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13 October, 2017

Veg how to- Making the Transition

Posted in : Tips on by : Sharmin Begum

People choose a vegetarian lifestyle for many reasons, including the desire to use animals with compassion, protect the environment & better overall health. Today, making the transition from an animal-dependent lifestyle to a compassionate, vegan way of life has never been easier. Meat substitutes and soy “dairy” foods have turned up at virtually every supermarket. Whole-foods groceries & co-operatives with even wider arrays of the healthful plant, soy, & dairy-free foods are within reach of most Americans. Nearly any restaurant, from fine dining to fast food, can prepare a flavorful, vegan meal.

  • One step at a time
  • Be honest, ask for help
  • Mileposts of transition
  • Label literacy
  • At the supermarket
  • Kind dining
  • Home for the Holidays
  • The long haul

One step at a time

Newly compassionate consumers typically move through a process of eliminating animal products from their diet and lifestyle over the span of months or years.

An incremental approach to going vegan is fine. Remember, each step along the way means more lives saved, more suffering prevented, and more improvements to personal and global health. Try not to stall out, though. After making a change, look ahead to the next step and set a date to get there. Mark dates on a calendar. Go vegetarian by the first day of spring, by Easter, or by your companion dog’s birthday. Drop dairy by mid-summer; eliminate eggs by autumn. Then ask friends and family to avoid wool, leather and silk in any holiday shopping they may do for you. Ring in the New Year as a vegan.

Some of the diets aimed at eliminating animal products have widely recognized definitions.

Vegetarian: A vegetarian is someone who has eliminated all animal flesh from their diet, but may still consume dairy products or eggs. More accurately, this is a lacto-ova vegetarian.

Vegan: Someone who evades animal flesh, as well as other animal agriculture results that contribute to animal suffering, human health problems, & environmental damage. Vegans do not consume eggs or dairy products & avoid animal ingredients in clothing and other consumer goods.

Raw Foods Diet: Cooking, especially at high temperatures or for a long duration, harms the natural nutrient content of many foods. Practitioners of a raw food diet avoid heating food over 116 degrees Fahrenheit to preserve the integrity of enzymes.

Macrobiotics: Like the raw foods diet, most adherents to a macrobiotic diet were likely already vegan, but opted to go one step further. Macrobiotic diets encourage a diet in tune with one’s local climate and seasons, eating foods grown close to one’s own home and in their natural season (greens in spring, root crops in winter), prepared by traditional cooking methods. They also avoid foods and ingredients that significantly alter human metabolism.

Be honest, ask for help
Only a lucky few vegans were raised from birth without animal products. As a vegan diet becomes more popular, we can look ahead to future generations of lean, healthy vegan children. Most vegans went through a lengthy transition. The first steps seem the hardest, but most vegetarians and vegans will tell you the transformation was rewarding and not as difficult as feared.

A would-be vegetarian or vegan may harbor fears that the kitchen will become an alien landscape. Fear not! Your trustworthy cast iron frying pan will still serve you well. If you like, your dinner plate will look, smell and taste much the same as it had. New vegetarians find the exploration of new foods an exciting way to break out of the culinary rut of repetition we tend to fall into.

There are abundant books and websites to aid compassionate people as they change their diets. (A list is included on this website.) Veteran vegans, animal advocates, and health food store proprietors will all be happy to help you on your way.

Mileposts of transition
Some people successfully transition to vegetarianism in one step. Others make the shift eliminating one or more animal product at a time, typically dropping beef and pork first and eradicating fish and fowl later. This approach is practical, but be careful not to substitute the deleted animal product with another animal product. Rather, trade beef and pork for grains, legumes or meat substitutes, and avoid adding more chickens in place of cattle and pigs.

An emphasis on eliminating red meat has had the unfortunate effect of drastically increasing the number of chickens slaughtered, so one could just as easily begin their vegetarian journey by eliminating fish and fowl first, or even dairy or eggs.

Many people who describe themselves as vegetarian still consume fish or fowl. As no known being has ever observed an orchard of salmon trees or witnessed harvesters uproot a row of chickens grown under the dirt, the term vegetarian does not apply to anyone who consumes the flesh of any animal. Some individuals even describe themselves as a “Lacto-Ovo-or no-Piscean vegetarian.” That’s a misleading mouthful, better described as “not quite vegetarian or vegan yet, but working on it.”

