*Welcome to all those new vegans who are joining us. Here are some quick tips for you if you need a bit of a helping hand. These are some ideas I wish someone had told me when I was starting out. …

  1. Eating whole food plant based foods is a diet of abundance. Great news if you like your food! You need to eat a lot of the right foods to get your quota of carbs, fats, proteins, fiber, micronutrients, vitamins and minerals so eat up! but…
  2. Not all vegan foods are healthy ones. Junk food can be vegan too. For long term benefits experts recommend including fresh leafy greens, vegetables, grains, fruits, beans, peas, lentils, nuts seeds and sea veggies or check out the vegan pyramid on google images.
  3. Sign up to Veganuary.com for loads of support, info, recipes and resource material.
  4. Don’t think going vegan is no big deal. It’s a huge deal. It takes planning, restraint and effort. It can have a knock on effect to friends and family. There’s a lot to learn. It affects your social life. And it can also be the best decision you will ever make.
  5. Obviously Vegan Food UK is great for finding inspiration help and support – it’s why we are here, but Youtube and Pinterest are also great resources. Also websites like Viva!, PETA and The Vegan Society. Barnivore is great for discovering what alcohol is vegan.
  6. If you’re looking for a scientifically backed non-profit-making website for pro-vegan nutritional info, try Dr Greger’s nutritionfacts.org
  7. Soya -organic non-GM, it’s considered to be a healthy protein source for vegans with cancer-protective qualities when eaten as part of a healthy vegan diet. Don’t be swayed by arguments put about by the pro meat and dairy lobby in the USA who try to persuade you otherwise.
  8. Bulk cook and freeze! Make a fridge salad bar! Make packed lunches! Travel with nuts and fruit in your bag! Plan ahead! All great ways to feed yourself well and cheaply and not getting caught out.
  9. The Sainsbury’s free from vegan cheese range (also nicknamed Gary) is considered really good if cheese is something you are missing. But not all branches stock it and it sells out fast in the ones that do. Violife is a bit like Edam and is also sold in supermarkets. Vegusto is the Rolls Royce of UK-available vegan cheese and is available via mail order.
  10. Add vegan milks to slightly cooled hot drinks to avoid curdling . Try all different ones to find your favourite or make your own using nuts or seeds.
  11. Check out Cooking On A Bootstrap & More for money saving recipes.
  12. And this site Veganuary Myths for quick answers to all those vegan myths that omnivores ask us about.
  13. This site Vegan Street is great for daily vegan inspiration and education in meme form. Great for sharing.
  14. Eating out – ask around, phone ahead, ask to see a restaurant’s allergens list, ask if you can speak to the chef, have some ideas of what you’d like to eat if they say you have a choice, even write down for the server the items you don’t eat (meat fish fowl eggs dairy and honey). Do what you need to do to get the service you require. Don’t be afraid of ‘making a fuss’. Veganism is worth making a fuss for!
  15. Slipped up? Move on! Don’t dwell on your failures. We all have accidental ones from time to time – like finding out that Kellogg’s cereals contain animal-derived Vitamin D., or wine isn’t always vegan. 😩 Learn from the experience.
  16. It’s tempting, but don’t get into discussions about food choices with people who just want to ridicule you. Save your breath for people who are genuinely interested and want to learn.
  17. Once you call yourself a vegan everything you buy, wear, eat and drink will be up for scrutiny from others. You will become a walking advert for veganism. That’s quite a responsibility, but something to be proud of too. Just do your best.
  18. Eating on holiday can be a challenge. Check out the HappyCow app for local vegan eateries. Ask online for recommendations. Email your hotel. Consider self catering. Take ingredients like nutritional yeast / marmite/ hot sauce etc away with you. Travel with fruit, drinks, sweets, biscuits and snacks.
  19. Don’t get stuck in a vegan food rut. Variety is the spice of life! Try opening a vegan recipe book at a random page and plan to make whatever dish it opens at. Try new products or ideas when you see them. Subscribe to blogs and vegan food sites like Bosh or OneGreenPlanet
  20. Be adventurous! Don’t tell yourself you don’t like certain foods till you’ve given them a real chance. Remember too that your tastebuds change over the years.. Things you hated as a kid you may actually love now. Certainly tofu, tempeh, quorn are worth more than a couple of tries. Actual food allergies are a serious matter but don’t condemn certain foods that you think you might be sensitive to, until you’re sure they don’t suit you, as you may be unnecessarily missing out on yummines.
  21. Consider asking your GP for a full blood test to establish your body’s nutritional starting point before embarking on a vegan ‘diet’. Iron, vitamin b12 & vitamin d3 levels, kidney, thyroid and liver functions, cholesterol levels etc etc. can all be simply tested to establish, from the start, how your vegan diet is affecting your long term health. Self-medicating with over-the-counter vitamin and mineral supplements without tests to establish if they are required, is at best, potentially just wasting money and at worst, doing yourself potential harm. Hopefully you have a GP or nurse who is understanding and agreeable to you getting this test on the NHS.
  22. Watch Cowspiracy, Earthlings and Forks Over Knives (and others). These are three films that are so profound, they should help you stay resolute and focused on your goals.
  23. Have a few ‘go-to’ recipes in your repertoire so you always quickly rustle something tasty up without too much effort. There are millions of easy tasty vegan recipes on line or get yourself an easy vegan recipe book.
  24. Nutritional yeast! I’d never heard of it before, but it’s a condiment that looks like fish food flakes and can be put over any savoury dish, added to sauces, dressings, soups, vegan cheese mixtures etc. it gives everything a lovely nutty cheesy taste and can be a source of vitamin b12. It’s available mostly on line and in health food stores. It’s a pantry must-have!
  25. Traditionally GP’s have not been supportive of vegans. But thankfully things are improving as attitudes, training and research are changing mindsets. Just be prepared that your healthcare providers might not be as excited about you going vegan as you are! Just stay resolute if you believe that eating a varied and adequate nutritionally balanced vegan diet is the best for animals, conservation, longevity and health.
  26. Drink water! Eight glasses a day is ideal. Jazz it up by infusing fresh fruits herbs and cucumber in it overnight for variety if you like.
  27. Vegans need to supplement their diet with B12. This is because we don’t get this very important vitamin from a modern vegan diet (i.e. washed vegetables, clean water). It’s found in soil, and in some supplemented foods like nutritional yeast. But for most of us, supplemented foods alone are not a reliable enough source, so it’s best to take a regular supplement . Plenty of info on this on all the vegan websites or check out information at Veganuary.com.
  28. Toilet habits will change when you stop eating animals and their secretions. Vegetable matter passes through much much quicker than meat, so stock up on loo rolls! You may also pass more wind at first than you did before, but things settle down after a while.
  29. Don’t look to be the perfect vegan. There is no such person. Success lies in doing the very best you can. Be proud of your achievements and let go of any guilt you might feel in not being able to do more. We don’t live in a vegan world.
  30. Network! It can be a lonely path without support from other vegans. Use Vegan Food UK and local vegan groups to make friends, meet up etc.

Article written by Cherie Catchpole

Written by veggierated@gmail.com