The following are 6 easy steps to becoming vegan. This is intended as an introduction to veganism and a way to incorporate it into your life. While no guide to veganism is exhaustive, this guide touches briefly on most of the major concepts and issues. This method mirrors my own journey to veganism in a more structured manner. I hope to demonstrate how veganism is a rational and kind way of life that anyone can adopt. I will also be honest about any problems with veganism and how I personally deal with them. Please read on to learn more.
Unless you’ve been living under a particularly large rock for the last few years, you’ve probably heard of veganism. Veganism is the plant-based diet that’s good for you, the planet, and animals. OK, good for your health if you don’t live off chips and vegan ice-cream.
While any lifestyle change is daunting, if you feel you are ready to transition to a vegan diet the best way is to take it one step at a time. By becoming vegan step by step you don’t become overwhelmed by the barrage of new information and changes to your daily life. This way, you can also take each step at your own pace. You can move on when you feel ready, or even take a step back if need be. There is no right or wrong way to “go vegan”.
If you’re anything like me, deciding to become a vegan is accompanied by a lot of anxiety. This is understandable. Changing your entire diet seems, on the face of it, to be a dramatic alteration to your life. However, I assure you it really isn’t that big a deal. Your life will still be the same as it always was. The key to a smooth transition to veganism though is to be well informed and prepared.
We will start with a little research into the vegan diet and the most common reasons people choose to go vegan. We will then move on to the more proactive steps to becoming vegan and how to implement veganism into your life.
- 1. Do Your Research on Veganism
- 2. Go Shopping For Vegan Food
- 3. Introduce 1 Vegan Meal a Day
- 4. Go Vegan 1 Day A Week
- 5. Eat Vegan When Dining Out
- 6. Add 1 Extra Vegan Day A Week
- 7. Collect Your Vegan Badge
1. Do Your Research on Veganism
First things first, research. The best starting point for any vegan journey is to get to know the logical and ethical ideas that underpin it. It would be unwise to undertake such a large change to one’s life without first doing some research into the reasons why people become vegan in the first place.
To be exact, veganism is a plant-based diet and philosophy that seeks to minimize the exploitation and harm to animals and the planet by abstaining from animal products.
“Animal products” are simply anything that is made from the flesh, fur, excretions (gross), and the exploitation of animals. This includes meat, milk, eggs, materials such as wool, and yes, that includes cheese.
Removing so many foods from your diet obviously doesn’t sound like fun, but I promise you the vegan life is extremely rewarding and is simply a way of living in accord with what we already believe, namely, that unnecessary harm to animals is plain wrong. You can’t beat peace of mind, right?
The underlying philosophy of veganism is surprisingly simple. Just do the least harm. And vegans enact this principle through their plant-based diet.
Through a diet without animal products, vegans do not participate in the exploitation and slaughter of animals. Veganism is also a great way to reduce one’s carbon footprint, something we will discuss a little later.
Animals and Carnism
In philosophy, one of the best places to start with any kind of debate or question is to try and lay your assumptions out on the table and have a good look at them. This way, you can see what beliefs hold water and which don’t stand up to scrutiny.
Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs and Wear Cows by Dr. Melanie Joy, is a book that does just that in regards to animal use. In the book, she brings to light the concept of carnism. Carnism is the almost invisible and universally held belief that meat-eating and animal use is normal, natural, necessary, and nice.
Dr. Joy demonstrates in her book just how intertwined this unquestioned ideology of animal use is in humanity and how unjustified the beliefs really are. Whereas a cow is considered food and material here in the West, it is revered in India. Whereas the dog can be considered food in parts of Korea and China, they are our best friends and companions.
Our concepts regarding animals and the mental classifications we place them into form unconsciously as we grow up in our particular time and culture. What we consider acceptable treatment of animals is largely cultural and formed by concepts we adopted from our society and parents.
Vegans actively question these attitudes and beliefs, asking why we feel it is ok to treat some animals as a means to an end, and some as companions and family.
This doesn’t mean vegans think we should have pet cows sleeping on the end of our bed. Vegans simply find it unacceptable to breed and slaughter millions of animals a year when we really don’t need to. Dr. Joy’s book is a great place to look in detail at this process.
