Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Vegan Tip of the Week (VTOTW): How to get started...? (AKA Written for another)

This was originally written for a vegan website whose owner was looking for guest writers/admins on their facebook page. I was give free range to post about anything, with it being under a "tip of the week topic". Long story short, this didn't quite fit what that owner was looking for it seems (I didn't stick to one tip, and I honestly have forgotten the other complaint) and I wasn't asked to write another post. I saved it just in case, and thought I might as well share it with you guys. Not only does it give some tips on how to get started, but it also gives insight into how I started on my cruelty free lifestyle. So... here ya go!

Vegan Tip of the Week: How to get started…?
My first step was kind of an accident. I was tired of the small container of cows' milk expiring before I could finish it, and a friend recommended soy milk. I wasn't a fan at first, but per her instructions I began using the vanilla soy milk in my cereal and just like that I was hooked. Keep in mind that at this point I had no idea that the word vegan even existed. Most start by giving up some form of meat, like most of my vegan friends. One of them, Michael, decided to give up veal and other young flesh back in the early 1980’s after learning about the horrific treatment they go through. Ten years later he was vegetarian, but after learning the truth behind milk and egg productions he realized going vegan was the only way to be intellectually honest with himself and also at peace with his conscience. No matter what it is, that first small step may be one of the biggest in your life.
Giving up dairy and eggs was my next step, but I was still feeling not so great and was ready for more.  Thanks to the great and wonderful internet, I found some support and the most amazing book: Skinny Bitch by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin. It’s a no nonsense book that tells you that if you don’t want to feel like crap then stop eating it. Skinny Bitch in the Kitch was my first vegan cookbook, and they have expanded their series. They even have Skinny Bastard just for the guys. Another book I’m madly in love with is The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone (huge fan, love this woman!). It includes 3 different steps to living a plant based life and she has created The Kind Life, a great online community for support and information. I didn't know any vegans in person when I started on this lifestyle, so this community really helped get personal tips instead of online reviews on almost every and any aspect of life.
These books aren't it, either. There are so many more out there, something for everyone. I can’t even begin to count the number of vegan cookbooks on the market. This leads us to another important step: cooking. Anyone can cook, no matter what you've been told. I still wouldn't say I’m a great cook, but I am pretty darn good when it comes to some bbq tofu and sweet carrots! Find a cookbook that fits your needs, and just follow the recipes. I like to take my cookbooks grocery shopping with me and use them instead of making out grocery lists for ingredients. Soon you will learn what you really need and don’t need, what you really like and don’t like, and it will all become second nature. This may take time, but it will happen. There are also books about veganism (like Becoming Vegan) that can help as a guide into a plant based lifestyle without focusing on just cooking.
Need some real life interaction? Check out and search for a local vegetarian/vegan group. They also have many groups for other things (gaming, yoga, even saw one for board games and puzzles once) that will meet in person. No matter what the interest is, I think it always helps you to grow as a person to be around others that share that interest with you. Life is for learning, and learning does help us grow no matter how old or young we are.

The main thing to remember is that living a cruelty free, vegan, plant based, or whatever you call it lifestyle is also about being kind to yourself. Do not expect things to change overnight. Just like anything else in life this is a process and can take time. Making mistakes, having slip ups… this happens even to some seasoned vegans. Accept it happened, learn from it (and how to avoid it next time), and move on. If I can do this, I know that you can.