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10 Tips for Beginner Vegans

VeganI think that for many people the world of veganism can seem confusing and a bit overwhelming, especially for anyone who's just starting out. Let’s face it, most of us haven't grown up vegan, and so I think that the thought of changing your diet and lifestyle fairly dramatically can seem daunting. However, having tried it myself I can safely say that I found it so much easier than I ever imagined I would! Where I am (in South East England) there are so many vegan-friendly food options available in the supermarkets, there are almost always several vegan options when I go out to eat, there are so many online resources available to offer guidance and support, and there are an ever-increasing number of beauty and lifestyle options that are suitable for vegans too. I seriously take my hat off to anyone who was vegan before it became so popular as it must have been so much more difficult, but now I think that it's actually pretty easy - you just need to get used to it.

I’ve put together 10 of my favourite tips for anyone who’s interested in veganism. I’ve split the tips into two categories – non-food and food – and I hope that you find at least some of it helpful!

Non-Food Vegan Tips

Veganism isn't just about the food that you eat, it's also about things like the clothes that you wear and the beauty products that you use - all in the pursuit of trying to minimise animal use and harm wherever possible.

1) Struggling to eat vegan but still interested in veganism? Try changing your beauty products first!

I’d argue that by far the easiest element of veganism is the beauty products and toiletries that you use. I think that it’s easiest because, quite simply, you don’t have to deal with cravings; I’ve never heard of someone missing their old non-vegan body cream because of the animal-derived ingredients that they contained. So, whether you use my business Lovethical to find some vegan beauty products or you source them elsewhere, I think it’s such an easy and quick win for your vegan journey.

2) Find vegan beauty products on the high street

My go-to shops for vegan beauty products are The Body Shop and Lush. Not only do they both have great ranges of vegan products but they’re also cruelty-free, which means that they don’t test on animals. However, just be aware that not all of their products are vegan, so check the labels or ask a member of staff.

3) If you’re looking for vegan beauty products, you can't just look for a bunny or terms like 'cruelty-free' or ‘not tested on animals’

Vegan beauty products are products that do not contain any animal or animal-derived ingredients. 'Vegan' is NOT the same thing as 'cruelty-free', which means that the product hasn't been tested on animals, and so a product with any of the above 3 things isn't necessarily vegan; a product can be neither vegan nor cruelty-free, one or the other, or both. If you want to minimise animal suffering as much as you can then it's best to look for vegan AND cruelty-free' but remember that to specifically find vegan beauty products then you have to look for the word 'vegan' or look through the list of ingredients to ensure there are no animal-derived ingredients.

Vegan Beauty Products

4) Find vegan beauty products online

Remember that you can always buy vegan beauty products online - this is especially useful if you live in an area where there aren't many vegan options in the shops that you can access. My company Lovethical is an online marketplace for vegan and cruelty-free beauty products, and I started it with the hope to make these products more accessible to people. You can shop now by clicking here, but whether you buy from my company through another brand, just remember that the internet is your friend for finding all sorts of vegan products! 

5) Leather, wool, fur, down and cashmere are common non-vegan materials

 While these materials are still common, there are also many alternatives to them - you can even get very convincing vegan leather. I've heard many people say that they don't have too much of a problem with these materials because they are just by-products of the meat industry but, on the contrary, they are each huge industries in their own right that can cause extreme animal suffering. PETA have a wonderful section of their website where they go into more detail about these materials, among others, and I highly recommend you reading it by clicking here.

Food Vegan Tips

 6) Try to replicate your favourite dishes

Replicating dishes that you already know how to make and just substituting in some vegan ingredients where necessary will be easier and quicker for you to get the hang of that learning to cook totally different types of dishes. I also think that you’re more likely to like the taste of the food if you know you like their non-vegan counterpart already.

Vegan Food

7) Don’t expect vegan meat/dairy replacements to taste exactly the same as their non-vegan counterparts

Realistically, most vegan products that I’ve tried that are replicating an existing non-vegan product do taste different, and that's okay! I repeat – that is okay! Let’s face it, they’re entirely different products! They can be absolutely delicious in their own right, but I think it’s easiest not to expect them to taste exactly the same, because if that’s the case then you might be disappointed or unsure about the taste. However, if you see them as their own thing that you’re trying for the first time then there’s nothing to compare them to and therefore I think it’s easier to appreciate them in their own right. Having said that, I’ve definitely tasted some vegan options that DO taste just like the ‘real thing’, so I’m by no means saying that doesn’t happen!

8) Don’t worry if you ‘mess up’

Whether you accidentally or purposefully eat something that isn’t vegan, try not to beat yourself up about it. I think it’s important to remember, especially when starting out, that it’s a learning curve and a ‘slip up’ doesn’t mean you have to give up.

9) This product ‘may contain milk’ doesn't mean it's not vegan

If you look at the ingredient lists on food packaging, it’s really common to see phrases like ‘may contain milk’, or ‘may contain traces of milk’, but this doesn’t really mean that the product isn’t vegan. What it means is that there’s a chance the ingredient could be found in the product due to cross-contamination (for example the product is made in the same factory as the non-vegan ingredient, or the manufacturer uses the same equipment across vegan and non-vegan products). So while there are some vegans who would chose to avoid these products (you need to make your own opinion up about this one), I still eat products that have this warning as I know the intended ingredients are vegan. I see the warning as essentially the brand covering themselves in case there is some cross-contamination or in case a customer has an allergy.

10) Batch cook

When starting to cook vegan dishes at home, it can sometimes be a big change. Therefore, it can mean that it takes longer than normal to choose what you’re going to cook, and you might take longer doing the actual cooking as you might be less familiar with the ingredients and/or methods. So if you can then batch cooking makes it so much easier as you have to do it less often – simple!

So there you have it! My 10 tips for beginner vegans. Good luck to anyone that's reading this who's starting a vegan journey!

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