Veganism seems to be growing in popularity at the moment. However vegans still seem to get a bad press, and honestly I can understand why. I’ve recently had to leave a Facebook group I was in purely because of the obnoxious attitudes of some of the members. But thankfully we’re not all like that.
I have only been vegan for a few months. My partner was vegan, and he slowly converted me. Through education, guidance and being kind. And I honestly think that is the best way to introduce people to veganism.
Now, if you’re reading this, we can assume you already have an interest in becoming vegan, but perhaps don’t really know where to start. Don’t fret! We have all been there. It’s a journey. A journey which is really worth taking. You will only know how worth it once you’ve already started.
However if you’re reading this and may need some convincing, I implore you to watch What the Health. It’s available on Netflix, and I think it is also on YouTube. Treat yourself and watch it. It is the most eye-opening documentary I’ve watched in a long time. I’ve heard some of the science behind it may be a little bit iffy, but it is still worth watching to see the other things they talk about.
For those of you who are ready to start your journey I am more than happy to hold your hand through it. Just leave me a comment, or you can find me over on Instagram @onelittlehappything.
Step 1 – Swap milks
This is the easiest step. The availability of dairy free milk alternatives has shot through the roof in recent times. All of the major supermarkets in the UK now stock their own brand versions, I’ve even seen soya milk available in small newsagents.
Not only are they available, but they also taste pretty good. You may need to play around with it a bit, but there are tonnes out there. Soya, rice, coconut, cashew, almond: all different kinds of milks.
My personal favourite is the Waitrose own brand unsweetened soya milk, because I think it tastes the most like dairy milk, and also behaves the most like dairy milk. I’ve also heard a lot of people say they swear by the Oatley Barista milk.
Dependent on how much milk you use it can also work out slightly cheaper. My partner and I use 1 box of the Waitrose soya milk, which is about 60p. If we were to buy cows milk we’d be looking at about £1.50. It’s only a small saving but it all adds up!
Step 2 – Find a meat and cheese replacement you enjoy
Before I became vegan I was a massive meat eater. I ate meat with every meal. So cutting it out entirely was difficult. To begin with I still allowed myself to eat meat once a week, but after a few weeks I could see that wasn’t enough: it was time to cut it out for good.
Going cold turkey (excuse the pun) was hard. The only way I managed was by finding decent substitutes which soothed my animal product cravings.
I found my favourite sausages are the Linda McCartney ones. And my favourite cheese is Violife. Luckily these were readily available at most of my local supermarkets. And again, a lot of the larger supermarket chains are making their own vegan friendly meat substitutes.
Cheese substitutes can be a little harder. A lot of people say they taste like vomit, but I quite like them. If you find yourself struggling to find a substitute that works, considering making your own! There are a million recipes out there. Check out my Pinterest board dedicated to vegan recipes.
Step 3 – Learn how to read ingredients
This one sounds a bit patronizing, but honestly I didn’t realise how little I knew about what I was eating before turning vegan. In the UK any potential allergens are highlighted in bold. This includes milk, eggs etc. So it can be easy to quickly skim the ingredients list and if none of these are listed you’ll think you’re okay.
But not necessarily. Sneaky un-vegan ingredients come in the form of honey, E numbers and undescriptive additives. A good resource for learning about these is just here.
I find it handy to keep a list on my phone of any that I know are non-vegan. And you will need to get used to googling pretty much everything for a little while.
Step 4 – Find vegan friendly toiletries
Oh no, veganism isn’t just about food! A lot of every day toiletries and household products either contain animal products or are tested on animals. In the UK some companies actually label their products either vegan or cruelty free. But remember, cruelty free doesn’t necessarily mean vegan.
The Vegan Society has tonnes of resources for when it comes to knowing what it, and what isn’t vegan. Or if you’re not sure generally a quick google search brings it up. And if that still doesn’t work, you’ve got to make a decision as to whether try it anyway, or give it a miss.
Step 5 – Make some vegan friends
Now, I know I started this article by saying how I left one vegan Facebook group due to the members, but in other places I’ve spoken to some awesome people.
Search for your local vegan group on Facebook as generally they do arrange meet ups for local vegans. Consider it a good way of meeting some likeminded people near to you. They can also provide support if you have a weak day.
Instagram is also a fantastic resource for vegans. There are so many vegans on Instagram I can’t believe it. Try searching under #vegan #veganuk #veganfoodshare and #crueltyfree. You will find millions of people, honest.
Hopefully this article has given you some ideas on how you can take some baby steps towards becoming vegan. Honestly, the first month or so is hard because you will probably still crave animal products. But after a while your taste buds genuinely do change.
A few weeks back I ate some cheese. I had a weak moment. And honestly it was gross. It only reassured me that the decision I’ve made is the best decision for me. You will have moments like this, but stay strong.
If you do feel like you’re struggling, come find me on Instagram @onelittlehappything. I’m pretty nice, I’ll try and help how I can.
You may also be interested in checking out my Etsy shop where I have some prints dedicated to my love of the vegan lifestyle. Check it out!
If you still need some convincing, check out one of my earlier blog posts How going vegan will make you happier