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WHAT TO DO IF YOU MESS UP
So what do you do if you accidentally or purposely eat something non vegan? Do you freak out? give up? get mad at yourself? Lets talk about it..
While I have eaten animal products on accident, I have never purposely eaten them while being vegan. But if you do, it is okay!! Again, don't freak out over it. It doesn't mean you can't be vegan anymore and that you should totally give it up, it just means you ate something non vegan and now you have a choice of what to eat next. Back on Day 12 I talked about having cravings, why you get them, and how not to get them. If you've read though that, you may remember me saying that you often get cravings for non vegan foods because you're not eating enough and so you start cravings high calorie, high fat foods. This may be the reason why you chose to eat something non vegan and if it is, I'd recommend making sure that you're feeling- not only full- but satisfied after every meal. Are you eating food that you enjoy or are you bored with your meals? If you address those things, it likely won't happen again. Another thing that might've happened is that you were doing good for a while and never felt like eating animal products at all, but then your friends made pizza and it just smelled so good in the moment and you impulsively decided to have a slice. For this situation, I'd say the best way to prevent it in the future is to reconnect with the ethical side and learn to think about it every time you see a non vegan food. Not in a neurotic, depressing way. Just be aware of it so when you see that pizza, you might think it smells good but you also know of what the cow had to go through for that cheese to be there. By doing that- smells that I use to think were good are kind of repulsive or just not appealing at best and I no longer think chicken wings or scrambled eggs look appetizing because I am aware of what they once were.
When you accidentally eat something non vegan- say you just assumed it was vegan but then looked at the ingredients and saw there was something in it you would've never expected, you're bound to feel a little bad. I certainly felt this way for a while (at least the first year and a half) whenever it would happen to me and I'd get kinda down on myself for it. Recently I've realized that that doesn't help at all. Getting mad at yourself for doing something you didn't mean to doesn't usually help prevent it from happening again. The reason I know that to be true is because I've accidentally eaten non vegan foods probably 30 times in the 2.5 years I've been vegan. So getting worked up about it never did help. You're bound to make a lot of mistakes at the beginning and still will likely make a few even after you feel like you've really got it down. But like all other mistakes you make in life, you just need to learn from them. Don't get mad at yourself. It doesn't fix anything that's already been done. And definitely don't think that you're the only vegan who's accidentally eaten animal products... I would estimate 98% have at least once.
My most recent time was about 2 months ago when I just assumed that the salt and vinegar pringles were vegan.. because the regular ones are and what else would they add to those to make them salt and vinegar? Well as I'm eating my first one, I decide to check out the ingredients only to find out theres whey protein in them..?? Something I'd never really expect but instead of getting mad at my self for not reading the ingredients before I bought them, I just laughed it off and let my mom eat the rest.
If you're looking for some great recipe youtubers, I figured I'd recommend a few instead of just linking recipes which is what I was going to do at first but I though- hey this makes more sense. So instead of buying cookbooks, you can watch these people who have loads of recipe videos for free!
If you want to check out the few recipes I've made on my channel, here's the link.
So there are 12 vegan youtubers who I think make awesome recipe videos that you should definitely check out! Hope that helps a little bit. If you do like having actually recipe books, one that I have that's awesome is Oh She Glows by Angela Liddon. When I hadn't yet gone fully vegan, I was given a vegetarian cookbook called Meatless by 'the editors of whole living magazine'. Until now I always thought it was by Martha Stewart because on the front it also says 'foreword by martha stewart' and apparently I only read the last two words... but if you like Martha- she's in there. Even though a lot of the recipes contain dairy, eggs, and honey, I still use it to this day because whats really nice is it has all the recipes labeled with a 'v' if they're vegan and I'd say at least half are and most others can be made vegan be leaving something out or substituting it. Other than that, most book stores surprisingly have a pretty decent selection of veg/vegan cookbooks which is nice so it shouldn't be that hard to find one!
VITAMINS + Nutrients
One things people are usually concerned about when it comes to veganism is that they are not going to be able to get enough vitamins or nutrients or that they'll have to take a bunch of supplements. Now I am by no means a doctor or nutritionist or dietician but I can tell you that you can get all the nutrients needed through a vegan diet, except one. Let's start with the ones people get the most worried about.
Iron: So as the chart shows, females need about 8-18 mg of iron a day while male need a little less, 8-11 mg.
If you don't have very good eyesight, it may look like there's 88 mg in 1 cup of soybeans, 66 mg in 1 cup of lentils and so on, but there is a decimal between the numbers for each food.
The majority of the foods on this list are very common foods, easy to find in stores, and pretty inexpensive. Keep in mind, this is not a complete list of every single vegan food that contains iron, as many foods just have smaller amounts, so there is iron in a lot of things that you probably never even though of.
Calcium: A ton of people seem to think that cow milk is basically the only food that contains calcium and without drinking it, your bones are gonna get weak and eventually you'll develop osteoporosis. And that couldn't be farther from the truth because milk is actually bad for the bones.
It works like this: our bodies are not meant to be acidic, dairy brings acidity into the bloodstream, in order to neutralize that the body leeches calcium from the bones and then you pee it out.
Here's an article that I think you'll find really interesting that explains all of this if you're a little skeptical (which is understandable if you are because nobody likes to find out that they've been lied to their entire life).
