Many people believe that being vegan means making changes to your diet and giving up meat, eggs, dairy, and all other foods that come from animals. It is so much more than that.

Veganism involves being environmentally conscious. You gotta be aware of how the food you are eating and the products you are buying impact the lives of animals and the environment. If a product—whether it be food, makeup, or an article of clothing— was made with animal testing, it needs to go.

That's right. A fully vegan lifestyle goes far beyond eliminating select things from what you choose to eat. Everything you wear, use, and buy has to have been produced without harming animals and, ideally, with the goal of positively changing the consumer industry.

My Story

Alright, you got me. I am not vegan. And I am not vegetarian either. I absolutely cannot speak on behalf of the entire vegan community and I am definitely not an expert on veganism.

 With all that disclaimer stuff out of the way, I do know quite a bit. 

My dad is vegetarian bordering on vegan. I am very familiar with the veggie lifestyle and have tried, and enjoyed, many vegan food alternatives. Vegan bacon, made from tempeh, is actually so bomb.

Since my dad doesn't eat meat, it is rarely in our household. For a while, I was living an almost-vegetarian life. I was content with veggie burgers and almond milk and was seriously considering taking the full plunge and giving up meat for good. Then I discovered I was anemic. My body’s iron content was so low that giving up meat was not an option.

Also, to be honest, I have no willpower.

Since I couldn’t give up meat, I adopted vegan values to support animals and make an impact in alternative ways. 

Here is how I did it—and how you can do it to.

1. Swap out your cosmetics for vegan alternatives

Tons of beauty products are produced with animal testing.  A list of companies that don't test on animals can be found here.

Guess what? You don't have to search high and low to obtain these vegan-approved products. Mainstream, actually-can-find-it-in-Sephora brands that identify as Against Animal Testing include Kat Von D, Tarte, and Smashbox.

2. Lather, Rinse, and Repeat Step 1 with your cleaning products

Yup. Some of your household cleaners and toiletries may be the product of animal-cruelty. These product categories have vegan alternatives that you can turn to. You don’t have to go to specialty stores to find them. I found cruelty-free and vegan shampoo, conditioner, and surface-cleaner at Walmart.

3. Give your clothes new life

It is important to be sustainable and environmentally-responsible in as many ways as you can. My favourite way to do this is to recycle my clothes. I like to donate my clothes to thrift stores, have clothing swap gatherings with my friends, and beg my relatives for hand-me-downs. 

4. Support vegan food companies whenever possible

By occasionally buying a dairy-free ice cream you are:

- Keeping companies that operate for a cause alive.

- Showing mainstream corporations that environmentally conscious vegan food alternatives are something that you value.

- Getting an opportunity to try some cool and unique products.

Well, I hope you learned something new about veganism. If you happen to be an actual 100% hard-core vegan, I hope we’re on the same page.

For many, veganism seems like a big, scary, unachievable lifestyle. This post is meant to make veganism more approachable and provide some baby step alternatives  for those who can’t, or won’t, take the full plunge. These baby steps may be tiny, but they do make a difference.