Vegan dos and don’ts are on my mind a lot lately but so is the question, what is vegan. Although I’ve been eating vegan for a very long time, I still resist my own tendency proudly to announce that I’m a vegan. I don’t want to feel separated in any way from my friends who eat the way I used to. So I believe that one don’t that is a good suggestion for vegans is not to get on one’s high horse as if one were superior to anyone who eats differently.

A vegan do that I discern is staying involved socially. It seems important to me, at least, to find ways to accompany my friends to familiar restaurants and not to make a big deal out of my finding ways to eat there or simply to have some beverage. I can eat ahead of time or later. I can bring along something to supplement the salad and plain baked potato I can get.

Another vegan do for me is to answer questions from people about veganism without a condescending attitude. When I merely ate vegetarian, some people would get my back up by making negative comments about my not eating meat. Then a few vegans would criticize my eating any animal products. It has left me resolved to treat questions and comments from other people about my veganism in a courteous manner. I don’t want to bristle in response. That hadn’t been a healthy reaction on my part. I’ve learned from it.

Because these changes in diet may lower the risks of some cancers and diabetes, as well as helping maintain a healthy weight, more people are becoming motivated to eat this way. They may, at first, find making these changes challenging. I certainly anticipated that it would be hard for me to do so years ago. Another do for me as a vegan is to refrain from the urge to convert others to my path.

If the interest in veganism from others goes further than idle questions, I suggest easy recipes. I stress the wisdom of finding the best possible– preferably organic– ingredients. I invite the curious to a meal in my home so that they can sample the pleasures of vegan eating. I deem being open-minded and willing to share another do for vegans.

Not everyone will agree with the other dos and don’ts I have adopted. I have learned the ease of soaking beans overnight in a crockpot. I find that a great convenience. What a pleasure to assemble a delicious meal in the morning, set it up to cook all day, and then to return home to the aromas and texture of something wonderful, wholesome, and yummy to eat.

Another don’t I tend to observe is eschewing overly processed products even if they have no animal products in them. Part of a vegan diet for me is that it really is plant-based and as natural as possible. I want to avoid genetically modified foods. I also do want to get most of my diet from fruits and vegetables. Vegans do need to be readers of labels.

As a longtime vegan, I believe I have learned a lot about healthy eating. Much of it I learned from other vegans. Another vegan do for me is to learn from others. They model for me meals that consist of plant based foods. A recent meal I shared at the table of friends consisted of eggplant that was sliced like a piece of meat and grilled to perfection, collard greens that were deliciously seasoned with herbs instead of ham hocks, black-eyed peas, and fruit for dessert.

I am sure there are other vegan dos and don’ts for me to learn because I can always use additional tips about veganism. I look forward to the years ahead, the recipes I’ll find, and the new friends I will make as I explore veganism further. I do want to keep my many other friends whose diet is emphatically their business and not mine.

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