There are many reasons to want to try a plant-based diet or lifestyle. But it’s totally okay if you just want to dip your toe in and figure out what makes sense for you. Maybe you want to explore plant-based eating as a means of eating healthier, or of being kind to animals, maybe you’re allergic to animal derivatives, or certain materials. We know plant-based can mean a lot of things, to different people, however you mean it, and whatever the reason, you can easily start to bring plant-based and vegan ideals into your life.
Now we know going totally vegan can be daunting. There are some gatekeepers who feel you have to go vegan or bust and with words like “flax egg”, “vegetable cashmere”, and “aquafaba” it’s easy to get lost or overwhelmed. Whether you’re a hardcore activist, you want to extend plant-based into your spiritual practice, or you are just curious, there is no wrong way to bring vegan elements into your life. The point of this article is to provide an open and approachable dialogue for ways you can easily start to bring veganism into your everyday lifestyle, without judgement wherever you are in your plant-based journey.
The hardest part of creating a habit is starting. It’s especially difficult when you have to go out of your way to bring something new into your life. Adding plant-based elements to your lifestyle doesn’t have to be hard, stressful, or feel like an epic quest. You don’t have to break your budget or toss everything out of your pantry (the environment doesn’t need you to be wasteful!). It can be as easy as trying a new dish soap, buying vegetables in season, thrifting for linen and cotton clothing, or trying that new vegan treat at your favourite coffee shop. Every step towards plant-based living makes it more accessible for everyone.
While this list is meant for curious newcomers and beginners, it can be useful as a refresher for more experienced vegans. Or as a resource for explaining different ways to get involved with a plant-based lifestyle. Whatever your reason for coming here today, we hope to encourage you.
#1. Try plant-based milk in your coffee. You know your favourite Starbucks drink? You can substitute dairy with almond milk, soy milk, or even the ever-so-creamy oat milk.
#2. Everyone has to clean and do laundry. So why not substitute those products to something more animal friendly (that doesn’t require chemical testing)? Some brands we like are TruEarth, Meyer’s, Cinderella’s Organic Housekeeping, ATTITUDE, ECOS, Nature Clean, and Bronner’s Pure-Castile Soap. With every wash you’re making a difference.
#3. Love your makeup? So do we! Some brands we love (and that love being plant-based and cruelty-free) are Bare English & Co, Pure Anada, Too Faced, Pacfica, Cake Beauty, OSEA, Rahua, and Cover FX. Plus a lot of these are Canadian. Some brands like Nyx, Urban Decay, Sugar Pill, ColourPop, Marcelle, Wet and Wild, Tarte, etc. are cruelty-free, with a vegan selection, they do have products with animal-derived ingredients, so it’s important to check the labels.
#4. Crafty DIYers. From makeup, body scrubs, toothpaste, candles, cleaning product, hand soaps, and meal prep, there is a vegan recipe for anyone who loves to get creative, and doesn’t mind putting in a little effort for a lot of joy. Plus a lot of DIY methods reuse materials (like glass containers, cardboard tubes, etc.), so not only would you be making something from scratch, you’re also incorporating sustainable practices and becoming more self-sufficient.
#5. Eco-conscious and plant-based thrifting. Not only does thrifting allow you to be more sustainable by reusing products like clothing and kitchen supplies, it can also be a treasure trove for linen cotton clothing items. A lot of these items still have their tags, so it can be pretty easy to make sure the items you are interested in a plant-based without animal derivatives.
#6. Buy fruits and vegetables in season. You probably know that most fruits and vegetables have specific seasons that they grow in. Did you know that means there’s a larger supply of them, which leads to more affordable prices? While this isn’t a complete list, as it varies per region, generally you can get carrots, potatoes and turnips in the autumn, for a nice root bake. In winter, you can get spaghetti squash for a delicious gluten-free and vegan pasta base. Kale, collard greens, and swiss chard are also in season at this time. Spring is perfect for spinach, artichoke, and asparagus. Cherry tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers are in season in the summer. Pair those with a balsamic* vinegar reduction and you’ve got a light and flavourful salad.
*While vinegar is traditionally vegan, modern vinegar can have animal derivatives, so be sure to check your labels.
#7. Dedicate one plant-based meal day, per week. This is especially easy if you already love meal prepping. You can plan out a whole vegan menu for the day. With ideas like a smoothie bowl, hummus veggie sandwiches, mouthwatering salads and vegan pasta dishes, the options are limitless and delicious. Of course if planning a vegan menu sounds daunting, you can just pick a few simple meals and snacks.
Choose filling plant-based food that has lots of fiber and protein in them. Things like nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, chickpeas, oats, broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, bean curd, tofu, spinach, kale, brown rice, wild rice, and quinoa* have considerable amounts of protein in them. A lot of leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, and root vegetables are high in fiber too, so often you can double up your protein and fiber intake with the same veggies.
*Quinoa, while a high source of protein does have a slew of ethical issues that come with it, such as demand being so high that the Peruvian and Bolivian farmers who grow it can’t afford to buy it. Also. because of the demand, clear cutting is often used to have more land to grow quinoa year round, which leads to soil erosion, and potential desertification.
#8. Do something fun, and invite your friends! Sometimes the best way to get an idea of how something works for you, is to just jump in and see how it feels. Trying something like the #7DayVeganChallenge could be a fun way to try different recipes, look into new resources, watch fun TikToks, and work together with friends to hype each other up if a few of you decide to do the challenge together. Maybe you and some friends want to check out a vegan bakery together? Or you want to try a vegan potluck for movie night? There’s a lot of ways to play and explore bringing plant-based into your home life.
#9. Choose your reasons for incorporating plant-based into your life. Whether it’s something you’re curious about, or a path you want your life to take, it’s important to identify why you want to try to add vegan elements to your life. Are you wanting to take your activism or religious beliefs to the next level? Is it about the animals, and protecting them? Do you have concerns about fast fashion and sweatshops? Are you an environmentalist and wanting to be more earth conscious? The reasons why are limitless, but having reasons that you believe in will make it easier to form the habit of a plant-based life. If visual cues help you to stay on track, you could make a Pinterest board of all the different vegan things you’d like to try, or plant-based brands you find interesting. Or you could make an inspiring moodboard out of materials recycled from around your home, etc. However you want to express your plant-based goals, and remind yourself of them is valid.
#10. Decide what pace is best for you, and go for it! If going vegan overnight suits you, that’s great! If you need to do it in steps, like going from an omnivore to a vegetarian, that’s cool too. Many people will say, “I could eat vegan, except for cheese.” That’s okay! Incorporate a vegan diet, and keep the cheese. Or try some amazing cheeze, who knows you may just fall in love with Chao Cheese, or Blue Heron Creamery. Each step in the plant-based direction is awesome! Be kind to yourself, and however your plant-based journey takes form.
Bringing plant based ideals into your life can be as easy, delicious, fun, and inclusive as you want it to be. To make it even easier on you, we at The Veganist are always bringing in vegan staples from makeup, to clothing, to meals, chocolate and more. So if you need a hand getting started, come talk to us. We’d love to help you on your plant-based journey.
Special thanks to Pexels for use of their royalty-free images, and Lunar Autumn Designs for the research, content, and layout.