advice, food, veganism

So… You Wanna Go Vegan??

Newbie to Newbie

So! You’ve decided to become a vegan but you’re tired of looking for expert advice? It can sometimes be intimidating to get advice from someone that has been vegan for years and years. It may make you feel a bit inferior; how am I supposed to live up to THAT expectation when I’ve only just begun this vegan journey? Well, I’m a new vegan with tips for other new vegans like you! At the time of writing this post, I have been vegan for only four months! So here are four tips from a four month vegan!

Drew’s Not-So Expert Advice!

1) Find Other Vegans!
This may be particularly hard during a global pandemic when we are meant to socially distance BUT thank God technology exists! The literal first thing I did when I decided to become vegan was make my @drew.goesvegan Instagram. Through this Instagram and a mutual friend, a met a person that was not only queer, vegan, but also lived in my area! They were able to give me tons of great tips on local vegan places to eat at as well as vegan brands to try when I went shopping! From there, I have met some really amazing people through my vegan Instagram who post amazing recipes, tips, and share the intersectionality of their vegan lifestyle with other parts of their identities (i.e being a queer vegan or being a black vegan).

2) Be Okay with Making Mistakes!
One week after I became vegan, I went through a really difficult life transition. At that time, we were allowed to travel to other cities if it was to visit family. So I went to my mom’s house about 45 minutes away and asked her to make my favorite Soul Food dishes: neckbones, greens with hamhocks, black eyed peas. Soul Food is always a source of comfort for me but many Soul Food dishes aren’t vegan. And for that time being, when I was going through that difficult time, I told myself that I could make this one exception. After that visit, I went back into my vegan lifestyle.
Since then, I have become more disciplined in sticking to my vegan lifestyle. However, there have been times were I have unknowingly had dairy products. For example, I had cauliflower tots that tasted amazing only to find out months later that they have milk and egg in them.
Mistakes will happen. One day you may knowingly eat animal products, one day it’s in a food dish that you wouldn’t have expected animal products to be in. You’re only human! Slip ups will happen and that’s okay! If you dwell too much on that slip up, it might drive you to believe that you should just quit while you’re ahead. But every effort you make to eat less animal products not only benefits your health but helps the environment as well!

3) Reframe Your Mindset!
This is actually my third attempt at the vegan lifestyle. The other two times, I thought about all the things I couldn’t eat anymore. How I would miss out on my favorite foods that are made with animal products. This time when I pursued the vegan diet, I didn’t think of what I couldn’t have but rather focus on how to find vegan substitutes for things I already loved!
There are so many more vegan options out there than you may think. One of my favorite snacks EVER is Cheez-Its. But guess what? There’s a vegan sub for that as well as many other favorite snacks! Soul Food? Found a Black owned vegan pop-up shop that occasionally offers Soul Food Sunday plates. PLUS discovering Soul Food cookbooks made by Black vegan chefs. Looking for a meat substitute? Try the Beyond Burger, Impossible Burger, Gardein products, or Morning Star products. I’ve heard Aldi also has their own brand of vegan meat substitutes! Need something a cheese substitute? Check out Miyoko or Daiya! If you can’t have soy, be sure to check the label on these meat and dairy substitutes as some of these products contain soy.

4) Keep It Simple!
It’s so easy to go into the vegan diet thinking you need to get all of these new kitchen gadgets, buy the most expensive and organic foods, only shopping at co-ops, going out to eat at vegan restaurants every meal. Those are the things I needed to do in order for this vegan lifestyle change to stick. But I’m a recent college graduate on a teacher’s salary. I quickly learned that I do not have the money to do all of that.
After a quick Google search of “how to be vegan on a budget”, I realized that it’s a lot easier than I thought to find foods that are vegan. Rice and beans is an easy budget friendly meal that’s completely vegan. When buying produce, only buy as much as you need for that particular recipe. That way you only end up spending like 70 cents for one medium white onion. I use a lot of oat milk in recipes, smoothies and the like and I learned how to make my own so if I run out early, I don’t have to go to the store and buy more. Tips like stocking up on staples and meal planning have really helped me stick to my grocery budget AND still be vegan! Do your own research and find out that it’s definitely possible to be vegan without totally breaking the bank.

I hope you have found these tips helpful. As I stated, I’m a new vegan too! Why don’t we help each other out! If you have any other tips that have helped you in your vegan journey, please comment them below, send me a message on Instagram, or use the Contact page to send me a message! I’m not here to impart my wisdom but rather to make this a give and take process. Sharing my experiences and wanting to hear from you.

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