We need about 1,000 mg of calcium per day.
Omega's: Nuts and seeds are really good sources of omega 3 + 6 and should definitely be part of you diet unless you're finding other ways to get them. If you're not really into straight up munching of nuts so you're sitting there like, 'okay great but how do you even eat any of them in a tasty way...' here are some ideas:
- Trail Mix
- If you eat oatmeal or cereal, sprinkle some flax, hemp, or chia seeds on top. Or wheat germ too (although I've never had it, i assume it would go okay with that?)
- Any of those over vegan yogurt
- Sesame seeds can go over your savory meals like rice, pasta, sushi, spring rolls, heck even potatoes
- Make or buy granola with nuts/seeds in it
- Add flax, hemp, or chia seeds to smoothies
As for the other things:
- Edamame kind of reminds me of lima beans... they're great if you stir fry them mixed with other veggies.
- Tahini tastes great if you mix it with the right things- otherwise you'll get nightmares about it. Mix it with maple syrup/agave and dip sweet potato fries in. Other mixtures I've seen are: tahini, lime juice, water, liquid aminos, apple cider vinegar over salad and another one is tahini, liquid aminos, lime juice, pb, ginger used to dip spring rolls in.
Vitamin D: Besides fortified foods, D is not found in abundance naturally in any vegan foods. There are some foods that contain small amounts but the majority of the vitamin D you'll get will either need to come from a supplement or sunlight. I recommend sunlight as the prime way but personally I'm not a huge fan of sitting outside in 5 F temperatures during the winter to get my vitamins. So if you live in an area with cold winters, you might consider supplementing for that period of time, otherwise it can be a good reminder to spend a little time outside every day.
B12: This infographic pretty much sums it all up. But I'll rephrase it in my own words anyways :) Not being able to get B12 from food on a vegan diet does not disprove the lifestyle. Back in the day, we would have been able to get B12 from the soil that we grew our plants in but times have changed and now with our advanced agricultural practices that have depleted the soil where we grow our crops, we must supplement. While you're a meat eater, B12 is being supplemented to the animals you eat. When you stop eating meat, you're not receiving the supplementation and therefore you must find a new method to do so. There are a few food products that are often supped with B12 but unless you're consistently eating large quantities of those, its best to either do the pills, spray, or injections. The pills are probably the most common and what I would recommend (do make sure that you are getting vegan ones though because some do contain animal products) and you can research the difference between cyano- and methylcobalamin if you'd like but most people go with the cyanocobalamin. If you like getting stabbed with needles then I'd go with the injections because they last for months before you need to get a new one.
Those are the main vitamins that people are concerned about but of course there are many more to be aware of and make sure you're getting sufficient amounts of. What I want to be clear on is that both vegans and non vegans can be deficient in any vitamin or nutrient. I'm not trying to say that since it is possible to get enough of these things, that everyone will. You should be aware of what you're eating and what's in it, doesn't matter if you're vegan or not. And if you have a certain condition that, for instance, makes it hard for you to absorb iron from foods, then obviously supplementing and listening to your doctor is that best idea. Or if you just want to be safe and supplement anyways, go for it. There are lots of supps out there that do not contain animal products. Be aware though that the supplement is not the same as getting that nutrient from a whole food. Humans are not meant to get their nutrients from pills, although that is unfortunately necessary for B12.
I know I've mentioned this website before but if you'd like to see how much of every vitamin, mineral, amino acid, and nutrient that is in a specific food or that you eat in a day if you log in all your meals- check out cronometer.com.
ELIMINATING ALL NON-VEGAN FOODS
Over the next few days or weeks or whatever works for you, I want you to work on getting rid of all non-vegan foods from your diet if you haven't done so already. Maybe you decided, when you stopped eating dairy, that you wouldn't purchase anything that contained it, but maybe you decided to just stick to the things like cream cheese and milk and haven't yet stopped purchasing things like crackers that contain dairy. If the latter is the case for you then stay tuned because I'm gonna give you some tips to help you go completely vegan!
Here's what you'll want to do: Make it a habit to always read the ingredients of every food you pick up off the shelf. First read the allergen information and if it says, 'contains: egg' or 'contains: shellfish' then you don't need to read through the ingredients but if it doesn't list any animal products, you can't just assume that it's vegan because, for example, honey is never listed in the allergen information.
If some of your favorite foods have non vegan products in them, that doesn't mean 10/10 times you have to completely give them up, as there may be products very similar that are vegan. Sometimes you might not be abel to find something like it and in that case you have to remind yourself of why you're doing this (whatever that is for you).
