Image from mercy for animals
Disclaimer, I’m not a professional and have only been vegan for just over 1 year. This post is written based on my experience and information I have read. I share resources of bloggers with more experience than me and dietitians who know what they are talking about.
Tips for new vegans
Start with meals you recognise. This might mean swapping meat burgers and sausages for their veggie alternatives or swapping beef mince with soy mince. Vegan alternatives are nothing to be scared of, they are often rich in protein and a great replacement for their animal based counterparts. Using replacements makes transitioning to veganism easier and allows you to still enjoy the meals you previously did.
Add variety to your diet. This may mean trying new meals. There are many cuisines to try out from Italian to Asian. Maybe test a new meal each week. Try different fruit, vegetables, legumes, grains, starchy vegetables and nuts/seeds. Similar to trying new meals, adding variety can make your meals more interesting but also means you are more likely to get enough nutrients.
On the topic of nutrition, all vegans need to supplement Vitamin B12, Vitamin D and usually, iodine. You can eat or drink fortified foods and plant based milks but it’s always safer to get a supplement.
Eat enough from the food groups. Virginia Messina (the Vegan RD) recommends you eat a minimum of 5 servings of non starchy vegetables, 4 servings of grains/starches, 3 servings of Legumes (beans, lentils, peas, peanuts, soy foods and seitan), 3 servings of fruit and 1-2 servings of nuts/seeds. She also recommends everyone has a source of omega 3 in their diet and 6-8 servings of calcium rich food. For more information on vegan nutrition see the resources further down. I find making balanced meals the best way to ensure I’m meeting my needs without being obsessive. For every meal I have a serving or more of grains/starches, legumes, fats and fruit/ vegetables. Not every meal has to be balanced as long as the majority of your main meals are. Personally, I find using fortified vegan cheeses and milks a great addition to my diet as they are rich in calcium and some vitamin D and B12. One serving of fortified plant milk counts towards 2 of your 6 servings of calcium rich food. Some vegans make their own cheeses and milks, however, these won’t contain sufficient calcium so it’s a good idea to have these on occasions but not to depend on them for your calcium.
Take it at a pace you are comfortable with. Some people go vegan overnight, whilst others it takes months to years. Remember going vegan is a goal and as long as you are making changes you are doing well. If you can’t adopt a plant based diet right now you may be able to buy cruelty-free makeup and work from there.
Start where is best for you. Some people ‘veganize’ their diet first while others start with clothing, makeup or household items. For people in eating disorder recovery, especially, its a good idea to start from the non-food side of veganism until you are ready to go vegan fully.
Avoid negative online spaces. Everyone is a work in progress, no one is better than anyone else. Find online spaces which offer a community which raises up its members instead of tearing each other down. Some vegan online groups are very diet shaming. If you are sensitive to this talk, as I am, find a better space. The vegan warrior princesses have an amazing space for vegans, old and new, to talk about veganism and other social justice topics. They also have a rule about no food related posts which is great for those in eating disorder recovery.
Learn to cook and bake. Making meals from scratch is a much more cost-effective way of eating what you want. There are lots of great recipe websites online for anything you can think of made vegan. My favourites must be vegan chocolate chip cookies by Isa Chandra Moskowitz or vegan pizzas and parmesan by the Minimalist baker.
Don’t beat yourself up for messing up. It’s common to make mistakes, this doesn’t make you any less vegan, it makes you human. Learn from it and move on.
Center your veganism around animals and ignore all that diet culture rubbish. Veganism is a lifestyle choice which rejects the notion that animals are commodities and for human use. By being vegan you are treating all animals (including humans) with compassion. As animal agriculture plays a big part in climate change you are also helping the environment. While plant based diets are associated with good health outcomes, a vegan diet isn’t the only healthy one. Food and body shaming should have no place in veganism. This behaviour is not only hurtful, but also unnecessary as veganism has nothing to do with health. Eat your vegan donuts in peace and realize that variety and balance make a healthy diet, not one based on unnecessary restrictions.
