Everyone has his or her story about going vegan, and if yours is anything like mine it includes standing in grocery store aisles staring at ingredient lists trying to decipher words like lecithin and monoglycerides. There was also a lot of “cooking,” which involved heating up black beans and plain rice. If you’re living like this, take heart, there is a better way. There are plenty of people who have had similar obstacles, or are still having them. You can find restaurants, a job, junk food, and plenty of other vegan solutions, if you just know where to look.
1. Vegan Outreach FAQ: For every person new to veganism there are always a handful of questions. Maybe it never occurred to you that you might have to answer questions and defend your choice to every friend or family member who comes along. Thankfully, the Vegan Outreach FAQ has a fairly comprehensive list of questions and answers from animal rights to activism. Feel free to check it out if you need a refresher on the whys and hows of veganism, for you, or your ornery Uncle Ray.
2. HappyCow.net and VegDining.com: These two websites do a great job of finding restaurants in your town or the town you’re visiting that have vegan food or vegan options. A friend and I used HappyCow.net to find a fantastic little place in San Juan, Puerto Rico after several days of eating peanut butter sandwiches in our hotel rooms.
3. Vegan Forums: I’m not going to list them here because there are a lot and everyone has her/his favorite. I’ve heard great things about Post Punk Kitchen, Vegan Freak Forums and the Vegan Forum, but do an Internet search and lurk a few forums to see which ones suit you. Then, don’t be shy. Post an introduction and get involved. Building and supporting each other is the best way to have a vegan community, even if there isn’t much of one in your town.
4. VegWeb.com’s Recipes: Each vegan forum has a section for recipes, but more often than not, I find what I’m looking for on this website. The organization is great and users are usually pretty responsive if you’re having a problem with a recipe. I also like that there are usually more than one version of everything so I can decide which one suits my tastes.
5. PETA’s Animal Ingredients List: It’s long and dense, but can be really useful for finding out what’s what on ingredient lists. Before long, you’ll figure out what to watch out for and you’ll scan lists with ease, but for now, check this out.
6. Vegan Mainstream Blog: C’mon, you knew it was coming! We’ve got everything from vegan jobs, interviews with active and noteworthy vegans, and engaging content about news, business, and activism all in one place (which you probably know since you’re reading this article!).
7. Food Fight Grocery: They’ve got everything from cruelty-free beauty products to household goods to vitamins and supplements. And they ship worldwide. Oh, and there’s junk food, but be careful because the chocolate doesn’t ship that well.
8. Herbivore Clothing Co.: Let’s face it, you’re going to be wearing t-shirts, hoodies, scarves and cardigans anyway. Why not buy from a vegan-owned business that makes great fashion?! They’ve also got some great wallets, belts, purses and other “hard-to-find” vegan goods.
9. PETA’s Accidentally Vegan List: Last week I drove more than 2,000 miles through the southwestern United States. And while there are some great places to eat along the way (Yeah, FLAGSTAFF, ARIZONA!), sometimes you just need some snacks at the next gas station. Knowing what’s vegan and what’s not at the roadside gas station is a skill that can make or break any road trip.
10. Google: When in doubt, Google is your friend. Granted, you’ll have to use your common sense to separate the wheat from the chaff, but do what you can and trust your instincts.
Ok seasoned vegans, speak up! What are your favorite/most loved vegan resources?