In the beginning, just focus on meat, dairy, eggs, and honey! I say this because I want to give you a list of things that you'll find in the ingredients of some foods that do not stand out as non-vegan but are in fact animal products... and I don't want you to think that you should worry about these. I want this to be something you can come back to later when you feel comfortable enough to eliminate them or perhaps you choose to just stick with the things you know and continue to use these things which is your choice. Im not an all or nothing person and I think its best not to overwhelm yourself with weird names you have to try to remember if thats not something you want to do. But perhaps you are going vegan for ethical reasons and you want to do everything possible to not contribute to cruelty, so here are 'hidden animal products' that you might choose to get rid of at the right time for you:
- Casein/Sodium Caseinate/Calcium Caseinate: a protein derived from animals milk; usually will be listed just as casein; can be an ingredient without milk being in the allergen info
- Confectioner's Glaze: comes from a material secreted by the lac insect; usually found in candies
- Gelatin: a protein obtained from boiling the 'leftovers' (skin, bones, tendons, ligaments, etc) of animals; found in things like Jell-O, most marshmallows, certain candies- especially gummy ones
Those are the main ones that you'll see most often but PETA has a list of a ton of minor ones which I would say nobody should worry about because it's impossible to remember all of them but I will link it for those who are interested. Again, just do what you can. It's not about perfection, it's about intention.
There is also the issue of palm oil which is debated quite a bit between veganism. Palm oil is not an animal product but it does cause harm to animals. Some people claim that, since it is not an animal product, it is by definition vegan. Some people claim that, since it is very harmful to animals (not to even mention to the environment and people), vegans should avoid it. Personally, I believe its an individual choice and no one is a better or worse person if they choose to eat it or not to eat it. But everyone should at least be aware of the horrible things that take place in this industry, so please read this short article that highlights just 10 things you should know about palm oil. My recommendation is not to worry about it until a few weeks or months from now/ whenever you feel ready to take that step. I've gone through periods of time where I didn't eat palm oil but I always decided it wasn't really that big of a deal (because I wasn't educated enough at the time) and went back to eating things that contained it, but through the research I did while typing up this little paragraph, I've decided not to consume it anymore! And I made a video about it too which you can check out here.
There are a few other foods that some vegans eat and others don't. The main ones are table sugar (brown and white) as bone char can often be used in the refining process, and products like Kellogg's Cereal, for example. If you read the label of their cereals, it may not have anything that stands out as not vegan but their cereals (not sure if all are or just most) are actually fortified with Vitamin D that is derived from animal sources. My opinion is that it should be your choice whether you want to consume them or not!!
traveling as a vegan
One of the more difficult things to do while following any sort of 'special' diet is traveling and so I thought I'd give ya a few tips on how to make it easier while you're in an airport, hotel, road tripping, or just not in the comfort of your own home.
Airports/Planes: Since you can't bring any food past the security checkpoint in airports (although I've accidentally gotten away with dates, pretzels, and a granola bar all at the same time twice because I forgot to take them out of my purse) you're gonna have to find some stuff at the airport. Now I've only been at 2 airports in the time I've been vegan so far so I'm not an expert on this but I can go over the basics. Lots of airports will have sub or burrito places, those are gonna be your best option. Otherwise find a restaurant and look up if it has anything vegan. If you just wanna pick up a few snacks, theres sometimes juice/smoothie places, cafe-type things that may have vegan sandwiches, salads, travel size hummus and pretzels, or bags of chips. Sometimes gift shops will sell candy... you could get a whole bag of jolly ranchers if you wanted to haha. There are usually going to be quite a few options, they'll just be harder to find.
Hotels: In July 2017 I went to Colorado for a week w/ my mom so that's what I'm basing most of this on. We were pretty much in a different hotel every night and did not want to go out to eat for every meal so what I did (my mom is not vegan) was basically carried a big bag of food along the whole trip. The first day we got there, we found some things that were easy to store and eat such as: chips, hummus, salsa, bagels, dried fruit, etc. I think that's really the best way to go (and cheapest)- just buying a lot of food that won't go bad if it sits in a car for a few hours while you're not in the hotel. Most hotels have microwaves and fridges so that opens up your options a lot. When going out to eat though, use the happycow website that I talked about, that makes it 10x easier.
Other: Okay, so say you're going on a road trip and you're gonna be doing a ton of driving or just stopping at outdoor places where there's not gonna be a random microwave sitting on the beach. For this, you'll want to bring things like bagels, cereal, granola bars, snacky stuff, maybe some precooked meals that you'll have to eat cold. You could also check out videos online of people who live full time in an rv or van for some other ideas. Another thing you may be doing is going on a cruise or to a resort or retreat where, sure you can pack some food, but you're not gonna be able to pack days or weeks worth of food to cover the entire trip. I have to say- I've never been to a resort/retreat or on a cruise but I can assume that they would have things for vegans to eat, you just have to ask (before you go is probably best to save yourself some stress). Their job is to make you happy and they've probably had vegans or people with food allergies their before so it's pretty likely they will have options for you! Something I've also never ever done in my life is camping (although I'd love to) so I don't have experience here but it's kind of similar to road tripping. If you're planning on going camping/overnight hiking/backpacking with a bunch of people who aren't vegan, just bring your own food... the stuff I said before will work for this type of travel too. Honestly though if you're gonna be camping you probably know more than me of what to bring!
HOW EATING VEGAN BENEFITS THE PLANET
Back on Day Eleven where I talked about resources like books and documentaries I mentioned a doc called Cowspiracy. Now I've never actually seen it but I have heard from sooo many people that it does an absolutely phenomenal job of exposing how harmful animal agriculture is to the planet. The site that I linked also has a 'facts' page where it lists so many startling facts about the industries that you have to check out. I do believe you have to pay to see the doc (it's on Netflix too) but the fact page is totally free so if you're not interested in paying... scroll through them and you will be amazed at what you read.
