So you want to transition to a vegan lifestyle, but you don’t know where to start. It all seems so overwhelming! Any lifestyle change can seem daunting, but a lot of the time the idea of adopting a new lifestyle is a lot scarier than actually doing it. Taking baby steps or making one change at a time can make the transition much smoother and feel more natural. It is important to go at your own pace and remember that baby steps are okay. Finding a method of what works for you is very important to make the transition to veganism possible. All that matters is you reach your goal of becoming vegan, not the journey of how you got there.
Here are my personal ideas, tips and guidelines to help you transition to becoming vegan. Just make sure to tailor them to your specific needs and what will work for you personally.
Note: I will be mainly discussing a plant based diet because even though veganism is more than just a diet, I think it is one thing most people struggle with in their transition.
DISCOVER THE REASONS WHY YOU WANT TO BECOME VEGAN
You probably have at least one or a couple reasons of why you want to go vegan since you already thought about transitioning to a vegan lifestyle, but the more reasons you discover the more likely you are to stay committed to this lifestyle change. Like any goal or huge lifestyle change, people can often fail when they don’t have enough reasons to be motivated to reach their goal or transition to their new lifestyle. Every vegan has their own reasons and there are loads of reasons to be vegan, so it is very important to find your own personal reasons to transition to a vegan lifestyle. This will help you in the beginning process of transitioning to a vegan lifestyle and it will remain to motivate your reason to remain vegan. It can also help to write out the reasons in a bullet point list or on a piece of paper as it will work as a great reminder and motivational tool!
Documentaries(some ideas to start with)
The Big Fish Fight
Forks Over Knives
What The Health
The Game Changers
Before The Flood
Infinity and Back
Running For Good
Most of these are all vegan documentaries, with a couple exceptions, but still touch on the same ideas. There are many more out there to watch, these are just a small list of ideas to help get you started.
I highly recommend these speeches:
The Most Important Speech You Will Ever Hear by Gary Yourofsky (this one played a huge part in my journey to a vegan lifestyle and when it comes to ethics I personally think it is the most inspiring, yet sad speech out there. Really moving.)
The Most Inspiring Speech You Will Ever Hear by James Aspey
This Speech Will Change How You See Everything by Bite Size Vegan
You Will Never Look At Your Life In The Same Way Again by Earthling Ed(has some similarities to the Gary Yourofsky speech, but inspiring just the same)
Both of Earthlings Ed’s Ted Talks
Why Eating Animals Is Okay~Anti Vegan Ted Talk by David Ramms (no it is not what you think. lol)
Vegan activists on youtube or vegan youtubers I suggest checking out:
Bite Size Vegan
The Unnatural Vegan
Plant Based News
And Many More!
GET VEGUCATED, OKAY? AKA LEARN AS MUCH AS YOU CAN
After you have discovered why you want to become vegan it is time to start learning as much as you can. The resources mentioned already in this article and those you personally choose to check out will be a great introduction to a new learning curve, but you aren’t there yet. There is still a lot to learn!
- Educate yourself on how to optimally nourish your body on a plant based diet.
- Learn how to read ingredient lists to discover what products are vegan and which products are not. It is also important to familiarize yourself with the less obvious animal derived ingredients that show up in unsuspecting products. For example: For a long time I actually didn’t know gelatin was an animal derived product. Luckily I found out about this before I even became vegan. Lol There is a high chance most of the food you have in your cupboards, pantry or fridge may already be vegan!
- Seek out vegan friendly foods in your local super market, or grocery stores. Research vegan restaurants, hang outs or grocery stores in your area.
- Educate yourself on a whole new way to cook. If you are anxiousat first by not being able to eat your old diet, there are plenty of options to veganize just about everything, including your favorite meals.
Find resources that can help you with all of the above including vegan communities or forums online, youtube, blogs, books, websites etc…There are plenty of resources to help you educate yourself and help you in your transition.
ADD TO YOUR DIET BEFORE YOU SUBTRACT FROM IT
- Begin adding more whole grains, beans, legumes, tofu and other vegan friendly foods that include a lot of nutrients. Familiarize yourself with their preparation, storage and uses.
- Start making a collection of some recipes to try and experiment with ones that appeal to you.
- Find a few different quick and easy vegan meals to try at first and get comfortable with making them. This tip is very important for those who are uncomfortable or new to cooking.
- Swap out dairy milk for a milk alternative such as almond, soy, oat and other milk alternatives. You may try a couple and not like them, but don’t stress because there are so many options. You will more likely find one that you like. You may also find you like certain alternatives for different things. For example I like oat milk in my coffee because it is creamier, but like different milk alternatives in my teas and cereals. That is normal.
- You tried a vegan product and didn’t like it? That’s okay too there are plenty of options of the same product with more coming out.
