5 simple tips for new vegans

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5 Helpful and simple tips to make transitioning to veganism easier and to hopefully stick with your new lifestyle.

photo by Bryn

I have been vegan since September 2010 but it wasn’t an overnight decision. I never said “ok, now, I’m going to be vegan!” For me, it was a process and it was years in the making. I tried vegetarianism for a few years in the mid 90’s, I was in my early 20’s and I didn’t take anything too seriously then. For a brief 3 months I tried veganism and failed, I remember it being really hard and vegan cheese being really awful!! Then one day I realized that I had somehow let meat back into my diet, I was in denial for a while then it didn’t take long for the anger phase then finally acceptance. Later my focus became about whole foods which included meat. About 6 years ago I had stopped buying beef then a few years later stopped buying pork. Then I stopped using so much cow’s milk, switching to soy and almond. I still ate cheese, eggs, chicken/turkey and fish and on occasion bacon, after all the classic BLT is my favourite sammy. It wasn’t until the summer of 2010 that I started to notice I wasn’t feeling all that great, I wasn’t feeling unwell or bad just not great, I thought I could do better. So as you can see it was over a long period of time for these changes to happen and in September when I made the big change, it was also gradual. I started with the master cleanse and felt great! I felt changed and didn’t want to go back to my old lifestyle but wasn’t sure what my future lifestyle looked like. I had no desire to eat meat or milk, so I started with a yeast-free vegetarian diet and continued with eggs and cheese but no cow’s milk and added more beans and tofu and lots of fresh veggies. Then after a few weeks of transitioning to a vegetarian lifestyle there was one day I noticed I hadn’t had any dairy products, cheese or eggs for a week or so. It was completely unconscious so once I was aware of it, I decided to roll with it and that was how I became vegan.

Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns, it was still a lot of work and I had to relearn how to cook (sort of). Also I have 2 kids to take into consideration and feed, my husband is still an omnivore so the kids by default are flexitarian.  The most challenging period of transitioning was about 4 months into being vegan. At first it was easy, I had a passion for it, I was excited to try new recipes, new food and create delicious new meals, I felt inspired! But, after a while it all got a little exhausting and overwhelming, I’ll admit. Once I hit that 4 month mark I had to strategize what I was going to do because at this point I still had no desire to ingest animal products. I didn’t miss any of it, at all! Not even cheese. Not even bacon. Here is a list of tips and tricks I came up with that in hindsight helped me through this rough patch and continue on the vegan path.

1) Be Prepared
-have vegan snacks on hand
-fruit, veggies, hummus, granola, cereal, crackers, kale chips, tofu jerky

Quick and easy snacks are great to have on hand for emergencies, it just may stop you from caving into a craving or that buck-a-slice across the street. I always keep snack items stocked in the cupboard and fridge, as well as, in my purse, just in case.

2) Cook in Batches
-make double batches
-soup, pasta sauce, chili, rice, squash, beans, vegan bean burgers, etc…

When I have time to cook a big meal, I make sure that I make extra and freeze the leftovers. I like to freeze soup and chili in individual containers for a quick lunch or dinner later in the week. I also do large batches of rice and dried beans just for leftovers. One of my favourite leftovers is keeping roasted kabocha squash in the fridge! Yum.

3) Vegan Convenience Foods
-packaged, prepared vegan food
-premarinated tempeh or tofu
-yves or gardein products
-vegan burgers, sausages

Honestly, I’m not a big fan of convenience foods but when you’re transitioning into veganism they can be very handy. I cook a lot but I don’t always have time to cook everything from scratch nor do I always have the energy. During these times I don’t mind using vegan burgers, gardein products, tofurky sausages and bacon tempeh. When added with some leftover rice and steamed greens, you’ve got yourself a delicious meal. And the best part, my kids don’t even know they’re eating vegan.

4) 5 Simple Favourite Recipes
-find 5 easy recipes that you love
and rotate them into your repertoire.

This one is self explanatory, get yourself a vegan cookbook or look on the internet for recipes that interest you, give them a try and once you find a few (or more) that you like, make a note of them and use them often, while continuing to try new ones. This way you won’t be so overwhelmed with all these new changes and you just might find your vegan comfort food. How do you think homemade mac & cheese became one of our favourites in #5 😉

5) Veganize Your Family’s Faves
Some of our favourites are:
-BTLT sandwich (bacon tempeh, lettuce, tomato)
-Homemade mac & cheese
-Vegan Baked Beans
Tofu Cacciatore
-Baba’s Spinach Peeta (pictured at the top)
-Baba’s Coffee Cake

These are just some examples of the family dishes that I have successfully veganized once I got into the swing of cooking vegan.

Try not to get discouraged, even if you slip up, doesn’t mean you fail, you still have a lifetime of meals ahead of you. The definitions have stayed the same but I believe the rules of vegetarianism & veganism have changed, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing anymore so decide what works best for you and your family; maybe you want to try something more gradual like what I did or maybe you’re more interested in becoming flexitarian and eating more vegan meals but not cutting animal products out entirely. Whether you choose baby steps or to go all in, now is the perfect time to try veganism with more accessibility then ever, options for all tastes and new products available on the market there is something for everyone. It has never been more doable then it is now. There are plenty of vegan pages on facebook that can be a source of information and support so be sure to “like” them, starting with mine BC yogafrog, The Vegan Project, Sarah Kramer Fan Page (Sarah also has a vegan app), Karmavore. Just to list a few.

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