I would say that out of the 3 reasons people go vegan (health, animals, and environment), only about 1% do it for environmental reasons. But this doesn't mean that it's not important to be aware of how eating animal products impacts the planet. I want to go over 5 general ways animal agriculture as a whole effects the earth:
- Climate Change
- A plant-based diet reduces your carbon footprint by half.
- 50% of greenhouse gas emissions are due to livestock + their byproducts
- Live stock is responsible for 65% of nitrous oxide emissions (a greenhouse gas that's 296x more destructive than CO2)
If you don't know much about climate change, let me give you the rundown. Ever since humans have started rubbing 2 sticks together to make fire, we've been creating emissions that go up into the atmosphere and deplete the ozone layer. Now little tribal fires obviously didn't really do much, but since the start of the industrial revolution, we've been stepping things up, exponentially. The emissions that are released through vehicles, industries, cooking, heating, burning, electronics, deforestation, etc have wrecked havoc on our ozone layer. There are other natural events that take place (ocean currents, forest fires, volcanic eruptions, etc) that effect climate change but the events that cause the most damage are man-made. Part of the role of the ozone is to reflect most of the suns radiation back into space while allowing some to reach earth, but since it has been depleted by emissions, it lets more in than it's suppose to. So temperatures rise and these things (and more) start to happen: glaciers and polar ice caps begin to melt, animals habitats are effected, we lose fresh water; sea levels rise, people living in coastal areas are at increased-risk of flooding in their homes; more droughts, floods, and other extreme weather; we are already witnessing the effects of climate change on polar bears and coral reefs for example (rising sea temps are not good for many sea animals), and many other animals will be negatively effected in the coming years. When we think of global warming, we often think of cars and industries being the leading causes... but according to the statistic above (all the bullet points are from here) half of green house gas emissions are by livestock alone. It is a growing problem and it is us, the consumers, that have the power to make a difference.
- Animal agriculture is responsible for over 90% of Amazon rainforest destruction
- 1-2 acres of rainforest are cleared every second for animal agriculture
Deforestation is a huge problem and has such large impact on the animals and people in the area. The main cause of it is agriculture (planting crops or raising livestock). We tear down forests, often using methods like slash and burn that are harmful to the environment on their own, in order to have more room to grow crops to feed humans, crops to feed livestock, or to raise the livestock. Since the world population is growing rapidly and unsustainably, we are constantly needing more room to be able to support everyone. Now obviously we need food so it is necessary to grow crops to eat; the problem lies with the livestock. 70% of the crops grown are fed to livestock! And, again, the animals need food to survive too, so I'm not saying we should starve them or kill them all off.. But what you have to see is that we forcefully impregnate animals far beyond what is normal and healthy for their individual species in order to have the highest supply. There would not be 1.5 billion cows on earth if we didn't eat them because if they reproduced naturally- they wouldn't be popping babies out year after year. Demand = Supply. If everyone is buying products made of/from animals, then the population of those animals is going to continue to grow. But if 1% of the population stops eating chicken, for instance, 1% less chickens will be raised. So buy putting our money towards animal products, we are perpetuating this practice of deforestation in order to grow crops to feed to animals which we have forcefully reproduced into into unnatural populations so we can feed ourselves, when we don't need them to survive- or thrive. 80% of land animals and plants live in forests and cannot survive when deforestation destroys their homes. Trees also play a role in absorbing greenhouse gases, therefore less are able to deplete the atmosphere, but when we're clearing out an acre or more everyday, there's less trees to do that.
- Water Use
- One single hamburger takes 660 gallons of water to make (showering for 2 months is the same amount)
- Meat + Dairy industries are responsible for 1/3 of the world's fresh water that is used every year
Again, the less animals (and animal byproducts) we consume, the less demand there will be and farmers will not need to produce at such great quantities anymore therefore reducing all 5 of these points drastically. It takes enormous amounts of water to supply us with animal products. If you live in a first world country, you probably aren't seeing how water scarcity is already effecting people. 1.1 billion lack access to fresh water and 2.7 billion find water scare for at least one month a year. And, surprise, agriculture is the main cause for that. Not only does it consume the most compared to any other source, but it also wastes a ton of it through inefficiencies. Half of the wetlands in the US have been destroyed since 1900 which has impacted the high concentration of animals that call them home, while also effecting water filtration, storm protection, and flood control. If we want to reduce how much we're contributing to this, the best way to do that is by going vegan.
