Being vegan, two years later (aka tips for newbie vegans)

VEGAN - fluorescent Neon tube Sign on brickwork - Front view

I never know what date I should count as my ‘veganniversary’.  On the one hand, I first made the decision to go vegan on a Halloween night many moons ago – but on the other, it wasn’t until the following day that I started getting into making the change.

Whatever you count as my official date though, I’ve now been vegan for two years!  That’s a bloody long time ago now I sit and think of it, but it’s passed in a great big bloody blur.

I remember those first few days after I made the decision so well – I’d suddenly changed huge aspects of my life (my love of cooking for one) and really wanted somewhere to turn to that could tell me what next. So that’s what this post is about, two years into my vegan journey, putting together some hints and tips that I hope will come in handy for any newbie vegans or anyone even vaguely thinking about giving the whole vegan thing a go.

Tip 1: Do it for your own reasons

You hear lots of reasons why people go vegan, some do it for the animals, some do it for the environment, some do it for health. If being vegan is something that’s going to stick for you, it has to be for your own reasons, for whatever means something to you.

I won’t go into too much detail about why I decided I wanted to become vegan (that could take up a whole post on it’s own) but it started out being about health and very quickly morphed into animal welfare. The combination of those two things has kept me on this path for two years easily.

Tip 2: Set your own pace

Just because you’ve decided you want to be vegan doesn’t mean you have to do it all immediately. If you’re daunted, maybe start by reducing the amount of meat you eat, or replace your dairy products with an alternative, there are loads of good ones after all.

Personally, I found that changing my diet immediately worked best for me, but in terms of beauty products, clothes, etc. I replaced things with cruelty-free versions as and when I needed them. Do what works for you!

Tip 3: Ask for help

Everyone has to start somewhere, so if you get stuck with anything at all, you can pretty much guarantee the internet will have the answer. I got pretty lucky in that there was a big group of vegans who used to meet regularly in York – I just threw myself in and within a couple of weeks was involved in organising York’s first ever vegan festival.

If you don’t fancy meeting up with a group, there are loads of resources online too, sites like Veganuary and the Vegan Society have all of the information about the vegan lifestyle that you could need.

Tip 4: Experiment with food

I absolutely love cooking, but a couple of years ago was probably stuck in a bit of a rut, eating very similar meals (full of meat and dairy) day in and day out. Going vegan overnight meant that I had to completely change the way I cook, experimenting with different flavours and trying loads of new things. Without going vegan I don’t think I would ever have developed such a love for Korean or Japanese food.

You don’t have to be a chef to go vegan though, there are so many options out there these days. All of the big chain restaurants like Zizzi, Wagamama, Yo Sushi and Las Iguanas have vegan options (and in some cases have full menus) and all of the major supermarkets do lots of food for vegans – you’ll quickly become a master at reading labels and menus.

Tip 5: Don’t sweat the nutrition

Despite what you’ll sometimes hear, you’re not going to drop dead immediately from a B12 or protein deficiency just because you’re now eating a plant-based diet (I’m not sure a protein deficiency has even been proven to exist). Anyway the point is, just take a little bit of time to get used to eating in a new way, and when you’re comfortable start to build some thinking about nutrition into your diet. Veganuary and the Vegan Society are a great resource, but maybe think about getting some books to help you out too. One of my personal faves is Vegan for Her.

Bonus tip: You’re going to get questions

Everyone will want to know why you went vegan, do you miss meat/cheese, where you get your protein, etc. etc. Honestly I used to hear the same questions daily and sometimes with a surprising amount of anger. It’s always interesting how many people take my being vegan as a personal attack on their life choices.

My approach to all of this is simply to keep my chill, answer with a smile and carry on being my fabulous self!

Ever thought about going vegan yourself, got any questions about vegan, fire away in the comment section below!