Vegan Starter Kit
Updated: Oct 19, 2018
I talk to a lot of people who seem really intrigued by veganism, but there's always a note of hesitation. I felt it too, racked with questions that only seem silly to me now after truly understanding what a vegan lifestyle actually is.
So what is it? Many people know of vegetarians, people who don't eat meat. Well, vegans are people who do not eat any animal products. This means no cheese, dairy, honey, etc.
Initially, that was an intimidating thought. Modern society had engrained in me that a healthy eating pattern required a good amount of "protein", and the idea of "giving up" a lot of foods I'd grown up with wasn't all too alluring. Since I'm the kind of person who doesn't do anything without thoroughly looking into it first, I started to do my research.
I watched the documentaries, I listened to the speeches, I read article after article and I was left with the conclusion that a vegan lifestyle was really the only lifestyle I could see myself living. You see, not only was the "food" that I was eating doing unfathomable harm to my body, but I was contributing to a genocide of living beings. We humans aren't oblivious to the fact that meat comes from animals, but we're often coddled in the idea of what happens to these animals along the way. "Farmers love their animals" was a phrase I heard often, but as I started getting more exposed to the obscurities that was the meat & dairy industry, my hesitation subsided and I committed to being a vegan.
I think it's really important to get as much information as possible before switching to the vegan life so that when you do, you can actually stick to it whole heartedly. For me personally, I have a hard time sticking to things unless I have a definitive reason why. Finding my "why" for going vegan was honestly quite simple after I did a little digging. It's crazy to me to think that I once had to do so much digging, as I'm now surrounded by marvelous people giving me heaps of information on a daily basis. Social media is a great way to get exposed to lots of information- meat & dairy exposure, activism opportunities, recipes, & like minded people to offer support in your transition.
There's fantastic and very informative documentaries, some that can be found right on netflix!
Here's a few really powerful speeches to check out-
Gary Yourofsky's "Best Speech You Will Ever Hear" (this speech is a big reason for I went vegan! Thx Courtney!)
Great reads & recipe books for going vegan
Other helpful resources-
So these resources go over a lot of these topics but I'm going to address them myself! There's a few common questions & misconceptions I hear a lot so let's chat.
What about nutrient deficiencies?
There's a lot of confusion about where different nutrients come from. I was led to believe that in order to get the "right amount of protein", I had to eat meats. But this is false. In fact, vegans are eating more foods that are high in protein and in some cases, too much of it. Some great foods high in protein would be lentils, almonds, quinoa, beans, & much more.
Calcium is another one that breeds a lot of confusion. There's many plant based foods that are very rich in calcium; kale, flaxseeds, chickpeas, to name a few. And there's plenty of food options that give us the needed Iron too, which was a big concern for me as I was already deficient in iron. I actually eat more iron enriched foods as a vegan than I did with the typical meat diet.
Somethings to take into consideration- B12 & Vitamin D are the trickier nutrients for vegans to consume. However, most dairy substitutions (ex: almond/soy milks) will commonly are fortified with B12. (Nutritional Yeast is a great way to get some added nutrients too). As for Vitamin D, flaxseeds can be extremely beneficial if you're not interested in looking into supplements!
So, what can you eat?
A LOT! Not only has being vegan put me into the kitchen a lot more, learning new cooking methods & recipes, but it's opened the door to so many foods I probably wouldn't have even thought to try. I was so stuck in repeat of my favorite meat foods, chicken wings were my THING. Just recently, I indulged in making some "buffalo wings" with mushrooms and they tasted phenomenal!
Once you get the hang of what things to avoid in the ingredients section of the label, navigating the grocery stores is pretty simple. And "giving up" all of your old favorites can really just be substituted for vegan alternatives. There's new vegan alternatives coming out all the time; before you know it, you'll have compiled a whole new pantry and fridge full of yummy foods.
I live in a small town, veganism is very far and few between. I try to avoid going to places that aren't strictly vegan, just to make it easier in navigating the menu (also to not have to send back a dish a hundred times because they weren't used to so many modifications. But that gets easier too!) Because of this, having a vegan lifestyle has taught me so much about food, flavors, & nutritional health!
Why is vegan food so expensive?
It's really not. I spend LESS on groceries since switching to this lifestyle & because a lot of the foods I consume are non perishable, I'm able to buy bulk! Rice, pastas, oats, beans, etc are all super easy to stock up on and extremely affordable. Just like any other diet, specialty items may cost more but a vegan's diet is mainly the cheapest items in the store.
What about clothing?
Vegans don't purchase any clothing items made of wool, leather, suede, etc. A lot of people debate throwing away items of clothing after making the switch to the lifestyle, I personally did not. I have always bought the majority of my items second hand and did my best to avoid any materials that were harmful to the planet or made from animals. Now, I have completely quit fast fashion (I'll be writing about that sometime soon) buying only items from thrift stores and avoiding animal products completely!
There's lots of great lists of vegan clothing shops to be found online.
I hope I covered enough questions to at least get you interested in the vegan lifestyle if you weren't already, and if you were- YOU CAN DO IT. You'll have endless support from people all over the world as you make your transition! The future is vegan!