- Land Use
- Livestock covers 45% of the Earth's total (non-ice) land
- 1.5 acres of land can supply 37,000 lbs of plan food or only 375 lbs of meat
- A meat eater requires 18x more land to be fed per year than a vegan does
All 5 of these points are so interconnected that there's not much to say the further down the list I go. The more plant foods we consume as a species, the less land we need to use. If the food is just going straight from the ground to our mouths (figuratively) we are contributing to far less destruction than if we grow food, feed it to animals, then eat them. The amount of land we use for agriculture is increasing with our population so just imagine a future where theres 20 billion on earth and 90% of our land is for agriculture. Everywhere you go is just farmland. And theres a few places on earth left untouched but basically everything is either city, residential, or farmland. Maybe you're not much of a nature person and you prefer the city so it wouldn't really make much of a difference in your life. But if nature is important to you, imagine this and this and this being the only things you ever see of it. If you'd like to experience that, drive down a country road in Iowa or Kansas, US. It's not super pretty. And think of how many species will either become endangered or extinct if we continue at the rate we're going. Millions. We tend to think that something like that would never happened but it's going to. You and I might not be alive for it, but it's gonna happen. Because most people need things to get really, really bad before they start making a change. We're all waiting for someone else to come in and save the day because we're too busy caught up in our own (self-created) problems which we think are vastly more significant than anything else in the world. Just because I feel it is inevitable though does not mean you have to agree with me for one, and it also doesn't mean that we shouldn't do anything to try to make a positive change. We should do all that we possibly (but practically) can do.
- Every minute, 7 million pounds of waste are created by the animals used for animal agriculture
- Waste from 2,500 dairy cows = waste from 411,000 people
Everyone's gotta do their business but the overpopulation of farm animals leads to various environmental issues. One is that when the waste is collected in massive lagoons, after a series of events, it forms nitric acid which builds up in the atmosphere and returns to the earth in the form of acid rain. Animal urine and manure emits about 400 harmful gases into the atmosphere, which can be very harmful to the local communities. For example, around 80% of ammonia emissions come from animal waste. All these gases have been shown to contribute to health problems for workers and local residents such as respiratory irritation, bronchitis, lung inflammation, and asthma. In fact, the CDC reports that kids raised near factory farms are more likely to develop asthma and bronchitis. Dairy farms that use an automatic flushing system to clean out the waste from the buildings the animals are kept in can use up to 150 gallons of water per cow per day, as well.
So if you read through all of that and checked out the links, I really hope you can see how urgent this all is. We need to make the changes in our individual lives if we wish to see a change in the world. And one needs to be made. We're so set on discovering other Earth-like planets and possibly inhabiting others one day but we can't even figure out how to take care of our own. Every year we manage to tear down more forests, pollute the air and water more, let our destructive practices deplete our atmosphere's protective shell, and get closer and closer to the point of no return. This is not something that can wait.
We need change.
And we need to be that change.
First things first, I want you to know that going vegan should not be about weight loss. Nothing should be about weight loss. Because weight loss is always about wanting to look a certain way. And wanting to look a certain way is always rooted in insecurity. When we want to change the way we look, it's because we hate our body. But if we are able to look at life from a different perspective and realize that wanting to be pretty is extremely meaningless and is not only a waste of time but something that is depriving us of being able to experience true happiness and confidence, then we can find what is actually important within weight loss. And what that is- is being healthy. Treating the body right. When we want to be healthy, it's because we love our body. That's not something that can easily be done over night and it's certainly not a matter of simply saying we want to be healthy. You have to feel it. I do have some videos on my channel about this subject but since this is not a guide to loving yourself, I suppose I should get on with the point. Weight loss should not be the goal, getting and staying healthy should be. But weight loss might be part of getting healthy for you.. so that's what we're gonna talk about.
I don't have much to say for this because 1. I've tried to make this thing as much about advice and as little about science as I can because I think that's the kind of research you should always do on your own, after all as I'm writing this I'm not even out of high school so it's not like I have some degree in nutrition or anything. That doesn't mean I'm making up facts, but 2. There's so much conflicting research out there. You know when you see one article that shows that eggs are the worst food in the world and another that says you should eat two every day. And both are based on and link scientific studies.. it's amazing how much conflicting research I've found in all the times I've researched about veganism. and 3. I was already at a healthy weight before going vegan and I don't think I've lost any (idk- i've never been one to weight myself so I could have possibly lost a little but not a noticeable amount) so I don't have any amazing weight loss journey nor do I have tips that I can say work from personal experience. All I have is information that I've collected from people who have lost weight when going vegan and just to warn you, it's pretty vague. But everyone has different bodies and therefore no one can tell you exactly what's going to work for you. So with that:
- Eat mainly whole foods - Just because something is vegan, does not make it automatically healthy. There is plenty of vegan junk food out there and if that is what the majority of your diet consists of, you will have a harder time losing weight. If rice, beans, potatoes, veggies, fruit, whole grains, nuts, and seeds are what the majority of your diet is, it will be much easier to lose weight and get healthy. For some people this might not be a problem but if you're use to microwave meals and things that you don't have to put any effort into making... it might take some getting used to. But on the upside this is the cheapest and most widely available way of eating. A whole food meal does not have to look like some amazing Instagram buddha bowl, it can literally be leftover rice, canned black beans, and sweet chili sauce. I do that all the time when I'm feeling lazy. Or maybe it means some lettuce, quinoa, and a mixture of stir-fried veggies with a sauce if you have more time. If time is not on your side when it comes to cooking meals, try meal prepping for the week all on one day. There are tons of vegan meal prep videos for you out there if you want some ideas for that.
