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We’re in our first full week of 2013 and while that’s cause for celebration, I know many people are already wondering if they can fulfill the New Year’s resolutions they vowed to make happen. I’m sure some of us have already said, “Oh, shoot! I meant to do ‘x’ and I already messed up!” The good news is that it’s never too late to pick up where you left off and regain momentum towards those resolutions.

I know some people probably are entering 2013 with a little more curiosity about converting to a vegan diet or even a vegetarian diet, or they are simply looking for ways to incorporate more plant foods into their diet (which are all wonderful!). In fact, within the past month, I’ve had two friends contact me through social media on how they can begin to add more plant foods to their diet! Woot woot! (It all begins with a question, right?) At any rate, I began thinking about all the great resources out there for learning how to cook and live the vegan way. What’s more, many of these resources are completely free! So if you’re looking for ways to transition to a vegan or vegetarian diet, but you’re strapped for some cash, here are my top resources that won’t cost you anything!

  1. The library. Yes! People (including myself) still use the library. Get thee to your local branch and secure a library card. Most libraries carry vegan cookbooks and lifestyle books and vegan or vegetarian magazine subscriptions. Check out a cookbook or magazine to do a little recipe testing at home and discover the amazing deliciousness that is vegan fare. Also, pick out a lifestyle/health book (such as The China Study) that will help you understand the science behind plant-based eating. Even if your local library doesn’t stock a particular book, most libraries can request it for you. Don’t under-utilize your library!
  2. The internet. In case the library makes you feel like you’re living in the dinosaur age, or if you are unable to leave your home for any reason, surf the internet. You can Google just about anything you’re curious about, whether it be recipes, questions about vegan toiletries, or to find out what nutritional yeast is. I know technically, you pay for your internet service, but it’s such a staple in many households that I sort of don’t consider it a major cost. And besides, if you don’t have the internet at home, refer to item number 1—they can “hook you up” there!
  3. Blogs. With the invention of blogging platforms (such as the lovely WordPress site I am using), anyone who has anything to say about health, cooking, vegan living, animal advocacy, etc., can blog about it! For my favorite picks, check out one of my first posts.
  4. Podcasts. I love love love podcasts! It’s possible I am a podcast addict. There are so many wonderful podcasts I love listening to on ITunes or on my mobile device. The great thing about a podcast is that I can tune in and get educated or inspired no matter where I am or where I am going. Whether I am working out, sitting at my computer working, or going for a drive, I always have my podcasts. Search on ITunes by simply typing in the word “vegan” in the search bar and you’ll see the option to further search through podcasts. You won’t be disappointed in the choices of vegan voices that are podcasting these days! (Some of my favorites are “Our Hen House”, Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s “Vegetarian Food for Thought” and Unity.fm’s “Main Street Vegan” with Victoria Moran.)
  5. YouTube. YouTube is another internet site where you can search for vegan cooking demos or shows. In fact, VegNews magazine has a YouTube channel with cooking demos! One of my favorite internet vegan cooking shows is “Save the Kales” presented by Jaime K. She too has a blog, but she’s so darn cute and talented, you simply have to check out her YouTube channel!
  6. Meetup.com. Meetup is a website to where you can find groups of people who share your same interests and then “meet up” to gather and get to know each other. There are many vegetarian and vegan groups you can search through Meetup and hopefully you can find a group nearby. Okay, one side note: this isn’t technically “free” either, but usually Meetup groups ask for a donation when you arrive–just to keep the group going. But again, cost is so, so minimal that I just had to include it.
  7. 21-day Vegan Kickstart. The 21-day Vegan Kickstart is a program presented by PCRM that sends you shopping lists, meal plans, and inspirational and how-to messages and videos for those individuals seeking a trial-run in plant-based eating. Obviously, it’s a 21-day program, so if you’re veg-curious or just want to dabble in the vegan way of eating, this free program is already tailored for novices and guarantees that you’ll be eating nutritiously. (Hopefully, you’ll find that eating a plant-based diet is satisfying and fulfilling enough that you’ll stick with it!)

These are just a few ideas to get you started if you are testing out a new way of eating in 2013. For those of you already well-versed in the vegan lifestyle, please share this with your friends who might need some ideas and advice. We’re all in this together, as I always say. And if you have any more ideas or resources that are good guides for the new plant-eaters, please share them!