Veganism is definitely generating a lot of buzz. The movement started as a response to animal cruelty and choosing kindness towards animals. The vegan movement is commonly associated with a vegan diet which suggests consumers give up dairy and any other raw ingredient derived from animals. While food preferences may be an important aspect of the vegan culture, it is not the only one. Let us dig deeper into understanding the vegan movement and how you can start your vegan journey?
Veganism is a lifestyle choice
Veganism is more than just your diet, supporting the vegan movement means you discourage animal cruelty in all aspects of life across all products you purchase. Some examples of this include:
1. Vegan fashion: Discouraging the use of fabrics like fur, leather, wool or silk. Since all of these fabrics are derived from animals, vegans opt for fabrics like cotton, hemp, bamboo, jute, etc.
2. Cruelty-free skincare: Skincare is nasty in terms of using animals as testing agents. Thus, vegan-friendly skincare means supporting brands and products that do not test on animals or use any ingredients extracted from animals. A clear indicator of the same is checking for the 'not-tested on animals' symbol on product packaging and cross-checking on the brand website once. (These symbols are often not related properly, so cross-check with organisations like PETA or ask the brand for confirmation. You do not want to get trapped in greenwashed fiction)
3. Vegan diet: Avoiding dairy, honey, gelatin, or any other edible product that may have caused harm to animals in its production. There is a lot of debate around how vegan diets are not nutrient-rich when in fact vegan diets provide all essential nutrients. Read this article to differentiate vegan myths from facts.
4. Vegan homes: Home products or entire households operating on vegan values. This means not allowing any animal-tested products or those that are derived from animal body parts. This may be a little hard to practice since several products that enter our home may have some form of animal testing. The sector is not regulated thoroughly and as a result, many manufacturer's do not have to explicitly state how their products were made.
From the above list, veganism can feel like a big change. Honestly, it is, but so is any lifestyle change. Reading the list may make any plans of turning vegan being pushed or completely deleted. But please don't do that. Any lifestyle change does not and should not happen overnight. Instead, take small steps each day in your vegan journey.
How to start your vegan journey?
As stated before, thinking you will turn vegan one fine day is not going to happen. But taking small steps and begin your vegan journey can happen today! Start with the below-mentioned tips.
1. Assess your non-vegan habits. Make a list of all of them across the board- food, fashion, skincare, home. This will give you an idea of the scope of change required.
2. Now start with areas that do not require regular or frequent change which is fashion and skincare. We do not buy fashion and skincare products each day, hence a change in this space can be easy. Whenever you are making your next fashion or beauty purchase, start checking for vegan products.
Initially, the process will be long and time-consuming. But eventually, you will have a list of vegan brands. Another good place to begin is to start following vegan or sustainability bloggers who can give brand recommendations.
3. Once you are making steady progress in the fashion and skincare space, move to food. Food can be a little challenging since we eat a minimum of three times a day. So any change in food habits will be noticeable each day. But at the same time, this is the area with the biggest impact!
Just like before, start small. Start reducing consumption of non-vegan products like meat, poultry, dairy etc. Then slowly eliminate and/or replace non-vegan food products from your diet with vegan alternatives. Keep growing this list each month.
(Note: Changes in your diet directly affect your health. Please consult a doctor if you see any radical changes)
4. Slowly and steadily you have shifted to a vegan lifestyle. Keep researching, and realigning your habits to support the vegan cause. Since veganism is also closely related to sustainable and conscious living, you can start digging deeper into that aspect and making changes that aren't just kinder to animals but also to the planet :)
5. Now it is time to ensure a vegan household. Assess every product that enters your home and get family members to make the change as well. Not the easiest task, but remember that's what you thought to yourself when you started your vegan journey.
Veganism is a vast, evolving subject so stay informed, continue the discussion in your community and keep acting towards making a positive change. It is all about taking small, sustainable steps each day. Eventually, they lead to a big positive impact!
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