I made a gradual transition to veganism for health and ethical reasons. I hope my articles help others trying to make the transition.
Brand new vegans often struggle to find their feet. Here are some tips for beginner vegans.
1. Take Baby Steps
There are a lot of people who feel as though being vegan is all or nothing. They claim that if you can't be 100% vegan, you shouldn't even try. This can be a tough concept for brand new vegans.
This isn't the case at all! If it's easier for you to take small steps instead of going vegan overnight, that's fine. It's how I did it! Maybe you think you could never give up cheese. No problem. Start somewhere easier, like switching out cow milk for a non-dairy alternative. Make the changes one by one so they are easier to maintain and incorporate into your diet, and make cheese the final frontier after you feel confident that you have mastered the basics of a vegan diet.
2. Don't Give Things Up—Add Things In!
Being a vegan isn't about giving up the things you love. It's about making a transition from animal-based to plant-based meals in a way which makes you feel comfortable. You can still eat pizza, tacos, ice cream and all the things you love--you just need to find alternative brands or ingredients.
Take pizza, for example. Try veggie-based toppings such as onion, peppers, mushrooms, artichokes, tomatoes, olives, pineapple, spinach, or whatever vegetables you love. Instead of regular cheese, use a vegan cheese such as Daiya mozzarella-style shreds. For ice cream, brands such as So Delicious are incredible, and I dare you to tell the difference. Or, try this amazing ice cream hack which requires only one ingredient! Brand new vegans might take some time to learn the ropes, but starting with pizza is usually a safe bet!
Never have the mindset that vegan's 'can't have' something. There is a vegan alternative for everything you love. You just need to be brave and find it.
3. Read, Watch, Listen
Are you beginning a vegan diet but have no idea where to start? Never fear. There is a wealth of amazing resources for new vegans. From simple, unfussy, cheap recipes to basics about how to ensure you are getting the right nutrients, you can find bloggers, Youtubers and podcasters to help you out.
Some of my favorite content creators are:
- Cheap Lazy Vegan (cheap, easy recipes)
- Viet Vegan (no-nonsense vegan recipes with an Asian twist)
- Mic the Vegan (a fountain of vegan facts and statistics)
- Chocolate Covered Katie (tons of healthy vegan baking ideas)
- Hot for Food (a ton of great vegan recipes)
- Liv B (great vegan recipe ideas for college students)
4. Experiment With Vegan Brands
You might not immediately find a vegan product that you love, but keep looking. There are tons of different brands to try, so don't be discouraged if one or two aren't for you. Things like vegan 'chicken' nuggets, vegan sausages, vegan 'meat', vegan mac and cheese, vegan cheese, vegan milk, vegan ice cream, etc. are all things to start experimenting with as you begin your vegan journey. Do some research and conduct your own taste tests. I'm sure you'll find a few go-to products before too long.
5. Meet Other Vegans
I transitioned to veganism along with my husband, and we both helped and supported each other along the way. It's much easier to transition when you surround yourself with like-minded people. Try finding a vegan group near you or go to a vegan festival.
If you don't have any meetups or festivals nearby, try chatting to other vegans online. There are vegan chat rooms and even vegan dating sites you can explore. Most more experienced vegans are more than happy to help brand new vegans adjust and learn.
6. Flex Your Cooking Muscles
Even if you're not much of a cook, you can learn a handful of easy, quick vegan recipes that make it easier for you to stay on track. Here are a few ideas for super basic meals that aren't hard and don't require any special vegan ingredients:
- Pasta and marinara sauce
- Veggie stir fry
- Bean chili
- Veggie burger
- Roasted vegetables with couscous
- Burrito bowl
- Chickpea curry
7. Find Vegan-Friendly Restaurants
Being vegan doesn't mean you can't eat out. Instead of feeling like the odd one out at a meat-heavy restaurant where the only vegan option is a lettuce leaf, find restaurants near you that cater for vegans. Happy Cow is a great resource for this no matter where in the world you live.
Visiting a veg-friendly restaurant will not only give you a break from cooking, it might give you new ideas for vegan recipes, and it's a great way to invite family and friends to learn a bit more about your new lifestyle.
8. Discover Cheap Vegan Options
A lot of people are scared coming into veganism that it's going to break the bank. It's true that a lot of specialized vegan products like vegan meats and cheeses are a bit pricey, but vegan food doesn't have to be expensive at all. Stock up on things like beans, lentils, chickpeas and tofu for inexpensive sources of protein, and make sure to get a ton of cheap fruits and veggies. Try to pick seasonal produce for the best price, and check a few stores to find the best deals.
9. Read Labels
If you are buying things like bread, pasta, condiments or candy, check the label to make sure it is vegan. It's easy to get tripped up. Besides, reading the labels is the easiest way to find out that there are a ton of things you CAN eat. Most pastas are vegan, and a surprising number of candies are, too. Things like jam, mustard, ketchup and vinegar are generally vegan, but be sure to read the label. I used Worcestershire sauce for a good year before I realized there were anchovies in it!
10. Log Your Food Intake
You don't have to do this forever, but it's a great thing for brand new vegans to do for a week or two to track whether you're eating right—and to prove to parents or friends that you can get all the nutrients you need from eating vegan. Sites like cronometer show you how many calories and which nutrients your food contains, and whether you are getting enough. If you do happen to be falling short on anything, it can help you identify what you might need to add to your diet.
Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on November 21, 2017:
There are some good tips and useful ideas in this article. Thanks for sharing them. Your article is a great resource for new vegans.