Dedicated to B, who asked.
I would love to help you in any way that I can! You rock!
First place to start: http://vegankit.com/ – Great overview of everything!
The resource I am most excited about at the moment is Mercy For Animals Vegetarian Starter Guide (http://www.mercyforanimals.org/VSG.pdf). It’s free online but is also mostly the same as their website: http://www.chooseveg.ca/ (I totally worked on this haha). It has some info about the animals (nothing gory), environmental impacts and positive health benefits. It also has some basic nutrition info (http://www.chooseveg.ca/foodplate).
For nutrition info I also recommend the book “Becoming Vegan” by Brenda Davis. Many people consider it a stable book for this info. Also, I recently got to meet the doctor from http://nutritionfacts.org/, this website posts new content every day and any questions you have they will likely have an article on. Nutrition as a vegan is actually quite easy because a plant-based diet is the optimal diet for disease prevention. The films Forks Over Knives (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O7ijukNzlUg) and Food Matters (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r4DOQ6Xhqss) talk about how a vegan diet has been proven to REVERSE major killers like heart disease, and cancer, and many other illnesses (though it has been a long time since I have watched them and only recommend them as a starting point for further research)
The meat and dairy lobbies pay actors and people to advertise and promote their products (got milk?) because they are industries seeking to make more profits. I was really shocked when I learned that many of the supposed benefits of animals products are just marketing lies. For example, milk can actually CAUSE osteoporosis by leeching Calcium from the bones (http://www.news-medical.net/news/2005/09/12/13120.aspx) and even Harvard no longer promote consumption of milk and dairy products (http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/). Another big one is the “protein myth”. Meat companies promote their products as having “enough” protein, but no one even mentions how much protein people really need. Many people eat too much protein which can cause problems. All fruits, vegetables, and plants have protein. Even if you wish to eat large amounts of protein (which is generally unnecessary) there are many plant based sources you can use such as Kale, Lentils, Beans, Hemp Seed etc.
Personally, I do 2 things the ensure I am adequately nourished:
- I try to have a “Green Smoothie” every day. A green smoothie (greens: I use spinach; + ANY YUMMY FRUITS YOU WANT) is the fastest way to get the most nutrients into your body. Greens are nutrient dense and fruits is tasty and full of vitamins and minerals. I take a big handful of spinach and blend it with lots of fruit, so I don’t taste the spinach, I taste the fruit, and get all the health benefits of the spinach. Yay! Here’s a tutorial: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eXr8-jru1KE&feature=c4-overview&playnext=1&list=TLqTDsKXLPYiM
- I either eat nutritional yeast or take a Vitamin B12 supplement once a week. (http://nutritionfacts.org/questions/what-is-the-best-way-to-get-b12/)
There’s tons of resources online. When I want to make a certain dish I usually google “the best vegan” + the recipe I am looking for. This usually brings up the best results. Here are some of my favorite recipe blogs:
http://www.choosingraw.com/ (lots of nutrition info, written by a nutritionist)
http://vegweb.com/ (huge database)
There are also lots of all vegan restaurants in the lower mainland: Karmavore in New West, Graze on Fraser, 3G Downtown, Dharma Kitchen near UBC and Vegan Pizza House near Joyce Station are some of my favorites. Lots of common restaurants also have vegan options. I like getting veggie sushi rolls, veggie sandwiches from Subway, and veggie or tofu stir fries when I am in a rush (but I always ask to make sure the sauces and ingredients are vegan).
In terms of becoming vegan, everyone has their own path. I know people that switch overnight cold turkey and others that transition slowly. I myself went vegetarian over night and then slowly eliminated things from my fridge until I was vegan 4 months later. Melanie Joy, a psychologist who did her Ph.D on why we eat animals has a really great site and 2-minute video about why we eat animals which has really helped me to understand the importance of animals rights and ethics (http://www.carnism.org/).
Beyond the nutritional info I think the most important part of being an animal advocate is being well informed. This short video of undercover factory farm investigations helped me to learn about how animals are treated and WHY it is so important to be vegan: http://meatvideo.com/ I found the video very disturbing, but I think it is important to witness the suffering that goes on and be informed about what really happens in the factory farm industry. If you have more time Earthlings is a very comprehensive look at how animals are treated in our society. It is available for free online: http://earthlings.com/?page_id=32. Again, this movie can be quite disturbing, but it is likely that people are going to ask you why you don’t eat animals, and I think it is important to know the facts.
Every time you choose not to eat an animal you are making a huge difference, both for the dead animal on your plate, and for the environment, and the exploited slaughterhouse workers, and to me personally, so for this I thank you. And don’t hesitate to ask if you have any questions etc! I want to create a world where no one has to suffer and I am willing to do whatever it takes to make that a reality! Seriously, i’ll bring you cookies haha : P
Note: As with anything, I highly recommend doing your own research, being critical of all sources and coming to your own conclusions after you have done adequate research and learning, especially when it comes to nutrition.