Veganuary- Fad or Foe?
There seems to be a great deal of controversy regarding this whole Veganuary thing.
Some vegans take offense to the concept of adopting a vegan lifestyle for one lofty month, while the rest of the year is spent ignoring the ideals vegans hold so important and dear. Some carnists appreciate the collaborative opportunity to join in and find support for their transition-to-vegan goals.
You’ve gotta admit, though (would-be vegan or not)- the timing of it is quite cunning. At least with regard to marketing the fad aspect of it. It’s an excellent time. Just past the holidays (the notorious excuse for any diet/lifestyle derailment) and during a time of which is widely recognized as when to turn over those new leaves (the resolutions and all). Coincidently, that time of the year also cleverly allows for a whole year of vegan living to be under the belt come the next round of holidays.
Every meal that one person decides to leave meat off their plate is a win.
Each and every day that even one person lives in concert with vegan ideals is 1000 gallons of water saved.
Every week, that one person alleviates the burden of an additional 150 gallons of CO2 emissions, a growing concern and detriment to our Earth.
And, even if only for a month, that one person will save 900 square feet of forests, and 1,200 pounds of grain, both being used for more environmentally sustaining, less karmically taxing things. So, if only for a month at the whim of a fad, I am thankful for each and every person who gives it a go. Besides, we do produce a decent turnaround of carnists to vegans during Veganuary (because it just feels and tastes so damn good), and those who do abandon it come February 1st oftentimes decrease their use and abuse of animals thereafter.
Wins. They’re all wins to me.
Those Challenges Though
When people ask me how to begin to ‘go vegan’, the simple answer is to eliminate meat and look at your food labels for animal-derived ingredients. That’s a great and modest start, and for a few this response is sufficient. It’s almost as though they just need that last reassurance of straightforwardness before starting on their journey. Though, for most, it is not this cut and dry. It does not have to be difficult by any means, but they need a bit more guidance than just ditching meat and dairy to get them going.
As plant-based living and veganism grows, more and more people are resolving to join the movement. That’s how and why Veganuary became such a big deal. I am literally overjoyed when I hear of someone voicing this intention because the positive results of even one person makes all the difference in the world for so many others.
When you transition to a vegan lifestyle, you:
• Improve your health (every system and organ in your body gains health and optimal function), and physical appearance (hair and nails are healthier, skin glows, oftentimes weight normalizes, and much more), and you eliminate the risks of many preventable diseases associated with consuming animal products (diabetes, heart disease, cancers, etc.)
• Improve the health of your community and your world by ceasing to contribute to the unnecessary destruction of land, forests, water sources, air quality, climate, and so much more.
• Recuperate the health of your spirit and karma- how we get food from animals is a far cry from how it was done when the Bible scribed for us to live off the land. Now, it is abundantly clear that we can live happy, healthy, full lives on diets without harming, abusing, or paying for the harm and abuse of animals. If that’s possible, then why not do it? Nobody truly wants part in what goes on in order to get animals to our plates, and on our bodies; not even those who get paychecks to see that it happens.
• Improve the health of humanity as a whole, in a slew of cascading effects. From the severe depression that overwhelms slaughterhouse workers, to the millions who would no longer starve if they had the grains being used to feed livestock animals, and everything in between- going vegan puts a considerable dent in those burdens we as people endure as a result of the use and exploitation of animals.
There are simply too many benefits to not consider a vegan lifestyle.
So, here’s the issue. Everyone is different. We all have different motives, different learning styles, different accessible resources, different uses of time. We are just different. How could my answer of just eliminating meat and checking food labels ever satisfy the learning needs of all those who ask me how to go vegan? It couldn’t, and I’ve never expected it to. Also, that’s not the answer I give everyone, just FYI..
If there is a will, there is a way. If you truly do want to make this positive, healthy, impactful change in your life, you’ve made it over the greatest hump. Developing that desire in the face of a society of nay-sayers was honestly your biggest challenge. The future is vegan, but we’ve gotta get there first.
Here’s the rest of the puzzle. Below is a compilation of almost 15 vegan bloggers, each with different perspectives, reasons, methods, resources, etc. on how to achieve your goal of adopting a vegan lifestyle. You’ll find the answers to such concerns as how to meal plan, where you can eat in public, how to tell if a product/food is vegan or not, how to enjoy gatherings with non-vegans, and so much more. Just remember- unless you’re the ‘plunge right in’ type of person, this is a journey, not a race. You will get to where you want to go, be it in Veganuary or not. You’ll get there. There are tons of roads to take and tons of resources to use along the way.
Pull up a chair and a dairy-free latte. Check some of these out for yourself and see which ones resonate with you, and could help you or someone you know.
In addition to this collection of guides, keep in mind that most, if not all, of these blogs also have tons of recipes so be sure to check them out. It’ll give you a world of easy, affordable, tasty things to eat! So, in no particular order…
1. The Vegan Zebra. I have a bit of advice in a previous post, myself. It’s a two-parter. The first post on how to adopt a WFPB diet is here. That article will direct you to part 2, or you can just hop on over to it here.
2. Fragrant Vanilla touches on numerous perceived challenges of going vegan, and provides a decent list of recipes to boot.
3. Diane’s Vegan Kitchen has an excellent Top 10 Tips Guide for adopting a vegan lifestyle. Very handy, and takes a bit of weight off your shoulders regarding ‘obligations’. And worry not, there is vegan chocolate :wink:.
4. Running On Real Food begins by stressing the importance of getting your mind right. Knowing why you want to go vegan, and knowing how to go vegan, are equally important. This blog also has this article, which is an extensive resource on vegan nutrition.
5. Her Heart is Vegan is another excellent blog. They have created this E-Book for going vegan, and guess what- it’s 100% FREE!
6. Fried Dandelions offers up some very good tips that are quite helpful and key points that any new vegan could benefit from reading.
7. I found an excellent article at the Eat What You Sow blog. I found them very helpful in explaining how to keep things fun, how to find ‘your people’, and other important social aspects of transitioning to vegan.
8. My Darling Vegan not only has an article on transitioning to vegan in 8 steps, they have an e-book as well. Check it out!
9. Cadry’s Kitchen covers all sorts of things from the vegan cheese for every need, to eating vegan while stuck in a hotel or traveling. They also have a specific post for the process of veganism becoming a habit. Cool stuff.
10. Are you concerned about getting enough Calcium on a vegan diet because you’ll be omitting the dairy in your life? Dairy has never been a good source of calcium, as recent studies demonstrate, but The Conscious Dietician understands the importance of this vital mineral and helps you maintain an adequate balance of it in your diet in their article post here.
11.The author behind Glue and Glitter took inventory of their loved one’s concerns regarding difficulties they’ve found going vegan. They then wrote this article on 8 super easy and quick vegan dinners for those late, busy, or tired nights.
12. From starter meals to vegan food replacements, V Nutrition and Wellness has you covered in their article on going vegan. They reaffirm that it is okay to not be perfect, and to go slow and make things easy.
13. Plant Based Recipe has a neat little guide on going vegan, and of course tons of recipes!
14. Conscious Kale says that nobody’s perfect and encourages you to take your time (I wholeheartedly agree).
My hope is that this compilation of resources from veteran vegans is a useful guide for you. Bookmark it so that you can come back to this one-stop-vegan-tip-shop. Also- these bloggers have much more to offer in the way of vegan resources, than what I have listed here. Recipes, product reviews, travel tips, and much, much more are available on their sites as well. Follow them on social media and subscribe to their mailings to stay up-to-date on their wealth of knowledge and tools.