We've recently received several emails from people telling us they're new to veganism and it occurs to me that it might be time to review a few strategies for new vegans. So here are a few things we recommend:
- Set a date, this allows you to clean out your kitchen without wasting food, and also allows you to mentally prepare for your new way of eating.
- Borrow a few cookbooks and books on veganism from your library, poke around the internet, try to get a few recipes in place before you make the transition. This way you're not struggling to find something to eat those first few days.
- Get the best produce you can, having fresh, ripe ingredients really makes a difference in your recipes.
- Pick up a few pre-prepared vegan items... It's important to have a few quick-fix items at home that don't require any thought! (We love Morningstar's Grillers Vegan and Gardenburger's Riblets.) Remember not to rely on these pre-prepared foods too heavily.
- Buy the smallest amount of new foods you can. This way if you don't like what you've bought/made, you're not wasting a lot of money/food.
- Scope out your local restaurants on-line. Many restaurants have their menus on-line. This allows you to determine, in advance, if there is something for you on the menu. You can also email the restaurant to get the ingredients in a particular item. We find this to be more reliable than asking your server. They often don't know and the kitchen staff is too busy during the dinner rush to go over their ingredient lists.
- When trying vegan items, be aware that they are not going to taste like their non-vegan counterparts, even if they have the same name. Things like vegan macaroni and cheese are not going to taste like their non-vegan counterparts.
- Check with your doctor, and perhaps a nutritionist, to make sure that there are no special nutritional concerns you need to be aware of.
- Allow yourself some transition time if you need it. We had friends who went out for a non-vegan dinner once a month for the first few months of their veganism. Jane and I thought we'd allow ourselves a non-vegan Thanksgiving. When it came down to it, we didn't "need" it anymore, but that was something we could look forward too when we were feeling "deprived." (That feeling has long since gone away.)
- Finally, be compassionate with yourself. It's very difficult to radically alter your way of eating. If you slip up, don't be too hard on yourself. We all do. Just dust yourself off, and get back in the game.
These are just a few of the things you can do to make your transition to vegan eating a little smoother. It may seem a bit overwhelming at first, after all you're changing the way you've done something your whole life. But after a short period of time, it becomes second nature.
Make sure to check out our Vegan Resources page for some great links. We haven't updated the page in a bit, but the links are still good and you'll find a lot of helpful information there.