REMEMBER YOUR MOTIVATION TO CHANGE OR WHY YOU CHOSE THIS LIFESTYLE CHANGE
There is a huge difference between changing one’s diet and adopting a vegan lifestyle. It is easy to stray or cheat when you are just going on a diet, but it is completely different with veganism. It is why it is so important to learn the benefits of veganism and why I suggest writing down all your personal reasons to become vegan. It will only benefit you in the long run and motivate you to stay on that path. Once you have taken the time to open your eyes to how animals are viewed/treated, how animal exploitation or products effect our health, the environment and humanity there is no going back to your old lifestyle.
KEEP A POSITIVE ATTITUDE AND BE EXCITED FOR YOUR VEGAN LIFESTYLE CHANGE
Instead of concentrating on all the foods you had to give up, concentrate on all the new delicious foods to try. You will probably be surprised with how many foods you already love that are completely vegan. Be excited about the changes, not what you are losing.
IT’S TIME TO START YOUR TRANSITION
Once you have learned all the benefits of going vegan and are more knowledgeable on how to make your transition as smoothly as possible, it is time to start planning your transition.
THE MOST COMMON THREE OPTIONS THAT I KNOW OF HOW PEOPLE TRANSITION THEIR LIFESTYLE CHANGE TO VEGANISM
1. VEGETARIAN TO VEGANISM: If going vegan seems too overwhelming at first, go vegetarian and then move onto vegan by cutting out both dairy and eggs, or one at a time.
- Remove all meat from your diet, including poultry and fish. Instead of increasing your intake of dairy or eggs, concentrate on adding more plant based protein. IE: whole grains, beans, legumes, tofu etc
- Once you feel comfortable start phasing out dairy, eggs and honey at a pace that works for you.
2. SLOW TRANSITION OR TAKE BABY STEPS FROM AN OMNIVORE TO VEGAN: Slowly lessen your consumption of animal products while simultaneously increasing the number of plant based foods into your diet. Continue until you have eliminated all animal products. This is how I personally and successfully transitioned to a vegan lifestyle.
- First remove all animal products out of your diet you won’t miss. Leave barrier foods until the end.
- Again, if you haven’t already, incorporate more whole grains, beans, legumes, tofu, nuts, and seeds to your diet while simultaneously cutting down on the animal products that you’ll miss the least.
- You can either gradually cut down on all animal products, or remove one food/group at a time.
- After you feel comfortable with all the other changes in your diet, start removing barrier foods either one at a time or all together.
- Pay attention to ingredient lists. You may find it easier to begin avoiding the less obvious animal derived ingredients one at a time or you can also choose to overlook them until you’ve removed all obvious animal products such as meat, dairy, eggs etc.
GO FULL ON VEGAN AKA GO VEGAN OVER NIGHT OR DAY: Sometimes after finding out all the benefits of veganism some people become impatient or for personal beliefs want to become vegan right away. While I don’t suggest it mainly because if you are not educated enough about the diet or lifetsyle, it can lead to health problems or other problems and lead to straying away from or abandoning your vegan lifestyle due to health concerns or other issues. However it can still be possible to make the rapid switch if planned accordingly.
Here are a couple personal tips I think may be helpful in this transition:
- Cut out all animal derived ingredients and incorporate lots of whole grains, beans, legumes, tofu, nuts, and seeds for a healthy vegan diet.
- Swap out all of your favourite non-vegan items for vegan alternatives. Many people find that relying on vegan burgers, hot dogs, deli slices, cheeses, etc. can really help ease the transition when cutting out animal products all at once.
- While not all vegans feel the need to supplement, I think as an extra precaution it is good to find a good multi vitamin supplement to ensure you are getting the proper nutrients. I think this is a really important tip for those considering going full on vegan.
- Educate yourself on how to ensure optimal health on a plant based diet.
- Find out how to tell what products are vegan. (there are even apps you can get on your phone now to help you with this. While I have never used them so I am not sure how reliable they are, but I have came across them in my vegan app searches. May be worth checking out.)
- Learn how to build a healthy vegan shopping list.
- Look up quick, easy and cheap meals. How to budget on a vegan diet etc.
- Join a vegan community for helpful beginner tips, ideas and advice.
- Find a few apps, websites or youtube videos for recipe ideas to try and start a vegan recipe collection of your own of the ones you like!
While I suggested to swap out your favorite non-vegan foods or items for vegan alternatives such as vegan burgers, deli slices, cheeses and other alternatives please keep in mind some of these foods are very highly processed. They can make your transition smoother and easier, but once you become more comfortable with eating and cooking on a plant based diet it is important to lessen the consumption of processed foods. Processed foods are not a good source to rely on for nutrients, minerals and vitamins.
