Yay, I’m vegan! …now what do I do?

Congratulations! You’ve taken a huge step towards living a more compassionate, cruelty-free life, and countless animals around the world are thanking you personally.

Feeling a bit lost now? Overwhelmed? There’s no need to be. You’re going to do just fine, and there’s a wealth of resources and support networks online to help you out. If you’re not yet familiar with vegsource.com or the PETA.org site (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), take some time to explore them and see what info they have to offer you. There’s a wealth of invaluable info on these websites, and they also link you to many others that you can check out and learn from.

Talk to people.

In addition to the vegan folks you already know, there’s a good chance that are some veg-friendly meetup groups, yahoo groups or other networking events in your area: don’t be afraid to take advantage of the opportunities to meet other vegans, and share ideas. If you see someone at one of these events wearing clothes you love, talk to them! Ask them where they got them, if they’re fully vegan, and see if these finds match your budget. Word-of-mouth is one of the best ways to learn tips and tricks about vegan lifestyle options.

You can also contact the management teams of various companies to ask them directly about their products: let’s say you find a pair of pleather boots online but they’re not specifically labeled as vegan. Contact the head office and ask! They’re usually really good at getting back to you quickly, and you’ll be able to sort out which items match your ethics as well as your aesthetics.

“Vegan stuff seems to be so expensive! How do I stick to my ethics and not go completely broke?”

A lot of people freak out about the higher prices of some vegan food, but you totally don’t have to spend a ton of money in order to eat well as a vegan. If anything, consider this a perfect opportunity to hone your cooking skills.

Do you balk at the idea of paying $5 for a 4-pack of veggie burger patties? No problem. Make your own! There are some spectacular vegan burger recipes out there, and all can be created for just pennies per serving. Play with the recipe ideas, add ingredients that you love, and make them your own. Bookmark vegweb.com and visit it often for great recipe ideas that won’t empty your wallet. If you’re uncertain whether certain favorite products are vegan or not, take a quick peek at PETA’s vegan shopping guide: they’ve done a fantastic job of researching and listing all kinds of vegan food items.

“What about going out to eat with friends?”

Most restaurants now offer vegetarian options, and it just takes a small tweak to make them fully vegan: talk to your server about menu options that you’re interested in, and see what can be adjusted to suit your diet: it shouldn’t be a huge issue to accommodate your dietary requirements. Bruschetta and pizza can be made without the cheese, designer salads can be made sans chicken (the ubiquitous topping of choice, it seems), and you can just skip the shredded cheese and sour cream on your veggie fajitas.

Alternatively, you can go to a restaurant where there will be many options for everyone at the table: there are many vegan options available in many South America, Indian, Chinese, Thai, and Japanese cuisines, all of which should also have dishes to suit omnivorous tastes as well.

TIPS:  Browse HappyCow’s Restaurant Guide for reviews & photos of pure veg & veg-friendly places near you.
Download HappyCow mobile apps to find places to eat everywhere you go!

Clothing and Care Products

As far as vegan clothes and personal care products are concerned, they really don’t have to be any more expensive than what you’re already used to. Not all of us can afford Stella McCartney’s fashion line or a bathroom full of LUSH products, but there are many cruelty-free options available. Glycerin soaps are cheap, and available at almost every pharmacy or health food store. Most large clothing shops like H&M, Alternative Outfitters and Target have synthetic and plant-fiber-based clothing and shoes, and a quick scan of the materials listed on their labels will let you know what they’re made of.

Online stores like Vegan Essentials often have great sales on cruelty-free, vegan items, and PETA’s list of vegan clothing companies can help you find items to match your budget as well. If you sign up with Vegan Cuts, you’ll get weekly emails about deals on all kinds of vegan products, from brownies to boots: you might discover some new favorites.

It’s never been easier to go vegan, and the more we show food companies and retailers that vegan products are in demand, the more focus will be put on creating ethical, cruelty-free items.

written by Lana Winter, blog editor at VeganCuts.com
header image by Vegan Vagrant on flickr

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