Support human rights issues as well. There are many other social justice issues which are important, not just animal liberation. It’s vital that we make our vegan spaces safe for minorities and people who would otherwise be left out of the picture. Make sure you are fighting for everyone’s rights not just non-human animals.
Resources for new vegans
- Isa Chandra Moskowitz http://www.isachandra.com/recipes/
- Heart of a baker http://heartofabaker.com/
- Minimalist baker https://minimalistbaker.com/
- Keepin’ it kind http://keepinitkind.com/
- The full helping https://www.thefullhelping.com/
- Vegan Yack attack http://veganyackattack.com/
- Hell Yeah It’s Vegan http://hellyeahitsvegan.com/
- The Viet Vegan https://thevietvegan.com/
- I love vegan http://www.ilovevegan.com/recipe-index/
- Olives for dinner http://olivesfordinner.com/
- Seitan is my motor http://www.seitanismymotor.com/
- Oh, ladycakes http://www.ohladycakes.com/
- Bittersweet https://bittersweetblog.com/recipes-a-z/
- The Buddhist chef https://www.thebuddhistchef.com/
- Wallflower kitchen http://wallflowerkitchen.com/
- The edgy veg http://www.theedgyveg.com/
- Avantgardevegan https://www.avantgardevegan.com/
- Elephantastic Vegan https://www.elephantasticvegan.com/
- Hot for food https://www.hotforfoodblog.com/recipes/
- It doesn’t taste like chicken https://itdoesnttastelikechicken.com/
- Vegan baking http://www.veganbaking.net/
- Katie Vibes http://www.katievibes.com/blog
- Blue Ollis https://www.blueollis.com/
- Fat gay vegan http://fatgayvegan.com/
- Caffrin. C http://caffrinc.blogspot.co.uk/
- BrianneEtc http://brianneetc.co.uk/
- Jenny Marie http://jenny-marie.co.uk/
- Sarah Kirby http://www.sarahkirbyblog.com/
- Britton Loves https://www.brittonloves.co.uk/
- The Zombie Said http://www.thezombiesaid.co.uk/
- Lovely Witches http://www.lovelywitches.co.uk/
- Cityloveee http://www.cityloveee.com/
- The Tofu Diaries https://natalietamara.co.uk/
- Alien on Toast http://www.alienontoast.co.uk/
- B. http://www.crueltyfreebecky.com/
- The Curvaceous Vegan http://www.thecurvaceousvegan.com/
- Mo’adore http://www.moadore.co.uk/
- Madeleine Rose https://madeleinerosewoodley.com/
- The Minimalist Vegan http://theminimalistvegan.com/
- Not so quiet grrl http://notsoquietgrrl.com/
- Vegansaurus! http://vegansaurus.com/
- Vegan beauty review http://www.veganbeautyreview.com/
- Your daily vegan http://www.yourdailyvegan.com/
- Ethical elephant http://ethicalelephant.com/
- Like a vegan http://likeavegan.com.au/
- Reasonable Raven http://www.reasonableraven.com/
- Logical Harmony https://logicalharmony.net/
- Wife Life http://www.wifelife.co/
- Caring cosmetics http://www.caring-cosmetics.com/
Vegan nutrition resources
- http://veganhealth.org/articles/dailyrecs *
- https://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Vegetarianhealth/Pages/Vegandiets.aspx *
- http://www.theveganrd.com/vegan-nutrition-101/ *
* resources I use most
- Taylor Wolfram RD http://www.wholegreenwellness.com/
- Jack Norris RD http://www.veganhealth.org/
- Virginia Messina RD http://www.theveganrd.com/
- Matt Ruscigno https://truelovehealth.com/
Websites for general information on veganism
- The vegan society https://www.vegansociety.com/
- Vegan outreach https://veganoutreach.org/
- Mercy for animals http://www.mercyforanimals.org/
- Cruelty free international https://www.crueltyfreeinternational.org/
- Animal aid https://www.animalaid.org.uk/
- Food empowerment project http://www.foodispower.org/