Going vegan can feel like a challenge, especially if you’re making a switch from omnivore to plant-based, but there are a few small things you can do to make the transition easier.
Whenever you start something different, there can be a temptation to buy everything even vaguely connected to it and just leap in, but small steps are the key. You don’t want to be an all-the-gear-but-no-idea vegan, do you?
There are lots of products, resources and tips aimed at newly plant-based people, but we’ve narrowed them down to a modest selection that will genuinely help you.
1. Buy a tofu press
In a perfect world, all new vegans would be welcomed with a free tofu press, because they make all the difference. Honestly, if you think you don’t like tofu, you probably just haven’t had the right brand pressed and cooked in a decent way.
You can press tofu the old fashioned way, with kitchen towels and books, but the convenience of a one-stop press is fantastic and makes for firm, easy-to-use protein that is worlds away from the floppy tasteless curd that you might be thinking of.
2. Find your favourite alt-milk
You’re spoilt for choice in terms of plant milks now, to the point where they all have their own aisles in major supermarkets, rather than being tucked away in a dusty corner or only found in health food shops. The only problem is finding the right one for you. Or a handful for different applications.
Where some love soy, you might prefer oat milk, almond or help. And then there’s the issue of finding something for hot drinks, cereal and cooking with. No two milks taste or work the same, so be prepared to spend a little money while you experiment and find your perfect dairy alternative.
If you struggle to find a milk you like, be glad that you won’t be tempted to try horse milk, the latest animal product trend.
3. Master a few easy recipes
While you get to grips with a new diet, having some easy recipes to fall back on will be massively useful. We’re talking about one-pot creations that can be thrown together when you just don’t have time to marinate and you forgot to press the tofu (in your new press). Pasta with simple sauces is a good way to go, but the ultimate badass basic is the humble Buddha bowl.
Forget about Instagram versions, as they might look great but will ultimately taste the same as yours, even if you do what most of us do, which is to throw a handful of everything that needs using up into a big dish before adding a drizzle of something and eating the lot. A few chickpeas, some leftover rice, half an avocado, pumpkin seeds and a tahini sauce? That’s a recipe for a cleaned out fridge and a fast relocation to tasty town.
4. Use up, don’t throw out
When you make the decision to go vegan, it can feel like you need to make the switch overnight, but take a little breath. You’ll feel the benefit from making sure it’s the right choice, doing some research and plus, you’ll have time to use up everything in the house that isn’t vegan, rather than contributing to food waste mountains by simply discarding perfectly good items. Honestly, use up the cheese, finish off the milk and if you can’t bring yourself to eat something unopened, give it to someone who will.
You can also do a cursory audit of your household cleaning products and beauty items too. You’ll want to phase these out and replace as you use up, but it’s great to know in advance what you’ll need to sub out.
5. Invest in a nut-milk bag
You’ll know in a few short days if the vegan life is for you and if it is, we say go all in and buy yourself a nut-milk bag. Yes, it sounds really strange, but you never know when the urge to have a go at making your own cashew or almond milk might grab a hold of you.
Imagine a rainy weekend, when there’s nothing else to do and you just saw an incredible-sounding chocolate almond milk recipe. You’ll be so glad you got that bag in, just in case.
On a more serious note, making your own nut-milk can save you money and reduce waste. It’s also a lot of fun experimenting with new flavours and trying to nail the perfect barista alternative.
6. Join the community
Full disclosure time. Not all of us think the vegan ‘community’ is the peace and love fest that others might. Just as with any subculture or lifestyle, there are definite stratas within the movement, decided by what kind of vegan you are, where you are based and a whole host of other factors. The moral is: don’t be put off looking for your tribe if the first place you look is disappointing.
Social media platforms make it easy to find and interact with other vegans and apps like Happy Cow offer a free community forum too, so you can find like-minded people nearby. Finding your people will really help with your journey and can even open you up to new ideas and experiences too.
Before we all started working at The Vegan Review, none of the team knew each other at all, but now? We know about each other’s motivations for going vegan, what we need support with and things that each other will find interesting and useful. That’s community.
Read our interview with Jeffrey Boadi where he talks about culture and community.
7. Read the right books
This is a big thing, right here. There are so many incredible books about veganism and the motivations behind it, but please read the ones that genuinely appeal to you. If you’re not all that interested in the spiritual roots, that’s fine! Don’t bog yourself down in dry scripture that might kill the lifestyle switch before you even make it. Likewise, if you’re not about graphic descriptions of the slaughterhouse imagery that turned others to the vegan path, please don’t feel like you have to push through, because we have a secret for you. *Hushed tones* There’s no reading list that you have to complete to be a ‘real vegan’.
If anybody tries to tell you that you’re not a proper vegan because you only follow the diet, ignore them. If you feel pressured to watch every documentary on Netflix and can’t more than a few seconds into Cowspiracy without turning it off, who can blame you?
Veganism is your journey. It’s about recognising how and why you choose to nourish your body the way that you do and while others might try to instil a sense of hierarchy, that’s their own limitations and prejudice coming out. Please ignore them and reach for the resources you like, enjoy and find most beneficial. Us? We’re partial to Meat is for Pussies by John Joseph, but that’s because we like to tell it how it is.
Turning your back on an established way of life is a huge change but by taking small, meaningful and considered steps in the beginning, you’ll soon find your stride.