WITH THE VEGAN diet so much in the news, many people want to ‘give it a go’ and see what all the fuss is about. But how do you ‘go vegan’? How do you begin, and what do you do? How do you know which foods you can eat and which you cannot? And how on earth do you begin to manage without milk, butter, cream and cheese, not to mention meat and fish, if you’re starting the vegan journey as a meat-eater? Not to mention other things such as knowing which cleaning products and make up are suitable to use (because they do not contain animal products or have not involved cruelty in their production), and which clothes, shoes, bags and accessories might contain silk, wool, leather, feathers, or fur....
Well, first of all, may I commend you for your interest in the vegan diet; I nearly said ‘way of life,’ which as you can see is really what it becomes. As you really get into it, your ‘circle of compassion’ as I like to call it, expands to cover more and more aspects of your life. That can seem overwhelming, so first of all I say do your best: keep it simple, do one thing at a time, and most of all keep reminding yourself why you wanted to go vegan in the first place and keep going. Here are some tips to help you on your way.
1) Make the intention to succeed and reach out to others. Yes, you can do it! Thousands of people have done so, have shown it to be a practical and joyful way of life, and more and more are joining the ranks as every day passes, so it’s actually getting easier and easier all the time. That’s not to minimize the challenge for each individual; the decision to go vegan is an important one and affects many aspects of one’s life. Ask for the respect—and hopefully the support as well—from those close to you; reach out to others who have ‘gone there’; and keep going.
2) Go at your own pace and make life as easy for yourself as you can. It’s your life, and your journey, so do what feels comfortable for you! That might mean an all-or-nothing approach, sweeping your cupboards bare, going vegan overnight, or you might feel like taking a gentler approach, changing one thing at a time—swapping dairy milk for one of the plant milks. Try the different ones and find your favourite; having a fully vegan meal once a week, or once a day, depending from your starting point. But keep going—remember your intention, and persevere.
3) Keep going and reach out. Explore the different delicious vegan foods that are coming onto the market all the time; talk to other vegans. If you like cooking, try new vegan recipes, treat yourself to a vegan meal in a restaurant, spoil yourself with some of the vegan treats you can buy, come on, reward yourself, have fun! It’s a wonderful way of life with so many benefits, both personally—better health, wonderful food—this can no longer be contradicted, vegan food can be truly gorgeous, if you doubt this, try it and see! And of course the joy of knowing your diet and life-style is having a truly positive impact on the world, saving animals from pain, suffering and slaughter, saving their ecology, enabling more people to eat well, and hopefully, saving our beautiful planet.
Rose Elliot, MBE, is Britain’s foremost vegetarian cookery writer and her books have won her popular acclaim all over the world.
Rose has written over 60 vegetarian and vegan books, with sales of around three and a half million worldwide. Some of her most popular titles include Simply Delicious, Not Just a Load of Old Lentils, The Bean Book, Complete Vegetarian Cookbook, Rose Elliot’s Mother, Baby and Toddler Book, Rose Elliot Vegetarian Supercook, Vegan Feasts, and Sumptuous Suppers. http://www.roseelliot.com