When you set out to make a major change in your life, it’s helpful to have a few tips from someone who’s been there, done that to get your wheels moving. Am I right?
Your decision to become vegan is no different.
There are so many “beginner vegan guides” out there to help people learn everything they need to know about how to be vegan. But those can sometimes be the length of a small book and potentially overwhelming for someone just looking for the first few steps they should take.
If you’re looking for a short list of the first things you need to do when you go vegan, keep reading, my friend! The five tips I list below will help you set your vegan foundation and get you moving in the right direction…without being overwhelmed.
Tell a supportive friend
Becoming vegan is a big deal! Whether you’re adopting the vegan diet or the entire vegan lifestyle, you’re in for a major life change. That’s why one of the first things you should do when you go vegan is tell someone. Not just anyone, though.
Find someone you trust—someone who will be supportive and help keep you accountable. It can be easy to feel alone when you first go vegan and all your friends are still eating meat. So having someone you can talk to is important.
This person doesn’t have to be a vegan themselves as long as their mind is open enough to fully support you in your decision.
Ok so you’ve told this person you’re vegan, now what? Share your journey with this person. Celebrate the highs, work through the lows.
One piece of advice: DO NOT try to get this person to go vegan. I know the feeling of discovering this new and amazing lifestyle and you just want everyone to go vegan, too! But restrain yourself. I learned the hard way that the best way to get someone to go vegan is to lead by example and let them come to you if and when they’re interested.
Make a list of your favorite foods
The second thing you should do when you go vegan is to make a list of your favorite foods. Have one column for foods that are already vegan (maybe you love strawberries or brown rice) and one column for non-vegan foods you love (the meals you would really miss as a vegan).
The vegan column is the beginning of your grocery list. Make sure you buy a lot of these so you have plenty of food you love on hand. Keep building your grocery list using this free mobile-friendly, customizable and pre-built vegan grocery list. It’ll give you tons of ideas to fill your cart.
Now let’s take a look at that second column. Maybe it’s got things like pizza, burgers, or cheesy pasta. Your next task is to search each item on this list (Pinterest is a good place to search) with the words “vegan recipe”. So you’ll search “vegan pizza recipe” or “vegan cheesy pasta recipe”.
I guarantee no matter what you have on your list, there is a vegan recipe for it. And if you wrote down ingredients rather than recipes, like pulled pork or salmon, add those to your grocery list with the word “vegan” in front of them. Chances are your local grocery store or health foods store has what you’re looking for.
Go grocery shopping
Now that you’ve got your copy of the Ultimate Vegan Grocery List and you’ve customized it to have all your favorite foods (and some new foods you want to try), it’s time to head to the store.
You might be thinking, “Easier said than done.” Making the decision to go vegan is one thing, but actually navigating the grocery store as a new vegan can be daunting! No worries! I’ve pulled together a few tips you can use to make vegan grocery shopping easier.
Things like buying more produce/plant foods, keeping an eye on the Allergen section on food labels, and asking your grocer for help can all make your vegan grocery shopping experience easier.
Just remember that just because something is vegan doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Try to stick to foods that have very few ingredients and mainly ingredients that are plants/real food not chemicals. While vegan substitutes for animal products are fine while you’re transitioning or as a once-in-a-while thing, try not to make them the staple of your diet since they’re usually made with chemicals.
Most importantly have fun filling your cart with foods that did not cause harm to animals and that are going to do good for your body.
Get a mentor
Do you know someone who’s thriving on a vegan lifestyle? Someone who eats and lives they way you would like to. Someone who makes being vegan look like a piece of cake.
If you don’t know someone like this personally, are there any bloggers (wink, wink) or vegan YouTubers you look up to?
When you first go vegan (and even if you’re a seasoned vegan) it’s so important to have a mentor who inspires you. Maybe this person creates recipes you love, or shares vegan lifestyle tips, or simply makes you feel more connected to the vegan community.
Download helpful apps
The first app you should download when you become vegan is Cronometer. This is an awesome app you can you to track what you eat. You’re probably thinking, “Wait, I have to track what I eat? That sounds like a lot of work!”
Don’t worry, it’s only temporary. I recommend it more as a tool to evaluate what you’ve eaten rather than a way to monitor your food intake throughout the day. I used to use it for the latter and it’s easy to get obsessed with.
Use Cronometer to look back at the end of the day and see how you feel. Did you get a headache today? Well, look to see if you drank enough water or maybe you need to up your calories.
Did you feel great all day? Awesome! Look back to see how many calories you ate, your ratio of fats, carbs and proteins, even what vitamins and minerals you got most of. Then you can use this information to choose the foods you eat tomorrow.
Eventually, you will get a feel for what food and how much of it your body needs to function at its best and you won’t need to track your food.
The second app I recommend you getting is either Is it Vegan? or Vegan Pocket. These are both apps that allow you to scan the barcode of an item and it will tell you if it is vegan or not. This can be super handy while you’re at the grocery store!
Neither of these apps have everything in their database, so you may consider downloading both because one may have something the other doesn’t.
There are so many different ways a person can go vegan but regardless, following these 5 tips when you first become vegan will set you up for a happy and thriving vegan lifestyle.