Anyone willing to acknowledge they know me will tell you two things about me: One, I’m not as funny as I think I am, and two, the chance of me staying on a diet for more than a week is as likely as Transformers winning an Oscar. So when I decided to become a vegan for a month, the consensus amongst friends was I wouldn’t make it to the end of the first day.
Their doubt was reasonable considering I consume cheese like it’s my second job and that my love of pork belly borders on obsessive. To everyone’s surprise, including my own, I managed to go without meat, dairy, and eggs well past the designated month. (Read the four-part series: Going Vegan)
Once friends and family saw that even a carnivore like me could stick to veganism and lose weight in the process, they asked for tips on how to adopt an animal-free diet. Some were curious for ethical reasons. Others were concerned about their health or the environment. Whatever your reason for choosing a plant-based diet, here are 10 tips to help you become a vegan.
1) Consider Going Vegetarian First
Since quitting cold turkey can be traumatic, consider slowly eliminating non-vegan foods from your diet. Start with meat and then gradually stop eating eggs and dairy. (Photo courtesy FlickrDan4th)
2) Clear Out Your Cupboards and Fridge
If you’re anything like me, the first few days of a new diet are more torturous than listening to Twilight fans discuss who Bella should really end up with. The cravings are intense and the desire to cheat is constant. Once you go vegan, avoid temptation by clearing out your cupboards and fridge of all non-vegan foods. Naturally, meat, fish, and dairy are out, but so are honey and almost all store-bought baked goods since they have either eggs or milk. Buy lots of whole grains like quinoa, bulgur, and farro. Also stock up on fruits, vegetables, lentils, nuts, and beans. Get whole-grain cereals and steel-cut oats for breakfast, use agave syrup as a sweetener, and replace your regular milk with hemp, rice, or almond milk. (Photo courtesy Flickr/waferboard)
3) Know Your Non-Vegan Foods/Drinks
Being a vegan is more than just avoiding meat, dairy, and eggs. A lot of foods have hidden animal products. Refined cane sugar is usually filtered through animal bone char. Soy yogurts and cheeses can have casein (a milk derivative), and cereals, chips, and crackers often have whey (another milk by-product). Also, wine and beer are often clarified with either albumen, casein, gelatin, or isinglass (fish bladders), although there are vegan wines and beers that are available. For an exhaustive list of animal ingredients that are found in food, check out PETA’s Animal Ingredients List. (Photo courtesy Flickr/ilovebutter)