To make this easier to read, when I talk about veganism, I also mean vegetarians, pescatarians, and people who are cutting down meat, and so forth. 😊
The new year has gone and went, and new year’s resolutions are hopefully being maintained. Maybe one of yours is to cut out your animal products to be more sustainable, healthy, ethical or maybe because it is cheaper? For whatever reason you have, I think it is great that you are doing it and I will share some tips and tricks for your new life!
If you want to try to be a vegan but need some inspiration to get started, I recommend you search for Earthling Ed on Youtube and go to his “30 days, 30 excuses” playlist. There, he brings up the 30 most normal reasons not to become vegan and then answers them. The videos are all very short and you can choose the topics you find interesting. Link here:
Watching documentaries is also a good way to get a lot of inspiration. Good ones on Netflix are “Cowspiracy” if you are interested in the environment, “What the Health” about the health aspect and “The Game Changers” if you want to see how athletes go about it.
Know your reasons
A general tip for when you are going through a change like this is having your reasons. If you only do it because your friend is doing it, you will most likely see it as a punishment that you “can’t” eat some food instead of you not wanting to eat it. Of course, you can try it without having any reason, but if you want to go all vegan, I recommend thinking about why you want to do it and that will be your motivator. When you have a reason that you truly believe in, being vegan is easy since you would not want it any other way.
There are a couple of common reasons to go vegan. Firstly, it can be for the environment; going vegan is the single best thing you can do for the environment. The same amount of land can produce enough food for 14 people with a plant-based diet or only one person with a normal western diet. A second reason could be animals; either that you don’t agree with using other creatures when it is not necessary or the way we use them. Third, your health; most of the diseases that are killing humans today can be linked to consuming animal products. Meat is in the same category of causing cancer as tobacco is. Fourth, logical thinking; that you wouldn’t hurt or kill an animal yourself and then should not pay someone else to do it for you.
“I get vegetarian, but why vegan?”
Being a vegan can mean that you need to explain yourself sometimes. Most of the time it is pure curiosity and it is good that people are interested. Knowing some facts can then be very handy. Here is a short explanation of what milk and eggs are.
Cow’s milk is made for baby cows, just like dog milk is made for baby dogs. We had our portion of milk from our mom when we were babies, that is the only natural milk humans are made to drink. For us humans to be able to get the cow milk, we impregnate the cow and when the baby is born, they get separated directly so the baby won’t drink “our” milk. If it’s a baby boy, he either gets killed directly for veal meat or after 18 months for normal meat. If it’s a baby girl, they will start impregnating her after 12 months and then she will constantly be pregnant and lose her babies until she gives up and becomes meat as well. That is usually after 4-5 years, the natural lifespan of a cow is 15-20 years.
Hens would naturally lay around 12 eggs a year, this is her one clutch of eggs that will be her babies. Humans have been controlling hens for thousands of years and have always been taking away her eggs from her. The only thing she could do was to produce more and hope that she would be able to keep the new ones. Humans kept on taking the eggs until her body lost the rhythm. Today, they lay around 300 per year. This is the reason why we don’t see other bird eggs laying around everywhere, the precious eggs in nature are well taken care of by the two parents.
Living the veggie life
Being vegan in Groningen is very easy – there are options at almost all the restaurants and canteens at our schools always have something for you. Did you know that Groningen even has a vegan student association called VSA Groningen? They were first in The Netherlands and they inspired other cities so now there are coming more and more VSAs. They are a really good source of information and they have events where everyone is welcome.
We in Groningen are also blessed with our market three times a week. Buying your fruit and veggies there is a lot cheaper than in the normal grocery stores. So, if you buy your veggies there and then only treat yourself with fake meat sometimes, this diet is cheaper than a normal meat one. This is a normal reason for students to eat more vegetarian, saving some money.
Same food, different ingredients
One of my favorite words is veganize. This is when you take a normal dish and just change the ingredients, so it is all vegan. This is usually very easy but if it is a new technique or ingredient, there are tons of recipes online. Veganising your normal dishes makes the transaction smoother since you can just continue to eat your normal food. Some examples of dishes that are easy to veganize are lasagna, tacos, pancakes and all sorts of cakes. Buying food at the grocery store is also very easy, there is loads of fake meat, fake cheese, and plant-based milk. Things that you might not know are vegan are most pastas, most breads, the croissants at Albert Heijn that you put in the oven yourself, Oreos, most normal salted chips, most popcorns, some dark chocolate (and the special vegan chocolate), most kinds of peanut butter, some Nutella versions and some already prepared doughs (pizza and pie).
Eating at someone’s house
One aspect of being vegan that I know some people, including myself, find hard is to eat at other people’s houses. Someone might invite you for dinner and they are all meat-eaters. I have this problem when I am with my relatives; everyone eats meat, they do not understand my choice and I don’t want to be a burden for the host. It can be a bit tricky. This tip might be obvious but to tell them in advance that you are vegan and that you would be glad to bring something, send recipes or maybe help them with the cooking. Offering your help is always appreciated.
“How are you getting your protein?”
The protein that everyone is talking about is not a problem if you eat protein-rich food. It could be fake meat, tofu, beans, and lentils. One tip to get easy protein when you don’t want to think about it is to boil the lentils in the same pot as pasta, rice, potatoes or veggies, then it is no extra effort.
Just like the meat-eaters, we should take vitamin B12 supplements, any diet can get a lack of this vitamin. Other than that, there are no worries about nutrition, you will be completely fine!
Do take into consideration that your body needs to get used to a new diet. Give it a month or two before saying that plan-based wasn’t anything for you. Your stomach might feel a bit weird and you might be hungry more often. Then you just need to let it take time and if you are hungry, eat bigger portions and an extra fruit in the afternoon.
I hope some of these tips helped you and that you are excited about this new lifestyle! I can only recommend it and if you do it for the right reasons, this change can be one of the best things you have ever done 😊