Lately, many people have been asking me for help and resources to learn how to go vegan. Since this has been a passion of mine since 1997, I’m overjoyed at the request.
I’m all about efficiency, and I know that if ten people are asking, at least five times more folks have the same question. If you're one of them, here are my hints to help you on your way. And if you're already there, please share!
IS IT HARD TO GO VEGAN?
One of my friends recently wrote to me feeling overwhelmed as she asked if I realized just how hard it is to go vegan. It’s been awhile since I did, but I appreciate the significant paradigm shift required. The thing is that BEING vegan isn’t hard, but GOING vegan can be. Guidance can make all the difference, and thankfully, there’s plenty of it!
IS VEGAN THE SAME AS GLUTEN-FREE?
No. Although many people are confused in thinking that vegan and gluten-free have something in common, they're actually very different from each other. Most basically, vegan foods come from plants. Think legumes (like beans, peanuts, and peas), nuts, seeds, vegetables, fruits, mushrooms, herbs, and spices—essentially foods that don't come from an animal, like dairy, eggs, and meat. Gluten is a protein found in some grains like wheat, rye, and barley. These grains come from grasses, which are plants, and thus gluten is vegan.
EASY TIPS FOR LABEL READING
For label reading, a quick tip is to check for cholesterol. If there’s any, it’s definitely not vegan. Know why? Cholesterol is found only in animals. Yep! A vegan diet is completely cholesterol-free. Unfortunately for easy label reading, having zero cholesterol doesn’t ensure that it’s vegan since there can be ingredients in such small amounts that the cholesterol count is below the minimum required to show on the label, so check those ingredients. For dairy products, this Hidden Dairy Ingredients list is a handy guide to reading labels.
VEGAN STARTER KITS AND GUIDES
There are numerous vegan starter kits available to download. I like to invite people to choose their own adventure, so I’ll give you a couple options here. Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine or PCRM's vegan starter kit that's focused more on the healthy side, and Mercy for Animals’ vegan starter kit includes info about packaged foods, which can be extremely helpful for people who are transitioning from a Standard American Diet. Find a wonderfully comprehensive guide for new vegans from Vegan Street here.
HOW WILL I LIVE WITHOUT CHEESE?
The 12-Day Dairy Detox is a program I co-created to help people learn why and how dairy is not a health food. Packed with tons of helpful info specifically about dairy, including how to meet nutritional needs, easy swaps for familiar foods, the consequences to the environment and animals, and everything you’d need to successfully navigate the delicious path to dairy-freedom. Naturally, as with everything from me, this course is 100% vegan.
WILL EATING VEGAN LIMIT MY FOOD CHOICES?
No way! When going vegan, keep in mind that what seems challenging right now is only so because of what you're used to. As you start to learn this new language (and it’ll come more quickly than you might think), your perspective will change and you'll see that contrary to what most people think, there's actually WAY more variety in a vegan diet than a typical omnivore diet. Check out my free vegan recipes and download my ebooks here.
WHAT ARE FARMED ANIMALS LIKE?
We're lucky enough to live near Animal Place, a sanctuary for farmed animals. The best way to learn about these animals is to visit a sanctuary. Do a search for farmed animal sanctuaries in your area. They may be listed under "farm animal sanctuary," but noticed that I distinguish between "farm" and "farmed." "Farm" defines them as what we think they should be, whereas "farmed" describes what we do to them. So go, visit a sanctuary, ask questions, interact with the animals, and see how they live. You'll be amazed to learn so many cool things about the Beings you used to call "dinner" and you now call "friend."
This info will get you well on your way. If you have any questions, I'm here for you—just ask me.
In the meantime, know that you totally got this!
With love and compassion for all beings,
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