If you’ve eaten meat, dairy and eggs your whole life, it can seem intimidating to go vegan. And while being vegan is not hard once you’re in the swing of things, most people are not quite ready to jump right in full force.

However, just because not everyone is ready to go completely vegan doesn’t mean we can’t make small changes to our spending habits that will ultimately benefit farmed animals. Whether you start ordering tofu fried rice instead of pork fried rice next time you get takeout or you start making some of your weeknight dinners meat-free, every time you spend money on vegan food, you’re helping save a farmed animal or two.

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Just remember that every little bit helps and that you really are making a difference. Baby steps are always better than standing still. Before you know it, buying almond milk will just be a habit and you won’t even miss that pus-filled dairy.

1. Make Simple Swaps

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but these days nondairy milk is not just for vegans. People from all walks of life can be seen adding almond milk to their cereal or sipping on chocolate soy milk (go to a college campus and you’ll see what I mean!).

But the swaps don’t have to end at milk. Swap out your mayonnaise for Just Mayo or your eggs for flax seed in baking. The possibilities are truly endless.

2. Avoid Leather and Wool

Did you know that leather and wool are both extremely cruel products?

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The skin of an animal is the “most economically important byproduct of the meat industry” and is procured in horrific ways. These cows experience tail-docking, castration, branding, etc. without any sort of anesthetics. It’s also not uncommon for cows to be skinned alive.

And wool isn’t innocent either. In order to maximize the amount of wool, merino sheep have been bred to have wrinkly skin. The excess wool can cause death due to overheating. Moisture, including urine, can get trapped in the folds as well. Since flies are attracted to moisture, they often will lay eggs in the sheep’s folds. “In order to prevent this condition, called ‘flystrike,’ Australian ranchers perform a barbaric operation called ‘mulesing,’ in which workers carve huge strips of skin and flesh off the backs of lambs’ legs and the areas around their tails.” As you can see, wool isn’t free from cruelty.

Refusing to buy these cruel products would go a long way in saving these animals from abuse.

3. Pick a Few Nights a Week to Try a Vegan Meal

There are no rules that say every meal has to include meat. Why not pick up a few vegan cookbooks and flip through them with your kids? Take turns picking out recipes. Turn it into a family event where everyone is involved.

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You could also check out some of One Green Planet’s recipes like this Kidney Bean-Walnut Burger with Mississippi Comeback Sauce, or this Spaghetti Squash with Alfredo Sauce, or even this Soothing Vegan French Onion Soup.

4. Order the Vegan Option at Restaurants

Whether you’re vegan or not, ordering the vegan options tells the restaurant that there is a demand for meat-free fare. And if there is a demand, they’ll keep it around, which makes it easier for more people to order veg.

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Try ordering shiitake rolls instead of spicy tuna rolls next time you’re at a Japanese restaurant. Order chana (chickpea) masala instead of tikka (chicken) masala when you go out for Indian food. Bean tacos make a great alternative to steak tacos at your local Mexican joint. Go for the veggie burger instead of the hamburger.

When you start looking, you’ll see veg options everywhere. And the best part? The vegan options are often cheaper than the meaty ones. Seriously, check out a Thai menu and tell me that duck isn’t more expensive than tofu and veggies.

Making small changes to the way we spend our money doesn’t have to be daunting, pricey, or boring. In fact, it really can add variety to our lives and less suffering to animals on farms. Give it a try!

Image source: Creative Commons

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