I also go into greater detail about Carnism in my blog post What Is Carnism?
Currently, most people go vegan for the welfare and ethical concern of animals https://vomadlife.com/blogs/news/why-people-go-vegan-2019-global-survey-results.
An ethical vegan is someone who avoids animal use not only in their diet but also in their lifestyle choices too. This is in contrast to someone who follows a plant-based diet but not necessarily for moral reasons.
This person may not avoid woolen clothing for example and may choose to visit an aquatic park that confines Orca’s whereas an Ethical Vegan would not.
While a vegan can simply be a person who eats a plant-based diet, the term “vegan” is normally underpinned with a strong moral philosophy that acts as a motivating force for the change in diet.
That is to say, for an ethical vegan, it is usually a moral objection to the treatment of animals that dictates their choice to undertake a vegan lifestyle.
Classifying what makes something vegan and who is classed as a vegan is a little tricky. The Vegan Society’s definition is:
“..a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.”https:// www.vegansociety.com/about-us/further-information/key-facts
Which sums it up nicely and is taken by the vegan community to be pretty gospel. However, within this neat little sentence is an enormous amount of challenging philosophical concepts and room for debate.
Vegan as Far as is Possible and Practicable
For example, what counts as possible and practicable? Is it okay to just be vegan some of the time? What if I accidentally eat some meat? Define exploitation and cruelty. What actually counts as an “animal” anyway? Is a sea urchin, or an Oyster still an animal? What about people in developing countries? Am I exploiting my dog for companionship? Is my dog exploiting me for belly rubs?
And this is the sticking point. Just how far should you take your veganism? Is simply not eating animal products enough or should one, say, avoid walking on grass in case you squash some insects? These questions are for every individual to wrestle with. Your own answers will probably evolve and change over time as you enter different phases of your life and come in contact with new information. The point is, do the best you can and don’t be harsh on yourself when you slip up or come to a new conclusion on the issues. Learn and move on.
Veganism and Confrontation
The ethical side of veganism will come up time and time again in conversations you will have and I highly recommend understanding the basic arguments for veganism. These attempts at rebuttal are not meant as a way to attack non-vegans but instead to help others understand the reasoning behind a vegan lifestyle. Having logical reasons behind your decisions represents veganism as a truly rational and compassionate way to live.
The vast majority of people you’ll encounter will be encouraging and interested in veganism. It really does feel like there has been a shift in the public’s perception of veganism in recent years thanks to efforts like Veganuary. This is extremely encouraging and talking about veganism helps normalize it in society.
However, it is always worth remembering, the mere presence of a vegan at the dinner table often results in people feeling the need to justify their eating of animal products. Sometimes this justification happens internally to the person but often externally, resulting in a discussion and confrontation of the issues at hand. It is situations like this where knowing the ethical arguments for veganism come in handy.
It’s also worth noting that you will encounter people who will say “eating meat is a personal choice”. A personal choice doesn’t morally justify an act when there is a victim involved.
A good video here is the TedX Talk by Ed Winters, AKA Earthling Ed. Ed speaks eloquently about the various comments you will get as a vegan and responds in kind. He addresses many of the questions and concerns people have about veganism and it’s a great entry point into veganism.
Vegan Ethics Books
One of my favourite books regarding the ethics of animal use is Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer.
This book isn’t strictly a “vegan” book but raises a lot of questions regarding factory farming, animals use, and animal intelligence that helps frame the vegan arguments. The writing style is sharp and genuinely moving in places. Foer is not pushy at all but simply throws out the facts and lets the reader make up their own mind. The book was also turned into a film narrated by Natalie Portman, also called Eating Animals, if reading isn’t your thing.
Another honorable mention here is Peter Singer’s Animal Liberation. Though it can read a little dated in some parts, this book is the book that started the animal rights movement and is responsible for turning many vegetarian and vegan. The book puts forward the idea of speciesism. That is, arbitrarily prioritizing the welfare of some species above others. Peter Singer is a utilitarian philosopher so the work is rational, clear, and powerful in its arguments. In the preface to the latest edition, Singer reasserts his confidence in the strength of the book’s arguments, despite a quarter of a century of debate and discussion.
