Tons of people want to make that step in becoming a vegan. And the problem isn’t that they think it’s hard to eat that way – they think that it’s hard to live that way. Family, friends, social situations, costs, etc. Well this post is here to explain to you that it ISN’T hard at all to be a vegan. Sure you may face some difficulties and setbacks when you first make the switch, but it gets easier and it’s only up hill from there. I will cover the following categories:
- The Food Part
- Family and Friends
- Shopping and Groceries
- Social Situations
1. The Food Part
I know that this lifestyle seems a bit extreme – some even call it restrictive. “How are you supposed to live?” people ask you. “How will I ever live?” people ask themselves. It’s easy.
The first thing you need to do is realize why it is you want to become a vegan. It may be your health, it may be for the animals, or it may be for the planet. OR it could be all three!
I know when I first became a vegan, I did it all for my health. But after you live this lifestyle (yes it’s a lifestyle, NOT a diet) you become more aware and conscious of the world around you. Now I not only care and do it for my health, but also for the planet and the animals, and I couldn’t imagine my life any other way.
Once you have established your motives for becoming a vegan, it should be easy from there. If it’s for ethical reasons, then you should have no problem saying good-bye to all those cruelty animal by-products. If it’s for your health, you MAY have a bit of a harder time saying good-bye to yogurt and eggs. But hey, everybody’s different. I parted with everything quite fine. I said good-bye and never looked back. I think that may be partially because I knew they were bad for me and they gave me stomach problems and that I was better off without them. Once you realize things like that, it’s easier to let go.
NOT TO MENTION almost every single food on this planet that isn’t vegan, CAN be made vegan. Cheese, milk, meat, scrambled eggs, grilled cheese, pizza, etc. No matter what you want, there’s a substitute.
2. Family and Friends
Ah, the big question: how do you deal with it in your family? This is the tricky and probably the most hardest part. Every family is different. But even if your family is very much into health and fitness, chances are they STILL will be weird with you transitioning into a vegan. They will think it’s very extreme, and to those with an eating disorder who want to be a vegan, their families will think it’s very restrictive (considering you have to say no to quite a few foods.) But I am here to tell you that it is NOT AT ALL RESTRICTIVE! You can eat as much as you want; the more calories the better. In this lifestyle you can eat in abundance and never worry about watching what you eat or how many calories something has. When you’re eating whole foods such as fruits, veggies, grains, nuts, legumes, lentils, beans, etc, everything is good for you! So don’t be afraid to pig out.
As for the extreme part – I know what this is like, I have dealt with it first-hand. My mom always calls it ‘a bit extreme’ not to be eating these things. But is it really extreme? I believe eating plant based foods is the most natural way to live. If anything is extreme, it’s slaughtering innocent animals just for us to enjoy the taste. (because humans are not designed to eat meat, and we definitely don’t need it to survive.) It’s extreme to keep all these animals locked up in tight cages, artificially impregnate them, tear their babies away from them at birth, and slaughter billions of them each year. Now that is what I call ‘ a bit extreme’.
You can think WHATEVER you want, but the tough part isn’t knowing these facts – it’s having to live with them while the people around you don’t, and continuously judge you or get irritated by them.
3. Shopping and Groceries
The first thing people have to deal with is the difference in the family. I am the only vegan in my family, so that means I have to buy different foods then them, and eat different foods then them. But this isn’t a bad thing. At first it was kind of hard and stressful. When my mom went shopping, I felt like I was being a burden by asking her to buy me more fruits and veggies. But eventually they get used to it, you just have to give it time. Now my dad just gives me his debit card and I’m the one who does the weekly shopping trips. (While I’m home for the summer that is. I’ll leave for University in September and then I’ll do all my own shopping.) If you’re parents get mad at you for this, just explain that this is the lifestyle that you want to live and it’s what makes you happiest and healthiest. If they love you, they will understand. It may take a while, but trust me, they will get there.
As for the ethical part, my best advice to you is to just be subtle and gentle about most things. I used to get so mad at my parents when they ate meat, milk or eggs. I would judge them and act cruel because they ate the things that they did. But you cannot act this way. Think about how you used to be. You once ate all of these foods as well. And why? Because you didn’t know any better. This is how we were raised and what we were taught was right. So you can’t blame them for not knowing –you were once just like that.
Try to slowly educate them on what you have learned. Introduce them to new foods. Offer to make them snacks and meals. Just take the gentle approach to things. I often make my own meals because 1. I like it better and 2. It’s just easier then asking my parents to make something separate from what they are having.
I always make extra though. For dinners I will make my mom, dad and myself giant salads with tons of veggies and fun stuff on top. For breakfast I will make them big green smoothies. And for lunch I make up huge fruit platters for my mom and I. Just do little things like this to help ease the transition.
Also, I politely asked them to watch the documentary ‘Forks over Knives’ with me, and they did. I told them that it would mean a lot to me if they watched it, and that I would really appreciate it if they would open their minds and be willing to learn some new information. They really liked it and found it very informing. After watching it, my dad now eats mostly plant based foods. (I make most of his food though lol).
Now they have also watched ‘101 Reasons to go Vegan’, and ‘Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead’. As well as they also listen to new information I learn, and read every blog post I write.
It just takes time. Don’t give up. You will get there.
5. Social Situations
People believe this is so tough, and that being a vegan means never going out with friends or any social events. Wrong.
Being a vegan and dealing with social situations is so easy. If you go to a restaurant, simply order something ‘veggie-like’ on the menu like a salad. Even tell the waitress of your situation and together you guys can put together a salad of your choice with whatever toppings and dressing you like. A little note though, I never say “I’m a vegan” cause 1. It annoys some people, and 2. Not everyone knows what that is. So instead I just say “I don’t eat meat dairy or eggs” or heck, even just say “’I’m allergic to meat, dairy and egg.” They won’t argue with you, and they’ll probably take you more seriously. ALSO tons of restaurants have vegetarian options now, so you can order off of that as long as you get it without dairy or eggs.
As for other social events or day trips with friends, my biggest tip to you is: MEAL PREP! It’s honestly the best and it’s so fun too. Every single time I go to work, I always pack my lunch or dinner the night before. It’s so EASY and it’s much more convenient to already have it all done for you when you’re ready to go for work. I usually pack a salad, a smoothie, a huge container or fruit, or some vegan nutrition bars. (Lara bars or Vega bars).
Meal prepping works well for day trips with friends or other social gatherings. Pack depending on how long you’ll be gone for. A few weeks ago I went to visit my friend in Toronto so I packed a lunch box full of foods for my day. I packed a big smoothie for lunch along with some fruit, some homemade brownies I made, a lara bar, a salad for dinner, and some nuts in a baggy for snackage.
I also went to a fundraiser for a few hours with my mom, and I just packed an apple and 2 Lara Bars. I knew they were serving lunch there but I brought these things just in case. And I’m glad that I did because for lunch they served ham and cheese sandwiches. But also don’t be afraid to ask. One of the ladies asked why I wasn’t eating and I simply told her I don’t eat meat, dairy or eggs. She right away offered to go get me a salad from the back, so it was perfect. I ended up having my lara bars and apple as well though lol.
For my meal prep advice and ideas, click here.
So there you have It; my best ‘survival guide’ to transitioning and dealing with the vegan lifestyle. I seriously hope this helps many people, and if you have ANY questions what so ever, don’t be afraid to shoot me an e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Or you can comment any questions you have right here.