It's January which means Veganuary! We love the whole ethos and idea behind Veganuary, but we also know that a lot of new vegans have questions and worries. It can feel daunting and overwhelming at first, a substantial change in your diet can mean making changes in the way you live, especially if you're doing the food shop! We've put together a list of the tops tips that we would have loved to know when first going vegan.
Do your research, but remember you don't have to know everything
The best advice we could give to you is to do lots of research. If you're reading this, then that's already a great start! Going into any new way of eating blindly is never a good idea! Find out all the non-vegan things you should be avoiding, and discover how you can replace them, or learn to cook something new. A great way to do this is to utilise social media and follow lots of inspiring accounts. We found this super helpful when we first went vegan, as it was always the first place we heard about new vegan products or found inspiration for what to eat for dinner...that never-ending question!
Where to get your protein from
One of our biggest questions we had at first was, what are good sources of protein for a vegan? It's a very common misconception that vegan diets are low in protein. We all need the same amount of protein, vegan or not! The reality is, there are many different sources of protein in a vegan diet, you just need to know what they are and how to cook them. We've covered this exact topic in more depth in another blog post - Vegan Protein Sources: Where do they come from? If you read that post it should give you a really good idea of how to cook creatively as a vegan whilst making protein-rich meals. As a quick reference, below are some of the best sources of protein available to a vegan. These are the ones that we eat in our day-to-day.
Pulses & Legumes - Chickpeas, Red Lentils, Puy Lentils,
Nuts & Seeds - Cashews, Almonds, Peanuts, Sesame seeds, Sunflower seeds, Natural Nut Butters, Nut milks
Tofu & Other Meat Substitutes - Tofu, Tempeh, Seitan, Vegan "Bacon", Vegan "Sausages"
Green Vegetables - Spinach, Brocolli, Frozen Peas, Green Beans
The low down on vitamins
Another part of your nutrition to think about is vitamins and minerals. I won't pretend to be a nutrition expert, but I have been vegan for over 4 years, so I'm speaking from my personal experiences. The easiest way I've made sure that I have the right amount vitamins, especially B12, is by taking a vegan multivitamin. I personally like the Holland & Barrett Vegan Multivitamin & Minerals. It's only £5.99 for 60 tablets and it's easily sourced since Holland & Barrett have locations all across the UK. Usually, the staff are really helpful and can help in answering your questions. If you want to know more about B12 and a vegan diet then this page from the Vegan Society is a great resource!
Understand food labels
This will probably sound so simple that it's silly, but it's really important to read the ingredients when buying new products. There is a little trick to make this quicker too; most animal products are allergens, and allergens are almost always shown in bold. That means when looking at the ingredients you can quickly scan the bold text to see if anything like "(MILK)" or "BUTTERMILK" appears. An exception to this rule would be honey since it's not an allergen. That means that if it's something like a breakfast bar, cakes or sugary cereal, it's always worth reading the ingredients in full to see it contains honey. There are other sneaky non-vegan ingredients to look out for such as gelatine and certain E numbers. However, there are lots more than just these 2, so make sure to read up on this further.
Learn what alcohol is vegan
Another thing that changes in the way you shop, is buying alcohol. The ingredients aren't always stated on the bottle, and they aren't always branded with the vegan label. Sometimes a simple google search will give you the answer, but if not, then websites like Barnivore are incredibly useful. Barnivore is an up to date vegan alcohol directory that's a great resource when trying to determine if your favourite tipple is vegan or not.
How to deal with negative opinions
When you go vegan some people will inevitably have negative things to say, or not be totally supportive and understanding. Although veganism is definitely going mainstream, there's still a lot of stereotypes and misconceptions about vegans. When you tell people you're making an ethical lifestyle change, you tend to be held to high account on everything! We've found the best way to deal with negative or judgemental opinions is to stay calm and try and talk to people rationally about your beliefs. Remember that everyone is trying their best and has drawn their own ethical line. Not everyone is going to understand your decisions, and that's fine!
Discover all the best vegan alternatives
Just because you're vegan doesn't mean you have to completely change all of your eating habits. Of course, you'll be making huge changes to what you eat, but there's a vegan version of everything nowadays, so you can still enjoy a lot of the same things as you did before! Some of these things are specific vegan products such as dairy-free cheese, yoghurt, milk and butter, all of which can be found in the cold food aisle of your local supermarket. There is a huge range of brands selling everything from coconut yoghurt pots (Coconut Collaborative are great!) to vegan parmesan for you spaghetti bolognese (Violife makes our favourite). Take the time to try out lots of different brands to find your favourites. It doesn't just stop at vegan dairy replacements though, you can now find vegan sausages, burgers, bacon, chicken nuggets, fish fingers, mayonnaise, crispy duck & pancakes, pizza, sausage rolls, croissants, chocolate biscuits, sweeties, easter eggs, advent calendars, cakes, chocolate bars, ice cream...I could go on!! Not only are there many small businesses creating amazing vegan products, such as Doisy & Dam's new vegan Maltesers, but some of the biggest food companies in the world are making vegan versions of their best products, like the vegan Magnum's of KFC's vegan chicken burger!
Veganism isn't just about food
It's not just your diet that will change when you go vegan. Veganism is an ethical belief and lifestyle. Although we didn't commit to a fully vegan lifestyle overnight, we now try to avoid all forms of animal exploitation. This extends to the clothes we buy, our cosmetics, cleaning products, furniture, homeware etc. Some of the tips we've covered above apply to all vegan products. Remember to check the labels and search for vegan and cruelty-free alternatives to everything you buy.
We hoped these tips for new vegans helped you out! If you have any questions, tips, or other thoughts that you'd like to share then we’d love to hear them. Leave us a comment, like, or share this post with your friends.