Want to eliminate meat, poultry & animal products like eggs & dairy from your diet? Here’re 30 ways to help you become vegan even in a meat-loving city like Manila.
Being a vegan eater means not consuming meat, poultry, seafood, dairy or eggs. It’s socially and practically a big challenge to take up, and that’s why there’s a few things to be aware of before starting:
- Check with a doctor that you are good to start
- Be prepared—with equipment, ingredients, and the right spirit
- Be clear on why you are doing this, and write it down as a reminder for the days when you forget
- Understand who you are doing this for. The cute animals only? All animal life? Because your boyfriend or girlfriend is vegan and you need to impress them? Because it’s trendy? Because you live in a place where you are in a minority if you aren’t vegan? Or is it for yourself?
When you’re ready to start, you’ll need motivation on a daily basis to keep you going. These are either moral boosts or mental stimulants, as well as practical exercises to get you focused on staying on track.
Here’re 30 to help you along, one for each day of the month.
- Which animal are you most concerned about? It’s ok to start by eliminating one animal at a time from your menu.
- Self-love day! Relax and be gentle with yourself. Imagine petting yourself as you would an animal.
- Go through a vegan online group and pick out one person who stands out for you. Write to that person with a friendly hello and see if a new friendship starts. The Manila Vegans Facebook group is one of the biggest vegan groups in the country and they regularly have vegan potluck picnics and meetups. http://www.facebook.com/manilavegans
- Reduce salt cravings by adding sundried tomatoes, capers and olives.
- Are you doing your best? Are you trying to do the right thing? Well, please be kind to yourself as well. There will be lots of times—intentionally or unintentionally—when something non-vegan will end up on your plate. You are still doing more good than harm.
- Slow down. Accept that it may take a long time—years—to find the foods that satisfy and nourish you.
- Plan one day of the week to be your big kitchen day to do prep work for the week. Find your own kitchen groove and be patient because it takes time to set up a new routine, vegan or otherwise.
- Empty your pantry of non-vegan foods. It’s up to you to decide whether you chuck it or donate it.
- Fill your pantry with replacements for what you just emptied out. The Legaspi and Salcedo weekend markets are a great place to find organic, farm fresh vegetables to re-stock your kitchen with non-animal derived nourishment.
Slow down. Accept that it may take a long time.
- Pause and go into your ‘I-love-animals-so-much’ zone. Try an animal-focused meditation.
- It’s label reading day! Choose two stores where you’re most likely to find the best source of vegan products, and take photos of foods you want to use or learn to use. The Eco-Store has a great variety of locally produced vegan and organic products. For imported vegan substitutes for ingredients like eggs and milk, check out Healthy Options.
- Had an ‘Oops, that had egg in it!’ meal? You didn’t know, it wasn’t your fault, it’s ok. Come up with your own ‘Moo-ve on’ mantra!
- Check in on any behaviour changes towards others. Hopefully you aren’t turning into a judgmental vegan. Do your own stuff, keep it to yourself, and be as compassionate towards people as you are towards animals.
- Reduce fat cravings by using avocadoes and flax oil. Avocado toast isn’t all the rave for no reason—it’s delicious!
- Have you found your fave vegan milk? Do a blindfold vegan milk tasting with friends. Try flax, oat, macadamia nut, coconut, almond, cashew, rice, non-GMO soy, hemp or hazelnut.
- Too hard? Feeling like throwing the towel in? Take a few steps back and switch to ‘vegetarian for now’ or ‘vegan after 10am’. ‘Vegan before 6pm’ doesn’t make sense from a digestive point of view; if you need meat, it’s best to have it for lunch when you’ll have more time to digest it. Or replace the one biggest source of animal produce in your diet first. Or try Meatless Mondays.
- What’s your favourite non-vegan treat? Find a vegan recipe to make by yourself, or a café serving it.
- Craving meat? Eat plants first, and that hunger may subside. If you still crave it, you’ll end up having a smaller serving.
- Hang out more with animals. For example, volunteer at an animal shelter. Or visit a farm to chill with some goats. I find eye-gazing with cows almost turns up my love factor. This might build your motivation up, if you need a boost. A stuffed toy to hug might also help. Or posting a photo of large, kind eyes of a gorgeous animal on your fridge.
Come up with your own ‘Moo-ve on’ mantra!
- Family driving you nuts? Be patient. You’ve done your research, you know why you’re doing this, but you may have become an alien to your family. Be clear about what changes you’ve made and why, but also go about your new lifestyle quietly and don’t expect any one to follow suit. Shouting at them for serving you foie gras may not help.
- Feeling misunderstood? The huge change that has taken place within your understanding is something personal and particular to you. Have you ever had a friend who found a new belief or hobby and became obsessed with it, wouldn’t stop talking about it, wanted everyone else to try it, and couldn’t see people withdrawing from that person? Well, be careful it doesn’t happen to the Vegan You. Expect very few people to understand what you’re doing, and you may be pleasantly surprised at just how much support you end up getting.
- Have you tried different meat-replacements? Think tofu, quinoa or beans.
- Homework day: search the Internet for foods you wouldn’t believe are not actually vegan.
- Time to treat yourself to a vegan dinner. Use Google maps or the Happy Cow app to find vegan restaurants near you. Or plan a day trip somewhere to try a restaurant you’re really curious in. Make sure to reserve seats.
Get inspiration from vegan social media.
- Craving whipped cream or other non-vegan treats? Search online for a recipe, buy the ingredients, and book in kitchen experiment time.
- Get inspiration from vegan social media. There’re lots of beautiful pictures and quotes to inspire you, but keep in mind that the non-photo shopped original photo of a successful blogger may not look that different from your own creation. Therefore, move forwards with confidence. Perhaps get some beautiful vegan cloth napkins to give your photos a colourful boost.
- Congrats! Do a woo-hoo dance in your living room. You’re helping the environment by reducing your consumption of livestock and animal by-products.
- Is your current comfort food non-vegan? Come up with a vegan version or an entirely new recipe that will be your go-to-food when you need it.
- Set a date within the next 3 weeks to invite family over for a dinner of your favourite vegan dishes. Maybe get them involved in the prep.
- Celebrate your first 30 days, ups, downs and all. Think of the positive impact you’ve had with every little vegan act you’ve done. Do something that brings you joy. Maybe go hang with some animals again.