Friday, 22 April 2016

THINGS I'VE LEARNED SINCE GOING VEGAN & TIPS FOR NEW VEGANS

Hi loves! Today, I wanted to share with you a few things I've learned in the past few months since going vegan. I started to transition to veganism in late January of this year, as my main and pretty much only New Years resolution was to clean up my diet. I've always watched what I eat, but I wanted to be more careful with processed foods and learn to cook my own meals more. Going plant based was my first step after I watched the eye opening 'Forks Over Knives' documentary, which discusses the health aspect of a plant based diet over the standard western diet. I then watched more documentaries on the ethical side of veganism and am now transitioning in all aspects of my life. So, as you can tell, I have done a fair bit of research, but I am also a very new vegan, so I thought it'd be fun to do a post on what I've learned and experienced in my first couple of months as a vegan. This is intended to be a light-hearted post and isn't intended to offend anyone or push my views onto others, I'm just simply sharing my experience for your entertainment!

People will ask questions and some will think you're crazy.
Even in the few months that I've been eating this way, I've had people - usually close friends and family members have a lot to say about it! 'OMG don't you miss meat?!' (more on this later), 'What do you even eat?', 'Are you getting enough protein?' etc. etc. Mostly it's just out of concern or genuine interest, other times people may just genuinely be a bit pissed that you're probably going to be a bit awkward going out for dinner (though check out this post to find out why you don't need to be!). I recommend making sure you're really clued up on the health benefits as well as the environmental and ethical reasons for going vegan, so that any worries and queries can be responded to with an educated answer. Most people are raised to believe meat, dairy and eggs are necessary in the average persons diet, so it's natural that people will be confused, but if you know your stuff, you can definitely put peoples minds at rest.

If you do it right, you won't miss meat, dairy or eggs.
When I say 'right', it's not to say there's a right or wrong way to 'go vegan', but of course, if you cut out all meat, dairy and eggs overnight and don't look into why you're doing it, it's going to be really easy to 'cheat'. For me, it took watching documentaries like Forks over Knives to learn the health benefits and short youtube film 'Farm to Fridge' (also highly recommend this to anyone, it's only a little over 10 minutes long and something I think everyone should be aware of) to see the ethical side to going vegan and most people won't even want to look at these products let alone eat them! This will of course have a different effect on different people, but if you're already considering going vegan, documentaries like these will help you stick to it.

You get better at cooking.
This goes hand in hand with not missing animal products, going vegan forced me to be more experimental in the kitchen as it's not as easy to throw in an oven pizza when you want something quick! There are vegan versions of convenience foods of course, but if you're trying to live a healthy lifestyle, you can't beat home made Also they can be quite pricey! That definitely doesn't mean you can't have quick easy meals though! As many vegan meals can be made in bulk quite cheaply (think huge lentil and sweet potato curries, bean and mixed veggie chillis, rice and bean burgers...), it's easy to whip up a big batch when you have time and freeze in individual portions for evenings when you have less time.

It's as restrictive as you make it.
It's very easy to think 'I can't have xyz on a vegan diet' as many things, particularly treat and snack foods like cakes, biscuits and sweets are not vegan, but it's actually surprising how much you can have. For example, I love to bake my own vegan cupcakes and surprise my family when I tell them there's no eggs or butter in the recipe, I throw together some three ingredient cookies and eat as many as I like safe in the knowledge that they're totally healthy! But there are also 'accidentally vegan' junk foods for when you fancy a treat, perhaps when you go out to the cinema or you're having a night in with your girls! This means foods that aren't branded as vegan, but don't contain animal products. Some of my favourites are Starburst sweets, Pringles (Original and Paprika, some other flavours contain milk), Dark Chocolate Digestive Biscuits, Lindt Dark Chocolate and Jelly Tots. A great source for 'Accidentally Vegan' snack foods and lots of other info on veganism is the PETA site, it's been like a bible to me!

You'll be smug AF when a very non-vegan friend enjoys your plant based meal
No shame in this. My boyfriend used to be a huge meat lover, he used to say he didn't get vegans at all and he could never ever do it, but now he eats vegan most days out of the week as I tend to do most of the cooking in our house. While he isn't vegan and doesn't plan on going full on vegan, he actually really enjoys absolutely everything I make and has admitted to actually preferring eating this way and keeping animal products as 'treat' meals when we go out or order in. I don't see these foods as 'treats' myself any more but I'm not going to force my views on him!

So I'll leave this here for now, as this is getting quite long, so let me know what your thoughts are! Are you vegan? Would you consider it?

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