Wondering how to go vegan but not sure where to start or what you can eat? Follow these 10 tips to make becoming a vegan a breeze!
I remember the day I went vegan - I was in a London station on the way to visit my sister looking for a snack to buy, having just decided to make the transition. I literally remember thinking: 'I'm never going to be full again' because there was just nothing plant-based in the shops except hummus.
At the time I panicked. I thought if finding a simple snack was this hard, how could a vegan diet be sustainable? If this was all that was on offer, how could I keep this up long-term?
Thankfully 10 years on, things have changed massively. The world has embraced plant-based eating with impressive speed, and there are more and more options available each day.
Despite this, I know how daunting it can be to make the initial switch - from learning to read labels, to explaining your diet to friends. So if, like I was, you're wondering how to become vegan, read on for my step-by-step guide.
1) GO SLOW
One of the easiest mistakes people make when going vegan is thinking it has to be done overnight. It doesn't! It's totally ok to take it slowly. While it's fantastic if you want to adopt a plant-based diet all at once, it's also great to start by just reducing your consumption of animal products.
- Take simple, manageable steps like eating meat-free one day a week, or one meal per day.
- Increase the amount of plant-based meals you eat as you get more comfortable with them.
- Be kind to yourself! You're bound to fall off the wagon occasionally while you're a beginner and that's ok - it will get easier with time.
2) FOCUS ON WHAT YOU CAN EAT
When people go vegan, they often focus on what they're cutting out, which is a sure way to make yourself miserable! Instead of thinking about how much you miss cheese (this was definitely me), ask 'What CAN I eat as a vegan?'
- For every food you're worried about giving up, take time to find an alternative you love. Meat alternatives like the Beyond Burger have become incredibly popular in the last couple of years, and there are now loads of plant-based milks, ice creams and cheeses out there too.
- Experiment and see what products you like that you might not have tried before!
3) EMBRACE NEW VEGAN FOODS
Use this time when you're new to the lifestyle to embrace all the foods you might not have eaten before (because I promise you, there are lots!). Why not try some of the following:
4) TRY NEW RESTAURANTS
One of the best parts about going plant-based! In almost every town and city now, there are a variety of vegan or vegan-friendly restaurants to choose from.
- If you're tired and can't face making dinner, why not go out (if it's accessible to you)? It can provide a welcome break, not to mention cooking inspiration.
- In addition to fully plant-based restaurants, many popular chains now offer vegan menus or options, too. The easiest way to find vegan food near you is to download the Happy Cow app and search your local area.
5) DON'T JUST EAT JUNK
It's tempting to live off vegan junk food when there are so many options, but we need to eat a balanced diet to support our bodies:
- Focus on eating mainly whole foods like fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts and grains to ensure you're getting plenty of nutrients.
- Indulge in treats and fast foods from time to time, but keep them occasional.
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6) GET ORGANIZED
Changing your diet can seem like hard work, but it doesn't have to be! Learning how to become vegan (and sticking with it) is pretty easy if you just get a little organized.
- Plan the meals you're going to cook ahead of time, and shop for them with a list of ingredients.
- ALWAYS shop on a full stomach - that way you'll be less tempted by foods you don't need!
7) LEARN A FEW SIMPLE VEGAN RECIPES
Don't try to master complicated recipes when you first start being vegan. Take it slow and cook meals you're comfortable with.
- Learn a few simple dishes and make them your trusted favourites.
- Homemade Vegan Chili and Easy Vegetable Stew yield lots of portions and require just one pot. They're great as leftovers for lunch or dinner too.
You might also be interested in my 20 Minute Vegan Dinners eBook, containing easy vegan recipes for beginners.
An important part of how to transition to vegan is knowing what vitamins or minerals you may need to supplement:
- As with any dietary change, it's important to make sure you're not missing out on nutrients so it's a good idea to check in with a professional who can advise you.
- Plant-based doctor Gemma Newman offers some great guidance on the supplements she recommends for vegans, including B12 and vitamin D.
9) ASK FOR HELP
Don't do it alone! There are loads of great organizations and groups out there for anyone wondering how to go vegan.
- Veganuary and The Vegan Society are both excellent resources and contain loads of articles, recipes and helpful information.
- There are also many vegan magazines containing recipes and guides on nutrition, shopping, travel etc. (try Vegan Food & Living and Plantbased Magazine).
- Look for local Meetups/events with other plant-based peeps, and chat to your friends! Just because they're not vegan themselves doesn't mean they won't be supportive and interested.
10) DON'T GET DISHEARTENED
What you're doing is amazing! It's natural that there will be moments when it feels like too much and you might fall off the wagon. If this happens, there are some things you can do:
- First - breathe, and don't beat yourself up!
- Second - remember why you decided to go vegan in the first place. Sometimes it helps to put you back on the right path.
- Third - do something to relax, or if you can go out for food. Enjoying delicious food you didn't have to cook yourself can take some pressure off.
And remember: the change you've made is a big one - don't expect to do it all perfectly. Enjoy the process - before you know it you'll have been vegan for years!