Vegan bees! Your advice on/experience with converting?

posted 7 months ago in Food
Post # 2
Member
790 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: March 2019

I went vegan overnight 3 years ago after watching a documentary called Vegucated. There was a short segment on the treatment of animals in factory farming and suddenly it clicked for me. Here are some tips:

1. Read “Main Street Vegan.” It really simplifies veganism and has great tips for eating out, shopping for clothes, and having open conversations with family. 
2. Stay away from vegan cheese. I could not stand it when I first went vegan. 
3. Read the ingredients list on everything you buy. Sure, you’ll be shocked by the amount of dairy that’s hidden in certain foods (like some potato chips – what the heck?!) but you’ll also realize there is SO MUCH that you can eat. 
4. Accept that you’ll make mistakes and sometimes eat things you didn’t realize have animal products in them. Being vegan is not about being perfect, it’s about doing your best to live a lifestyle that promotes kindness to all beings. 

My husband is omni and is very supportive. When we moved in together he understood that I did not want leather furniture, down-filled pillows/duvets, etc. It sounds like your husband has a great deal of respect for your decision, so I think you should open up to him about your intensions to change your lifestyle! 

Post # 3
Member
29 posts
Newbee

I went vegan overnight not too long ago myself, also mostly because I felt a strong responsibility toward animals. However, I’m seeing so many positive health benefits that I know it was absolutely the right thing for me for multiple reasons. I’m lucky to have a super supportive family, so the transition was incredibly easy — honestly much easier than I anticipated. Something just clicked for me one day, and I haven’t looked back. I’ve done a ton of research myself, because this was a whole new world for me going into it, and I’ve found it’s one of the most intuitive, natural lifestyle shifts I’ve ever made.

Here are my tips based on my own journey and research (keep in mind I’m a newbie myself and NOT a dietician or expert):

1) As PP said, read labels on everything. Just because something is advertised as vegan/vegetarian friendly doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good for your body. You would be shocked at how much sugar and additives are added to foods that seem otherwise healthy based on their packaging and appearance, (pumpkin flaxseed cereal and vanilla almond milk are two that particularly surprised me with their high sugar content). Try to stay under 25g of added sugar per day. There’s a vast difference between simple sugars (found in processed foods) and complex sugars (found in whole foods like fruit) .

2) I found the Pick Up Limes YouTube channel and website, and they have been game-changing for me! Sadia is a registered vegan dietician, and she has tons of amazing vegan recipes, many of which I’ve tried. There are lots of vegan-friendly resources out there, but this one is particularly high on my personal list. She also talks a lot about the science behind food chemistry and what different foods do to and for your body.

3) Aim for a primarily whole foods diet, including lots of cruciferous vegetables, fruits, whole grains, healthy starches (brown rice, quinoa), legumes (beans, chickpeas, etc.), plant-based milks (I love plain almond milk), berries, seeds, and nuts (especially almonds and cashews). The closer a food looks to its original form, the better. Avoid as many boxed, canned, and processed foods as possible.

4) Experiment with spices and different flavorings. For example, I love to add cinnamon, vanilla extract, and almond butter to my oatmeal, then top with chia seeds and banana. SOOOO yummy!

5) Revisit your WHY as often as necessary. I have found that definitely keeps me on course, not that this journey has been all that difficult, to be perfectly honest. Give it 3 weeks (21 days) and journal how you feel at the beginning, during, and at the end of that time. I think you’ll be surprised at the changes you experience — physically, mentally, and emotionally. 

Best of luck to you. This will be, I think, one of the easiest and most rewarding lifestyle shifts you’ve ever undertaken. Remember to seek out support whenever you need it, and to keep revisiting your own personal WHY as often as you need to, and I think you’ll soon realize you never want to go back!

Post # 4
Member
1586 posts
Bumble bee

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absinthevintage :  You two need to be fully on the same page with your children.

