When I say that adopting a vegan lifestyle is life changing, I mean it in the most literal way. It not only changes what you eat, wear, and use, it transforms the way you interact with animals, loved ones, the earth, and your own body.
My only regret about becoming vegan is that I didn’t adopt this lifestyle sooner.
Once I was able to make the connection between the animals I love and the ones on my plate, I knew I needed to become vegan. Yet, it’s not easy to change overnight. Milk can hide in the most unsuspecting of foods. At a glance, vegan leather can’t be distinguished from real leather. How can you find which makeup brands test on animals, and which don’t? Does the shampoo and conditioner in your shower have a dark past you don’t know about? What about dinners and get-togethers with loved ones; what the hell can you eat, and how can you answer the plethora of questions they’ll have about your new lifestyle, without seeming like a judgmental or defensive vegan?
First, take a deep breath and relaaaaax. Veganism is all about reducing the amount of unnecessary suffering in the world; don’t get caught up in trying to be the most pure, perfect vegan overnight. Like any lifestyle change, it takes time to learn. Remain patient with yourself on this journey, and after a few months you’ll be able to realize how far you’ve come, and how natural the vegan life finally feels.
To help you along your journey, I’ve compiled a list of my go-to resources that help me navigate this lifestyle. I hope they will help you, too:
1. Is it Vegan? App – In the first year of becoming vegan, I used this app almost every time I went grocery shopping. A lot of processed foods use ingredients I’ve never even heard of before, and googling each ingredient to find out if it was animal-derived became exhausting. This app allows you to search the product in question by scanning or searching for it by name. Then it will tell you if it’s “Not Vegan”, “Definitely Vegan,” “Vegetarian,” etc.
2. PETA’s Cruelty-free Shopping Guide – PETA not only fights on behalf of animals’ rights every single day, they make all their information about veganism easily accessible and understandable. On their website, you can search their database to find out which companies do and do not test on animals. To make it even easier on you, you can search the database by the product you’re looking for. So whether you’re looking for baby or body care products, household cleaners or office supplies, PETA will let you know which brands to buy =] http://features.peta.org/cruelty-free-company-search/index.aspx
3.”Certified Vegan” or “Beauty without Bunnies” logo – Many companies are now adding logos to let consumers know their products are vegan or cruelty-free. I was happy to see the “Certified Vegan” logo on most of the snacks in Whole Foods and the “Beauty without Bunnies” on my Tarte cosmetics.
4. Happy Cow Website – Happy cow makes it easy for animal lovers to eat out. All you have to do is enter your zip code and Happy Cow will list vegan or vegetarian friendly restaurants nearby! The website is free, but they also have an app you can purchase for $3.99. If you don’t want to spend money on an app, people who have an iphone or ipad can download Vegetarious instead, which is a free app that also shows you which restaurants are vegan and vegetarian friendly. https://www.happycow.net/
5. Pinterest, Instagram, other Social Media sites – Social media sites can play a bigger role in your life than just seeing people’s adventures and selfies. Instagram and Pinterest became my favorite tools to use when I became vegan, because they are filled with inspiration; from recipes, to fashion, to new product alerts, it’s easy to stay motivated and up-to-date on veganism through the beautiful, mouth-watering pictures of these sites. Just search “vegan” or “veganlifestyle” on social media, see which pictures appear, and follow any accounts you’re drawn to! (I’m gonna do a shameless self-plug here and invite you all to follow me: @that_vegan_hippie).
It’s easier than ever to go vegan, and once you do, you’ll realize that we’re actually not judgmental, preachy ass holes that some people try to paint us to be! All we’re trying to do is reduce suffering in the world and stand up for animals’ right to their own life. So next time you see a vegan, don’t go in defense mode and joke about how all we eat is grass, or question where we get our protein, or comment on how delicious hamburgers are– just give us a hug, try our tofu, and realize that the world is a magical, interconnected place =]