As I let you all know, I spent the past weekend in NYC at The Seed: A Vegan Experience. Let’s just say…it was amazeballs. I got to hear vegan badasses Jasmin Singer and Mariann Sullivan from one of my fave vegan/animal rights blogs Our Hen House. They shared their 10 tips to get you started on becoming vegan.
Both Singer and Sullivan talked about their own journeys to going vegan. Singer thought meat was “icky.” So she went vegetarian but didn’t give food or animals much thought beyond that. Years later, a friend showed her factory farm footage.
Sullivan didn’t become a vegan until her 40s. Then she said that Jasmin’s grandmother went vegan at 86. That’s awesome! Now she tells people in her retirement community the benefits of veganism. Sullivan said, “Its a lesson that it’s never too late for anyone.” Sullivan said her love of a It was her love of a dog. A random acquaintance said he became vegan because of the treatment of animals. This one off-hand comment spurred her to become vegan. She said we should never not talk about the way we eat and live. You never know who’s listening.
So here are Singer and Sullivan’s tips to get people started on becoming vegan:
10. Understand all the reasons.
If we understand we can respond well. Going vegan is the best thing you can do not only for yourself but for all the inhabitants of this earth. It benefits health (heart disease, diabetes), environment (just last year UN called for a vegan diet to help combat world hunger and boost food sustainability), and animals (factory farm suffering is a secret hidden universe of suffering which cant be summed in a soundbite).
9. Understand why individual action is important.
All reasons to go vegan are important. People feel like they are just one person and they can’t make a difference. But that is false thinking. If we thought that, we’d never vote or not litter. We need to decide for ourselves if we’re going to be part of the problem or the solution. People notice your choices. People read your Twitter status updates to see what you eat. Food servers and chefs notice what food you order in a restaurant. Change happens one way, person by person. The only thing that will motivate industry? If it loses market share. So boycott by eating vegan.
8. Find ways to find food you love but have it vegan.
Treat yourself to indulgent vegan food. Being vegan isn’t about deprivation. Transition foods — Daiya and Dr. Cow cheese, vegan ice cream, veggie burgers, Earth Balance vegan butter, Vegenaise mayo — make going vegan easier.
7. You have to know how to eat a decent meal at a restaurant.
Call restaurants, even non-vegan ones and talk to a manager or chef to have them make a vegan meal. Who knows? If they get enough calls they may put something vegan on menu.
6. Learn how to add vegetables.
Use blenders and steamers to prepare veggies. For those short on time, frozen vegetables are just as nutritious as fresh veggies. For people who say they can’t get special vegan food where they live, you can obtain fresh produce. And if you can’t get fresh produce [a problem in food deserts], that’s not the fault of veganism; that’s a larger problem.
5. Find and foster community.
Don’t do this on your own. Join or start a vegan meetup or vegan drinks. This is so important in your transition. It’s an important part of your longevity as a vegan. Use Facebook. There are great books on the subject, such as Living Among Meat Eaters by vegan feminist academic Carol J. Adams. There are tons of connections between animals and veganism. “It’s not that the victims are the same. Its that the mindset is the same.” That I am better than them — those thoughts contribute to racism, homophobia, sexism.
4. Learn how to handle humane meat questions.
Some of us don’t think its right to eat meat at all. But you need to remember that people who talk about this care about their food and animals. The word “humane” can mean many things. A lot of “humane” treatment is a scam by factory farming. Cage-free and other terms mean nothing in the law. What about land? There’s just not enough room. Even the smallest egg farms get chickens from hatcheries. In hatcheries, chicks don’t see their mother and boy chicks get tossed and ground up. Hens don’t naturally always lay eggs. The dairy industry makes cows perpetually pregnant and takes away their calves.
3. Plan ahead for family and friend gatherings.
For holidays and gatherings, bring your own food. Bring a lot and make it delicious. People will want to try it. You might be surprised how amenable your family is to try and make some vegan dishes. Host a vegan holiday or potluck.
2. Don’t feel the need to be a spokesperson.
There’s great joy in helping people transition. But you don’t have to do that all the time. It’s certainly possible your eating will bring up anxiety in other people. People are in denial about what they are eating. Remember you do not have to resolve people’s anxiety for them. Don’t let stupid or mean-spirited questions bother you or keep you from enjoying your meal.
1. Find the best resources.
Here’s their recommended list of books and websites to help you go vegan:
Vegan Main Street – best transition book (which I just bought and I can’t wait to read!)
Forks Over Knives – top film
Vegucated – top educational film
Vegan at Heart – best site for vegan tips
NutitionFacts.org – top nutrition site
Vegan for Life – top health book
Color Me Vegan – top cookbook (from Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, one of my fave vegan chefs)
Singer and Sullivan said there’s hope for the future. There is a solution to the enormity of problems. The meat industry simply cannot stand the scrutiny. “Go vegan. It is no accident that the best thing for you is the best thing for the planet and is the best thing for all its inhabitants.”
And be sure to check out The Opinioness’ top 10 tips for going vegan.