It is important to note that veganism is much more than a diet, but rather it is a more compassionate way to live. The guidelines I mentioned so far are more geared towards a diet change because that seems to be the most challenging when transitioning to a vegan lifestyle. It’s also important to learn about vegan alternatives for other products in your life, such as personal care items, clothing, shoes, and other household items.
A FEW PERSONAL TIPS OF MINE WHEN SHOPPING FOR VEGAN PRODUCTS
- Familiarize yourself with ingredients on make up, skin care, other personal care items and household items such as cleaning. A lot of products might share on the back free of animal products, testing or cruelty, but there are other ways to properly read the ingredients as well.
- I do not just buy clothing free of animal skins, but I also try my best to buy local or free of sweatshops etc whenever I can. When you cannot afford top dollar clothing, thrift stores are great. However when you can please support local businesses etc.
- Some animal products such as leather or wool may be pretty obvious to spot, but there are other products that come from animals that may be harder to spot when shopping for clothing. Clothing or materials that include animal products and needs to be avoided are as follows: leather, fur, wool, silk, feathers, bone, horn, shell, cashmere, shear-ling, angora, suede excluding micro-suede, down, pashmina and mohair.
- Shopping for vegan clothing does not have to be difficult. Many stores and name brands have vegan clothing, it is just knowing how to read a label. There are synthetics for leather, wool and silk. Cotton, hemp and linen for example are also vegan.
ALL OR NOTHING THINKING AND BARRIERS TO VEGANISM
If you have been thinking about becoming vegan, but find yourself struggling to make the transition because of cravings or giving up certain foods, don’t stress as that is completely normal. When you eat a certain diet for years and years it is normal to have cravings and miss foods when you change your diet or lifestyle. There are going to be challenges, but these foods don’t have to stop you. Most vegans stop eating animal products for ethical reasons, not because they don’t enjoy the taste of them.
Many people shrug off the idea of veganism because of their fear of missing out on a certain food, or they try veganism and give it up entirely for similar reasons. The reason why I suggest and encourage taking baby steps or working at your own pace while becoming educated about veganism before transitioning to a full on vegan lifestyle is for this very reason.
- Find out all the ins and outs of how that food is produced, this can often turn you off these foods for good or be a good reminder.
Another reason why people often resort back to their old lifestyle and leave veganism is health without trying anything else or realize they were just failing a plant based diet. I know that sounds cliché for vegans, an excuse we use to why some people end up being ex vegans, but in most cases it is ultimately the truth. It is again why I stress making this transition at your own pace and what works for you as your health is very important.
- This could just be me, but after hearing about other people’s diets or reading stories about people’s failures at a plant based diet is they think just because they are eating enough foods that have all the nutrients a person needs they must be getting enough nutrients and their bodies are just not absorbing it and hence think they fail at a vegan diet or it is not meant for them, but they seem to not realize sometimes eating a certain combination of food groups can help with better nutrient absorption.
- Don’t be afraid to supplement if you need too. If you are really worried about not getting enough nutrients from your plant based diet and would like some reassurance outside of getting your levels checked(which yearly everyone should be doing this rather you are vegan or not) take a recommended vegan multi-vitamin. Supplementing does not mean the diet is not healthy or not natural or you are failing at your diet. It is recommended that most people no matter your diet should at the very least be supplementing vitamin D. It is common that even people who consume high amounts of meat still should be supplementing B12 as they can still have low levels of B12. Since B12 is a water soluble it is not dangerous in abundance. To guarantee you are getting enough B12 is a supplement. I have to supplement calcium aside from B12 and vitamin D. Not because I am not getting enough from my vegan diet as I was also low in calcium when I was non vegan. Gym freaks supplement with protein shakes and shit, okay?! VEGANS ARE NOT THE ONLY ONES WHO SUPPLEMENT. Okay? Thanks, byyyeeeee.
HERE ARE SOME MORE OF MY PERSONAL TIPS FOR A SUCCESSFUL TRANSITION IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER(SOME OF THEM ARE REPETITIVE AS SOME TIPS I JUST CANNOT STRESS ENOUGH MMMKAY.)
- I cannot stress this tip enough. If you are going vegan because of ethical reasons it can be hard to transition slowly, but I promise you it will only make you more successful in the long run. There is some evidence that going at your own pace be it going vegetarian for awhile or cutting back on animal products slowly and then going vegan can have a higher rate of success. It will also really help you with eating a vegan diet.
- If you considered a slow transition, make a list of your favorite meals so you can still have them while you are working through your transition. You can eat them once or few times a week while having other meals that are vegetarian or completely vegan for example. Play around with it and see what works best for you.
- If you must urgently go vegan and you cannot wait please consider making a list of all your favorite snacks and meals so you can learn how to veganize them. Get educated as fast as you can about nutrients on a plant based diet and it might be a good idea to get on a vegan multivitamin right away. You may be able to stop supplementing down the road, but this is like a safety net in your urgent transition.