While eliminating flesh first, and dairy and eggs later, is the usual approach, compassionate individuals should not be led to the false conclusion that cruelty ends with the eating of flesh. Dairy and eggs are not kinder because, as the theory goes, animals are not killed to obtain milk and eggs. The truth is: Milk entails cruelty, including the unavoidable suffering of veal calves. Laying hens condemned to the confinement of battery cages suffer conditions arguably worse than their “broiler” cousins. All dairy cows and laying hens end up at the slaughterhouse when they are no longer productive.

Wean yourself
Eggs and dairy can be a request to eliminate. Present in so many foods and introduced to children at a young age, the addictive nature of high-fat dairy foods can be a difficult one to break.

Dairy and eggs can be purged from your diet in phases, beginning with eliminating milk as a beverage and substituting soymilk or rice milk.

As a next step, cut out the cheaper, bulkier cheeses, primarily popular fast food & franchise cheeses, including Cheddar, Monterey jack & American, usually a “processed cheese food” that adds rennet, a product derived from cows’ stomachs. To avoid Monsanto’s BGH chance, take away all American-produced cheeses and limit consumption to European goat and sheep cheeses. Now that your cheese plate is so limited eliminating the last few should be a snap.

Similarly, begin to drop eggs from your menu by merely avoiding eggs as a course or main ingredient, as in omelets or quiche. Take on dodging eggs in baked goods and batters as the next step. Substituting Egg Replacer or merely eliminating egg from home recipes is an easy step. At last, baked goods from restaurants and the kitchens of non-vegan friends would be the last vestiges of egg consumption to be purged from your diet.

Sainthood not necessary
The perfect vegan society does not yet exist. Your best intentions, alas, will not make it manifest. Due to the massive volume of animal byproducts cheaply available to all industries, animal ingredients exist in adhesives, film, pharmaceuticals, hygiene products, auto parts, and myriad other items.

In the long-term, friends of animals hope that, as demand for meat decreases, other industrial uses of animal byproducts will be reduced in favor of inexpensive, readily available, cruelty-free ingredients. Going vegan is more of a process than a moment, even for folks who have called themselves vegan for years.

There is always one more thing you can do to reduce animal suffering and, as a new vegan-to-be, cut yourself some slack. As you become familiar with new shopping habits, and you accidentally buy a product not realizing there is a trace of dairy in it, let it go. Just avoid it on your next shopping trip.

Got a closet full of warm, wool sweaters? No need to burn them all before the Vegan Police storm your house. You may wear them out and replace them, in turn, with cotton, hemp, acrylic, and synthetic fleece. What you wear does set an example to others, however, so dressing vegan is an important step and speaks well of your conscientious choice. If you do wish to cleanse your closet of all things animal, a local clothing bank serving the poor will be happy to accept your castoff leather, wool, silk, and fur (yes, a fur cuff or collar is a fur coat).

At the thought of becoming vegan, many people worry about the one or two foods they “can’t live without.” If you see yourself saying, “I want to stop animal suffering, but I don’t understand if I can give up ice cream,” then don’t. Give up other creature products, but permit yourself to eat ice cream while you are in transition.

Often, attachments to “bad” meals fade as the basis of one’s diet changes. It may be that you are nearly vegan, but think to have ice cream this season. By the time summer comes around, you may become lost your taste for dairy products. When that ice cream cone loses its appeal, the frozen soy and rice treat available at your natural food store may capture your attention.

Label literacy
Sweep the steer under the rug
While you need not feel personally responsible for every animal ingredient that sneaks into products, you should be aware of some of the more common animal-based ingredients so that you can choose to avoid them. Often, just a change of brands will do the trick.

There are some ingredients, usually related to processed foods, which can be derived from either plant or animal sources. Large food processing companies may buy from either type of source, depending on price and availability at the time of purchase. Items in the gray area include adipi acid, capric acid, clarifying agent, disodium inosinate, diglyceride, emulsifier, fatty acid, glyceride, glycerol, lactic acid, magnesium stearate, monoglyceride, natural flavoring, polysorbate, sodium stearoyl lactylate, and stearic acid.

Additional ingredients from animal sources commonly appear well down the list of product packages. Be self-forgiving if you slip up on one of these or fail to memorize the litany, but try to watch for the following: Albumin, calcium caseinate, calcium stearate,pepsin, palmitic acid, carmine, cochineal, isinglass, lard, myristic acid (or tetradecanoic acid), oleic acid, lactase,pancreatin, propolis, and sodium caseinate.

Click here for more information on avoiding animal ingredients & a listing of “secret” animal ingredients.

Your new favorites
Vegans cannot live by bean sprouts alone: Most new vegetarians and vegans significantly increase the amount and variety of fresh fruits and vegetables in their diet. They delight in the new taste of portobello mushrooms or the rediscovered crunch of celery, even tastier when it’s organic.

Recognizable whole grains and beans are vegan staples, assuring nutritious, protein-rich food sources. Beyond the familiar, vegetarians and vegans make use of some wonderful, high-protein plant foods that are less familiar to most meat-eaters. Get acquainted with some of your new favorites:

TVP (r): Textured Vegetable Protein (r) is made from soy flour that has been cooked under pressure, extruded and dried. Varied with seasonings, shapes, and textures, it is used in a wide range of meat substitutions. Reconstituted in water, TVP (r) expands in size and takes on a meaty texture. An ideal basis for chili, meat sauce, and sloppy Joes.

Seitan/wheat meat: Pronounced say-TAN, this wheat gluten protein product has a wide range of mock meat applications and works exceptionally well as a stand-in for beef.

Tofu: This icon of vegetarian fare merely is soybean curd. It comes in a variety of textures, from extra firm to soft. Firmer versions make great meat substitutes and work well in stir-fries. Soft tofu is a frequent ingredient in “cream” soups, sauces, pies, and puddings.

Tempeh: This is a cultured soy product that sometimes includes other grains or beans. The culturing process gives it more taste and zing than its tofu cousin. Tempeh, which works well in stir-fries and mock chicken salad dishes, can be used as a substitute in nearly any recipe that calls for meat.

Miso: Made from fermented soybeans, rice, and other grains, dark miso is a great base for soups (served at most Japanese restaurants). Its lighter, sweeter versions are used as a dairy substitute in dips and dressings.

Nutritional yeast: An inactive yeast, nutritional yeast has a cheesy, earthy taste. A common ingredient in vegan cheeses, nutritional yeast can be sprinkled on pasta and soups in place of Parmesan.

Egg Replacer: A ready-made, powdered product by Ener-G found in most health food stores. It replaces eggs when used as a necessary agent in baked goods and other recipes. Soft tofu or flax seeds and water pureed in a blender also substitute for egg.

Tahini: This sesame seed butter, with a texture thicker than peanut butter, is high in protein and features a rich, nutty taste. An ingredient in many recipes, especially sauces in Middle Eastern and Asian cuisine.

Vegan milk: Soymilk and rice milk are most common, but vegan milk are also made from almonds or oats, with more varieties sure to come. Vegan milk are rapidly growing in popularity and can be found in nearly all supermarkets. Some are enriched with calcium, vitamin D or vitamin B-12; others are flavored with vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, coffee, or carob. Creamy varieties can be used as creamer or in sauces or soups. Since flavors vary from brand to brand, try several and find your favorite.

Soy or rice cheeses: Recipes abound for homemade vegan cheeses, and ready-made soy and rice cheeses are evermore common and varied in health food stores and some supermarkets. While completely vegan cheeses are becoming more common, be aware that many soy and rice cheeses are made with casein, a dairy byproduct.

At the supermarket
Armed with your best intentions to make peace with the animals that were once your food, off you go to the supermarket.

In response to the growing consumer migration into health food stores and co-ops, supermarket response has been the dedication of an isle or department to health food store fare. Here, in one concentrated corner, you can find many of the whole foods and vegan items you are looking for. Find prepared soups without meat broth and boxes of mixes for vegan convenience favorites, including hummus, falafel, couscous, and polenta.

First stop: The produce section. This is the easy part-you’ve seen all this stuff before, and you are reasonably sure none of it was formerly sentient. Get whatever you like and whatever looks good. Buy organic when possible; most major chain supermarkets now feature organic produce. Often, the price difference between the organic version and its commercial counterpart is surprisingly little. This is also your first opportunity to acquaint yourself with meat substitutes. Consider eggplant as a fillet. Portobello mushroom caps make a great “burger,” or slice this meaty ‘shroom and sauté for use in enchiladas, fajitas or stir-fries.

