How you too can go vegan- overnight.
“Cut out eggs first, then cheese, then start to look for byproducts like casein and whey.”
“Treat yourself every few days as a reward for doing such a good job so far.”
These are some of the suggestions that were given to me many moons ago when I expressed an interest in being vegan, and continues to be given every day as advice for vegans to be. However someone chooses to go vegan is obviously entirely up to them, but I think that it’s important that when encouraging folks to become vegan, we actually encourage them. Vegans need to be armed with readings to delve into, movies to watch, a few cheerleaders to help them stay on track in the first few weeks, and the outright availability of support. While individuals are undoubtedly going to do things their own way (and that’s perfectly fine), I’ll always advocate for the cold turkey method. It’s how I went vegan, despite a particular fondness for cheese and bad frozen pizza. I’m sure there’s some interesting psychology behind it that I’m not aware of, but beyond there, here’s how I went vegan in one easy step, and how you can, too!
Be proud of it, and let people know.
While I waited about a week to fully claim the word vegan, the day that I decided to make the change, I told a few close friends. After gauging their largely ambivalent reaction, I went for the good old Facebook Overshare. I posted something along the lines that I wanted to switch to a vegan lifestyle, and that my trajectory would be starting immediately. I was met mostly with friendly enthusiasm. My blessed mum was as concerned as a mama can get about my nutrition, but this was easily calmed when I proved that I was making nutritional efforts with the diet.
There was something so exciting for me about being able to say, “I’m going vegan,” and feeling that I’d joined something that was much larger than myself. Having a word that clearly defined my lifestyle from there on gave me an excellent standard as a consumer, and activist, and an educator.
Treat. Yo. Self.
Finally hitting day one? Here’s your mission: spend a week getting cozy with THE most delicious snacks and meals you can get your hands on. Yes, the inevitable day will come when you’re making burritos or pasta for the nth day in a row because life has gotten crazy and you just don’t have the time to spoil yourself rotten, but that day is not today! Make a list of all the non-vegan cravings you can see yourself having, pop by some grocery stores, and keep yourself stocked up. Earth Balance makes tons of salty snacks like cheddar squares, cheesy and buttery popcorn, and box-style mac ‘n cheese. Speaking of cheese, instead of settling for Daiya (which is sure to become a staple in your diet if you’re anything like me), take the time to sample small batch cashew cheeses like Treeline and Miyoko’s. May I recommend finding a vegan friendly wine and having yourself a Friday night solo party with the first four seasons of The OC? I can neither confirm nor deny that Netflix and Cheese has changed my life forever.
Cravings in the beginning are bound to happen, and the better prepared you are to face them, the less likely you’ll find yourself falling off the boat for a night and hanging out on the toilet all morning.
Watch the hard stuff.
This is a step that is entirely optional. While it was important for me to actually witness some of the atrocities happening to animals to “drive the point home,” I know many vegans who have been able to kick their empathy into gear without ever watching a single undercover or violent video. I chose to watch Earthlings, a vegan classic known for converting many almost instantly with its extensive coverage of the many ways humans exploit animals. For me, Earthlings was the end of my animal consuming life and a jump start for my veganism.
Jump into it with an ethical mind.
Yes, many vegans adopt the lifestyle for the health aspect of it, but having done Weight Watchers one or fifteen times over the course of my young life, I know how easy it is to have a cheat day and pay no mind to it. Making yourself aware of how incredibly wrong it is to use animals in any way, shape, or form is an invaluable tool that will make veganism a lifelong commitment instead of a month long trend.