Not only is there a whole plethora of other books to dive into, but there’s also a lot of excellent documentaries to watch.
Cowspiracy is a documentary about the devastating effect the animal agriculture industry has on the planet. It focuses on cows and the trauma and exploitation they are often put through in the name of beef and milk.
The filmmakers encounter obstacles at every step of filming by the animal agriculture industry and it makes for an engrossing and educational watch.
The Game Changers is a documentary directed by James Cameron (Titanic, Terminator, Avatar!) about the benefits of plant-based diets in sports. The film challenges many beliefs regarding meat and protein.
It follows former UFC fighter James Wilks as he discussed plant-based diets with athletes and celebrities who follow the diet. It features a slew of well-knowns like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lewis Hamilton, Novak Djokovic, and Jackie Chan. But regardless of the endorsements, the facts speak for themselves.
Earthlings is an incredibly powerful but tragic documentary that a lot of vegans have watched at some point. Narrated by Joaquin Phoenix, the film is extremely graphic, showing the abuse and mistreatment of animals at the hands of the meat and dairy industry. The images have a deep and lasting effect on you and are responsible for more than a few people ditching meat and dairy.
I haven’t watched this documentary in nearly 8 years and there are scenes that I can still picture vividly. Earthlings has the power to either paralyze you with despair and loathe humanity or motivate you to define humanity as something better than the acts of callousness contained therein.
Veganism and Health
A well-rounded, healthy vegan diet is literally full of nutrients that provide energy, helps your immune system, elevate your mood and is easy on your digestion.
A good vegan diet is naturally low in salt, sugar, saturated fats, antibiotics and hormones, and high in fibre, antioxidants, magnesium and phytonutrients.
We’ve been led to believe that nutrients and minerals like calcium are the domain of dairy and meat but this is simply not true. Plant sources offer more bang for your buck, calorie wise, and are often more bioavailable too, meaning we absorb more of what we ingest.
Moreover, veganism has some distinct advantages over the standard omni/carnist diet. These are not just some minor benefits either, we’re talking life-changing health benefits.
It’s therefore good to know the health benefits of veganism. Namely:
- A vegan diet helps prevent heart disease and lowers cholesterolhttps://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23704846/
- Veganism lowers the risk of some cancer https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3048091/
- Vegan diets reduce the risk of type-2 diabeteshttps://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5466941/
- Veganism helps with rheumatoid arthritis https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9566667/ https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10479237/
Considering how prevalent heart disease, cancer and type-2 diabetes are, veganism is a fantastic way to combat and help prevent these health issues.
With good planning and an understanding of what makes up a healthy, balanced vegan diet, you can get all the nutrients your body needs.https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/the-vegan-diet/
A great point of research is the book How Not To Die by Dr. Michael Greger. The book presents convincing data from a series of global studies that indicate the significant health benefits of a plant-based diet. This book is considered by many to be the nutritional bible of plant-based diets. Greger cites research and studies throughout and Dr. Greger also has a wonderful website NutritionFacts.org where all of his research and information can be found for free.
The primary reason diseases tend to run in families may be that diets tend to run in families.How Not To Die, Dr. Michael Greger
Veganism is a great way to combat heart disease, the most common cause of premature death in adults. It is now widely accepted that a diet that has large amounts of animal fat in it is unhealthy and lowering the intake of this saturated fat decreases the chance of heart-disease … Continue reading. Every major health organization agrees that high cholesterol levels are strongly linked with heart disease.
A vegan diet is therefore a great way to reduce the risk of heart disease. This is because the types of fat in a vegan diet are not prone to increasing cholesterol productionhttps://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11556298/.
Another piece of research worth looking at is The Oxford Vegetarian Studyhttps://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10479225/. This study compared the cholesterol levels of thousands of vegetarians/vegans with non-vegetarians and found that meat and cheese were tightly linked to high cholesterol. On the contrary, dietary fibre, something vegans get a lot of is positively linked to lower levels of cholesterol.
