How To: Become vegan
The helpful and non-judgemental guide
Veganism is lifestyle, one that many people have opinions on and navigating it can be daunting. But you don’t have to become vegan overnight, its a journey. so here are some tips to becoming vegan
NB: If you are vegetarian, skip to step 5
NB: If you don't want to start with changing your diet, go to step 14
1. Brush up on your veggie cooking skills, because veggies are amazing. I'm thinking creamy pumpkin and mushroom pasta, cauliflower rice, broccoli and capsicum stirfries... experiment and find your favourites. Introduce Meatless Mondays, and gradually extend that through the week. If you need some inspiration check out Oh She Glows and Minimalist Baker
2. Find a local store that sells veggie alternatives to your favourite meaty foods - pies, schnitzels, nuggets. Woolies and Coles now have heaps of alternatives (I do love Fry's Family), but if you prefer to shop local/independent, you may have to search around for a bit
3. If you main problem is that your parent/guardian says no, then try ordering out vegetarian, and subtly requesting veggie meals at home. If your family members are reluctant, try to cook more meals... whatever qualms they may have about not eating meat will usually be outweighed by the fact that they didn't have to cook. Laziness is totally your best friend here
4. When you are ready and able, become fully vegetarian. This means no meat and no fish, pretty straight forward
5. Identify what you will miss most about being vegan. For me it was Golden Gaytimes and my grandmother's cauliflower cheese. And then find the vegan alternative. For example, Golden Gaytimes are now totally possible, I've seen and eaten heaps of golden gaytime icecreams and cakes. Smith and Daughters make a delectable queso and its often somewhere on their menu. I don't tell her, but it tastes even better than my gran's. Trust me, now a days you can get/make/find anything vegan-ised
6. Start buying animal rennet free cheese, if you haven't already (rennet is made from the lining of a animals' intestines) and avoid foods that have gelatin in them (made from hooves/bones). Gelatinous foods include most chewy lollies, although they're are plenty of plant based gelatines, just look for agar/carrageenan/pectin gelatins. If you can't find any lollies in your local supermarket/store, check out the Cruelty Free Store which has heaps
7. Swap your dairy milk for a plant based alternative. Some really good brands are Vitasoy and Bonsoy, and there are heaps of different types: soy, almond, coconut, rice, oat, cashew, hemp (though I can't claim to have tried the last three), Find one that you like the best, although I have found that almond is best for cooking
Hot Tip: Don't buy crappy almond milk, its absolutely horrid and tastes like rancid water. So check out so recommended brands (I use VitaSoy's original/unsweetened)
8. If you are a baker, or if you ever cook at all, start using egg replacers in your baking. While these can't do poached/scrambled/boiled eggs, they can do about everything else, including meringues. I have had great results with the Organ powder egg replacer, but you can make your own with flax seeds, if you like. Plus, its really economical, you can get like, 60 eggs for $10. I have made great fritters and banana bread, to name a couple, with vegan egg replacers and they are really easy to use
9. Start ordering vegan when you are out and about. Think soy milk in your morning coffee and requesting vegan avocado toast (unless you are saving to buy a house of course)
11. Start introducing more vegan meals, until you magically transform into a (baby) Vegan™. Please note, you can not become True Vegan™, until you have been at least once to the Lord of the Fries (its iconic) and to the Cruelty Free Shop (it'll change your life, I'm talking vegan cookie dough and pies and everything else)
12. Now that you are officially vegan, its time to tackle vegan cheese. Maybe you have already had a go, I don't know, but either way its a tumultuous journey. Certainly, vegan cheese has gotten a lot better, for the best vegan cheese I would out at restuarants that make their own, like Smith and Daughters or Red Sparrow. However, for at home consumption, your best bet is just to try and experiment with them, which ones melt, which ones don't, which ones taste like boiled coconuts and which ones actually resemble cheese. Personally, I like Sheese for melting in toasties (Now available at Woolies), and Follow Your Heart for oven baked goodies (Now available at most Coles). But there are so many options, so try them all, you'll end up finding some that are right for you
13. I will touch on it more below, but make sure you are getting enough B12, Iron and Calcium!
14. Now, you have mastered Baby Vegan™, time to look at your cosmetics and personal hygiene products. Of course, you don't have to do this list in precisely this order, so you can start with the non-food stuff first if you like. But this step is about changing your personal hygiene products and cosmetics to companies that don't test on animals. This is usually identified by the Cruelty Free logo. But be warned, many companies like to fashion themselves an official looking logo, which may look good, but doesn't mean that they are accredited. I always look for this accreditation's logo
15. Next, do the same thing, but instead of just cruelty free, make them all vegan. You may as well do these two steps in one, it will probably be easier. Vegan means that they don't use any animal products, however some vegans do buy products with Australian sourced honey, to support the honey industry which is vital for our crops and eco-systems. I personally don't, but my mother does. If you do decide to do so, try and make sure that you are purchasing honey where the bees weren't gassed, which can happen and isn't great
16. There are heaps of vegan options at mainstream makeup and chemist stores, including PriceLine, Amcal, Discount Chemists, Mecca and Sephora. Just look for online lists of their vegan products - there are loads!
