Going Vegan: First Steps

When considering going vegan, the entire idea of removing certain food items from your diet might seem daunting. Heck, it might even seem downright impossible.

However, there are a few key steps to consider when going vegan that can help the transition become much easier in the long-term. For example, starting off small with one vegan meal a day, can help ease your worry when it comes to making the change permanent.

More and more people are making the lifestyle change and becoming vegan. While for some, going from being a dairy-eating, cheese-loving carnivore to an entirely plant-based might seem like a tumultuous leap, it can easily be accomplished with just a bit of know-how. To learn the simplest steps to becoming a full-blown vegan over time, continue reading below.

Always Start At Your Own Pace

Some people might tend to jump right in to being vegan and quit meat and dairy cold turkey. While this might be the right way for their needs, it might not be the right way for you. When making the change to a vegan diet, it is important to always go at your own pace. This isn’t a race—this isn’t something that even needs to happen overnight. Especially for those who are going from meat and cheese in their daily diet to going without. Adopting a vegan diet from a vegetarian diet can be a much simpler transition, especially since vegetarians have already given up red meat, pork, poultry and fish. A great way to begin transitioning into a vegan diet at your own pace is by starting small. Begin with cutting out one meat product and/or one dairy product to start. For instance, cutting our chicken and eggs can be a great jumping off point. By starting small and then progressing onward, this can help with any sort of shock or difficulty you may have with all of a sudden being without certain food items.

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Make Necessary Substitutions

Rather than thinking of a vegan diet as lacking certain foods and beverages, or eliminating them entirely, think of it as substituting one food item for another. Being vegan does not equate to deprivation. By learning important substitutions, you can find the transition into veganism much easier. A few key substitutions to consider include:

  • Almond/Soy/Coconut/Hemp/Rice milk in place of whole milk
  • Fruit in place of candy
  • Tofu scramble in place of eggs
  • Vegan butter in place of dairy butter
  • Non-dairy plain yogurt in place or sour cream
  • Vegan cheese in place of dairy cheese
  • Soy-based meat in place of meat products
  • Applesauce in place of eggs in baking
  • Soy or coconut yogurt in place of dairy yogurt
  • Bean burgers in place of meat patties
  • Dark chocolate in place of milk chocolate

Having the knowledge about which food and beverage items you can substitute with in order to follow a vegan diet can be quite helpful in case a situation arises. Many people may get flustered at first when it comes to knowing what they should and shouldn’t consume on a vegan diet, which is why researching in advance can be most helpful.

Find The Right Recipes

Sticking with a vegan diet long-term will ultimately come down to how much you are enjoying the food and if you are feeling satisfied. Some people might give up being vegan after a few days, weeks or months simply because they feel they weren’t enjoying what they were eating. A common misconception about a vegan diet is that it is solely fruits and vegetables. Yes, fruits and vegetables make up a generous portion of a plant-based diet, however, it is not entirely that. There are plenty of vegan recipes that are so delicious, you won’t even miss the meat or dairy. Do a bit of research and find the right vegan cooking blogs, find popular vegan cookbooks online, or simply ask your vegan friends for some of their favorite recipes. The more satisfied you feel with your diet, the more likely you are to continue being a vegan.

You Can Still Go Out To Eat

Veganism has been growing in leaps and bounds over the years, which means that more and more restaurants are popping up that are fully-plant based. However, even if there isn’t a fully vegan restaurant near you, most restaurants will cater to a particular dietary need or preference. For instance, the majority of restaurants will have some vegan or vegetarian item on the menu that can be fully adapted to fit your needs. Whether it be a black bean burger, bean taco, pasta and tomato sauce, or otherwise, there are usually items that can be made vegan. Just make sure that before you order, you verify with your server if the meal has any dairy or meat products.

Expand Your Palate

Being vegan does not mean that you are limited in your food selection. In fact, it is quite the opposite. There are a wide variety of cultures and cuisines that incorporate vegan dishes into the mix on a regular basis. Perhaps you already have been eating vegan without even realizing it, or maybe you are ready to expand your palate to international levels. Here are a few cuisines that are known for having a plethora of plant-based dishes:

  • Greek
  • Ethiopian
  • Indian
  • Mediterranean
  • Indonesian
  • Japanese

Don’t be afraid to try new things once you become a vegan. Your tastebuds will be changing from the lack of fat, salt and sugar, so you might open yourself up to new cuisines you never considered before.

Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help

If you are struggling with maintaining a vegan diet or if you are simply stuck, do not be afraid to ask for help. You are not alone in this journey, as there are millions of people who have either already gone through what you are going through or are going through it at the exact same time. There are many online resources to consider in terms of helping you through your transition, or even with help finding support groups to aid in your journey. Nothing is better than talking to experienced vegans in order to help make the transition for you a lot easier. Whether through Facebook, Twitter, blogs, or even community groups, there are other vegans out there who will be more than willing to help you continue on your plant-based quest.

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