Post # 5
Member
3580 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: June 2016

Congratulations on your new vegan journey! I went vegan overnight about 4 years ago after being vegetarian for 8. I have to say that the social aspect continues to be the hardest part (ie. people making fun of me, disrespecting me, general ignorance, going out to eat with a group and only getting water and fries, and so on). You’ll get used to it though. 

I started out plant-based, which was very helpful for me because vegan versions of animal products are going to taste different. Nowadays I’m totally down for vegan cheeses, meats, yogurts, etc. But I think when you’re fresh off eating the animal-based version, the differences are more prominent. Last night I made a cashew based alfredo for dinner. But when I first went vegan, it was easiest to continue eating the things omnis eat too- beans, rice, fruit, salad, veggies, potatoes, hummus, spaghetti, minestrone soups, etc. Because they taste the exact same as they always did.

The first few times I went grocery shopping were rough. It was hard. It suddenly felt like I couldn’t buy anything in the store. Nowadays I walk through the aisles and basically forget that the non vegan foods exist! 

I’d also say that you might not want to go from regular diet omni to super healthy vegan overnight. If you usually buy candy, get some (vegan) candy! If you usually eat ice cream, buy some nondairy. Find a good vegan restaurant near you do you can still go out every once and awhile. Going vegan is a huge lifestyle change, but not every part of your lifestyle has to be entirely overhauled. 

I personally find that it helps so much to be a part of the immense online vegan world. The r/vegan subreddit is nice to scroll through. I follow so many vegan Youtubers. It helps veganism feel so much more normal, even though in my real life I barely know any vegans. Good YouTube channels- Pick Up Limes, Julien Solomita, Caitlin Shoemaker, Shelbizlee (mainly environmentalism content).

Take it easy on yourself as you begin this journey. If you accidentally buy something with gelatin, it’s ok! If you mess up and decide to eat cheese after a stressful day, it’s ok! If you accidentally buy lipstick that isn’t cruelty-free, it’s ok! You’re never going to be perfect. The goal is to help the climate and the animals. I think you’ll be amazed by how easy it is once it becomes your routine. And I bet once your husband sees how easy it is, he’ll begin to hop on board.

Let me know if you ever want to chat, or if you have any questions! Welcome to the most amazing club! 🙂

 

Post # 6
Member
9128 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper

Just on the point that pp’s said about checking labels is to learn your countries/regions labelling laws. For example where I am if an ingredient is less than 5% of the product then it does not need to listed on the ingredients label. 

Also get into the habit of not assuming. Just because something sounds vegan does not mean it is. Fries/chips for example are often not vegan as they commonly contain diary to make them crisp. Same as bread (but I am not going to mention what they put into some breads that make it non vegan).

Find a local vegan association that is specific to your country/region as they usually have lists of products available in store which can make it less daunting. You will be surprised by some items being vegan (they don’t advertise them as vegan due to the closed mindness of a lot of people). 

I personally am not a fan of substitues but the reason I originally became vegetarian as a child was due to not liking the texture and taste of meat so I don’t find the texture or taste of the substitutes much better. But there are plenty of recipes for complete and filling meals that have nothing to substitute for meat. 

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absinthevintage :  

Post # 7
Member
491 posts
Helper bee

Not at all vegan here, but just want to throw a food recommendation out there: my husband has to be egg/gluten/dairy-free and low sugar, which leads us to many vegan foods/recipes. Pinterest is your friend. Also, the So Delicious brand ice cream is the best we’ve found so far out of many trials. Very good. That or homemade coconut ice cream. While us going on this diet for his health reasons is different from you going vegan, I can say that having a safe treat or two will help!

Post # 8
Member
474 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: May 2021

When I first went vegetarian (before going vegan) I read a book called ‘Eating Animals’.

That helped A LOT because it totally changed my mindset on meat. Before the book, I was trying to avoid it while still craving it. After the book the thought of meat just absolutely grossed me out – and 5 years later it still does. It’s sooo much easier to avoid eating meat when you genuinely don’t want to.

Good luck bee! 

