5 Tips for Prospective Vegans or Reducetarians

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Photo by Vince Lee on Unsplash

If you’re here, odds are you already know what vegan means, but what the heck is a “reducetarian”? According to The Reducetarian Foundation:

“…A “reducetarian” diet, [is] where participants reduce the amount of meat they consume in order to improve their health, protect the environment, and spare farmed animals from cruelty.”

While reducetarians are not vegan, I support anyone who strives to cut down on the amount of animal products in their life (both diet and lifestyle) and I really think that people willing to take these steps, including vegetarians, are just future vegans in training!

On my personal Instagram, most of the things I post in both my story and on my feed are vegan-centric, and as a result I’ve had quite a few people contact me, asking “How do I go vegan? I just don’t know where to start.” So rather than writing a long-winded and potentially confusing essay each time, I’ve decided to compose this blog post as a comprehensive guide.

 

  1. Avoid vegan cheese

Yeah, I said it. A problem I personally encountered while attempting to transition the first time years ago, my failure laid in vegan cheese. I went straight from cow’s milk cheese to vegan substitutes and was sorely disappointed because like a lot of people, I expected it to be just like the “real thing”. I of course thought all vegan cheese was disgusting, and I would never make it as a vegan, although this was before the age of having access to brands like Miyoko’s and Violife, the two brands near and dear to my heart. So when transitioning, focus on less cheese-centric recipes. I know every vegan says this, but after you get over the hump you don’t miss cow’s milk cheese at all. After a few weeks, experiment with some vegan cheeses especially those linked above. Annie’s makes phenomenal mac and cheese that’s so close to Kraft, not even my omnivorous loved ones could tell the difference. And if you’re steering clear of processed foods, feel free to make your own!

2. Veganize your favorite recipes

It’s a lot easier than you think; there is a substitute for pretty much every ingredient you could ever need. My chocolate chip cookie dough truffles are insanely easy to make, and the only truly vegan ingredient is the Earth Balance butter. There are a ton of vegan comfort food recipes all over the internet including the one you’re looking at now, sure to satisfy your craving for familiar foods. Even after being vegan for almost two years, I am still a huge fan of mock meat brands like Gardein and Beyond Meat. Gardein seriously has a mock meat version for everything! Fishless fillets, meatballs, burgers, turkey cutlets, wings, you name it. They’re 100% vegan so you’ll never have to scour the list of ingredients. Also, Beyond Meat has absolutely exploded over the past year with their products like the Beyond Burger and Beyond Sausage. The demand has been so high for these products, that they’re set to increase production by 200%!

3. Watch out for hidden ingredients

The following are ingredients commonly hidden in foods that are not vegan: beeswax, honey, casein, milk powder, whey, gelatin, lecithin (soy lecithin is vegan), lactic acid, isinglass and more. For a complete list, check out this site.

4. Take it slow

Some people can transition from omnivore to vegan overnight, but if you think that’ll be too much of a shock for you, try vegetarianism first or eliminate one animal product from your diet every week and replace it with something vegan. Common reasons that cause difficulty in transitioning are diving in head first without a plan, not taking a multivitamin supplement and unexpected body changes. As the saying goes, slow and steady wins the race. You want to be sure that you’re still eating enough of the nutrients you need to keep your body going, and if you neglect this fact you could run into some problems but honestly just! take! a! multivitamin! It’s as easy as that and there are very few reasons why someone can’t be vegan if there are any at all. Unsuccessful vegan transitions all stem from a lack of preparedness.

5. Keep your goal in mind

What’s motivating you to do this? The animals? The environment? Your health? By becoming vegan, you’re making an impact and don’t allow anyone else to tell you otherwise. According to PETA, in just a year you’ll have nearly two hundred animals from slaughter. Imagine the impact you could have in ten years, or even a lifetime! Watch documentaries, read books, ask other vegans about their experiences. There are an endless number of resources at your disposal so take advantage. Check out this vegan calculator to see your impact.

There will be people telling you that you’re only one person and what you’re doing doesn’t make a difference. Any time someone says that, I show them the Starfish Story. Best of luck on your vegan journey, and feel free to ask me any questions you might have!

Author: Amanda Spinosa

Amanda Spinosa is a vegan illustrator, animal rights advocate and mother to two adopted dogs, Ludo and Sasha. She is born and raised in the Hudson Valley of New York where she spends much of her time hiking, foraging, experimenting with plant-based recipes and volunteering at the Woodstock Farm Sanctuary. Amanda is also an avid gardener and grows her own food during the summer months.

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