Moving out of the produce section and on toward the refrigerator case, it is likely your market found a place to stock imitation meat cold cuts, meatless breakfasts fare (faux bacon and sausage) and veggie dogs. Soy or rice milk may be around here, as well, and tempeh and tofu are found in the refrigerator case. Freezer sections often include ready-to-eat organic meals and vegan frozen treats including Rice Dream, Soy Delicious, and Toffuti Cuties.

On to canned goods: Fresher is better, but good things do come in cans, including olives, soups, organic vegetables, beans, and tomato pastes and sauces. Even in a small town with a limited market, a canned section is a place you can find meat substitutes. Canned versions do well in chili, soups, and casseroles. If you have an Asian market or store in your area, good canned wheat-meats, glutens, and seitan are delicious in stir-fries.

If you’ve never looked beyond white rice before, look now. A wide array of rice and grains await your discovery: Quinoa, wild rice, short and long grain brown rice, millet, basmati rice, amaranth, and barley. Dried beans are usually nearby, and ideal for big batch recipes like black bean soup or chili.

On to pasta: Pasta offerings have multiplied in most markets. Pasta made with spinach, beets, artichokes, whole grains, or grains other than wheat are common, as are pasta shaped like shells, corkscrews, wagon wheels, radiators, tubes, and twists. Check labels, since some pasta is made with eggs, but most are vegan.

In the bakery section, there is good news and bad news. First, the good news: Many of the bread products you already know and love are vegan, so you can continue to enjoy many of your fresh baked, whole grain favorites.

The bad news: The sweets you also adore often contain eggs, and sometimes dairy. If you’re a dessert-lover, investigate the vegan offerings found at your natural food store and the health food section of your supermarket. Vegan cookies, donuts, candy bars and Pop-Tart-like treats are readily available. As with rice and soymilks, experiment with brands and flavors and find the ones you like best.

How did you do?
Most vegans realize immediate savings at the grocery store since meat and dairy is typically the costliest aspect of food shopping. If you find your new market tally is high, it is likely due to the pricey, but delicious, vegetarian convenience foods and treats you’ve added to your basket. Organic grains, sweeteners and produce, as well as some of the fancier meat and dairy substitutes, can be somewhat costly.

Shopping for vegan foods, like shopping for animal-based foods, varies in cost from product to product and store to store. Convenience foods are always more valuable while cooking with staple foods & raw ingredients is more affordable. Like anyone on a budget, you need to find the right balance between cost and convenience. Also, keep in mind that the inexpensive commercial cereals, cookies, packaged goods, cold cuts, and cheeses you used to eat were lacking in both quality and nutrition. Your new vegan diet is lower on the food chain, making it better for you, the animals and the planet.

How did they do?
You probably found the market had both strengths and weaknesses; a limited offering of healthy cereals may have been offset by a great selection of whole grain bread and soymilks.

Approach the service counter or store manager and let the establishment know what it does well and what areas need improvement: “You folks have a great organic produce section, but I hoped to find a better selection of meatless deli slices.” You may place requests for specific products. Most stores are good about stocking foodstuffs in response to customer requirements.

Kind dining
The food service world has consciously responded to the increased popularity of vegan and vegetarian diets with a wider array of menu options. If you find the vegan selections disappointing when out for a night on the town, ask that the kitchen prepare a vegan dish. Most chefs are happy to oblige to special requests. Ask the wait staff to let the chef have a go at it, or make suggestions based on existing menu items. A restaurant may have a long burger list but lack a veggie burger, or only serve one that has cheese. If they offer a salad featuring grilled portobello mushroom, suggest a grilled portobello sandwich with fresh vegetables.

Let them hear you
Talk to wait for staff, chefs, and proprietors, regardless of your experience at a restaurant. Let folks know you are a vegan and offer an honest, but always friendly, opinion on how you were accommodated. “That grilled portobella sandwich was great. If you put it on the regular menu, lots of folks, vegetarian or not, would order it.” Or, “Thanks for offering so many vegan dishes. I’ll be back and I’ll tell my friends what a great job you’re doing.”

A vegan really can find a good meal almost anywhere, but most prefer to avoid restaurants that celebrate animal slaughter as a theme, such as Billy Bob’s Steak House or Cat Fish John’s Fish Fry. Such places would probably accommodate a vegan upon request, but vegans more often feel that places that cry out “we’re about dead flesh” are better off shunned.

