By Amy Stansfield
Veganism is booming. As of this year there are approximately 79 million vegans worldwide. Vegans have a bad reputation but it’s just a stereotype that needs to be abolished. Although not the only solution, switching to a plant-based diet is one of the best ways to reduce your carbon footprint. Greta Thunberg - a climate activist you have most likely heard of - has stated that if you are to do anything for the environment, you should "go vegan". There's more too: more and more scientific research is being conducted on the surplus of health benefits that a vegan provides. Studies have found vegans have a lower risk of heart disease, may be protected more against certain cancers and have lower cholesterol than many others.
Veganism has a reputation of being restrictive. But this does not have to be the case. If you know how to go about it, it can be fun. I promise. Do some googling, read a book, watch a documentary. There are so many resources to help you gain knowledge on making the switch.
It is vital also to make sure you are getting all your vitamins. You will need to take B12 supplements - there’s no way around it. Do your research and if you're struggling, ask a professional for advice.
Start small if you're struggling
Some people may go in with the ‘all or nothing mentality’, which is completely fine if you stick with it. But for many people transitioning to veganism is a major lifestyle change. Starting slow by replacing certain things in your diet or even having a few vegan days a week is a step in the right direction.
The next tip is to experiment. Try new recipes you might not have thought about before. There are countless resources online. Even Tiktok has a whole range of vegans uploading recipes. The amount of plant-based options nowadays are endless. The world's your oyster (but without the oyster).
Making the switch may also encourage you to try new places when eating out. There are endless selections of vegan cafes and restaurants. Many UK cities have been included in the top 25 cities in the world for vegan restaurants!
Don’t give up
If you accidentally eat something without checking the label, don’t overthink it - get right back on track with your Oatly and Greggs sausage rolls (vegan obviously). Try not to be so hard on yourself as doing so will most probably not be helpful in the long-run. If you slip up, do not give up.
Join vegan groups and spread the word. Having people around you who are also vegan can be motivating and helpful - especially if you feel like the awkward one who always double checks with the waiter.
It can be important to remember why you are making the change. There are hundreds of documentaries exposing the horrendous torture of animals and the effect of meat consumption on the earth. Watching or reading and making good use of the infinite resources out there can put things into perspective. It's also important to engage in other areas as well as the vegan community. For example, maybe think about joining a local environmental group or animal rights group.
This website includes many fantastic resources for new vegans, from documentaries to podcasts to cookbooks: https://www.nomeatathlete.com/podcast/radio-105/