ’em to the meat eater down the hall, or throw them away. Most vegans start avoiding these foods immediately once they set their minds to it.
Other ingredients aren’t as easily avoided. You may find out a few days into your new vegan diet that your favorite crackers have honey in them or that the skin cream you love is made with goat’s milk. Sitting on your leather sofa or car seats may gross you out after you comprehend their origins.
Go easy on yourself when you make your decisions about what to throw away and what to use until it’s gone. If you can’t afford to buy all new beauty aids this month, use what you have and replace each bottle of shampoo or lotion with a cruelty-free brand when the old one is gone. Perhaps you don’t have anyone you can give your dozen eggs to and you don’t want to waste them — maybe it’s better to eat the rest of the package, say a prayer and blessing for the chickens, and buy some tofu next week instead.
Getting to know your new community
Reach out and touch the faithful — vegans, that is. By joining a local vegan potluck group (or even a vegetarian one if that’s all you can find), you’ll meet like-minded people who have similar values to yours. Getting to know others who see the world as you do can help you feel connected and as if you’re a part of something bigger. The folks who belong to these groups know where to buy the food you need, can share strategies with you, may teach you new recipes, and can even point out possible pitfalls. They also can help you find that fabulous vegan outfit you need for your high school reunion.
Focusing on the fun and adventure of being a vegan
Eating can become a mundane chore if you aren’t careful. By focusing on the celebration of life, as displayed in a well-planned meal, vegan dining offers you the chance to return to honoring nature’s bounty. Focusing on the fun and joy of real, natural, cruelty-free food can turn every meal, no matter how elaborate or simple, into a party.
Get adventurous with your meals. Even if you’re preparing a simple salad for yourself, you can incorporate homegrown herbs and tomatoes that connect you to the season. When thinking of your family’s upcoming reunion feast, ask the local farmers at your farmer’s market what will be in peak season that week. By bringing luscious, fresh produce, you can share the story of your trip to the market, explain what you chose, and reveal how you prepared it. Not only will this show your own dedication to good food, it also may encourage those