In the mainstream
There isn’t a massive, worldwide fast-food chain called McVegan. Not yet, anyway. But there has been great progress made in recent years toward the improved availability of vegetarian and vegan fare in fast food establishments and convenience stores. Down the fast food franchise-dappled commercial strips of American cities, at highway rest stops along the open road, and in shopping mall food courts throughout the land, keeping vegan is now possible.

In 2002, Burger King introduced the BK Veggie in all its restaurants. Farm Sanctuary’s tireless efforts to add a veggie burger to the BK locations around its Watkins Glen, New York home pioneered the effort to bring this cruelty-free choice to American consumers. American fast food giants have had veggie burger offerings on the menu in European cities for many years, and the success of the BK Veggie in the U.S. may lead others to follow suit.

Asian fast food franchises are becoming evermore commonplace in mall food courts and even in some larger highway rest stops. These establishments typically offer numerous vegan choices.

Taco Bell, which uses fat-free refried beans (no lard), has long been a favorite fast food oasis for vegetarians. Hold the cheese, please, and make it vegan.

Bring it along
While the roadside vegan fare is now a reality, that doesn’t mean you are going to like it or want it. Before hitting the interstate, fill a cooler with homemade sandwiches, fruit, snacks, and juice or iced tea. You will save a few bucks and enjoy full food fare better than the franchise offerings.

Family fare
Vegan choices are spotty on the next rung up the franchise restaurant ladder: Appleby’s, Chili’s, T.G.I. Friday’s and similar establishments provide some veggie dishes, a few of which are vegan or easily made so. Menu offerings and ingredient details vary from chain to chain and from one individual location to another, even within the same franchise family. Ask as you go. Wait staff and cooks are usually quite willing to be flexible and meet your request. But don’t hold your breath expecting for a nutritious meal; in that case, you are better off bypassing this rung completely.

Whether you choose a favorite neighborhood pizza parlor or a major chain, pizza can still be a reliable favorite. Just hold the cheese and add lots of vegetable toppings. You may want to ask about the ingredients in the dough and sauce to be sure they are meat and dairy-free, but just about any pizza joint can prepare a vegan pie. Pizza Hut is even test-marketing a soy cheese pizza. Though the soy cheese the pizza chain is using does contain some casein (a milk-derived protein), the product is a definite step in the right direction.

Don’t throw out grandma’s recipes
Grandma’s recipes may have already been through a few changes: Your mother may have cut out lard and substituted vegetable shortening in a piecrust, or Grandma may have gotten a chicken casserole recipe from her mother that contained initially small wild game such as rabbit, squirrel or partridge. Dig up any pre-WWII cookbook, and you will note that chicken was not nearly as common, while wild game and vermin dishes were regular fares. You’ll be surprised at what has changed.

With a little thought, you will discover that few recipes are beyond redemption. Through the magic of substitution, nearly everything you currently cook (including all the recipe cards you mean to use one day) can be translated into compassionate, healthy fare.

If the recipe calls for a small amount of meat to flavor or add fat to a dish, it is often possible to just delete the item without affecting the integrity of the meal. For recipes that require significant quantities of meat, mock meats, including wheat meats and ground beef or sausage substitutes, can be used. Tofu or tempeh may also be added as a stand-in. ‘Un-chicken’ soup or vegetable broth can be subbed for chicken soup, and olive oil is a good replacement for fat.

Summer salads that call for heart-choking mayonnaise easily adapt to ready-made vegan alternatives like Veganaise and Nayonaise. Refined white sugar can be replaced with natural granular sugars, including turbinado sugar-coarse, raw sugar crystals retaining much of the original molasses content-or demerara sugar-amber crystals treated with steam to remove impurities. Liquid sweeteners, such as maple syrup, fruit juice concentrate or blackstrap molasses ‘thinned’ with sweet molasses or malt syrup, can be substituted for honey or white sugar,

Soymilk or other vegan milk easily substitute for cows’ milk in most recipes. Oat milk and soymilk often have a thicker texture than rice milk and may work best in casseroles and cream soups; soy cream is also widely available. As another approach to cream stocks, a well-cooked potato, pureed in a blender, can be mixed with water and seasonings. Soy-based sour cream and cream cheese are available from health food stores or can be made at home from soft tofu. Mock Parmesan cheese tastes like the real deal and can be sprinkled atop pasta, soups and other dishes.

