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***As part of my Veganuary journey in 2020 I’ve decided to share some information that I’ve discovered on veganism over the month. It’s important to note that I’m no expert – I’m still very much in the learning stage of veganism and have included sources below for any scientific claims. My main goal is to help others should they also decide to try the lifestyle out!***
Becoming vegan seems completely overwhelming, if I’m being honest. Not only do you need to learn what you can eat and who caters for vegans, but it’s also a good idea to learn more about the nutrition and health side of things to prepare you for the inevitable questions and statements from family and friends – “Where do you get your protein from?” and “But you have carnivore teeth so you’re supposed to eat meat”, to name a few.
This month I feel like I’ve learnt so much information and, even though it took me a bit of time to get my head around it all, I now feel much more confident and informed. Taking the time to do my research has really helped make it an easy transition! To assist anyone else who is thinking of becoming vegan I’ve compiled a list of useful resources to help you start your journey.
Thankfully there are loads of websites out there now with information on living a vegan lifestyle, from huge organisations to smaller, vegan-focused bloggers. The Vegan Society are an excellent source of information, and as a charity they also lead a variety of campaigns and undertake research. Veganuary is also a great place to start – they also provide a whole wealth of information, plus a seriously useful newsletter you can access by taking part in Veganuary, and loads of great recipes to try out.
If you want to keep up with what’s going on in the vegan world then I’d recommend Plant-Based News as a good source of information, with sections on culture, lifestyle, and opinion. They even have their own academy! MindBodyGreen are also great for news – whilst not specifically vegan, they focus on health and wellbeing and have a lot of vegan and plant-based content because of that.
As veganism becomes more popular there has been a definite rise in the amount of documentaries out there to show the benefits of a vegan diet, as well as informative approaches to the problems within the meat and dairy industry. When I started Veganuary I watched The Game Changers on Netflix and that completely sold it to me – the documentary is heavily science-based and focuses on how a diet devoid of animal products will benefit you in the short and long-term, plus dispels a whole multitude of myths (some of which I still believed up until I watched it). I urge everyone to watch this, even if you’re not thinking of going vegan, as it contains some truly fascinating information.
If you’re more interested in the environmental and animal welfare side of things then Cowspiracy (also on Netflix) is another great document to watch as it clearly shows the devastating impact that agriculture (including fishing) is having on the environment, plus the shady reasons why no one seems to be doing anything about it. I also found the 5 minute YouTube video Dairy Is Scary by Erin Janis very powerful, however it is incredibly graphic and upsetting in parts so view with caution. After watching that I knew that going back to dairy products wasn’t an option.
Food & Nutrition
Food and nutrition are a massive part of veganism, and experimenting with veganism will usually start here. The first thing I did was download two apps to start with my journey,as these are so convenient to use when out and about! VNutrition, available on Google Play and the App Store, helps users to track the vitamins and nutrients that they are taking on a daily basis and identifies where you might be falling short. This has been so useful as I realised pretty quickly that B12 and iodine were not featuring as heavily in my diet as they should have been. It also recommends some supplements from The Vegan Society which will help you hit those RDAs.
CodeCheck is another great app for beginner vegans to download, which is also available on both Google Play and the App Store. The app allows you to scan barcodes of products (not just food – it also covers beauty and home) to highlight any concerns based on what you opt to look out for on your profile. As well as checking if a product is vegan you can also use it to look for palm oil, microbeads, and other problematic ingredients. The only issue I had with this app is that it hasn’t yet got many Aldi products added to its database, though these should appear as the community grows.
There are also some really useful websites you can use to check the vegan status of food and drink items. For the alcohol fans you’ll want to bookmark Barnivore to search for beer, wine, and liquor products, as many alcohols use isinglass during the distillation process. Vegan Food & Living have a great guide to accidentally vegan products you can find in major supermarkets, and Happy Cow can help you find restaurants with vegan options in your area (there is also an app but it isn’t free like the website is). I’ll make a point of adding them when I can!
The other website I’ve found really useful is the NHS vegan diet page, which explains how to stay healthy whilst eating vegan and which types of food will give you each vitamin and nutrient that your body requires.
Health & Beauty
A lot of people forget, but veganism isn’t just about what you eat! If you’re doing it for reasons other than diet then you’ll want to take a good look at your beauty and health products, as many of these use animal products or involve animal testing. Of course, if you are reliant on a life-saving drug that is tested on animals then there’s not much you can do about that, however there are many cruelty-free brands out there within the health and beauty platform.
Superdrug have written up an excellent cruelty-free guide which lists the generally unsuspectingly-named ingredients that involve animal cruelty, and this Complete Guide to UK Cruelty Free Beauty Brands guide from Friendly And Free is great for identifying alternative make-up and cosmetic brands. The Independent has written an interesting article on home product animal testing which clears up some confusion around what the labels mean, where to find cruelty-free products, and how we as consumers can change policies.
The most exciting part of going vegan (in my opinion, anyway) is discovering loads of new recipes, and finding out that actually being vegan isn’t just replacing meat in the meals you’ve always eaten. Aside from the main Veganuary and The Vegan Society sites I’ve found Pinterest to be so good for collecting vegan recipes, and of course you can search for many other types of dietary requirements as well. As for cookbooks, the Bosh! Healthy Vegan cookbook by Henry Firth is currently popular – I haven’t bought it yet myself but I’ve only heard good things.
The biggest other resource that I’ve used during my Veganuary journey – daily, in fact – is the Veganuary Facebook page. Although the group is primarily for people experimenting with veganism during Veganuary, it’s active all year round and is a great place to get advice and guidance from vegans both new and old. The group is generally supportive, with a strong admin team that make you feel safe and respected.
Another resource that I found really interesting is the BBC’s climate change food calculator, which allows you to see the environmental impact of the food you eat. All you need to do is select a type of food and how often you eat it, and then the calculator will tell you your annual greenhouse gas emissions, what that is equivalent to with driving, home heating, and showers, and how it compares with other similar food products. This is a great one in particular for those going vegan for the environment.
There are plenty of other resources out there too – I haven’t included every single resource going as that would be one long post, but rather focused on the ones I have personally used and enjoyed. Hopefully this will be useful for any of you looking to go vegan!
Which resources have you found most useful for becoming vegan? Let me know in the comments, and don’t forget to like and pin!
You can check out my other posts in the Veganuary series here: