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 London on the way to visit my sister and looking for a snack, having just decided to make the change.
I remember thinking: 'I'm never going to be full again' because there was just nothing plant-based in the shops except hummus and carrot sticks.
I panicked. 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 shopping and reading labels, to figuring out how to cook tofu, to explaining your diet to friends. So if - like I was - you're wondering how to become vegan, read on for my 10 steps.
Thinking about transitioning to a plant-based diet? Listen to my podcast episode 5 Tips for Going Vegan.
1) Go Slow
One of the most common 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, or switching to dairy-free milk in your tea and coffee.
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:
Tempeh & tofu
Nut and seeds butters
Cultured, nut-based cheeses
Fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi and kombucha
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.
If you're looking for healthy meal ideas, you'll find loads here! My favourite healthy beginner vegan recipes include Homemade Vegan Chili, Creamy Broccoli & Mushroom Pasta and Easy Vegetable Stew. Each of these contain multiple servings of veggies and protein.
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!
If you're not sure what to buy, I have a handy guide on How to Shop as a Vegan and a Guide to Vegan Meal Prep.
7) Learn A Few Simple 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. Try these Cookie Dough Overnight Oats for a simple breakfast you can meal prep each week.
On a budget? Try these cheap vegan meals:
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!
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I absolutely love this!! Thank you for being so thorough, straightforward, & including so many helpful resources.Reading this really helps me to feel it IS possible for me to continue on my vegan journey. I’m only two weeks in and trying my best in a home where my husband, kids, and mother in-law all eat meat with every single meal and are wondering how long I am going to last. This has really given me lots of hope and supporting help. Thank you, thank you for writing this!!
It's my absolute pleasure Rubi - I'm SO glad it was helpful. Your situation isn't easy and you deserve so much credit for keeping going during this time. You can do it! Sending you a hug 🙂
My best friend and I have decided that together, we are going to start eating vegan. I appreciate you mentioning how it is important to embrace new vegan food you've never had before. We will have to find quality vegan recipes that can help us embrace this new style of eating.
Good for you both! That's really exciting. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions, and I hope you find some useful recipes on my site. 🙂
Love your 10 "becoming a vegan" steps! It's super informative and helpful to read! And yeah, such an endeavor shouldn't be tackled alone!
Absolutely. Having support can make all the difference! So glad you enjoyed it. 🙂
Great tips and suggestions on how to go vegan. Yes, it can seem very daunting so this is a fantastic list. I'm sure it will be used over and over again!
I'm so glad it's helpful Marcellina - thank you for reading!
So many great ideas and suggestions to help me get started. Thanks for all the work you put into this.
Oh thank you! I'm really so glad it's helpful Megan. Let me know if you have any questions. 🙂