Home for the Holidays
Love me, love my lasagna. Home and hearth and a change in dietary choices can lead to some difficult moments, especially during tradition-steeped holiday visits with family. Food is love for many parents. Rejecting the food you were raised on will, despite your best intentions, be met with at least some feeling that years of love and nurturing are being rejected.

You may see this feeling emerge as a parent or other family member expresses hurt or confusion. Some relatives may even convey scorn, anger or “vegan sabotage” like…. “Oh, just a little turkey won’t kill you. It’s just once a year.” Look at this as an opportunity to educate people and explain to them why you don’t eat animals, ever. Be reassuring, yet firm. Participating in family holiday rituals confirms that your rejection of animal suffering does not entail a rejection of the love and nurturing you received from your family. If necessary, take time to explain how and why you became vegan. Or if you prefer, bring along a stack of veg flyers to hand out when people ask why you’re not eating turkey. Be positive and avoid sounding judgmental or angry. You have chosen to become vegan for your own life-affirming reasons, not as any reaction against, or condemnation of, your family and its values and traditions.

And, before going over the river and through the woods, make a stuffed squash. Bringing a dish or two to the family table will help. Friends and family are often amazed at how delicious vegan fare is, and it’s the perfect way to educate your loved ones. It will also assure that you will have plenty to eat at a table that likely contains lots of animal products, especially during the fall and winter holidays. Today, it’s easier than ever to replace many beloved holiday recipes with vegan versions. Get your favorite family recipes, and veganize them! For example, if a dessert recipe calls for milk, use soymilk. For eggs, use egg-replacer, and so on. Click here for some of Farm Sanctuary’s favorite holiday recipes. Or, if you’re feeling too frazzled to cook, go to your local health food store or supermarket for these vegan holiday treats:
Silk nog Unturkey Tofurky

Pick your timing
Often, someone at the table may consider mealtime the ideal time to discuss your newfound diet. You may be well prepared to handle the conversation, even if it is confrontational, but steer clear. You, and whoever raised the subject, maybe at ease discussing meat issues at the table, but others may become uncomfortable and feel held captive by the conversation. Talking with family about becoming vegan is easier to do before or after dinner, or a topic to discuss away from food altogether.

The long haul
Months or years after becoming vegan, the passion that energized your inspired conversion can fade. Temptations to slide back into consuming animal products may abound on every restaurant signboard and fast food billboard in town. During weaker moments, bad restaurant experiences, sneaky meat ingredients and taunting ex-vegetarians may seem more overwhelming than your ability to eat with compassion.

The solution is simple: You can either cave in, or you can choose to renew your commitment to the animals, the earth and yourself!

At some point, the ex-vegetarians you met threw in the towel and went back to their old ways, though it’s unlikely they went back to the same level of meat consumption as in their pre-vegetarian days. Rather than joining the ex-vegetarians, explore why they went back to meat. You may find their reasoning nothing more than poor rationalizations. With recent improvements in convenience products, and the wide availability of tasty meat and dairy substitutes, someone who walked away from vegetarianism could easily be welcomed back to the fold.

Guilt by association
A change in the company one keeps often creates a temptation to return to eating meat. A new significant other may still be stuck in the meat aisle, resulting in a compromised refrigerator and pressure to cave in to chicken broth or beef in the red sauce. Remember that it is just as easy, and healthier, to make these items meatless. If the person you share the kitchen with cares, your compassionate choice will be respected. Hang in there.

Changes in life can lead to feelings of vegan isolation. Your vegan life may have begun in a supportive environment, such as a progressive college community or while working in the animal care or environmentalism. Moving to another town and a different work environment can suddenly make you feel like you’re the only vegan in the world. Take a deep breath and seek out like-minded others. There is sure to be a health food store somewhere nearby. If your work environment is not supportive, find camaraderie among members of local volunteer animal rights and environmental organizations. Click here for resources to connect you with Veg groups across the country.

Recharge, reeducate
After years of living vegan, memories of the powerful images of animal suffering and the overwhelming case for health or environmental impact may fade, leading to a weakening of convictions. A little refresher course can go a long way. Read a new book from the ever-growing library of animal rights titles. Peruse the web sites of animal rights organizations. Become involved in a local, grassroots animal welfare group, or attend an animal rights action or conference.

Any of these activities will reaffirm your compassionate lifestyle. Even if it’s been a while since you’ve done it, it will always feel good to stand up for what you know is right. The animals, the earth and your health will thank you for maintaining your compassionate principles.

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