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Beginners Guide to Going Vegan

Aug. 1, 2017
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I want to become vegan. How do I start?

- How do I start

Dear How Do I Start,

It is an exciting time to go vegan! Since 2014, there has been a 600% increase in veganism in the United States largely due to readily available information about the health benefits of being vegan and how a plant-based diet can help save the environment. There’s also overwhelming information about the treatment of animals, something important to so many people.

If you’re interested in becoming vegan, you’ll find that the benefits are endless. It can expand your social circle, make you more cognizant of cruelty-free living choices and drastically lower your carbon footprint.

So, the first step to becoming a vegan is to look for support from like-minded individuals. We are very lucky in 2017 to have vast resources for switching to a vegan lifestyle, including local individuals and organizations in Milwaukee that are here to support you. One resource I find valuable is VeganMilwaukee.com. Here you will find a full directory of resources such as Milwaukee-area restaurants that offer vegan options, a listing of local cruelty-free products including beauty and home-care, vegan meal delivery services and animal rights organizations. The website also lists active community groups to join.

The second step is to remember that you can start slowly. Swap out a meal a day with a vegan option. Then, build from there until your entire meal schedule is vegan. You can also go cold turkey, or being vegan, no turkey – whatever works for you. You’ll also want to look for products, including clothing, makeup, household cleaners and even beers and wines that are made with vegan, cruelty-free practices.

Finally, seek advice on and adequate health information about veganism to make sure you are maintaining a well-balanced diet. The best source of plant-based diet health information can be found via The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, which is a nonprofit organization comprised of thousands of physicians around the world that support plant-based diets. They have conducted hundreds of peer-reviewed studies indicating that meat and dairy are responsible for many of humankind’s health issues and in contrast show how going vegan can save your life. You may want to consult a physician about going vegan; I recommend finding a plant-based physician at PlantBasedDoctors.org. A nutritionist can also help ensure you are getting the proper balance of proteins, fats, and fiber and not relying too much on processed food. Check out vegan recipes, too. There are so many tasty options out there.

Many people fear social isolation when it comes to veganism. In my experience, however, I have gained so many more people in my life! Wisconsin’s vegan community grows each day. I highly encourage you to branch out, join a group or attend some events to meet people in your neighborhood. Check out Milwaukee Vegan Meet-Up, Milwaukee Veg People of Color, and the Urban Ecology Center’s monthly vegan potluck.

If animal rights activism is of interest, look into Direct Action Everywhere’s Wisconsin chapter or Wisconsin Animal Save. While going vegan is great, activism will help others become educated on animal agriculture, the entertainment industry, the fashion industry and beyond. In order for systematic change to happen, we need grassroots social justice groups to gather and take action. Using your voice to challenge systems that normalize violence against animals is extremely needed. Further, you can find documentaries on Netflix that explore the economics of animals and animal treatment. I recommend “Cowspiracy” or “Earthlings.”

I believe that if everyone explores the different sources of information surrounding animal cruelty, our health and our impact on the environment, veganism will continue to skyrocket. Keep fueling your interest! Dive into research, join your local vegan community and embrace your new healthy, compassionate lifestyle. And, as always, reach out to others for resources and support! You might even inspire others to go vegan as well.

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