In a nutshell, non-vegan diets increase cholesterol and vegan diets lower it.
It is the position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that appropriately planned vegetarian, including vegan, diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits for the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. These diets are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, adolescence, older adulthood, and for athletes.Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
Veganism and Cancer
Some studieshttps://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24898235/https://www.karger.com/Article/FullText/337301 that indicate not eating meat and eating a largely plant-based diet reduces your overall risk of cancer. The reduced risk may be dietary or simply due to the lifestyle choices of many vegans such as an interest in fitness, low smoking rates, and low incidence of obesity.
On the other side of the dinner table, however, the World Health Organisationhttps://www.iarc.who.int/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/pr240_E.pdf has found that:
- Processed meat is carcinogenic to humans
- Red meat is probably carcinogenic to humans
The study concludes that processed meat causes cancer and red meat probably causes cancer.
While advocating veganism doesn’t necessarily follow from this, it is reasonable to advise a plant-based diet as a way to decrease the risk of colorectal cancer.
An unhealthy vegan diet is no better than an unhealthy non-vegan diet.
While veganism can indeed be a healthy and nutritionally sound diet, it takes some getting used to. A mistake new vegans often make is to simply remove the animal products from their diet without an adequate replacement.
In a non-vegan diet, animal products are the main source of important vitamins, protein, and minerals. By just cutting these out of your diet without replacements is to set yourself up for health issues. Understanding what role meat and dairy play in the standard Western diet is therefore important.
There are many vegan food plans to try out there that will give you a better understanding of what kind of variety and portions you should be aiming for. Dr. Greger’s book, How Not To Die also does a great job of explaining this.
The most important thing is to ensure you are eating plenty of beans, lentils, lots of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and healthy grains. We go over this in a little more detail later.
So remember, eating a plant-based diet isn’t inherently more healthy than a diet that includes animal products. A vegan that consumes nothing but Linda McCartney pies and Oreos isn’t going to be as healthy as a non-vegan who consumes a balanced diet with the inclusion of fish for example.
2. Go Shopping For Vegan Food
The next step to becoming vegan is to go forth and explore the world of plant-based foods available.
Every single day there is a new vegan product appearing on the shelves. This is due to veganism becoming more widely accepted and normalized. The days of dry nut-cutlets being the only option at Christmas and Thanksgiving are well and truly over (sorry nut-cutlet, no offense).
Those of us who live near a major city will have an easier time sourcing some vegan products. However, the staples of a healthy plant-based diet are ubiquitous. There’s no denying pulses, beans, vegetables, grains, legumes, seeds, and nuts might not sound as exciting as a triple cheese pizza. These few categories of food, however, contain a staggering variety of textures and flavors. Not only that, but they can be found the world over.
While you can buy tinned beans and pulses, it is often cheaper to buy them dried and cook batches of them.
Fresh and Frozen Vegan Produce
Any healthy vegan diet will include plenty of unprocessed, fresh or frozen fruit and vegetables. They’re filling, nutritious and versatile. The staples of a lot of vegan recipes include the following staples:
These ingredients you’ll find often in vegan recipes and are foods you want to always keep stocked up on. On any shopping trip, it would be worth throwing these cheap items into your basket.
Herbs, spices, and seasonings like basil, oregano, curry powder, and chili you may already have tucked away somewhere in your kitchen and complement these ingredients wonderfully. Combining these you have the basis for many quick and easy vegan meals.
Pulses: Lentils, Peas, and Beans
A pulse is any form of lentil, pea, or bean. These are some of the primary sources of protein for vegans. These can be bought dried in bags or precooked in tins. In dried form, they are much cheaper but require more preparation. Tinned pulses cost more than dried but are not expensive by any means. They simply require a quick rinse and are ready to be used in meals. Myself, I find myself using both dried and tinned. Some days I can’t be bothered to prepare a batch and reach for a tin. Some days I’m feeling organized and cook a batch in my Instant Pot, which makes the process a LOT quicker and easier.
Nevertheless, dried or tinned, pulses are ridiculously cheap and highly nutritious. It’s unfortunate that most people’s only real encounter with these kinds of foods is heinz baked-beans or boiled hard as bullets and left to the side of a meal.
There a lot of variety to be had here, and it’s worth trying a variety. They are high-protein, high mineral and a cholesterol-free way for vegans to get adequate protein and can be found everywhere. They also provide the base to a lot of world-cuisine, including:
They go into curries, hummus, burritos, chillis stews and can be reformed into burgers, loafs and even cakes!
Smoothies are a great way for vegans to consume enough nutritional calories. Vegan food is quite bulky and can fill you up quite quickly. By employing smoothies, you can ensure you get enough calories, from the right foods quickly and easily without making you feel bloated.
The idea is simple: liquify some vegetables, grains and fruit.
You’ll need a Blender, I use the Nutribullet but any high-powered blender will work. For example, throw the following into a blender beaker:
- 2 Tablespoons oats
- A handful of some frozen fruit
- Plant milk (I use soy)
- Teaspoon Peanut Butter
- (Optional) Broccoli
Don’t worry about ratios for now just add to taste and flavor. The point is to just get variety into your diet through the use of smoothies.
If you are lifting weights in your exercise regimen, you may want to add some form of vegan protein powder at this point too.
Vegan Junk Food
And now the fun bit, the junk food. Vegan junk and convenience products have exploded in popularity over the last couple of years. More and more companies are realizing the growing market of veganism. A lot of these foods try to replicate the taste, form and texture of the animal products most of us grew up eating.
Keeping track of all the latest vegan products on offer is somewhat of a hobby for a lot of vegans and there is often a lot of hype in the various communities about the next big thing. We’ve had the vegan sausage roll, and Steak Bake from Gregg’s bakers, the vegan chicken burger from KFC, and Ben and Jerry’s vegan offerings always causing a stir. There are tonnes of Facebook and Instagram accounts out now that let vegans keep on top of the latest offerings at supermarkets and online.
The amount of faux meat products now available also makes it extremely easy to keep preparing the meals you know and love. You can still enjoy sausage, mash and beans or pie and chips. The choice now is incredible. These aren’t always necessarily “junk” food either and more convenience. Vegan quorn, Linda McCartney, The Vegetarian Butcher and Oomph are some of my favourite brands to look out for.
Vegan Whole Foods vs Convenience
Some vegans steer clear of any kind of processed foods, and this is called a whole food plant-based diet, or whole food veganism. This sort of diet tends to avoid foods like sugar, bread, salt, flour, oils. Instead, this sort of vegan focussed solely on whole foods: vegetables, pulses, whole grains, and fruits. With these healthy unprocessed foods at the core of your diet, this is a healthy way to go about veganism.
Any new vegan should get acquainted with a whole food plant-based diet (WFPBD), even if one doesn’t strictly adhere to it.
However, for many of us, we went vegan for the animals and not because we stopped enjoying the taste and textures of meat or animal-based ingredients. Most vegans actually still admit they enjoyed meat and cheese, though this does diminish with time.
There is a risk of vegan gate-keeping if the community only includes those who follow a whole food plant-based diet. It is far easier to get someone to try a bite of a Beyond Burger than a bean salad (although I love bean salads).
For that reason, the demand is there for plant-based replications of meat and animal-based products, and companies keep giving us new things to try. While these foods aren’t always the healthiest, they do make it easier for people to incorporate veganism into their life. Many of these foods are processed but contain a significant amount of protein, or can be considered a treat. They are also useful for nights you are not in the mood for cooking and just want to throw something in the oven.
It’s also interesting that fast-food brands like KFC that have been reluctant in the past to associate with veganism are now jumping on board. And more and more companies are doing so. It’s evidence of a change in attitude towards veganism and I feel companies can tell which way the wind is blowing and don’t want to be left behind.
Finding Vegan Alternatives
The best way to find vegan alternatives for the foods you love is to simply wander the shelves and look at ingredients.
For example, you may love biscuits (crackers for US folks). Go down the biscuit aisle, find the product you would normally buy, and check the ingredients. If it contains milk, egg, or any other animal product, no problem. Place it back and look at some alternatives.
