Here at Flora & Fauna, we are very passionate about living ethically and helping our environment – this extends to the way we eat as well. There’s a huge difference between “going on a diet” and starting a vegan lifestyle.
The difference is: veganism isn’t a fad or a trend, it’s a way of life. It’s a conscious decision to choose compassion over suffering.
So, why go vegan?
Veganism is extremely important for three main reasons:
- It’s the single biggest way to reduce your carbon footprint – by up to 73%! Farming fewer animals for consumption means a reduction in greenhouse gases, overfishing, deforestation and water/air pollution
- It helps to end animal cruelty – factory farming animals is inhumane and unnecessary
- It can help improve overall health
If you’re stuck at the start, you’re having trouble maintaining a vegan lifestyle, or you’re just curious – we’ve put together a list of helpful tips to start you on your vegan journey!
Do what’s best for you: pace yourself
Some people are able to jump straight into a plant-based diet and never look back. The reality is, for many people, it’s a little bit harder to make the transition. There’s nothing wrong with that! It just means you need a little bit more time to adjust, as well as an invigorated sense of ‘why’ you’re making the transition.
If you’re struggling to make the switch, try cutting out one non-vegan food group per week. Start by eliminating red meat, then poultry, fish, dairy products, and so on.
Or, make a challenge for yourself. Some people thrive off goals and competition! Grab your friends and make it your aim to go vegan for 30 days. At the end of the 30 days, you can re-evaluate how you feel about the lifestyle and maybe some areas to improve. Don’t be too harsh on yourself!
Do your research on nutrition
If you put the ‘vegan’ label on yourself, be prepared for the inevitable question: “but where do you get your protein/iron/calcium from?” It’s a favourite question of distant relatives and new acquaintances, but you don’t have to be an expert on nutrition to give a solid answer.
According to plant-based physician Dr. Milton Mills, “if someone is eating a varied plant-based diet that includes legumes, grains, vegetables, fruits and so forth, as long as they are getting adequate calories it is almost impossible to become protein deficient – that’s just a myth,” he said, in this plant-based news article.
The key to any style of eating (notice we didn’t say diet?) is achieving a balance of complex carbohydrates, lean protein, and healthy fats. Below is a fabulous resource from @davidclearyveganpt outlining some key foods from each macronutrient group.
Get creative & try new recipes
When people think of a ‘vegan diet’, many just think of everything they’d be missing out on, like hamburgers, mac & cheese and pizza. The truth is, any of your favourite foods/dishes can be veganized with the help of faux meat and dairy products. But, (there’s always a but) these replacement foods shouldn’t become a staple in your diet. There are so many great vegan recipes out there – search for inspiration on Instagram and YouTube, you’ll be cooking up a storm in no time.
Join a community!
Meeting other vegans through social media or community groups is a great way to align your values with others and associate with likeminded people. It’s helpful to have external support at any stage of your vegan journey.
Keep educating yourself
This is really important. There are some excellent documentaries and resources out there to inspire your vegan journey and better your own knowledge. Some popular documentaries for you to watch are Cowspiracy, The Sustainability Secret, Earthlings, Forks Over Knives, What The Health and Vegucated.
We hope these simple tips will help you in starting your vegan lifestyle. There are plenty more resources out there (blogs, forums, videos, books) to learn about the benefits of veganism for the animals, the environment and your own health. Good luck!
If you have any other tips or helpful advice for beginners, let us know down in the comments.