- Just as important as making a list of your favorite meals, snacks or foods, make a list of vegan foods you already love. So foods you are already eating that are vegan. I understand at first this may be really hard, especially if you are new to veganism and are unsure what is vegan and what is not. That’s okay…do not stress this too much. There are some obvious foods though that are vegan like for example most peanut butter, rice, trail mix and a lot of snack foods are vegan. There are also quite a few meals that are very close to being vegan. Most vegetarian stir fries are vegan, most spaghetti sauces and noodles are vegan you can just replace the meat with a vegan meat or use no meat at all. You may find out once you completed your list of your favorite foods you thought were vegan, but are actually not. Again, do not beat yourself up over this. You will be shocked to find out how many foods contain animal products, milk being a very common ingredient in a lot of foods. Do not feel the need to scrutinize every detail of your list because of this and it is all apart of your new learning experience. You will start to find delicious alternatives that are filled with nutrients etc. For example: Your list is complete and you find out half or 1/3 of your list ends up being not entirely vegan and the thought of this overwhelms you…DO NOT STRESS OR GET ANXIOUS ABOUT IT. The most consequential thing you can do is cut out the most obvious non vegan stuff like meat, the gallon of milk etc.
- At first transitioning to a vegan lifestyle can seem very overwhelming so I suggest to not stress the small amounts of animal products at first. Note: Some products ingredient list will also read ‘MAY CONTAIN *INSERT ANIMAL PRODUCT. IE MILK*’ these products are still technically vegan as they do not directly have any animal products in them, it just means it was produced in a factory that also produces animal products, but the machines were cleaned before making that product. This is only on packages for allergy information basically. While some vegans do avoid these foods, it is again down to personal beliefs etc….Sorry some of us cannot be as picky as others. This personally doesn’t bother me as a vegan, the way I look at it if you want to look at supply and demand you are supporting the vegan products coming out of that factory and not the non vegan ones.
- GO EASY ON THE FIBER. The American standard diet is low in fiber and transitioning from that to a vegan diet which is quite high in fiber it is important to watch how much fiber you intake. As the shock can cause a lot of gas, bloating and is going to be really uncomfortable. I suggest not doing a full on whole plant based diet at first. However also note if you do experience this and think you are doing something wrong or think you are failing at your diet, this is a common thing for people who transition from a non vegan diet to a full on vegan whole plant based diet. This is another reason why I stress a slower transition. Some foods that are low in fiber include mock/vegan meats, white breads and white pastas.
- It is important to track your nutrition or things like your calorie intake. Cronometer.com is a website that is a great tool to use in the beginning and there are also many apps you can get on your phone that will help you in your transition and help track things like your nutrition and calories. There are other benefits that some of these resources will help you with when it comes to health, such as workouts etc. These resources can also continued to be used in your newly found diet if you wish. I highly recommend it at first as it will make sure you are getting enough nutrients such as protein, iron, zinc etc and also tell you if you are getting enough calories.
- TAKE A B12 AND VITAMIN D SUPPLEMENT. JUST DO IT OKAY! I am not even going to mess around with this one.
- If you are not regularly using things like iodine salt, make sure to take an iodine supplement.
- Again if you want a little bit of extra insurance find a good vegan multi vitamin that works for you. This is also something I would recommended for picky eaters. Just make sure you are following recommendations of your daily needs etc. There are many resources out there to help you that are geared towards a vegan needs. (veganhealth.org is one great resource I used and know about.)
- If you are going to be influenced by vegan influence-rs on social media make sure to always research their dietary advice before trying it at home kids. 😉 You can also just flat out ignore them.
- Some vegan influence-rs also don’t encourage baby steps or a slow transition, in fact some will even speak down upon it. Their logic is basically you can’t be a racist only three days a week and be considered a moral individual if you are going to be a racist a-hole the rest of the week. YEAH IGNORE THOSE INFLUENCE-RS AS WELL, at least when they speak about this specific topic. Again it is not about your transition or your journey, all that matter is you become vegan, the end goal and any choice towards a more compassionate world is a good one. The only time I would personally shame you is if you never fully transition and claim to be vegan or one who cheats their lifestyle knowingly.
- Include a lot of high calorie and high protein foods to feel satisfied and full, so you don’t need to eat so much. Some foods that are high in calorie or protein include soy meats, split peas, lentils, soy milk, beans, tofu and many more!
Alright this concludes my advice and tips to help you transition to a vegan lifestyle if you are interested! I hope you found some tips or this resource helpful. If you have some of your own tips feel free to leave them in the comments. I apologize for the lack of organization at times, but again this is all about your transition not mine or anyone else’s, tailor the steps to your needs and find a method that works best for you!