If you’re new to a plant-based lifestyle, or are still contemplating whether this is the next step to take in your life, you may need some tips to make a well-informed decision or stick to it.
When I decided to stop eating animals, I didn’t really have much support. It all started when I stumbled upon a video of a cow being slaughtered. She was hung upside down, her throat was slit, and her blood split on the floor while she struggled for her life. That was the moment when I said to myself, “that’s enough”, and really started to live a life that’s more aligned with my values.
It was 2007, when veganism wasn’t as popular as now. I didn’t have a circle of vegetarian or vegan friends. I didn’t watch any documentaries. I didn’t have a variety of vegan restaurants to choose from other than traditional Buddhist ones.
However, nowadays, information is easily accessible online, and we can make our lives much easier by simply reaching out.
Here’re some tips that may be helpful:
Equip yourself with knowledge and facts.
Maybe you’ve always wanted to make the transition to a plant-based lifestyle but felt that something was missing. That’s when knowledge and facts matter. What exactly does animal protein do to our body? Do we really have to eat meat, or have we been brainwashed to believe so? What is the correlation between climate change and animal agriculture? And finally, what do animals have to go through in order to become the food on our plate? Expanding our understanding of these subjects is extremely empowering. It helps us make decisions based on the reality of the world instead of on prejudice or assumptions.
Here are some resources that I recommend, but there’re many, many more. If you want to take a step further, you can try googling “vegan documentaries” or “vegan books” to get more information.
- Forks Over Knifes: everybody wants to be healthy, but do we really know how? This documentary is loaded with the information you need to know to gain back control of your own health.
- Cowspiracy: climate change is a hot topic these days, but if there’s only one thing we can do to help reverse climate change, what would it be?
- Earthlings: this is a film for everyone who loves or cares about animals to really understand the impact we have on them.
- The China Study: credited as the most comprehensive study on nutrition that has ever been conducted, this book is your gateway to the benefits of a plant-based diet.
- World Peace Diet: how do we create a peaceful world where there’s no war or suffering? If you also dream about a world like that, this book delves into the why and how.
- Eating Animals: why do we call some animals ‘food’, and some other ‘pets’? Where do we draw the line, and how? The author set out to explore the origin of eating animals, and the dark facts that have been hidden out of sight.
- Beyond Carnism
- Mercy for Animals
- People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)
- Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM)
Download HappyCow to search for vegan food wherever you go.
Wherever I go, I always use HappyCow to search for vegan food and to see other customers’ reviews. It’s an interactive app where you can submit reviews, report errors, and even list your veg-friendly business if you have one. The search results are categorized into vegan, vegetarian, and veg-friendly. It’s definitely on my list of favorite apps of all time.
Follow vegan recipe or lifestyle accounts on Instagram.
There’re tons of vegan recipe and lifestyle accounts on Instagram that can provide you with inspirations about what to cook, what to wear, and where to buy vegan and cruelty-free cosmetics products. These are some that I found very helpful:
(AND of course I wouldn’t complain if you follow Vegan Kitty Cat as well :P)
Invite friends to join you for yummy vegan meals.
After you know your facts, where to eat, and what to cook, why not invite friends to join you? Many times, people simply have misconceptions about vegan food and think that eating vegan means eating salad. Not that there’s anything wrong with eating salad, but just to raise awareness that there’s a plethora of vegan options other than salad. For example, my favorite foods are pizza, burger and pasta, and my friends were amazed to see how I can still enjoy those dishes even being vegan. So…invite your friends to sit down and eat with you from time to time. You may just open a whole new world of possibilities for them.
Start out easy.
It requires a lot of determination and courage to change a habit that you’ve had for decades. You can start out easy by eating vegan 3 times a week, 5 times a week, and then gradually make the full transition. When I first decided to embark on a plant-based journey, I cut out all kinds of meat, but still wouldn’t mind eating vegetables that were cooked with meat broth. Over time my taste buds become more and more sensitive and I finally stopped eating anything that had the taste of meat. It took me 3 years to cut out egg and dairy products, but my transition was smooth and well supported with the information I needed.
Eat a balanced diet.
It’s really exciting that there’re a lot of vegan junk food options, but eating a variety of fresh vegetables and fruits keeps us healthy and strong. Come on, if you ate fries all the time and became sick and unhealthy, you can’t blame it on veganism. If you have questions about nutrition, you can check out the website of Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) for resources, or consult a qualified nutritionist if possible.
Join a local community.
Joining a local community of fellow vegan foodies wouldn’t be a bad idea. Try Facebook, Meetup.com, Couchsurfing, etc. Regular meet-ups and potlucks help satisfy your appetite, and it’s amazing to meet like-minded people. No local community in your area? Create one yourself!
Adopt a personal practice.
What do successful people who live a balanced life have in common? Most likely they all have a personal practice that helps them come back to themselves and be present in the here and now. Living a plant-based life is not just about eradicating violence from our diet. It’s about watering our wholesome seeds of love, compassion and empathy, so we see the world through the eyes of understanding and acceptance. It’s very easy to start feeling separated from the rest of the world when you make a choice that most people don’t have the awareness about. Meditation, yoga, qigong, etc. can help you look deeper into yourself and feel more grounded in this world.
Think bigger than yourself.
Adopting a plant-based lifestyle is so much more than living a healthy life for yourself. It’s about the lives and happiness of billions of other sentient beings, the future of all our fellow human beings that we share the planet with, and the millions of people who are left with no food to eat because 40% of global grain production is fed to animals, who in turn become the food on the plates of those who can afford it. For me personally, it’s way easier to reject the fleeting moment of enjoyment I might have when eating a beef burger if I think about all the faces of those who are affected by my choice. We’re all interconnected.
With delicious vegan options all around the world, eating vegan has never been so easy and effortless. I wish I had someone to support me when I first started the journey, but since I didn’t, one of my biggest passions in life is to help make this transition smooth for others who feel called to switch to a green, healthy and compassionate lifestyle. Good luck! <3