So, you’re newly vegan. Congratulations. Now what? Fat Gay Vegan offers his advice on how to stay vegan
If you currently find yourself newly vegan, you are not alone. Over the past few years, January has become a favourite time of year for people to explore what it means to live vegan. Dietary habits of old are replaced with plant based groceries as thousands of consumers begin expanding their ideas surrounding compassion to include the welfare of non-human animals.
If you are one of those who decided the festive season or January was a good time to try veganism on for size, you are probably a few weeks into your plant based adventure as you read this column. The hardest part of trying to convince you that veganism is worthwhile is obviously out of the way, so I won’t waste precious energy listing the reasons why animals are important. I’m more interested in chatting with you about staying vegan for the long term.
You and veganism got together a short while ago, but let’s be honest with ourselves. The honeymoon period is coming to a close and being vegan so far has been effortless because you were happy to have found something you could see would make a big, fat, positive contribution to the planet. This initial excitement of committing to veganism was enough to spur you on through what otherwise might have been a tough time.
The bacon jokes and baffled looks didn’t touch you these past few weeks because you were ecstatic to finally be living vegan after all these years. Doing the right thing felt so darn good and you have been riding that wave of positivity since you made the switch, right? But what about the months ahead? Being a happy and committed vegan might just take a little bit of planning and self-care, so I’m dishing up tips for staying vegan after the initial excitement has worn off.
Tip number one is to find like-minded people. Get along to social groups, shop at your local vegan street food market, and fill your calendar with vegan food festivals. I’m not saying you will make lifelong friends, but at the very least you will feel less isolated in your choices and being around other vegans will help you to stay motivated. Once you’ve settled into your new vegan lifestyle, you might consider helping to organise vegan events and, when doing so, ensure the space is accessible for everyone to be able to get involved.
Try not to put yourself in situations where it is going to be tougher on you socially. A meal out with non-vegan friends isn’t the obstacle course it once was thanks to all the vegan menus being offered up by mainstream restaurant chains. Always make your voice heard when a restaurant is being picked for a night out with friends and you’ll eat well every time.
Know your facts and practice talking about your veganism (YouTube has some great videos). I often say that a well-informed, unapologetic and friendly vegan is the best advertisement for the cause. Stand firm behind your reasoning and chat happily with anyone who is curious. You might just be opening their eyes to veganism and, of course, you will be reaffirming your own commitment.
Inspiration is everywhere. Follow vegan recipe blogs on social media for new ideas that will keep your love affair with vegan eating in fine form. Be adventurous in the kitchen and stay updated with the latest vegan food trends.
Once you have got the plant based food part of being a vegan in place, start looking at other areas of your life that can be veganised. Need new shoes? Try non-leather. Get familiar with household cleaning products that are not tested on animals and if you wear make-up, start buying cruelty-free brands.
Most importantly, work hard to keep your vegan community an inclusive, strong and welcoming place. You are going to love being vegan even more than you already do if you are surrounded by other people who love being vegan. Look for ways to weave your veganism into other aspects of compassionate living. For example, volunteer with a local garden that supports at-risk members of your community, volunteer at an animal sanctuary or start a pro-vegan blog.
Consider shopping with (or joining) a local grocery cooperative in order to create better opportunities for workers and look at keeping your savings in a bank that limits investments into unethical projects.
For anyone with a vegan journey that is just commencing, I say congratulations. Enjoy your choice to help animals and keep them firmly positioned as the reason that you went vegan.
Once you have that deep understanding of why you are vegan in your heart and your mind, it is close to impossible to go back. As your vegan journey continues, be confident that your choices are improving outcomes for non-human animals more and more each day.
Fat Gay Vegan: Eat, Drink and Live Like You Give a Sh!t is the debut book by Sean O’Callaghan, published by Nourish Books. Out now.
Fat Gay Vegan has a monthly column in Vegan Life Magazine. To make sure you never miss what he has to say, you can subscribe here.