17. For all people without periods, skip this step. For those who do... Hello, fellow period sufferers. they suck, I know. But what else sucks is that most personal hygiene products for your period were tested on animals, including and probably most horrifically, tampons. As a side note, disposable pads and tampons have a significant impact on our waste - think about how many you would use in a month (a lot), times however many people there would be getting monthly periods in Australia (a lot), and it becomes pretty environmentally damaging (a lot of damage!). Some good alternatives are reusable pads like GladRags (completely hygienic I promise), period panties like PantyProps (these are underwear that absorb your period) and reusable cups (don't worry, these are also safe) the DivaCup
18. For all the people that are having sex... I hope you are practicing safe sex and using condoms. However, most condoms aren't vegan but contain a dairy protein called casein. Thus veganise your sex life, and use vegan condoms. You can definitely get them in Australia here, but I'm sure there are other places that sell them. While we are talking about it, you might also want to use vegan lube, which you can get here
19. A small note about Birth Control. All birth control pills sold in Australia apparently contain lactose (a derivative of Milk). Again, your choice as they are convenient but there are other options that could be explored. A quick Ecosia search lead me to this handy guide, but I'm sure there are more comprehensive ones. As with all the health advice on this list, please consult a doctor as well! I am no health expert!
20. Waxing and shaving is a difficult vegan topic. Many people have different opinions, principally because most options have been tested on animals at some point. Many vegans I know choose to shave using the Preserve razor brand, however I use Sugar Strip Ease, which is a vegan UK company (Sugaring is kinda like waxing)
21. Just a double check... your shampoo, conditioner, hair dye, make up, cleanser, exfoliator, face mask, moisturisers and nail polish (among other things) can be made vegan. If you have any questions, just use the contact page, I'm happy to answer any (reasonable) inquiries!
22. Next up is your wardrobe! There is no need to chuck out any already owned leather/silk/other non vegan items, unless you feel uncomfortable wearing them. If you do choose to get rid of them, donate them or gift them to a friend, there is no need to waste them now that have been bought
23. There are heaps of vegan clothing options, and most of your wardrobe will already be vegan. However, if you want assurance that what you are buying is vegan, check out our 100% vegan range (there are heaps of other vegan clothing store, worthy of their own blog post).
24. Yes, there are vegan leather jackets and faux silk slips, but just make sure you are buying high quality, and preferably natural products, or else you'll have an experience similar to my squeaky faux leather jacket
25. Now for the scary controversial, random dude on tumblr yelling at you in ALL CAPS topic: what to feed your pet. Now, I have never had a guinea pig or rabbit, but I'm pretty sure that they are easy vegans, as are cows, horses, sheep, chickens and ducks. Just make sure than when you are buying any packaged food for these animals (particularly for chickens) you buy the brands that don't use animal products in their food.
Dogs and cats are where the real claws come out. Everyone has a different opinion, so if people, vegans and non-vegans, tell you that you are terribly wrong, don't lose heart. Personally, I think its very possible for dogs to be vegetarian, as in nature they were omnivorous. So the dogs in our family eat veggies and stuff, as well as eggs from our chickens. Its very important though that dogs have something hard to chew on, for their dental health. This is why dogs chew on bones, however we use vegan dog biscuits (BioPet's) to replace that.
However my cat is not vegetarian. Cats, in the wild, never really eat anything other than meat, so I don't think its a good idea to substantially change that. So my cat is fed sustainably caught tuna and store bought biscuits. We tried vegan biscuits, but she rejected them out of hand. Your cat may love them, so give them a go. My one is just a bit of a princess. I'm still searching for other brands, so if you have any recommendations, comment them below.
That being said, there are apparently plenty of vegan dogs and cats around the world that are perfectly healthy, so each to their own. If you are changing your pet's diet however, make sure to check in with the vet regularly to make sure that your pet is a-okay.
26. Now for the health recommendations. The only thing that vegans can't get in ample supply from plant based sources, is B12, so I take a B12 tablet daily, that combined with mushrooms and other yummy stuff keeps my levels really high. Many B12 supplements that you can buy from the supermarket are either sold by companies that test on animals or are coated in gelatin, so you'll want to find a vegan B12. I take Fab Irons vegetablet B12, which you can get from Priceline. Nutritional Yeast (Nooch) is a cheesy like substance that is high in B12, so this is your official health based recommendation to eat more Mac n' Cheese (I like this recipe, its quick and easy)
27. At least for the first 8-10 months, I would recommend having bi or trimonthly blood tests to monitor your iron and calcium levels, because these are the ones that many vegans may fall behind on. While its relatively easy to get iron and calcium in a vegan diet, its often hard to change patterns and get into the habit of having enough of rich sources.
28. If you are experiencing low levels of iron, try incorporating more high iron cereals, tofu, cashews and almonds, more broccoli and more legumes into your diet. Try a lentil lemon and almond bake, or a Christmas stirfry (broccoli and spinach with red capsicum). To maximise your iron intake, your should take iron concentrated foods with foods high in Vitamin C, like lemon or capsicum. For low levels of calcium, try fortified plant based milk, or fortified anything really (you can get fortified ice cream!), tofu, hummus, brazil nuts and almonds,
Interestingly, you absorb less iron if you take it with sources of calcium, so if you having a meal high in iron, try and avoid incorporating high in calcium foods. I know some of the sources overlap a bit (ie. broccoli), but just keep that in mind.
29. I mentioned this before, but most capsules (the smooth easier to swallow pills) are coated in Gelatin, which is made from hooves. Thus they aren't vegan. So go for dissolve under the tongue or normal tablets. The pharmaceutical industry is notorious for testing on animals, so there is a divide in whether vegans should consumer medicine. Obviously this is up to you, but personally I do take medicine if I am very sick. I try to avoid it, but in the absence of alternatives (other than Homeopathic remedies, and you can make up your own mind about those), chemist bought pills are really the only option.