- Limit empty foods (they don't fill you up), eat more greens (they fill you up)- If you're wondering why you get hungry even though you're always eating a ton of food- it could be because the quality of the foods your eating in large quantities is poor. It's super easy to sit down and eat 5 servings or 600 calories of potato chips without ever feeling completely satisfied and that's because the calories in chips are empty calories. Our body has a hard time with the calories that come from processed foods because they're not natural. We're not meant to be eating those types of things (I'm not saying you never should, I'm just saying the body wasn't meant to consume processed foods) and so the body reacts in a different way that it would with an apple, for instance. We feel a lot more full when we eat foods that are nutrient dense and so if you're wondering why you're eating so much food but never feeling satiated, that may be why.
- Don't use the word "can't"- If you're constantly saying to yourself, 'I can't have that ice cream, I'm trying to lose weight' then you're creating this negative relationship with food and an internal conflict with your self. A heathy habit would be to find a way to no longer want the ice cream. So when your walk past it at the store you don't feel sad because you can't have it, you just feel neutral because you don't want it... because you enjoy eating healthy. And maybe you do walk past it and say, 'ya know, i do want some ice cream' and then you get some. Don't restrict yourself, just learn to love the healthier foods you eat. So much so that you'd rather have a fruit smoothie than the ice cream most of the time. This is not something that is easy for most, but the more you tell yourself it is going to be really hard, the more it will be.
- Listen to your body - This is super important. And I know I've already talked about it so I don't need to say much but if you are hungry, eat food. If you are not hungry, don't eat food. Hunger is not a punishment. It is your body telling you that it needs food. But not just any food. It needs nutrients. Which is why you often won't feel full after eating a large amount of processed food. It's just like when you get injured, your feel pain because you're body is letting you know that something is wrong. It's a survival mechanism. If you want your body to thrive, you need to give it fuel. Do not let one unhealthy relationship with food turn into another. Going from eating too much to not eating enough is only going to create more problems. Also, if you notice that when you're eating, you don't feel full when you're done so you go up for seconds and then later feel stuffed, that's because you're eating too fast. Your body was full after that first plate but since you ate too fast, it wasn't able to send that signal to your brain fast enough.
- Get active - Find some form of moving your body that you really love. Never do exercise that you don't enjoy solely for the purpose of losing weight. That just creates conflict in your life. Don't rely on exercise as your main way to lose weight either. Just know that doing any form of exercise, even if it's something that's not likely gonna help you lose weight, can actually encourage you to eat healthier. This might not be the case for everyone I suppose but I know for me, when I do a little bit of exercise at the beginning of the day, I get way more excited about eating healthy through the day!
- Drink Water- Im not good at doing this whatsoever, but I've heard it's good for you lol
Veganism should never feel like a diet. To me, diet always means short-term restriction that leads to a binge once the diet is over. Diets suck honestly, and you don't want to label the way you eat as a diet because that seems to automatically make it negative. So look at this as a long-term lifestyle change! I also wanted to mention a great youtuber called High Carb Hannah who lost over 70 lbs by going vegan and she has many many great videos on the subject of weight loss and veganism.
ANIMAL TESTING + OTHER NON-VEGAN THINGS
The first thing to focus on is always going to be the food but once you're ready to move onto cosmetics, toiletries, clothes, and other products, these are the things you're gonna want to look out for:
- Animal testing
- When purchasing products like makeup, nail products, hair products, razors, household cleaners, you'll either want to look up online if it is tested on animals or look for one of these symbols on the product. Don't worry if you forget to do this and buy something that is tested on animals on accident- it happens to everyone and it will probably happen to you. It takes time to make it a habit. If you're not sure why animal testing is such a big deal... watch this 3 minute video. And this one as well. There are so many other horrific videos and photos that you can look up that expose the realities of what we do to animals when testing on them. Put yourself in the place of the animal and imagine having an existence like theirs. Like really take a minute and think about it. Look at this picture and imagine that's you. If we boycott companies that test on animals, we reduce the demand for their products. Some companies have seen how this boycott has effected their sales and stopped testing on animals. There are many, many companies though that do test on animals and it's important that if we use their products currently, we finish what we have and then stop giving them our money. Here's a list of makeup, skincare, hair products, soap and bath, fragrance, toothpaste and oral care, deodorant, feminine hygiene, razors and hair removal, and other/personal/household companies that DO test on animals. Here's a list of cruelty free options. Of course there's no possible way these lists could include everything so it's best to just look up specific products that you're wondering about. Some products may be cruelty free/not test on animals but will not have anything to identify that on the packaging, so that's why it's best to look up, 'does x test on animals'. And lastly, some products that don't test on animals may still contain animal products!
- Animal products in shampoos, lotion, dental floss, etc
- Some products do contain animal products, honey is a pretty common one is shower products, most dental flosses are waxed with beeswax, and some makeup products have weird animal-derived ingredients in them. Always use up the products you currently have or give them to others, never waste them, but once your finished, make sure you're only repurchasing them if you know they are vegan and cruelty free.
- Fur, leather, suede, etc
- Maybe you already saw the doc Earthlings that I linked on Day Eleven, but if not, today's your day. The documentary is split up into 3 parts: pets, food, and clothing. In order to really get a good understanding of the cruelty involved in fur, wool, leather, suede, feathers, silk, fleece, horsehair, snakeskin, etc, you should watch it. It explains a lot and will make it super easy to never want to purchase these products again. When buying clothes, you'll want to look at the tag to make sure they don't contain any of the things listed above. The tag or label will say the percentage of each materials used like : 90% cotton, 10% polyester. Things that are faux leather or faux fur will always state that somewhere. Other things to be aware of are purses/bags/wallets that contain leather.
