As veganism becomes more and more popular, it's easier than ever to switch to a plant-based diet… but that still doesn't mean that changing your entire lifestyle overnight is going to be a piece of cake (butter, milk and egg free of course).
So today, we’re handing over to Team Neat's Content Manager, Kathryn, for the advice she wishes someone had given her before going vegan…
You WILL mess up
Food labels are confusing and it's impossible to never make mistakes! In the last few days alone I've eaten a falafel that I just assumed would surely be vegan. Animal derived E-numbers aren't always clear and sometimes ingredients can vary between different brands. When this happens there's no point in feeling guilty - move on and accept that you’re doing your best.
You will stop craving eggs
A couple of years ago, I’d have scoffed at the idea of going vegan, because “I just could never give up salmon or eggs”. For others, forgoing cheese is a terrifying thought. But your taste buds really will change and adapt over time! Your palette will learn to love scrambled tofu with your avocado on toast, and when cravings for ice cream strike, there's some great alternatives out there that'll hit the spot.
Eating with others can be challenging
The hardest part about being vegan? For me, it's the feeling of being difficult when invited to a dinner party, especially with people you don't know well - being the lonely vegan at the table is never fun and there will always be jokes. But take it on the chin, they're rarely meant to be nasty! Remember why you’re passionate about veganism - it's worth being a little inconvenient for.
But you can still eat out!
Luckily, eating out isn't off the menu, and you won’t have to live off plain fries. A lot of restaurants are happy to be tweak dishes, so don't automatically rule out eating somewhere just because it has limited options. If you go to a new city, do some research first - having a couple places starred on your Google maps will make life a whole lot easier.
Being able to back up your beliefs with scientific fact will help you to become more confident. This isn’t to lecture anyone, but to help you stand up for your opinion when someone questions or belittle your lifestyle. When someone rolls their eyes and tells you it’s natural to eat meat, or that veganism is worse for the environment because of the food miles from almonds, it'll be reassuring to have a compelling counter argument ready to go.
Having vegan friends will help
Having friends that are living a similar lifestyle – or just really enjoy plant-based foods – are life savers. They'll make you feel a little less abnormal, and will want to go the extra mile with you to find amazing vegan food. It can be nice not to be the odd one out for a change! Don't know anyone? This is the perfect time to broaden your social circle. Join a meet up or chat to new people on Instagram. There’s a huge plant eating community out there ready to welcome you in!
There will be a lot of things you haven’t thought about
Veganism isn’t just about what you eat... a lot of your clothes are made from animal products, your trainers contain leather and not all beauty products are cruelty free. Start making changes slowly – you don’t have to overhaul everything in one single night.
Loads of foods are accidentally vegan already
Chips, hummus, oreos, peanut butter – there’s so many normal foods that are accidentally vegan! Just because its vegan doesn’t mean it’s necessarily healthy, but these things are handy when you need a cruelty free treat!
Your diet will broaden
Instead of restricting your palate as expected, plant based eating will encourage you to try new ingredients and will make you love getting creative in the kitchen again. It's a fun challenge when you're trying to convince people that life without cheese isn’t bland and boring!
You can’t be perfect
Now you’ve become vegan, there feels like suddenly there’s a huge pressure on you to be a perfect in so many other ways too. But you don't have to become a zero-waste, fast-fashion avoiding Mother Theresa overnight. Even just going vegan is a huge step in becoming eco-friendlier, so take everything else one step at a time. Progress not perfection people!