The new year often brings with it new endeavours, and in recent years Veganuary, a charity-led initiative challenging people to try veganism for the month of January, has seen more and more people taking part, motivated by a myriad of concerns from from animal welfare to environmental issues If you’re considering going vegan, here are Kim-Julie Hansen’s top tips. Kim-Julie is the author of The 28-Day Vegan Plan, packed full of helpful advice and delicious vegan recipes.
I’ve been a vegan for almost eight years now and looking back, there are many things I wish I’d known before embarking on this journey. Here are a few tips that will hopefully make the transition easier for you.
Take it one step at a time
If the thought of going vegan forever seems overwhelming to you right now, that’s perfectly understandable. Imagine trying to run a marathon when you’ve never even run a 5K. Now imagine running a mile or even just taking one step. That already seems much more feasible, doesn’t it? It’s the same with veganism and any other seemingly drastic lifestyle changes. Focus on one month at first and if even that seems intimidating, focus on one week or just one day and then take it day by day. You’ll see that you’ll get used to it so much more quickly than you’d think.
Going vegan doesn’t have to be expensive
People often assume that eating a vegan diet means higher food costs, but that doesn’t have to be the case. A diet high in processed meat alternatives can be pricey, but a plant-based diet full of legumes, grains and starches can be very affordable, particularly if dried goods are bought in bulk.
Veganize your favorite dishes
I love healthy, mostly unprocessed plant-based dishes including salads and veggie bowls now, but there is no way I would have been able to transition to veganism fully if I hadn’t had vegan pizza, pasta and burgers to rely on. In order not to feel like you’re depriving yourself, look at the ingredients of your favorite dishes and replace the non-vegan items with vegan ones. If you’re baking, for instance, you can replace the dairy milk with your favorite non-dairy milk (soy, almond, oat, cashew, coconut, hemp, rice….), the butter with vegan butter or coconut oil and the eggs with aquafaba (the liquid from a chickpea can), ground flaxseed, chia seeds or bananas. You can do the same while eating out. When I first went vegan, I was disappointed to no longer be able to enjoy my go-to chicken curry dish at one of my favorite restaurants. One day, I simply asked them if they could veganize the chicken dish and serve it with tofu and more vegetables instead. Not only was it not a problem, they actually reduced the price because using tofu was cheaper than using chicken.
Invest in some essential kitchen tools
Certain tools will make preparing vegan meals much easier. A food processor and a high speed blender are essential for chopping vegetables, making sauces, smoothies and raw desserts. Other tools and appliances that may be worth investing in: a juicer, citrus press, spiralizer, pressure cooker and a dehydrator. (just moving as we’ve said it’s not expensive, then have suggested buying price tools)
Plan your meals in advance
When you first start transitioning to a vegan lifestyle, it can be easy to slip up if you’re not prepared. Avoid the temptation to stick a frozen pizza in the oven because there’s nothing in the kitchen for dinner by making a weekly shopping list and planning your meals for each week. The 28-Day Vegan Plan can help you do this, with 28 days of meal plans for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Make your own beauty and skincare products
Living a true vegan lifestyle doesn’t just mean avoiding eating animal products, but also avoiding any products that may have been tested on animals. High-quality products that don’t include animal products and haven’t been tested on animals can be pricey, so why not make your own? The 28-Day Vegan Plan has recipes for products including body scrub, face mask and deodorant.
Don’t stress about socialising
A big worry for people considering going vegan is how it will affect their social life, but this needn’t be a worry. More and more restaurants are offering vegan options these days, and websites such as Happy Cow make it easy to find vegan-friendly restaurants near you.
Give it time
If you’re a picky eater (like I was for most of my life), the best tip I can give you is to allow your taste buds to adjust to new flavors. I used to try something once and if I didn’t like it, never try it again. Then, one day, someone told me that our taste buds adjust to new tastes in as little as 10-15 days. It sounded too good to be true, so I decided to try it for myself. I would take foods I disliked and force myself to eat a little bit of them every single day for 15 days. To my surprise, I ended up liking every single one of the foods I had previously disliked. Now I love discovering new flavors, so if you don’t like certain foods at first, be sure to give it some time.
In this episode of Book Break, Emma makes a selection of delicious recipes from some of our favourite vegan cookery books, including an apple-cinnamon crumble with coconut cream from The 28-Day Vegan Plan
Want to be inspired?
Sign up to the Bluebird newsletter and find out how to lead a happier, healthier, more delicious life.