- Sea World, circuses, horse back riding or racing, etc
- These things all exploit animals no matter what we like to think about them. Check out Blackfish to learn about the horrors of Sea World (or this 30 second video). Animals are not ours to to use for entertainment. In order to make a difference, people need to stop going to the zoo or to the circus. Before I went vegan I never even considered the fact that any of these things were harming animals. That's because we're not taught to be thinkers. We're not taught to look beyond the elephants being led around in circles and see that their entire life is lived for us. For our entertainment. We don't wonder about what their lives consist of, what they do all day, what their living conditions are like, how their trainers treat them. When we go to zoos, we think that the animals there are living better lives than they would out in the wild. They're protected from predators so they must be happy. But apply that situation to your life. We are all at danger everyday of being harmed by others when we're walking down the sidewalk, driving in cars, or shopping. There is always a possibility that someone could kill us, like animals do in the wild. But does that mean you want to spend your entire life caged into a small space, never able to leave? Imagine never being able to leave your house for your entire life and you're stuck there with people you don't know and will never see any of your loved ones again. You'll never be able to go for another walk; you can only walk for about 15 seconds in a straight line and then you're at the other end of the wall/cage. What would happen is that you would go crazy, and that's what happens to zoo animals. We take our freedom for granted far too much. Those animals don't have theirs at all, because we've taken it away from them. And a sanctuary is totally different that a zoo so I'm totally not talking about that. Just think of it this way: if it's intention is to help the animal, then it's good, if it's intention is to exploit the animal for the enjoyment of humans, you don't want to give them money. Then there's things such as horse back riding or elephant riding which are exploitative practices as well. Now I've never been a horse or an elephant so I really don't know how much they like carrying people around but I feel like it's probably not something they would consider a hobby. And it doesn't matter, if you ride/own horses for example, whether or not you brush, feed, pet, love, and care for them- if you're using them a way for you to have fun at expense of their wellbeing, that's not really loving them. That's just loving what they do for you. So it's important form a mutualistic relationship with any animals that you care for.
- Adopt don't Shop
- As I talked about a few points ago, one of the 3 parts of Earthlings is about pets. It exposes the horrible truth about puppy and kitty mills and why we should not purchase animals from breeders, but rather adopt ones from shelters. Many animals in those industries are not given proper care and end up suffering the consequences for the rest of their lives- watch this 3 minute video to see what some of their living conditions are like (and read some of these findings by USDA inspectors when going to puppy mills). Everyone can help to shut down these mills one by one, simply by not giving them money, not buying any animals from them. Many people who purchase animals from pet stores or online don't ever know whether or not the animal is from a mill. But that's in fact where a lot of them end up and we never find out that we are supporting such a cruel industry by getting animals from there. A few years before I went vegan, my family got one of our dogs from a lady who had about 40 dogs caged up outside. We had no clue that the dog we were getting was basically from a mini puppy mill (and I was too young to really understand any of it). All the dogs there seemed to be adults and were cooped up in this long cage type thing that luckily had a roof on it but the conditions were still not okay. All they could do was basically go around in circles in that small, muddy area. The only dogs they kept/let inside the house were the puppies which is far better than many other mills but we need to be aware that by buying animals from mills or people who don't treat animals the way they should- we are helping them continue in those practices.
Don't let any of this overwhelm you. It's purpose is not to tell you what you can't do, but to help you decide what you don't want to participate in. I know you're probably super tired of me saying this but: Go at your own pace! You don't have to do everything all at once. I didn't even think about any of this stuff until months after I was vegan. So don't feel like you need to do this right now if you're not ready. This is a 30 day vegan guide but it's not about being a 'perfect' vegan 30 days, it's about preparing you to be vegan for your whole life... in 30 days.
YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE
You're here because you want to make a change. I think that's part of everyone's motivation, even if your main reason for going vegan is for personal health, we all want to help make a difference. Many in the world may seem like they don't care about helping others. A lot of those people do though, it's just that they don't think they can make any kind of difference.
But they're not wrong.. If you don't think you can make a difference, then you won't. But if you know that you can, then you will. Everyone knows, for example, that we need to stop using so much plastic, yet as a cashier at a retail store I check out maybe one person a month who brings their own reusable bag. It's seems like no one cares at all.. but deep down I think people just don't believe that making a change in their lives does anything. They're just one person after all. So they'd rather not inconvenience themselves if they don't feel it has any large effect. They're waiting for big companies and industries to do something about it. But we can't control other people. We can only control what we do. So we as individuals have to be aware that by doing what is possible and practical in our lives to make the world a bit better is the most important thing we will ever do on this planet. Nothing else is more important than helping others, whatever that means for you; going vegan, purchasing ethical clothing, reducing your waste, or maybe even spreading your religious beliefs. We must know that making small changes in our lives is the easiest thing we can do to help create change in the world.
Every time we spend money, we're making a choice of what kind of world we are supporting.
