So you’ve finally decided to be a vegan, but where do you start?
How can you be fully vegan, slowly?
Well, many beginners find it daunting to go vegan.
After all, changing one’s diet is already complicated; what more in checking every item you buy to ensure that it is vegan.
Transitioning to a vegan life is indeed challenging, but if you would only make one change at a time, then the road to veganism would feel quite natural.
To help you in this journey, follow our vegan beginners’ guide so you can structure your way to a healthy vegan life.
The term vegan usually refers to one’s diet.
However, it is more than that.
Veganism means avoiding animal-based products like eggs, meat, and dairy.
People who identify themselves as vegans advocate against animal cruelty or exploitation.
Some vegans avoid entirely animal products and animal ingredients in their lifestyle like cosmetics, clothing, furniture, household items, and other animal-derived materials like leather, fur, wool, and suede.
The love for animals is the primary reason why one should go vegan.
However, there are many benefits of why one would like to become a vegan.
Ethical vegans believe that all god creatures have the right to life.
For them, animals are like humans who wish to be free from pain and suffering.
This type of vegan strongly opposed killing animals to eat or wear them.
So as you become a part of the vegan community, you help reduce the number of animals exploited or harmed.
It would seem like one person is not enough to make a difference, but you indeed are!
Veganism has a positive impact on the environment.
A study reveals that animal agriculture negatively affects greenhouse gas emissions (GHGEs), causing climate change.
On the other hand, a study also suggests that a vegan diet produces 53% fewer GHGEs than an omnivore diet.
Thus, it has a more negligible environmental impact on our planet.
A lot of people decide to be vegan for its health benefits.
After all, a meat-based diet is clinically associated with heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
Patronizing vegan food, however, has been linked to lower risks of prematurely dying from these diseases.
Moreover, less intake of animal products and consuming plant-based products may improve digestion and, most importantly, helps one lose unwanted weight.
But take note that going vegan also means you need to supplement B-12, Vitamin D, and long-chain omega-3s if you don’t include nuts in your diet (more info to follow shortly).
Hence, planning is essential.
As mentioned, changing to a vegan lifestyle is not an easy journey.
However, there are many ways to make the transition more comfortable for you.
Follow these tips.
No one is inherently vegan.
Even those who have been vegan for decades have to go through the transition phase.
However, joining a vegan support group or like-minded people will help you during the transition period.
You will gain new friends, too!
Having adequate vegan food in your pantry will not make you tempted to buy food you regret eating when you’re hungry.
It will also save time as it takes the guesswork of what to eat.
Planning or preparing your meals will help you be on track.
Even writing what to eat tomorrow is helpful.
This will also ensure you eat a fresh and healthy vegan snack.
There are days that you might crave your old meat favorites.
The good thing, though, is that there are a lot of substitutes to satisfy your cravings.
For instance, you can have vegan butter or mock meat.
Probiotics will help your gut adapt to your new eating style with as little gas or bloating as possible.
On the other hand, supplements will help you supply the nutrients you need.
Many vegans go for B12 supplements, but you have to get your blood checked to know what is best for you.
It’s normal for vegan beginners to lose motivation in the transition period.
Maybe you would have non-vegan cravings or would like to buy leather shoes.
Watch some vegan documentaries to remind you of your cause when this happens.
Take note that starting a vegan journey is trial and error.
This means that your first method may not work for you and may work for others.
Try the ones that you think are suitable for you.
Keep in mind that this journey is not a race.
Meanwhile, here are proven and tested methods to help you start your vegan diet:
Cord Tofurkey or Cold Turkey is excellent for black and white thinking people.
They are the type of new vegans who want to cut out all meat or animal products in their diet immediately.
This method is an excellent choice because you keep away tempting food within your reach.
This approach is tricky, though, so you can choose other options below or come up with your method.
One of the safest ways to go vegan is to cut down slowly.
There are many ways you can start this method.
You could begin avoiding animal-based food on your grocery list and buy plant-based products instead.
You can also replace cow’s milk with almond milk or oat, as they don’t have much difference in taste anyway.
Introduce a vegan meal at least once a week, twice, or thrice until you eat more vegan meals per week.
The cut down slowly method will help your gut adjust easier.
This is also the healthiest way to transition to veganism because it does not overwhelm your system.
Popularized by Dr. Narnard of PCRM, the 3-week commitment works by starting to collect vegan recipes and try them for about 1 to 2 weeks.
