I am flattered and overwhelmed by the amount of messages I receive every day about people wanting to adopt a vegan lifestyle. As part of my Intentions for 2011, I plan on inspiring one person a day to go vegan. It’s looking pretty plausible, I will tell you that.
Due to the overabunance of messages I get, it’s nearly impossible for me to reply personally to each and everyone. However, I don’t want to neglect these fine individuals, so what a grand idea to create an easy “How to go Vegan” article for all inquiring ladies and gents, eh? (;
Let’s begin, shall we?
Typically, most people don’t up and go vegan overnight, like myself. Most people feel more comfortable starting out going vegetarian. If you feel like you’re going to “struggle” giving up certain foods you’ve been eating all your life, start slow. Everyone moves at their own pace, and I wouldn’t want to discourage anyone from a vegan lifestyle by walking around with a shitty attitude. Try to be as vegan as possible.
1. Educate yourself. There are so many amazing web sites and books out there. It’s pretty easy to get your hands on some solid information. I typically don’t like to rep PETA because I, personally, think they give vegans a bad name. We’re not all militant, angry, immature whack jobs, I promise. Some of my favorite books I typically suggest to people are:
- The Ethics of What We Eat by Peter Singer and Jim Mason. This one is pretty interesting because it follows three families and their food choices. I’ve read this one a few times.
- Animal Liberation by Peter Singer. I will be completely honest – I don’t think I finished this one. Not for the sensitive, animal loving folk out there. This book can get pretty graphic and it’s extremely upsetting. However, maybe that’s what some people need to give them a little push in the right direction.
- Skinny Bitch by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin. I have mixed feelings on this book. I think the book itself is pretty great. It’s informational and hilarious. These girls have a hella potty mouth. However, it can be taken pretty rude and condescending because of the entire “Fat is unhealthy, Skinny is healthy,” mentality. Just take it for what you will. It’s extremely entertaining to read.
- Food Inc. by Participant Media and Karl Weber. ”How Industrial Food is Making Us Sicker, Fatter, and Poorer-And What You Can Do About It.” I think that pretty much sums it up.
- Food Rules by Michael Pollan. This book has some pretty great stuff in it, but does not promote a 100% vegan diet. Otherwise, it’s a goody.
- The Green Beauty Guide by Julie Gabriel . Ladies, this book will make you want to throw away all of the make-up you own. It made me. (;
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There are plenty of videos out there as well you can check into. Personally, I can’t stand watching graphic documentaries because I get extremely emotional. Let’s face it – I know what does on behind closed slaughter-house doors. No need to burn any more of those images into my brain. BUT – If you’re feeling up to it, check some of them out.
- The Cove. Terrifying documentary about Ric O’Barry exposing a cove in Taijii, Japan. Very informational and just goes to show you what corrupt, disgusting activities can be going on right under our noses.
- Food Inc. Based off of the book. Personally, I think the book is better, but it’s a good one to watch, none-the-less.
- Earthlings. I’ll be completely honest. Never saw it. I hear it’s terribly graphic, but also amazing as hell. Like I said – I know what goes on and I know why I’m vegan. I don’t think I need to watch this, just to get all upset. /:
- Supersize Me. A classic. Period.
- King Corn. I just find this one interesting as hell. It may come off a bit slow, but it’s good – and a constant reminder why you should avoid HFCS.
And of course, you know PETA is going to have some hardcore, disgusting videos you could always check into. They’re good with the shock treatment stuff. (;
2. Get used to reading labels. You will have to learn not so blatant terms. Things like gelatin, whey and casein are not, in fact, vegan. They can be tricky little bastards who sneak into a potentially vegan-friendly meal. Honestly, I always thought this was pretty fun. It’s kind of like a game. But then again, I’m kind of an odd ball, so maybe I would find this fun. I think most people see it as a pain in the ass. But hey, it is what you make it. It’s pretty amazing what you can find out by reading labels. There’s some pretty funky crap that goes into the food we consume. I try to avoid anything that has more than 5 ingredients listed on the side panel. I also like to use Kevin Trudeau’s rule of thumb – Don’t consume (or put anything on your body) you cannot pronounce. These are chemicals and other weird things. Honestly, if it’s vegan, it’s vegan. My eating choices may differ from another vegan’s because I try to eat as natural and organic as possible. As your venture down this vegan lifestyle path, you’ll be able to learn more about your food choices and make a decision from there. (:
3. Brace yourself. You are now entering a world of…very stupid questions. So get ready for it. People are going to ask you where you get your protein. You can come up with some witty comeback, or tell them about the protein myth. Be prepared for, “…Uhhh…so what DO you eat?” How your handle this is up to you, but I’m warning you – just brace yourself. People never get tired of making fun of vegans. Go ahead and soak it in. Ease the tension by playing “Defensive Omnivore Bingo.” (;
4. Seek out veg-friendly communities and/or like-minded individuals. Oh, social networking, how I love you. I’ve met so many incredible people on Twitter, Tumblr and others. The great thing about being active on these sites, is you get the chance to interact and connect with fellow vegans. Seraching keywords and hashtags makes this hella easy to connect with only those who share your interests or lifestyle. You’ll be updated on vegan related news, learn about new delish veg products and so on and so on. It won’t make you feel like such an outsider if many of your friends are meat-loving maniacs. I mean that in the nicest way possible. Believe me. I am a veggie-loving maniac. (;
5. Be as vegan as possible. If adopting a vegan lifestyle is something you’ve been interested in, but either haven’t had the willpower, motivation or [insert random excuse here], try to be as vegan as possible. Start switching over regular milk to almond or hemp milk. Eat less and less meat-based dishes. Get in the habit of reading ingredient labels.
