How to Get Started Living Vegan
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“Living vegan” is not the same as “going vegetarian.” If the thought of “living vegan” feels overwhelming to you, I’ll show you how you can take a few simple steps to transition into a basic vegan diet and lifestyle. To “live vegan” means to consume and use no animal products or byproducts of any kind. This includes fish oil, milk derivatives, gelatin, and other animal products. Vegans generally consume and use only that which grows on plants and trees.
Starting Your Transition to Living Vegan
Go to your local supermarket, and pick up the following items for a basic, simple vegan diet: grains, beans and vegetables. I recommend frozen vegetables because they keep better and tend to be in better condition than fresh vegetables. You can also try tofu, but avoid the packaged vegetarian foods which can also include egg and milk byproducts, and are not truly vegan. Purchase soy yogurt instead of yogurt, soy milk instead of milk, soy spread instead of butter. Soy products, in general, tend to be completely vegan. Learn to read ingredients on the labels, and also pay attention to the allergy warnings, which often list eggs, milk, and fish as allergens.
Take stock of your pantry, freezer and refrigerator. Eliminate meat, pork, poultry, fish, dairy, cheese, butter, creamy salad dressing and other foods with animal products and byproducts. Give it to a food bank, feed it to your family, have a barbecue and serve it to friends and extended relatives. Empty it out of your house so it won’t go bad and won’t take up needed space.
Cook up a batch of rice and add a little olive oil to it. Heat up some refried beans and mix it in with the rice, and add some seasoned veggies - there is your first vegan meal! Living vegan doesn’t have to mean all rice, beans and veggies, but it’s a quick, cheap, easy way to get started. You can also drain, season and cook some tofu to go with your rice and veggies for a Chinese stir-fry.
Open your closet door and go through your clothes, shoes, handbags, fur coats, briefcases, and luggage. Pull out anything made of leather or suede, and even your down pillows. Donate it all to a local thrift store or swap meet. If it’s made of cotton, canvas, nylon, or other non-animal fabric, wear it. Go to any discount store and pick up a pair of canvas sneakers. They’ll cost you less, they’re washable, and no animals died to keep your feet warm.
Go through your personal care products such as hair care, lotions, soaps, deodorants, and cosmetics. Research the manufacturers on Google and check out which companies test on animals, which companies use animal-derived ingredients, and which ones are environmentally and animal-friendly. Organizations such as PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) often have these product and company lists available for free online.
Consider becoming politically active. Organizations such as the Humane Farming Association and Humane Society of the United States often have political petitions and campaigns going to prevent cruelty to animals, raise awareness, and provide ongoing education about conditions in factory farms and slaughterhouses. It’s easy to get involved and to make a difference in the lives of animals that you are choosing not to eat.