Going vegan is an adventure: it opens you up to a whole new way of thinking, perceiving, feeling and living (yeah, it's really amazing like that). As any major lifestyle change, the transition into veganism can be tricky as well as wonderful. Two years into the way, here are a few things I'd advice you to steer clear of.
Don't go cold turkey.
Several vegans I know would disagree with me. But in my experience, cold turkey just isn't the way to go. It's drastic, it's difficult and it is likely to lead to failure. Phase animal products out of your life instead. After almost 20 years as a pescatarian and vegetarian, you'd think the change was easy for me, but it definitely wasn't. Surprisingly, the first and easiest thing I cut out was cheese. I don't miss it one tiny bit! Especially when Vegustos' lovely substitutes are beyond amazing.
Don't think veganism is limited to food only.
Once again, personal opinion, but it just seems very strange to me to follow a vegan diet while wearing leather shoes and using L'Oreal makeup. Slowly but surely, extend veganism to every part of your life. Do research into vegan living. Find out how your decision to live cruelty-free is helping animals, people and the planet.
Don't just cut food out.
I would say the biggest mistake that new vegans make is just cutting out entire food groups without a thought as to what will replace them. If, say, you used to have chicken or egg salads for lunch, and then go vegan and make the same salad only omitting the chicken or egg, then don't come crying to me when you're tired and sluggish (in this case, your vegan diet didn't "make you sick", you did that all by yourself). One of the most important (and fun!) parts of veganism is adding new foods to your diet. I've discovered countless new favourites: nuts, seeds, sea vegetables, avocado, lentils and tempeh, just to name a few. Tip: replace that chicken with a couple of new ingredients (such as, say, avocado and flaxseeds or tofu and nori) to really amp up the recipe.
Don't look down on vegetarians.
Unless you were vegan at birth - and even then I doubt it was your own decision rather than the work of a rather enlightened family - we've all at some point consumed animal products. I'm a firm believer in "baby steps are better than no steps at all". Vegetarians are doing more than omnivores. Omnivores who don't wear fur are still doing something. Every little step counts. It's not hypocrisy, it's starting small. And it just might be someone's first step, unless a pushy vegan shames and pressures them into abandoning the cruelty-free path altogether.
Don't expect people to understand you.
I'd love to be a vegan - too bad I keep ending up on desert islands with no vegetation whatsoever, only a bunch of Kentucky Fried chickens running around. Seriously, the "but what if you were on a desert island?" is only one of the millions of ridiculous comments you'll hear. Other people will want to know "but what if eggs were humanely produced?" and other altogether hypothetical situations that do not in any way, shape or form exist on the planet, with the sole intention of hearing you confirm that yes, in some cases you would eat meat again. My tip: ignore.
Don't go it alone.
I very heavily sought support from online communities during my first months as a transitioning vegan. I talked to people, asked for advice and got in touch with as many vegans as I could. The internet has the power to provide a magnificent support system, especially if you're the only vegan you know and/or live in a smaller town without much of a veggie scene.
And above all, remember: being vegan is easier than you think.
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