Post # 9
Member
2722 posts
Sugar bee

I went vegan after being vegetarian for a long time, but it still felt like a big switch. (It’s WAY easier to eat out, especially when traveling or if you don’t live in an area with vegan friendly restauants, as a vegetarian than a vegan.) Honestly at first I just wanted to reduce my consumption of dairy and see how it went, but I immediately felt so much better that it was easy to go all the way. Like a lot of people, I think I had an undiagnosed mild lactose intolerance, so even though I loved cheese and milk products I felt so much better once I stopped eating them — and I had been eating a lot of dairy as a vegetarian. 

I agree with PPs that having strong reasons why you’re doing it will really help. I also believe that it’s actually easier to go cold turkey than to try to ease in. Food decisions are usually made out of habit, and the fewer decisions you have the easier it is to stick to something. If every time you’re thinking “should I get the vegan dish or the omni dish?” then you’re making it way harder on yourself than if you automatically choose the one vegan thing on the menu. Sticking to new habits isn’t about will power (except for the will to actually begin the habit), it’s about making it as easy as possible for yourself to stick to the habit by reducing the number of choices you have to make. 

Food wise, I agree with PP to stick first to things that you already like that are vegan. There are plenty of “just happen to be vegan” foods that you probably already enjoy. Stir-fries, noodle and rice dishes, soups and stews, vegetable curries, pastas, bean and vegetable enchiladas, etc. Indian and Asian cuisines tend to be more veg friendly than most Western cuisines (though beware fish sauce in Asian cuisines and ghee and milk in Indian cuisine). Mediterranean cuisines can also be vegan friendly, e.g. stuffed grape leaves, hummus and babaghanoush, rice pilaf, falafel, grilled veggies, bean salads, pita, etc. Drawing inspiration from world cuisines (and knowing what veg options you can find at many different types of restaurants) will expand your options so that you’re not always just looking for a veggie burger or a veganized version of your old favorite dish. 

I find that if I’m craving something creamy or if a recipe feels like it needs to be balanced by flavors normally found in dairy, something naturally fatty like avocado or coconut milk usually do the trick. Coconut milk to replace cream in a rich butternut squash soup for example, or avocado/guacamole in a burrito to replace the creaminess of sour cream/cheese. Personally I try to stay away from too many processed faux meat/cheese products, but I do like some of them and eat them in moderation.

Post # 10
Member
240 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: December 2021

Lots of talk here so I’ll just try to keep my part short.

 

I am a vegan three years now. I’m a vegan for the environment, the animals, my health. The first six months were challenging because of cravings but give yourself time, be gentle with yourself, experiment with cooking and recipes and it will get easier. Lots of amazing options on the market that replace the things you love, so you won’t feel like you’re missing out. Eventually your palette changes, anyway –I don’t even think about meat anymore.

 

My fiancé is not vegan. I have never asked him to be and I never will. I believe it’s a personal choice. But, he is fully supportive of me being vegan. We stock an almost completely vegan fridge. While I am 100% vegan I would say he eats about 80% vegan. We cook all our meals together but every now and then he will make chicken or salmon but it will be for a meal prep for lunches. Other than that he really enjoys the food I cook, he discovered he LOVES oat milk, and he actively participates in looking for recipes. It has worked well for us.

 

As for kids, I am planning to continue cooking vegan food for them. They will eat what we feed them and there is no reason to change our kitchen and how it works currently just because a kid enters the picture. I think the challenge is less us deciding how to raise the kids but more how do we help family members know and respect it.

Post # 11
Member
319 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: October 2020

I went vegetarian cold turkey 3 years ago, but recently just became vegan. It was incredibly hard for me and has taken those three years to get where I am. Mainly it was the cheese!! But after not having it for almost a month the thought is actually grossing me out. That said, I won’t never ever again have dairy. That’s just not my reality. I think what makes a dietary change so difficult is feeling like you have to fit into that box. If you want a little bit of this a little bit of that here and there just eat it! And honestly, don’t ask the opinions of other people because they’re always going to tell you what you’re doing is wrong or should be different even if it’s coming from a place of kindness. 

be easy on yourself and do what makes your mind and body happy. If that’s 100% vegan for the rest of your life- amazing! If it’s not, STILL AMAZING!

