Welcome to part two of our week-one survival guide for new vegans, where the first part expressed five tips on dominating the transition without giving up. This time, I decided to take a more personal approach and ask none other than my former roommate and one of my best friends who made her transition into the vegan lifestyle within the past year. Danielle has served as a riding instructor for eight years, but that doesn’t include 22 years of riding and competing herself, receiving four walls worth of medals and recognition. She has two horses, Mowgli and Ariana, and two cats, Teddy and Athena. She’s saved several abandoned and starved animals from the street, even the random spider I’d find on the wall when we lived together. Her passion for animals, even the ones we wouldn’t consider cute or cuddly, led to a shift in her lifestyle choices. With that said, HealingRadius contacted Danielle to ask her six questions about her transition to veganism and how she’s learned to adapt. See what she had to say!
HealingRadius: Tell me about the vegan lifestyle. What does it entail?
Danielle: Living a vegan lifestyle means you’re eating foods free of all animal products. That includes no fish, dairy, or eggs. Besides the food aspect, the vegan lifestyle includes avoiding leather, fur, and any product that causes harm to animals.
HR: Why did you decide to adopt this lifestyle?
Danielle: I went vegan because of my love and passion for animals. I’ve always loved animals and I don’t want to be a part of their suffering in any way. I want to do whatever I can to benefit them.
HR: How did you go about transitioning? Did you give up one group of food at a time or all at once?
Danielle: I started as just a vegetarian. Chicken was the only meat I had really consumed beforehand, so cutting it out was not difficult at all. I’d say it was four months later that I started to wean myself of all dairy products, including eggs. I gave myself about a month and a half to slowly cut the dairy out of my diet.
HR: What’s the hardest food to go without?
Danielle: I would have to say cheese was the hardest food to completely stop eating. There are so many foods that I love that are made with cheese. But once I went a few weeks without it, I never got a craving for it again.
HR: What are the best substitutes for different types of food?
Danielle: There are so many vegan substitutes out there—I’m still learning about all the different ingredients available to vegans. Almond milk is a great substitute for dairy milk. I was drinking it way before I became vegan because I prefer the taste of it. As far as cheese goes, there are a wide variety of vegan cheeses, some made from soy protein, tapioca flour, or even nut milk. When I’m in the mood for yogurt or ice cream, I opt for the brands that use coconut milk, but there are brands that also use soymilk. There are vegan butter options like Earth Balance and Smart Balance, to name a few. You can find substitutes for anything, it just takes some research. And like I mentioned earlier, I’m still learning.
HR: What’s the one thing you recommend for people starting this lifestyle?
Danielle: I would recommend taking your time. You don’t have to become a vegan overnight. Maybe start out as vegetarian like I did and then slowly take away the dairy products. Give your body some time to adjust and make sure you do your research so that you remain healthy during the switch.
We’re confident that Danielle’s advice will help others who’re unsure about going vegan to see that it’s beneficial and easier than it seems. If you have any tips or suggestions on living a vegan lifestyle, please share them in the comment section below!