Writer’s Note: Originally written for The Circle Fashion Magazine. Can be found here.
Things you need to know when becoming vegan
People choose to become vegan for multiple reasons, such as animal rights, environmental concerns, and for a healthier lifestyle.
“I went vegan, originally, because I saw those sad animals videos where they’re being abused in the factories and it’s all just very depressing,” said Sara Ann Hutchinson, 21, a student at the University of Georgia who became vegan in July 2015. Now, after Hutchinson has done some more research into the environmental side of things, it is a bigger part of why she continues to be vegan. Hutchinson has adjusted many things in her life since becoming vegan, learning lots of things along the way. Here are some of Hutchinson’s most important tips on adopting a vegan diet:
1. Ease Yourself Into It
When first adapting to the vegan diet, if you cannot do it all at once, don’t beat yourself up for it because you’re just setting yourself up for failure. It’s ok if you mess up within the first few months, Hutchinson herself occasionally slipped up when she first went vegan.
2. Take Your Vitamins
Hutchinson could not stress this enough. “There’s a lot of vegans out there saying you can get everything you need from plants and everything’s happy and good. But that’s again setting yourself up for failure because you’re eventually going to get deficiencies,” says Hutchinson. At one point, Hutchinson was even worried that she might have to quit when she was getting deficient. But she started taking her vitamins and the next time she got her bloodwork done, it was all good. She recommends taking a multivitamin and B12.
3. Eat Healthy
This might be shocking to some, especially since some people see eating a vegan diet as immediately starting a healthy lifestyle, but Hutchinson says there’s a lot of ways to be super unhealthy (she says as she’s eating a donut). You need to stay on top of things and make sure you’re getting every nutrient you need.
4. Be Willing to Experiment
Hutchinson did not really struggle with this part because she loves cooking and cooked a lot before she adopted a vegan diet. She still had to experiment though to try to find out what works and what doesn’t when substituting ingredients and finding the perfect replacement to still make your favorite dish. She says to just be willing to practice cooking and to try new things because, once you do, it will be much easier.
5. Freeze and Press Your Tofu
Tofu has a high water content and a lot of people do not really like tofu because it is very mushy. To fix this problem, Hutchinson says you just have to freeze it. When you freeze tofu and let it thaw out, the water melts out and leaves these pockets, so the texture is not as mushy and it also allows flavors to be more absorbed.
6. Buy Follow Your Heart Dairy-Free Parmesan
This is more of a recommendation than a tip, but Hutchinson swears by it and if you have the chance to snag this, you should.