 

ETA: my entire family is vegetarian, mostly vegans with the exception of my youngest sister who eats meat at restaurants and is not so happy about the dietary change in the house lol. This all happened in the last year (1 sister has been vegan for 4 years, two others 3 years and then my parents this past year along with my other little siblings) it makes things a lot easier to have a huge support system. Fiancé is not vegan or veg but eats whatever I cook and doesn’t mind! I still do make him meals with meat but since become vegan I’ve been cooking one thing to feed both of us.

 

 

will raise our kids vegetarian, but my biggest thing is I do not want them to have milk. 

Post # 13
Member
2722 posts
Sugar bee

Just wanted to add, I know I said I think going cold turkey is sometimes easier because it reduces the number of choices/temptations — but I don’t think that’s mutually exclusive with realizing you’ll mess up sometimes and that’s okay. Like PP, I believe it’s just about making choices that do the least harm when we are in the position to make those choices (and acknowledging that it is a huge privilege to be in a position to choose). 

If the aim of being vegan is fully divest ourselves of animal products, then I don’t think that it’s possible to ever be 100% without fully living off the grid — try as we might, there are animal products in the glue used to hold books together, in some home insulation materials, in many vaccines, etc. I still get my annual flu shot even though it has egg in it, because protecting my health and the health of others with weakened immune systems is more important to me in that situation. I’m not going to stop buying all products made with glue. I do my best to avoid cosmetics that are tested on animals but I mess up sometimes and forget to check the labels. I choose vegan vitamin supplements and over the counter medications (no conventional gel caps/gummies), but if I had a horrible headache/cramps and I could only get my hands on advil liquigels you can bet I’d take them. My diet is where I’m strictest, but I’ve definitely eaten chips and then realized they had whey powder in them; I sometimes order a dish labeled vegetarian, say “no cheese please”, and hope for the best, especially when I’m traveling or at restaurants where the staff doesn’t speak English well. 

I will also say that while I went cold turkey with my diet pretty quickly, it was a longer process for me to adjust my wardrobe and lifestyle. I didn’t throw out or donate all my leather shoes/belts/bags/wallets instantly. I used them for years, actually, until they wore out or went out of style and I donated them. And for a while I also bought used leather goods since it wasn’t contributing directly to the industry. I now buy vegan leather (or canvas) bags and shoes, and there are thankfully many more stylish and ethically sourced options than there were 10 years ago. But I do still have some wool and down-filled coats. Some people would say that means I’m not truly vegan. But again, I don’t think it’s possible to be truly vegan. I am just doing my best, but I’m certainly not perfect. 

Post # 14
Member
2452 posts
Buzzing bee

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absinthevintage :  I’m not a vegan, but I did a minor in nutrition while in college. You can certainly have a healthy vegan diet and also raise children as vegans, but that this will take extra research and planning on your part. Particularly look at where you’ll be getting iron, B12, and iodine, since those can be hard to get on a vegan diet. Children have more specialized nutritional and energy requirements, and there are conflicting opinions about whether veganism is appropriate for children, so you’ll likely want to do a lot of research and/or consult with a registered dietitian if you’ll be raising your children as vegans, just to make sure that they are not malnourished or that they don’t develop growth restrictions. Sorry, not trying to bash veganism, but again it does take extra research/planning, especially with kids.

I really think that the most important thing is to make sure that the sources you are getting your information from are legitimate. Certain things that seem legitimate aren’t always legitimate. Secondary sources can skew aspects of the primary literature to make their point seem more supported than it actually is. And anecdotes are pretty worthless. At the same time, every individual is different, so use the good information you gather and your own intuition to make the best decisions for yourself. I hope that makes sense.

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