Four Steps. Veganism. Nice.
Ever thought about taking life to the next level and becoming a vegan? It doesn’t have to be hard! I will show you the four steps that can take your life from meat-eater, vegetarian or anything in between, to vegan.
There are so many benefits that come with being a Vegan; from having a much lower likelihood of getting the US’ biggest killer (and the world’s THIRD biggest killer), heart disease, to saving the earth’s natural resources.
Fact: One pound of beef requires 2500 gallons of water to be produced. A pound of soy? 250.
It All Starts Here…
For those of you that have no understanding of what Veganism is, and have stumbled on this article at random, please let me enlighten you:
Veganism, n. [pr. Veeh-geh-nis-um]; a strict form of vegetarianism which omits all animal products. (leather, silk, gelatine, etc.).
Now that’s cleared up, let’s dive in:
Becoming a Vegan can often be seen as a daunting prospect. This, truthfully, is due to hype created by the media. Veganism has become radicalised into a health-freak or stinking-hippy ideology fit only for those with their chakras aligned or their ‘body fat percentages less than, or equal to, their inter-quartile fat-burning zone determined by their heart rate multiplied by their age which is then divided by their statistically-safe BMI middle point’. No, I didn’t understand that, either!
Regardless of all of your preconceptions, Veganism is extremely safe , very healthy and, above all, eye-opening. It changes the way you see the world, and generally, the way the mass human populous sees you (unless you happen to live in Veganville. If so, don’t prepare for occasional odd stares and ever-frustrating questions like, “But where do you get your protein?” or, “So you live off fruit?”).
So, I hear you asking, what do I do to become a Vegan? What can I eat? Does that mean lunch will now be a salad for the rest of my life? On the contrary, Veganism puts you in touch with cultures across the globe and truly inspires you to experiment and try foods you never would have even thought of as a generic meat-eater. And, for those worried about losing their favourite creamy pasta-sauces or pizzas, shows you just how easy it can be to make Vegan-safe versions.
Step One: Research
1. Veganism is now widely discussed and explained. No longer a subject left unspoken in the world, there are numerous books available by writers from all walks of life that have become Vegan. With this in mind, look for some beginner books that will really show you what Veganism is like. Book suchs as, ‘Vegan Freak’, ‘Veganomicon’ or ‘Becoming Vegan’, are all easily available on Amazon (located below, for easy purchasing). If you don’t have the money to buy books, any large library should have at least a couple of books on Veganism. The Vegan Society also offers endless amounts of information for Vegans on-line.
- Immersing yourself in Veganism, and the nutrition therein, is vital. Veganism, when planned out correctly, leads to excellent health. Obviously, the reverse is also true. Veganism, like any other diet on the planet, can, and sometimes does, go a little pear-shaped. Hence, it makes sense to understand the ins and outs of Vegan nutrition.
- On the other hand, biochemistry and dietetics is not (often) the reason a person becomes a Vegan. Once you’ve brushed up on nutrition 101, don’t be afraid to launch yourself into vegan-friendly recipe books and websites; they will give you the fuel to take your first steps into Veganism. Also, make no mistake, Vegan cuisine is just as easily adapted to feed a family of 17 (or five?), as meat-based cooking is. Often cheaper, too.
2. Not strictly research: think about who would be fine with your new-found lifestyle, who wouldn’t, and who you’d like to tell, is definitely worth taking the time out to reflect upon. A bit of a bad idea to tell your steak-eating, egg-white guzzling, body-builder friend than informing your animal-loving, charity-supporting, girl-friend. Conversely, though, many times I’ve found a sympathetic ear to my Vegan woes in the most unexpected people. Don’t be afraid to tell people who you are – you never know what they’ll come out with!
3. Veganism is more than just a diet. Vegans refuse to wear leather or silk, to eat non-vegan E-numbers, like gelatine , or to use animal-tested products. BUAV (The British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection), placed their rabbit logo on products that are free from animal-testing (look for the rabbit!). Sadly, many people turn away from non animal-tested products, yet they are very often cheaper and of higher quality than animal-tested counterparts. For example, The Co-Operative clothes-washing liquid is much cheaper than conglomerate brands and contains no industrial scents – perfect for the environmental type – and even better, has not had a part of its production batch poured into the eyes of rabbits. Super.
Step Two: Implementation
Implementation is the simplest and easiest step of them all. However, don’t underestimate the power that some foods can hold over you even months into Veganism.
