25 May 2012

10 ways to stay vegan

Many people struggle with the commitment to a vegan lifestyle. Reasons can include a wide array of excuses or conflicts. From not having the time to research everything to not having support from friends and family, we understand! Here are a few small steps that can help you remain vegan.

  1. Find other vegans. Whether online or in real life, having other people to ask questions or bond with goes a long way when you’re surrounded by a meat consuming society. Here are a few ideas to help expand your vegan companions:
              Check Meetup for local vegan/vegetarian activities
              Search for vegan groups on facebook
              Single? Check out vegan dating sites 
  2. Create a collection of easy vegan recipes- Start small and get a few quick easy recipes that you like. I would suggest cooking meals at home and bag your lunch until you can find the vegan-friendly options around school or the office. Pinterest is a great resource for finding simple recipes, or you can search vegweb.com.
  3. Remind yourself why you went vegan in the first place. Grab a box of tissues and watch Earthlings or other such movies when you feel yourself starting to stray!
  4. Planning ahead is key. If your going out with friends be the one to pick the restaurant. Find out what places your friends like and check out the menus online prior to choosing the destination. If you are eating over a friend's or family member's house offer to bring a dish with you, and make sure there is enough for everyone.
  5. Invite your friends or family over for a great vegan dinner. Help them understand why you’re a vegan. Don’t be afraid to let them know how it feels to be made fun of for it. If they are friends they will listen.
  6. Don’t try to replace everything! This one may sound odd but, wait before trying vegan cheese. Cheese is often the hardest thing for vegans to let go of. Honestly, most cheese alternatives aren’t the same. Imagine that you took a sip of buttermilk thinking it was soymilk. You would immediately think that the taste and texture was ‘wrong.’ There is NOTHING wrong with vegan cheese- it is easier to appreciate it when you’re not comparing it to your favorite cheddar cheese. This can apply to any particular food that you really have a strong tie to.
  7. There’s an app for that. Download vegan apps to your phone that can help you navigate through everyday life. There are apps that help you find vegan wine and beer, locate veg-friendly restaurants, pick out products that aren't tested on animals, and identify animal ingredients in food. 
  8. Find your staples. For me it was Nissin Top Ramen oriental flavor, soymilk, Tofutti Cuties, Tofurky Sausage, and pasta w/ pasta sauce. I always keep extra in the house so I will never have a “there is nothing to eat” moment.
  9. Help with dinner.  Living at home? Help your parents prepare vegan versions of the family dinner. Better yet- cook once a week, avoid the tofu if your dad has a fear of it (like mine). I stick with dishes that don’t use "fake" meat and dairy. Try Pasta Fazool or cook spinach, broccoli, and white beans in garlic and olive oil to serve over pasta.
  10. Go food shopping. Don’t buy your own food? Help with the food shopping! This all comes back to doing your research. Visit PETA’s Accidentally Vegan page and make a list of your favorites. Read the boxes, more companies are starting to label their products vegan. Look for pareve labels on food to aid in finding vegan options. 
If you are just starting out, it gets easier! You will begin to remember the vegan friendly products and restaurants. Your mother will see that you take your nutrition seriously and aren’t wasting away. Your friends and family will run out of meat eating jokes and comments (until then you can enjoy a game of Omnivore Bingo).

Stephanie Pania | Facebook | Blog | Pinterest
Philadelphia, PA Stephanie is an eco-conscious vegan from Philadelphia, PA. She has a degree in Communications and Technical Theater, and is currently the communications specialist at an area nonprofit. She recently finished a year serving with AmeriCorps, and spends her free time playing with her adopted dogs and her rescued cats.

Photo credit:cc:flickr.com/photos/ofernandezberrios and TDIV