Transitioning to a vegan lifestyle may seem like a big decision, and you may not know where to start. You may be worried about what to eat, if it will interfere with your social life, or what people will think about your sudden choice to go vegan. But if you’re far enough along to do some research on veganism, then I think you’re ready!
Lucky for you, veganism is a growing lifestyle and it is so much easier to go vegan now than it was 5 or 10 years ago, and it will keep getting easier the more you learn too. I’m here to give you a guide with 10 simple steps to start your vegan journey. Make sure to bookmark this page so you can come back to it and stay on track! Let’s get into it!
Get a free vegan recipe book with 10 plant based dinners that are ready in 30 minutes or less. This cookbook makes vegan cooking easy!
Step 1: Education Is Your Superpower
The more you learn about animal-based industries and the way animal products negatively impact your health, the happier you will be with your choice to become vegan and stop supporting those industries. Also, the more you educate yourself about veganism, the more prepared you will be for the inevitable questions that will come from friends, family, and even strangers.
Watch documentaries, these are good to gets started:
- What The Health
- The Game Changers
- Forks Over Knives
- David Attenborough’s: A Life On Our Planet.
Read or listen to books like these:
- How Not to Die – Dr. Michael Greger
- The Starch Solution – Dr. John McDougall
- Whitewash – David Keon
- Proteinaholic – Dr. Garth Davis
- Project Animal Farm – Sonia Faruqi
- Eating Animals – Jonathan Safran Foer
Also, learn ingredients that are not vegan (like gelatin and casein) so when you’re reading labels you can be confident in your choice. Google will be your friend for this.
Step 2: Take Advantage of Social Media
These days, almost all of us have at least one form of social media we like to mindlessly scroll through, like Instagram, TikTok, or Facebook. Use these platforms to your advantage and find accounts that feature vegan recipes, the vegan lifestyle, animal sanctuaries and rescues, conservation, and cruelty-free education.
There are so many accounts to choose from and many of them are a great source for recipe inspiration, education, and motivation to keep it up. Connecting with other vegans through social media is an easy way to find new vegan friends and discover a sense of community, especially if you are the only vegan you know right now. Here are the links to my social media pages:
Step 3: Find Your Why
While you educate yourself, certain topics will strongly resonate with you. Learning certain things may make you cry, or make you angry that no one told you about this before…This is your “Why.”
Your “Why” could general, it could be specific, it could be…
- Anti-factory farms
- Physical health
- Fight climate change
- You love animals and just don’t want to eat them because they are so cute and have souls, just like you.
- Fish are your favorite animals and you can’t imagine killing something you love.
- You just feel better when you eat this way. More energy, more clarity, more life.
- You learned how animal agriculture and slaughterhouses work, and your morals no longer align with eating animals.
What is your “why”? Put it in the comments!
Step 4: Transition Gradually
You can go all in and make the switch if you want. But many find it hard to do. It may be easier to change one piece at a time, gradually. If you eat a lot of meat, it could be easier to start by only eating meat once a day, then once every other day, then once a week, then cut it out completely. Then do the same with cheese and eggs.
If you mess up, be nice to yourself. Get back on the wagon right away and know that you’re still doing awesome. Everyone messes up when they first go vegan (and sometimes years into it), whether on accident by failing to read a label, not knowing an ingredient was animal based, or simply just giving in to temptation.
Step 5: Try New Things With An Open Mind
There are so many vegan meat, dairy, and egg alternatives these days. These are relatively processed foods, but can make going vegan easier. More and more of these alternatives are being offered in restaurants too, making it easier to eat out with friends and family when eating plant-based.
Some are definitely better than others! If you try a brand and are disgusted, don’t write it off. Instead, try a different brand next time. I personally like Gardein’s “Ultimate” series, Miyoko’s Kitchen, Jack & Annie’s, Lightlife, Field Roast, Yves, Plant Basics, and Follow Your Heart
Step 6: (Re)Learn to Cook
Cooking vegan foods isn’t that different, but there are some things that will change. This is especially true about vegan baking. There are endless recipes and tips online and social media, but here are a few tips to get you started:
- Marinades are life-changing when cooking tofu, tempeh, and jackfruit.
- Proteins cook faster.
- Vegan cheese melts better with some steam (Tip: for melty grilled cheese, spray a little water in the pan and cover the sandwich with a lid for a minute or so)
- A high-quality blender (like a VitaMix or Ninja) is a crucial investment.
Step 7: Veganize Your Current Go-To Foods
Think you can’t live without mac and cheese, ice cream, or burgers? Try out two or three recipes (or store bought vegan items) of your favorite foods to find your favorite one. If it isn’t perfect, don’t be afraid to tweak the recipe on your own to suit your tastes.
If you are still eating similar foods to the ones you ate before, the transition to a vegan diet will be much more simple.
Meal prep your go-to foods to stay consistent and avoid slip-ups. Here three of my favorite vegan recipes that I always make and meal prep. The burgers are freezer friendly and I always keep a batch stocked in my freezer for a quick meal anytime.
Step 8: Learn How to Eat Out as a Vegan
If you live in a big city, like Portland, Seattle, Los Angeles, or New York, you wont have a problem finding awesome fully vegan restaurants and plenty of vegan options at others.
However, not everyone does. You can still eat out as a vegan anywhere, even a steakhouse, just don’t expect an epic meal. Here are a few tips that can help you navigate eating vegan at non-vegan friendly restaurants:
- Steakhouse, Diner, or Roadhouse: A baked potato, no butter other dairy, side of steamed veggies. Fill up on bread if there is no milk in it and it isn’t topped with butter.
- Asian Restaurants: Steamed rice with veggies topped with soy sauce and sweet chili sauce. Many of the vegetarian dishes may have oyster or fish sauce so make sure to ask!
- Mexican Restaurants: Usually easy to veganize by omitting cheese and sour cream/crema, but ask if there is lard in the beans or anything else.
- Salad…many salads can be veganized at restaurants, but might be rather boring.
- Side of fries? Sure, just be aware it is likely fried in the same oil as all the other non-vegan items.
Step 9: Go Beyond Vegan Food
The vegan lifestyle is not only about avoiding animal products in the foods you eat. Vegans also choose to make a difference in the consumer market by opting for products that are cruelty-free and vegan. This means don’t buy anything that was made with animal products or tested on animals. This includes household items, cosmetics, and clothing. Many products that fit the bill are labeled as such, you just need to read the label.
Avoiding animal products in foods but not other aspects of life is considered a “Plant-based” lifestyle, rather than “Vegan.” When looking for vegan products, keep an eye out for icons like these below:
Step 10: Respect Diverse Opinions and Cultures
Understand that everyone comes from a different backgrounds and no one is in the same place as you in life and may not have educated themselves the same way you have. Instead of pushing your beliefs on others, respect their differing perspectives and knowledge about veganism. If they ask questions, answer them honestly.
Q: “Why don’t you eat dairy?”
A: “I don’t eat dairy because it makes me sad to know a baby cow was taken from its mom for milk that I don’t need to survive and dairy causes inflammation in the body too, so I don’t eat it for moral and health reasons”
Do your best to not worked up if they disagree with you. Just agree to disagree, remember that they asked you the question and if they don’t like the answer, that is on them, not you. Be aware of the bigger picture: that you are living a lifestyle that YOU agree with and making a difference in the world as an individual who is part of a growing world view.