Making the decision to go vegan is often the hardest step, so Karin Ridgers helps you choose what to do next – and how to make sure you don’t slip up!
OK, so you have just made one of the most important decisions of your life… congratulations! You have gone vegan! How exciting! What happens now?
The early days of going vegan can bring about plenty of mixed reactions and feelings. People have told me that they feel a huge pressure has been lifted from their shoulders, they feel nervous, excited and some have jumped up and down with joy. It’s an incredible decision that can impact on improving your health, improve confidence, you may feel happier, it’s better for the planet and needless to say the animals will love you for it too.
It is said that great leaders make quick decisions and stick to them. You have made the decision to go vegan and now non-vegan foods will not even be a consideration for you. A simple tool to help you stick to this decision is to write down why you want to go vegan.
Perhaps you do not want to be connected to the cruelty in the meat and dairy industries anymore? Do you want to eat more healthily? Maybe you need to cut out cholesterol – and a vegan diet is naturally cholesterol free as we are not eating the animal’s cholesterol. Are you are bored of a vegetarian diet that can be cheese, cheese and more cheese? Others may simply want to have a lower carbon footprint.
Of course your decision may be a combination of a few different reasons. So whatever the case, write it down. Write the reasons on some sticky notes and pop them on your fridge, on your PC, on your bathroom mirror – anywhere else you may see them on a regular basis.
Remembering your reason for going vegan in the first place will help you in the early days when you are getting used to the idea and temptation of a favourite non-vegan food is put your way!
Being prepared is helpful too, especially if you travel or go out a great deal. Popping a bag of nuts and a banana in your bag can help keep any hunger pangs at bay when you’re out and about. I have never been stuck in my roughly 20 years of being vegan, and it is getting even easier with treats like Nakd bars being everywhere you look, plus there is nearly always soya milk in coffee places (and coffee places seem to be everywhere). The only time when I wasn’t prepared was when I was driving back from Brighton around 1am and the only option was plain crisps and an expensive soya latte at a service station.
Now we have a young son, I always make sure we have some biscuits and fruit on our travels – if you are responsible for a child’s food as well, you really do need to be prepared!
It’s likely you were vegetarian before you took the next step to becoming vegan, so you are used to reading labels – however a few things that you now will be avoiding include whey powder, honey, carmine, milk products and gelatine. Watch out for them in whatever you buy.
If you’re looking to become more involved in vegan groups and gatherings, there’s plenty for you to do. You may already belong to some national groups, such as Viva!, Animal Aid, PETA and The Vegan Society. They all have their own style and campaigns, so see what fits with your personality.
Also see how you can support the groups. I used to help Viva! on their stalls at events – I trained to be a school speaker and this is an incredible way to spread the positive vegan word. Read and learn as much as you can and get some ‘sound bites’ prepared for any questions that might come your way.
I went on to run my own stalls, I trained people to be school speakers, and I even organised my own vegan events. My sound bites have been used in local and national media. What can you do to help vegans of the future?
It’s like the Matrix – you have taken the red pill and you cannot un-see what you have seen, heard or read about. You cannot un-know whatever it is that helped you make your vegan decision.
Enjoy it! Celebrate! Feel excited to be on this life changing journey. It’s exhilarating to be free from the temptation of fast food restaurants. Be proud of your vegan decision, be happy and positive and never apologise for being vegan! Be gracious, positive and be a wonderful advocate for a vegan lifestyle. And most importantly, have lots of fun!
We Did It!
“Since becoming a vegan a whole new world of tastes, flavours, ideas and much more has come to my realisation. I have been vegan for two years now and I have learned more and more about veganism. I was first a vegan for dietary reasons, but the ethical reasons became more apparent to me. And now? It is my aim to pass on my knowledge, ideas, recipes and more to all who want to hear and know more, which is rapidly on the increase in the UK.”
“The best thing you can do if you’ve just gone vegan is to stay vegan. If you slip up, don’t worry – just make double the effort not to slip back into old habits. It takes a bit of time to get fully used to being vegan, and as with many things, it’s challenging at first, but you soon get used to it and then it becomes a total pleasure. Sometimes it helps to remember that it’s not just about you – it’s about the animals too, and it’s never ok to violate their rights as living beings to live freely. That might seem a bit challenging too, but if you think about it, it’s true. No one likes to see another living being suffer. Always choose vegan whenever you can and then get active! Peaceful creative vegan education is the best way to help others go vegan.”
Founder of Bohemp
“I recently came across this at a trade show: ‘Vegan (vee-gun) verb; 1. To love without boundaries defined by privilege or species’ and it really resonated with me. To love without boundaries. It really helped me realise why it was I was making this lifestyle choice. I found switching to veganism relatively easy. I think the hardest part is making the decision. When you do, the rest is easy enough. You will feel the benefits and it won’t take a long time before you do. It surprised me! After that the feeling grows to want to be more committed to it. There are many decisions to make about being a vegan and how far you want to take it. At the end of the day, it’s your choice. Enjoy it!”
Find out more
Animal products can be hidden everywhere, particularly in beauty products! To find out more, visit www.peta.org/living/beauty/animal-ingredients-list/