This really is a step back for me. I have already covered a number of options around the Vegan diet but not really talked about the process of how to start with a vegan diet. However, I think it is something I had badly neglected. I also include a link to a cookbook of 300 vegan recipes at the end.
Most of us were brought up eating meat and dairy and the move to a vegan diet can be a big one for the majority of people. It can also be empowering. I hope within this article to cover some tips that will help you start to approach a vegan lifestyle, or perhaps fully embrace it!
Understanding the basics of veganism
Before embarking on your vegan journey, it’s important to understand what being vegan actually means. Explore the principles of veganism. Vegans consume neither meat, fish or animal products such as milk, eggs, cheese and yogurt. Such avoidance of all animal products and by-products in your diet and lifestyle choices, learn about the ethical, environmental, and health reasons that motivate people to adopt the vegan lifestyle. Of course I do not have time to cover all of these options, within this one article, but hopefully you will check out some of my other articles here and indeed do other research.
Knowledge is the key
I would highly recommend that you keep at the forefront of your mind WHY you want to be vegan. This is what will give you the strength to overcome the difficult times, should you find them, ahead. Watch some of the documentaries on the impact that animal farming has on the planet. Watch other documentaries on how animal farming works in the modern day from the treatment of animals on the farm to their slaughter as youngsters.
Watch documentaries on how fishing and overfishing works, and again the impact we are having on the planet and what we are leaving for future generations. For example compare how fish stocks in the sea compare to just forty years ago. There are also numerous documentaries on the health benefits of a vegan diet. For many people it will be the health aspect that affects their choice, whether preventative or to manage an existing condition. I will look at the benefits of a vegan diet on some specific conditions in later articles.
Indeed to ensure a smooth transition to a vegan diet you also need to educate yourself on what food groups, macronutrients and micronutrients you need on a healthy vegan diet and how you can obtain these. I would respectfully suggest you read my articles on ‘vegan diet for beginners an explanation’ and ‘is it healthy to be vegan?’ Both on this website. But these are only a background on the topic of how to start with veganism.
In many of my articles I talk specifically of the vegan diet, which is where most vegans start. Indeed what is a vegan diet food list, However, it is easier to say what it excludes, or what it isn’t. A vegan diet is one that does not involve the consumption of meat, fish, dairy, eggs and other animal based products. Though veganism goes further than that. Whilst many vegans start with the diet, a true vegan does not use animal products in any part of their life from soap to clothing to the upholstery on their furniture or in their cars.
Don’t worry if you are not up-to all, or indeed any, of this yet. We all have to start somewhere! Many vegans have been following the diet quite rigidly but have not got rid of the animal products they wear and that are in their own homes. Some believe that would be wasteful, and choose simply to buy animal friendly products when these need replacing. Incidentally there are a lot of modern products out there now to replace those that are traditional animal sourced. For example cork wallets and belts instead of leather.
Practical steps for transitioning to a vegan.
Some people find it fairly easy to eat animals and animal products one day, and become vegan the next. However, for the vast majority of people it is a difficult process. Making gradual changes to diet is often more sustainable. For example eat a few more plant based meals as opposed to meat based each week. You could move to become a vegetarian for a while leaving the meat off the shopping list but maintaining the eggs and dairy for a while, before taking the next step.
You could even try substituting vegan sausages, milk cheese and yogurts for the dairy alternative. Not necessarily all at once, but more and more. Indeed some of the “fake” meat alternatives like (again) a variety of sausages, burgers, chicken and even fish, are very good and in plentiful variety and supply now. Of course these alternatives are processed to some extent, which might put some people off them but can be vital in the transition period.
Try experimenting with alternative protein sources such as legumes, tofu, tempeh and seitan. Don’t expect all you find to be the best, try a few different ones until you find the ones you like. Even now there are some animal based cheeses that I really like and others that I will not buy. Some great diet recipes make a huge difference here. I will include some of my favourites on this website in the near future. Suffice to say that cutting out animal products certainly does not mean losing out on flavour or texture. Indeed I discovered different spices that I never knew existed once I started looking for the ingredients in plant based recipes. Personally I have never enjoyed my food more!
One more quick note here. Just because you may slip up on a vegan diet it does not mean you have failed and have to give up. If you have the desire, just start again on the next meal. Very little that is worthwhile comes so easily!
Grocery shopping for new vegans and finding support.
Even after all the research, grocery shopping while looking for meals without meat, and with plant based products, can still be a little daunting if you are new to it. It helps greatly if you have a vegan supermarket nearby or big supermarkets that have a big vegan range. Even so, it might be difficult to find all the ingredients that you need in this new recipe that you fancy. Indeed you might only be able to find some things online. However, with the huge growth in the vegan industry things are getting much easier to find. You might also be surprised at how much you save on your shopping without buying those expensive bits of meat!
What will help greatly is meeting like-minded people, whether that be a friend or a group on social media, or perhaps someone who writes on a webpage! These people have probably been through the process that you are going through and with their advice can share valuable advice and personal experience. This is particularly important if you have a partner who is resistant to changing to a vegan diet. Unfortunately, that is just something you will have to work through as another process, but again, support is out there.
Do you fancy the 30 day vegan challenge, a perfect way to start going vegan with this ebook giving you recipes ideas and all the detail you may need. Please click here to find out more.
Hopefully within this article I have given you some ideas on how to start to go vegan. There will of course be much more information you need and I would encourage you to look for that here and elsewhere.
Embarking on a vegan lifestyle, whilst not without a few difficulties, can be empowering and can benefit not only you as an individual, through the healthy vegan lifestyle but the environment and animal welfare. Indeed it is probably the best way to make a positive contribution to the planet for the benefit of our children and grandchildren and so on.
Please remember the goal!
If you have any questions on how to start going vegan please do not hesitate to get in touch with me. I have a lot of experience in this field now and will be more than happy to help. Just drop me a note in the comments section below.
I have just added a link to 300 vegan recipes if you are interested in these please click this link for further details. Please note these are paid for cookbooks for which I will receive a commission.