The tech startup world is fascinated with the lean methodology to mitigate the risk of starting a business. The basic premise of the lean startup is to launch a minimum viable product (MVP) and build upon it over time.
For example, instead of investing time and money into building a business you think is going to be amazing, only to launch it and not get any paying users, you instead spend the least amount of time and money that is viable and launch your product as quickly as possible. If the market responds to your idea, you can start adding on features. If they don’t respond, you can ask for feedback or decide to scrap the idea altogether.
Another reason why this strategy is so powerful is that it eliminates procrastination. Entrepreneurs can spend months, sometimes years working on their product before they ship it to the market. In fact, more often than not, they never actually launch, missing out on the opportunity.
So what does all of this have to do with becoming vegan?
Aspiring entrepreneurs and vegans alike have similar challenges when trying to make a sustained change. Sometimes, rather than waiting and planning to make the switch over an extended period, it’s better to put your best foot forward and launch into your new lifestyle.
So if a smart entrepreneur were to apply the lean methodology to becoming vegan, they would look to get to minimum viable vegan (MVV) as quickly as possible.
In the rest of this post, I’m going to give you a few steps to get to MVV and build upon it over time.
Phase 1 – Clear your pantry and fridge
When we first became vegan, it was paramount that we eliminated any potential temptations of animal products from our environment. This meant throwing out frozen meats, cheese, sour cream, cows milk you name it! This enabled us to start with a clean slate rebuild our habits. In business terms, this could mean firing staff, changing business direction or moving offices.
So this is your first step to get to MVV. Don’t stall yourself by pondering whether you should throw out cheese that you bought yesterday. Be a courageous veganprenuer (yes I just made that up) and toss it in the bin.
If you live with others who aren’t vegan, do your best to get rid of as much as you can while respecting other people in your household.
When replenishing your pantry and fridge, keep things simple with your first shop. Don’t try to become a seasoned organic raw foodie overnight, as you’ll overwhelm yourself and burn out.
Go to your local grocery store and look to buy your kitchen essentials. This includes your oils, nut-milks, canned legumes, grains, fruits and vegetables. Try to buy organic where possible but don’t stress over it. Don’t let the quality of produce prevent you from getting to MVV.
Over time, you can build up your pantry (here’s what ours looks like), but remember, you want to start lean, so do the bare minimum to get started.
Phase 2 – Keep your meal rotation tight
This is such an important strategy when becoming vegan. It’s overwhelming to make such a change particularly if you’ve been consuming animal products your whole life.
Where can I eat? Where do I buy food? How much will it cost? I can’t give up cheese!
Take a deep breath and get back to basics. In fact, it’s quite ok to be boring with your food choices when you’re transitioning. For example, we mostly ate wraps for the first month. I personally ate wraps every day until I found my feet. This might sound a little extreme, but for me, I needed to find a go-to meal that I could plan for and make quickly.
I recommend you find 2–3 recipes that have cheap ingredients, can be cooked in bulk and can be accessed quickly. This could be wraps, pasta, canned beans and rice, avocado on toast. Don’t worry so much about eating super healthy just yet, particularly if you’re new to cooking. However, if you’re willing to step it up a little, check out our favourite list of easy and cheap vegan meals.
Also, if you want to buy something out, we found that Mexican food (more specifically burritos) was always an option. This depends on where you live, but burrito chains seem to be quite accessible in many countries.
Phase 3 – Find a vegan buddy
I always tell people that when Maša and I first made the switch to vegan, we were quite confident we wouldn’t have made it if we didn’t have each other. I feel so grateful to have that support day in and day out. If you don’t have that luxury, don’t sweat it. There are other ways to build your support network.
This is an excellent opportunity to find a vegan buddy to help you get through. Joining local vegan Facebook groups is a great free resource to help you find people who are in a similar stage to you in their journey. You might already know someone who is vegan. Reach out to them directly and tell them that you want to be vegan and would love to pick their brain. I’m sure they will be flattered.
This is an essential step as most people are tempted to go this journey alone. It’s like an entrepreneur trying to start a big company without a strong team around him/her. Be strategic and find partners to help you. Plus, it’s fun meeting like-minded people who hold you accountable to your values 🙂
Phase 4 – Build your rotation
So after you’ve established a vegan buddy, cleared out your environment and nailed the rotation of your go-to meals, it’s time to look at how you can add more recipes to your toolkit. This is your business, or should I say vegan growth phase.
Watch YouTube videos, read blog posts, buy cookbooks, go to cooking classes, use all of your available resources to help you broaden your rotation.
When learning new recipes, be intentional about what you want to achieve. Unless you’re a foodie, you probably don’t want to be spending hours upon hours in the kitchen testing new recipes. Instead, think about how you can find one solid recipe that you can confidently add to your rotation this week. Then next week, and the week after that, until you have 5–10 go to meals under your belt.
It’s at this point that you can start getting more creative with your cooking but even then, you might find that you’re quite content with your rotation.
What’s your approach to becoming vegan?
Do you prefer to jump in full steam ahead or take your time to transition? Or would you prefer to take the veganprenuer approach and become a minimum viable vegan and build upon your rotation over time?