The question is: Do you go cold turkey (or, for Vegans, cold tofu!) or change your eating habits slowly and incrementally? I prefer a mix, but anywhere from one end of the spectrum to the other is fine, depending on who you are and how you work. You know yourself best.
1. Cold Tofu. Recommended for foods that you tend to like, but aren’t necessarily ‘addicted’ to. Though cold turkey/tofu is traditionally (and hopelessly) used for cravings that you just can’t resist, it should rather be applied to things that are nice, but that you don’t find ‘essential’ to your existence like, say, cream– based pasta sauces. By cutting things out, especially dairy, you can clean your body of any non-vegan foods which might be clogging up your system.
- There are certain foods that are extremely hard to go cold tofu on but you might want to try the ‘cold tofu’ approach on them. Foods like this can often be substituted by their vegan equivalents. There are many different
varieties of vegan coleslaw and mayonnaise, for example, and very often items like these can be found in heath food shops within cities or large towns.
2. Transitioning. This is the more favoured, (and more frequently recommended!), method of becoming a vegan by the more ‘sensible’ of the vegan community (however, know that a lot of us are a little bit mad!) This method essentially means slowly removing one item of non-vegan fare from your diet every set amount of time until you are comfortable on your new and shiny Vegan diet. Naturally, you replace the lost items with new healthy, vegan ones (e.g. Whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, etc.). What happens is that, by slowly reducing the amount of ‘stubborn food’, you no longer remain dependant on it. This method is really useful as it doesn’t bring your body into a state of shock after two or three days, and then causing a rebound back into meat, dairy and/or egg eating.
Step Three: Reasoning
So you know about Veganism and have successfully become one, so, what happens when a less-than-friendly person attacks you with reasons why you shouldn’t be a Vegan?
>> Health.Vegans drastically reduce their chance of falling ill to many degenerative and life-threatening diseases. This can be one of your strongest reasons as, after all, no one’s going to tell you that your health doesn’t matter!
>> Money. Vegan diets, much like ‘standard’ diets, can be as expensive as you want them to be. However, a healthy vegan diet generally points to a lower food bill than for someone that eats a lot of meat, eggs and dairy. With the current economic situation, it can never be a bad idea to save a bit of money. Moreover, once you have a broad and extensive depth of knowledge on Veganism, the price drops again because buying foods in season, growing your own vegetables, etc. naturally sets in.
>> Animal Rights. Many, many Vegans cite this as being a part of their reasoning, to a greater or lesser degree. Sadly, many Vegans also report that this is the one area in which they are attacked the most. From personal experience, I once had my own GP decide that being a Vegan was a stupid thing to do and that biologically we are all designed to eat an omnivorous diet. Though I don’t necessarily disagree with him, it is never nice to have your beliefs steam rolled by your own doctor. So, essentially, this part of your reasoning should be something used only when you have a good chunk of statistics to throw at your attacker.
>> Rustic. Veganism is, without doubt, one of the most rustic and wholesome types of diets that exist today. Vegans very often move to grow their own vegetables, like mentioned above, and essentially follow an earth-friendly diet. Veganism uses the least amount of water and energy to produce the food an average Vegan eats compared to a Vegetarian or Meat Eater. As such, Veganism tends to take the cake when it comes to environmental and personal wholesomeness.
Step Four: Processing
Being a vegan, as you might have picked up by now, is a process, not a stagnant, static diet that you stick to religiously and blindly. Veganism is all about continuously adding new things to your diet, finding new recipes, new flavours, new tastes: they say that there are approximately 5,000 varieties of vegetables in the world. I’m guessing that, at the very, VERY most, you have, say, 10 different vegetables in your fridge right now. Veganism is about exploration, understanding and learning – a FAR cry from the idea you perhaps held before you’d even considered becoming a plant-only eater.
Like with all things, it is very easy to lose sight of the reason you started being a Vegan. If you ever find yourself slowly eating dairy, meat, fish or eggs again, ask yourself why you became a Vegan. If it was purely for monetary reasons and you now have a good bit of money to spend, more to you. But, if it’s because you felt that animals shouldn’t be farmed and slaughtered mercilessly, then perhaps you should question why that belief has slowly deteriorated. There’ll never be any cookie-cutter answer, so don’t try to search from anywhere but within – and, as new-age as that sounds, it’s true.
So there you have it. Veganism in four simple steps.