Going vegan does make a difference. Not a huge one because there really aren't that many people who don't eat animal products but veganism is growing larger everyday which means it is making more of a difference everyday. Your choices and actions dictate what kind of world you stand for and by choosing to go vegan or choosing to reduce how much water or plastic you use, you are doing your part in making this world a better place for yourself, other beings, and those yet to come.
STAYING VEGAN LONG-TERM
For the final day of this guide I want to give you some tips to staying vegan long term. What you'll likely find out is that it's really not that hard. Never in the time that I've been vegan have I even come close to eating animal products on purpose because I just didn't ever want to. I didn't have to hold myself back when I saw someone eating pizza or wings. And that's not the case for everyone but I'd say the majority of vegans don't really have any problem with it at all. The longer you're vegan, the less you even think of it because it becomes like putting on socks in the morning. It's just part of life and you don't spend the whole night thinking about how you're gonna put them on the next morning. But anyways, here are my tips to help you beyond these 30 days:
- Keep your motivations in mind - Always remind yourself why going vegan is important to you.
- Find vegan alternatives to your favorite foods - You can either decide not to eat anything that resembles meat, dairy, or eggs or you can find alternatives to foods that were once your favorites.
- Continue to do research - Don't think that once you're vegan you have all the information you need. Doing research can help grow your knowledge so when talking to others about veganism, you'll know more about what you're talking about.
- Eat enough food - Restriction is never the solution. You should not be eating 1500 calories a day no matter what. If you're going to bed hungry, you're not eating enough and you need to simply eat more or seek help.
- Keep in mind how it benefits the planet and animals - Having the awareness of these issues and their relationship to a vegan diet is one of the best ways to help you stay vegan long-term.
- Make sure you have enough food - If you live with non vegans and run out of your own food, you'll be a lot more likely to eat the non vegan things they have or go to a fast food restaurant or something. Always stock up with the staples and make sure you have enough to make enjoyable meals out of.
- Try new things - This makes life so much easier. If you are able to, try new foods when you go to the grocery store even if you're not sure how they'll taste.
- Read books, watch docs, find youtubers you enjoy - Reading and watching videos can help you stay on track with any lifestyle change you're trying to make and I've found this was one of the most helpful things when I first went vegan. Watching vegan youtubers made me feel so much less alone.
- Find a community - If you can, go to vegan meet ups or potlucks... or join online vegan groups.
- Find restaurants that have vegan options - If you don't do this then you're going to be constantly turning down offers to go out to eat with other people. Restaurants will almost always have something that they can make vegan even if it's not vegan on the menu. They want your service and they will do their best to make you something that fits your diet.
- Don't get pushy with friends and family - This one isn't gonna help you stay vegan long term but I think a reminder of this is always needed. Everyone does this at the beginning to at least one person but let me assure you, it's probably not gonna work 99% of the time. It's good to explain why you're vegan but never talk about the subject in a way where you're trying to get the other person to see your side. People don't like to feel like you're confronting them about their dietary choices so you'll end up doing the opposite of what you intended.
- Don't let judgements change your actions - Some people are going to think you're weird but the opinions of others should never determine what you choose to do with your life.
- Change your mindset - You mindset is always the determining factor for how you perceive your experiences in life so don't expect to, for example, find abundance in veganism if your mind is perceiving lack.
- Find easy, cheap recipes that work in your life - I'm talking like 5 recipes that have maybe 6 ingredients tops that you can make on a whim whenever you're feeling lazy.
- Experiment with different ways of eating - Over time, things change. One way of eating may serve you for a while but then you might need to up your fats, or eat more fruit, or eat less fruit if it no longer serves you in the same way. Your diet will change and it's best to be open to experimenting with different things as you go on in life.
- Don't give up if you mess up - Accidentally or purposely eating something non vegan does not mean you have failed or that you should totally give everything up completely. Just learn from the mistake and move on.
- Make sure you're getting enough vitamins + nutrients - Getting a blood test may be helpful after a few months of being vegan because we can have deficiencies just like anybody else. Otherwise just track meals occasionally on cronometer to see what you're hitting and what you're missing. Doing this once isn't going to give you a definitive answer so be sure to do it a few times and if you notice any patterns where you're consistently low in a specific nutrient, find ways to incorporate more of that into your meals.
- Don't make it about weight loss - Health is more important that weight loss.
- Don't worry about the details at first - Just focus on looking at ingredients for meat, dairy, eggs, and honey at first, then once your comfortable with that, look into the other things mentioned on Days 24 and 28.
- And enjoy it! - Going/being vegan should be fun. You're not giving anything up. And once you can realize that, you'll be able to see how much fun it can actually be learning about a new lifestyle, trying new foods and recipes, etc. Don't take life too seriously. Fun is not bad and if you can find the fun in things that aren't usually seen as fun, then you're free.
So there we go. I really hope this helped. If you have any further question or comments or if you think I should add anything to this guide please feel free to email me. I tried to include everything I could think of in here but I'm sure there are things I missed. This took me about a year to write because I'm horrible at procrastinating (or actually very good at it I suppose you would say) but when I did work on it, I put all my effort into it making it as well-rounded and complete as possible.
Other than that I want to congratulate you on coming as far as you have in whatever amount of time it took you. You deserve to treat yourself! So go out and grab some vegan ben + jerry's or make a strawberry banana smoothie
and know that this is just the beginning of your journey. . .