Then for three weeks, you commit to eating 100% vegan food.
In this way, you’ll observe how your body reacts or if you feel better with a vegan diet.
The good thing about this method is that you have the time to experience a new meal and its benefits while slowly cutting down on animal-based products at once.
This method is one of the best vegan beginner tips.
This is a popular method of slowly transitioning to veganism, and it works by eating all vegan food before 6 pm.
After 6 pm or dinner, you can freely eat animal-based food.
Slowly but surely, you will be less likely to crave non-vegan food as you’re used to a vegan diet.
To help you with your grocery shopping or to better plan your meal, here’s a list of healthy plant-based vegan eats.
- Fruits and Vegetables: Both are excellent food to boost your nutrient intake. Go for leafy greens such as spinach, kale, mustard, bok choy, and watercress, as they are a good source of calcium and iron.
- Nuts: Unroasted and unbalanced varieties are rich in fiber, iron, magnesium, selenium, zinc, and vitamin E.
- Seeds: Chia, hemp, and flaxseeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and protein. Include this in your vegan recipes if you think you lack protein.
- Legumes: Beans, peas, and lentils contain many nutrients. Proper cooking, fermenting, or sprouting can boost nutrient absorption.
- Grains: Whole grains, pseudocereals, and cereals are excellent sources of B vitamins, fiber, iron, complex carbs, and several minerals. If you are looking for high protein alternatives, go for Teff, Quinoa, Amaranth, or Spelt.
- Plant-based milk: To help you achieve your recommended calcium intake, have some yogurt or calcium-fortified milk. You can also have other milk varieties such as B12 and D.
- Fermented and Sprouted plant foods: Fermenting and sprouting increase mineral absorption. Meanwhile, Ezekiel bread, Natto, Sauerkraut, Kombucha, Kimchi, Pickles, Miso, and Tempeh contain vitamin K2 and probiotics.
- Tofu, Seitan, and Tempeh: These foods are great meat alternatives as they are rich in protein. You can also use them as alternatives for meat and fish recipes.
Vegans don’t eat animal-based products.
There is also a lot of food containing animal ingredients that you’re not familiar with.
Hence, it’s essential only to buy labeled vegan food products.
Here is a list of food a vegan cannot eat,
- Meat and poultry: Some meat and poultry foods a vegan should avoid are beef, pork, lamb, horse, veal, organ meat, wild meat, turkey, chicken, quail, and duck.
- Eggs: Eggs from chickens, fish, ostriches, and quails are not vegan food.
- Dairy: Dairy includes milk, butter, cheese, ice cream, yogurt, etc.
- Seafood and fish: All types of fish are excluded. Vegans also avoid shrimp, calamari, scallops, squid, lobster, crab, mussels, anchovies, etc.
- Bee-products: Royal jelly, bee pollen, and honey.
- Animal-based ingredients: Lactose, casein, egg albumen, whey, gelatin, carmine, L-cysteine, shellac, vitamin D3, and fish omega-3 fatty acids. Check for these animal-derived ingredients in the food packaging before buying one.
It is up to you how long you can get used to a vegan lifestyle.
It’s only you who can determine your transition period.
However, your adjustment period depends solely on the food you omit or do not omit.
Those fond of plant-based foods can adjust more quickly than those who love to eat animal products or animal-derived ingredients every meal.
There is a lot of adjustment for beginner vegans in physical, mental, and emotional health.
But the only way for you to have your new lifestyle sustainable is to do your transition at your own time and pace.
Eating is part of everyone’s life, and changing one’s eating lifestyle can be challenging yet possible.
Whether it is for ethical standards, environment, or health, becoming vegan will genuinely change your life for the better.
To recap, here are the best methods to help you slowly transition to veganism:
- Go Cold Tofurkey by immediately stopping yourself from animal product consumption.
- Cut down slowly by starting to replace animal-based products with vegan ones.
- Try new vegan recipes each day for 1 to 2 weeks and eat all vegan food for three weeks.
- Only eat vegan food during day time.
The road to vegan life is a tough one yet exhilarating.
But take note that the idea of transitioning your lifestyle is more complicated than the actual transition period.
By going vegan, you’re making yourself healthy while doing your part to help the environment.
Have you started shifting to a vegan lifestyle? What are the struggles or positive changes within you so far?
Let us know in the comments!