Want to go vegan, but have no idea where to even start?
This guide can help!
We've broken down going vegan into 5 easy steps (with a 6th step that doesn't really count because it's so easy).
By the end, our goal is that you have a solid understanding of the why and the how behind going vegan.
Is Going Vegan Hard?
Deciding to adopt a vegan lifestyle can be a daunting and seemingly challenging task. One may think they need to give up all the foods that they love, cut ties with all their non-vegan friends/family, and drive a Prius.
This is simply not the case.
Veganism comes in many different forms, but is grounded in one definition (1):
Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing, entertainment or any other purpose.
There are almost infinite ways to eat a vegan diet, from eating Oreos and drinking Sprite all day, to a more health-conscious version based on whole fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes.
For anyone to truly go vegan long-term, they must have the proper reasoning and motivation to do so, and this brings us to our first step on how to go vegan: Learn and Understand the Why.
Read Also: Are Takis Vegan?
Step 1. Learn the Why Behind Adopting a Vegan Diet
People adopt a vegan lifestyle for 3 main reasons:
Although many people go vegan for number 3 (health reasons), having a reason beyond yourself makes sticking to the lifestyle and avoiding temptations much easier.
As per the definition of veganism, avoiding cruelty and exploitation of animals is the most compelling reason to go vegan.
From fish to chicken to pigs, all vertebrates share the same ability to feel pain.
Meat is the Corpses of Other Sentient Beings
Meat eaters will consume about 7,000 animals over the course of their lifetime.
Not only are the animals killed, but they are subjected to a life of misery and torture since the day they are born.
Many people find it easy to brush these facts to the side, but imagine if your beloved dog or cat was being sent off to slaughter - your feelings would no doubt change.
Extreme suffering is just that, and once you know the pain and torture that your meat has gone through, it becomes increasingly difficult to consume it with a clear conscious.
For an in-depth perspective off the full truth behind the animal agriculture industry, we highly recommend the documentary Earthings which can be viewed directly on YouTube.
Reaching the Finish Line is the Most Important Thing
While doing this, it is important to identify your favorite comfort foods and learn how to create a vegan version of these foods.
By the time you’ve consumed all the animal products left in your home, you will have a great understanding of how to shop and cook vegan!
Slowly Adjust Your Diet
Another way to become accustomed to plant based eating is to incorporate plant based meals slowly into your life day by day. This will allow you to gradually learn how to eat plant based meals and become accustomed to full days of vegan eating.
An example of this would be to start eating completely vegan on Mondays, and the rest of the week you are free to eat how you like.You would then gradually incorporate more days with full vegan eating until you’re ready to fully commit!
A variation of this would be to transition meal by meal, e.g. only eat vegan for breakfast, then breakfast and lunch, then breakfast lunch and dinner.
Step 3: Learn How To Shop
While many think going vegan requires having to go to health food stores to shop and only eating at a few specialty restaurants. This is far from the truth.
One great advantage of transitioning to veganism these days is how easy it is to find vegan options at every grocery store and the majority of restaurants.
Check out our printable vegan grocery list to make it easy!
While transitioning, we recommend trying....
While transitioning, we recommend trying out a few different brands of meat substitutes that taste and feel nearly identical to real meat. Most of these brands can be found at your local supermarket/Walmart. A few great ones to start out with are:
- Beyond Meat
- Bubba Burger Vegan Burger
You can use the store locators on the website above to see if those brands are carried in a supermarket near you which they most likely are.
Tofu, Tempeh, and Seitan are also great for using in place of meat for various recipes. You can cook them in the same sauces and spices you would meat to achieve an amazing, healthy new meal to your diet. tofu press is great for achieving the right texture.
Buying plant-based milks in the store is probably one of the easiest steps as they've been popular and readily available for quite some time.
Some of the most popular varieties include soy milk, almond milk, and cashew milk.
We tend to prefer soy milk simply because the other ones can be a bit watered down (specifically almond), and soy milk performs the best in coffee as a creamer. Cashew milk can great as well, but its highly dependent on what brand you buy, so don't be afraid to experiment.
For many, giving up cheese may seem hard or near impossible. However, there are plenty of identical tasting substitutes that are available without any animal products!
Here are some of the top vegan cheese brands (You may even like them better than the real thing!)
- Daiya Cheese
- Follow Your Heart (also makes plant based Mayo and Eggs)
- Miyoko Kitchen Artisan Vegan Cheese
Pizza Made with Vegan Cheese
Oh, and it's super easy to make cashew cheese at home...
Simply soak some cashews overnight and to grind them with lemon juice, salt, and some nutritional yeast.
As discussed in the previous section, there are tons of great tasting and inexpensive plant-based alternatives to all your favorite animal ingredients. If you’re craving mac & cheese, go buy some vegan mac & cheese. Don’t be afraid to treat yourself to a decadent meal or dessert from time to time.
You should never feel like you’re restricting yourself on a vegan diet or you're likely to simply give up.
What is Umami?
One way to satisy meat cravings is to eat foods with more umami. Umami is the 5th taste that, although less well-known, is deeply ingrained into the way we enjoy food.
The Umami flavor can be best translated as “pleasant, savory taste”.
We taste umami through our glutamate receptors, meaning foods high in glutamate will give you that savory, meaty taste. Cured meats, fish, cheeses, and even breast milk, are all high in glutamate.
However, there are plenty of plant based sources you can incorporate into your life to satisfy this craving, such as:
- Fermented Foods (Tempeh, Sauerkraut, Soy Sauce (which vegans can also eat)
- Nutritional Yeast