6. Stock up on staple items. My apartment is always full of fruits and veggies, but also non-perishable items I use on the daily.
- Chick peas. One of my favorite things to make with garbanzo beans is faux tuna salad. Basically, you just mash chick peas and mix with vegan mayo, relish, celery, onion and voila! Extremely quick and easy. Chick pea cutlets are also a favorite.
- Black beans. Black beans with rice and garlic smothered broccoli is one of my favorites, but my roommate, Stephen, makes AMAZING black bean burgers. They are to die for.
- Almonds. Great for raw recipes, and snacking in general.
- Bread and bagels. I’m obsessed with toast and White Chocolate Wonderful peanut butter. Obsessed. One of my new favorites is Tofuffi cream cheese and White Chocolate Wonderful spread on a bagel. Yes.
- Pasta and pasta sauce. I adore pasta to the max. It’s a quick and easy dinner, too. Top with vegan grated topping (faux parm cheese) and there you have it. Cheap and easy.
- Gardein crispy chicken tenders. Oh. my. Gahd. These are, by far, one of my absolute favorite faux-chicken meals. They are perfect by themselves, on a bun with mayo, lettuce and tomato, or in a salad. Delish.
- Daiya cheese. This is the ONLY vegan cheese I cook with anymore. It melts fantastically and tastes incredible. I make an incredible baked mac and cheese with it, use it to top steamed broccoli, my salads, and everything else you could possibly put cheese on. NOMZ.
- Any and all of Amy’s Kitchen (vegan) products. I am a sucker for Amy’s soups. Lentil and No-Chicken Noodle are my all time favorites. They also make an awesome mac and cheese, used with Daiya! (;
- Spices and more spices. Adopting a vegan diet, you’ll realize you’re a culinary expert in training. (; There are loads of amazing recipes you’ll run across that require different spices for cooking, so stock up!
7. Don’t expect vegan mock meats to taste like bloody bundles of joy. Sometimes when I cook for non-vegans friends, they comment that it’s delicious, but it doesn’t taste like “the real thing.” Well, good. To be quite honest, I don’t want my faux chicken strips to taste like REAL chicken. A lot of mock meats and suchlike do a pretty good job at imitating the “real thing” and I think this is great for people who are merging to a vegan diet. What’s even better? I don’t have to pick through white or dark meat, or veins when eating my faux chicken. (;
8. Don’t even get discouraged when switching over to a plant-based diet. Think of it as an adventure, where you are constantly learning and discovering new things. (: You might slip up a time or two and consume something you didn’t realize wans’t 100% vegan, but it happens. So your old favorite junk food may contain gelatin, but there are endless delicious vegan-friendly foods that are waiting to be discovered by you!
9. Share it with the world! I like to take a more “relaxed” approach to spreading the rad-ness of veganism. I started out lifestreaming because I was constantly taking photos of my food and I wanted to share with the world that yes, while I was vegan, I ate some serious kick ass foods! I’ve inspired countless people to go vegan because they’ve said to me, “You make being vegan seem so easy, and it looks like to eat a lot of amazing foods!” Reality check. It IS easy and hell and delicious as hell! Hop on the bandwagon. Upload pictures of your delectable vegan creations and show people what’s up.
Make Google your best friend. If you have any vegan related questions, just Google it. You’re surely not the first person. (;
Thank you, everyone, for your questions and comments regarding adopting a vegan lifestyle. It makes me feel so good that you’re choosing such a compassionate path! I look forward to hearing your stories and suchlike. Thank you for supporting me, my site and kicking major ass in general. It is always, always appreciated. (;
This post was originally posted at jettavegas.com.