Bits of wisdom for new vegans

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Marco Verch/Creative Commons

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Going vegan has become increasingly common, but its popularity doesn’t make the process any less difficult. Whether people are going vegan for ethical and environmental reasons or if it’s just because they just want a change in diet, being vegan takes a lot of discipline and sometimes extra work. As a vegan for almost five years, I can tell you some of the best advice I have personally given and received. Though consulting a dietician or nutritionist can be an important step in deciding if being vegan is right for you, here are some important tips that have made being vegan easier for me.

If you have a vegan friend, ask them for advice and help if you need it.

If you have a vegan friend, don’t be afraid to ask them for their wisdom about how they live a vegan lifestyle. If they really care about and enjoy their veganism, they will be glad to help you pursue a vegan diet and show you the ropes. When I first transitioned to a vegan diet, I had a friend that went vegan three months prior who became my vegan guru. She gave me countless tips and was there for me whenever I needed any questions answered. If you don’t have any vegans in your life, check out the vegan subreddit, a supportive community that will help.

It is OK to make mistakes.

Like any challenge or experience, it is totally fine to make mistakes. If you accidentally eat some cheese or eggs, you shouldn’t beat yourself up. Even if it’s not exactly an accident, acknowledge that it’s OK and that you’ll keep trying. One mistake or regrettable choice doesn’t mean you aren’t a vegan or that you don’t care about eating a vegan diet. You have to acknowledge that you are going to slip up. I certainly made mistakes and ate some nonvegan items in my few first months. All I did was recognize that I was trying my best and continued on my journey. Don’t give up when you slip up! Continue doing your best, and enjoy the food.

You can still get takeout from your favorite restaurants.

Some people worry that when they go vegan, they’ll lose all their favorite food. Fortunately, it’s 2021, and many establishments have vegan options. Chipotle, one of my favorites, has a vegan “meat” option called sofritas and Chipotle gives out free guacamole with any veggie burrito. Additionally, many local Mexican restaurants have a veggie burrito that can be “veganized” by holding the sour cream and cheese. Carl’s Jr. and Burger King also have meatless burgers that can be made vegan by holding the mayo and cheese. Thankfully, you have many more options now and you can keep gobbling food from your favorite restaurants. It takes a bit of work though — at some restaurants, you’ll have to ask specifically for a meal to be made without certain items, and some restaurants are more equipped for these kinds of changes than others. It can be really worth it to ask for vegan substitutes though. You might find a hidden gem at your favorite restaurant by asking for a vegan option.

Going vegan — whether for a month or for life — is tough, coming from experience. However, if you persist and continue to try your best, the journey is worthwhile. For me, becoming vegan was one of the best decisions of my life and I do not regret it. Although I do miss Spam, I do think everyone should at least try going vegan once in their life. I hope that anyone who tries this won’t regret it and that they love going vegan.

Contact Nicholas Clark at [email protected].