A new year means new beginnings, new goals to achieve and new adventures to experience. When I first went vegan, it wasn’t an immediate thing. I decided to go vegan mid-way through 2012, and it took me a good six months before I removed all animal products from my diet. I initially cut out meat and eggs, but it took me a long time to get rid of all dairy. By the time I returned to Australia from a trip to India, I was completely done and became entirely vegan as soon as my feet touched the ground again in Melbourne. Since then, I always tell myself: ‘Why didn’t I go vegan sooner?’
Fast-forward to 2021, it’s so much easier to go vegan. There’s an unlimited supply of vegan products to try, vegan options to choose at restaurants, and ‘challenges’ to sign up to which give you all the support you need in order to transition. As we start a new year and a new ‘Veganuary’, we can start fresh and start a new direction in our lives.
Let’s all spend the new year trying vegan. Here are some ways you can begin your vegan journey from Day 1.
Start with the food in your house
If you want to go vegan, the best place to start is with the food in your house. Sort out all the foods in your fridge and pantry, and remove all non-vegan foods like meat, dairy and eggs. When it comes to packaged foods, simply read the labels and look for any ingredients that are animal-based. To avoid wastage, pass the foods on to someone you know who will eat it.
When you remove foods from your kitchen, replace them with vegan versions like:
- For meats: legumes and pulses, jackfruit, vegan burgers
- For dairy: plant-based milks like soy or almond, vegan coconut yoghurt and ice-cream
- For cheeses and dips: hummus or plant based vegan cheeses (check out my Top 3 post here)
- For pantry staples: nuts, seeds, vegan cookies and snacks, rice crackers
If this is too much to handle in one sitting, then approach it gradually. Sign up to a monthly vegan challenge like Veganuary or VeganEasy. You’ll get day-by-day support like vegan tips, online support group and daily recipes emailed to you. Also, think about some short term vegan goals you want to achieve and write them down, and then gradually build to longer term goals for your vegan future.
Spread the vegan love around you
January means we’re still taking advantage of the New Year celebrations and get-togethers with family and friends. If you’re asked to bring a dish (or as we say here in Australia – bring a plate), then create a tasty vegan dish that people will swoon over. Make that dish your signature dish, and you’ll be asked to make it again and again. For example, I make a vegan white chocolate rocky road each Christmas and my family now asks me to make this every year. I found this recipe one day after a simple ‘vegan recipes’ search in Google. Easy!
It’s not just about being vegan. It’s about connecting with others through foods we love to make and eat. And that’s the key with being vegan. It’s about making the connection between people through tasty vegan food and making the connection that a sentient being doesn’t have to die in order for you to eat a meal.
Travel the vegan road
Yes, being vegan means travelling the vegan road as well! Imagine the possibilities if we didn’t have to exploit animals in our travels. Rather than going to a zoo or participating in riding animals, think about the kinder alternatives you can do instead. Spend some time visiting an animal rescue group or a sanctuary, or even offer your services as a volunteer for a day. Go for a walk out in nature where you’ll be able to spot wildlife in their natural habitat.
Fuel your travels by dining out at local vegan eateries or those restaurants with vegan options at your destination. The best international resource for places to eat is HappyCow. You can also check out my Aussie Vegan Directory if you’re travelling within Australia. Also, research any day tours at your destination as you might find a vegan-friendly tour (or even a fully vegan one). What better way to explore a new destination that involves exploring its thriving vegan scene?
All views expressed in this blog post are those of Justine de Jonge of Fire & Tea. Fire & Tea does not have any pre-existing affiliations with any of the programs or companies mentioned in this blog post.