For chocolate products, check if the dark chocolate version is accidentally vegan. It often is. If you’re wondering “what does accidentally vegan mean?” then it simply means the product doesn’t contain any animal products, but without strictly targetting vegans. Oreos are the typical example. They don’t contain any animal-ingredients and so are “accidentally vegan”.
You may also find the supermarket’s own-brand versions of products tend to be accidentally vegan, e.g. Tesco’s dark chocolate digestives are vegan, while McVities, are not.
Most animal-based ingredients are in bold as they can be allergens. However, some aren’t such as gelatine and honey, so check carefully.
You can also go to Asian supermarkets which have loads of vegan offerings. Look out for:
- Fresh tofu
- Mock duck (a good substitute for pulled pork)
- Tinned jackfruit
- Maggi Sauce
- Soba/udon noodles
- Vegan ramen
Asian grocery stores are wonderful vegan resources. The produce is typically a lot cheaper than you’d find in other stores and there’s much more variety of certain things like mushrooms. Whereas you may find a button mushroom and some portobello’s at an Asda or Tesco, at an Asian store you can find pretty much any mushroom you want, dried and fresh.
Keep your eyes peeled for some mock-meats too. These are often tinned in Asian supermarkets and can include mock chicken, fish, and duck. These products are a little more hit and miss in their texture and flavour than some of the more recent offerings by the brands we are used to in the West like Quorn, Oomph and Linda McCartney but experiment and try and find one you like.
Where to Keep Track of New Vegan Products
The best way to keep abreast of what new vegan products are coming out and what there is to look forward to is to follow a couple of social media accounts.
Vegan_Food_UK is the best account we’ve come across for keeping track of what products are available in the UK, definitely worth following.
AccidentallyVeganUK is another account that tends to focus a little more on products that are accidentally vegan.
3. Introduce 1 Vegan Meal a Day
Going vegan 1 meal a day can be easy.
You’ve got some food in and you’ve started your research. Now, to follow the remaining steps to becoming vegan you will want to have 1 vegan meal a day. No problem.
This allows you to slowly introduce vegan meals into your life and get used to preparing vegan meals, experimenting with the different ingredients find what you like (and what you don’t!).
Let’s say you usually have spaghetting bolognese on a Monday amde with minced beef. To veganise this meal, all it takes is replacing the beef with some green lentils or some vegan mince alternative. Look in the vegan freezer and chilled sections of your supermarket for this.
Dried pasta, olive oil, carrots, celery, and all other ingredients are already all vegan. One simple swap and you’ve got yourself a vegan meal. It really is as simple as that.
Another easy meal to swap is breakfast. If you enjoy scrambled eggs you could try scrambled tofu on toast, or make your porridge with soy milk instead of dairy.
Another great option, any time of day is baked beans on toast, just swap out the dairy butter for a vegan option (LOADS).
If you intend to have a vegan lunch meal, why not try a vegan sliced ham or turkey on a sandwich. They can be found in the chilled section too. Most bread is accidentally vegan so just add a little vegan mayo and some lettuce.
Why have 1 vegan meal a day?
The point of this step is to grasp just how ridiculously easy it can be to go vegan. This is not a race however.
Some people may feel after a week that they’ve got to grips with preparing vegan food and “thinking vegan”. For others, it may take a few weeks or months to get to this stage.
While on this step, I would simultaneously be continuing step 1 and be researching veganism. The combination of action and research will make veganism seem logical and trivially easy.
4. Go Vegan 1 Day A Week
The next step to becoming vegan is to commit 1 full day a week to a vegan diet. After step 3, this shouldn’t seem such a daunting task as you should have built up a little arsenal of vegan options for every meal of the day.
Going vegan for 1 day a week is a big accomplishment, it saves water, trees, cuts your carbon footprint significantly and saves animal lives.
Help Going Vegan
If going vegan 1 day a week feels like a big ask, try thinking of it as a longer-term goal. Make your breakfast and snack on a Monday vegan, then the next week add lunch into the mix. Continue like this until you have a fully vegan day, every week. It is a lot easier than it seems.
If you make a mistake, or fail to maintain an entire vegan day, try again. Any attempt in this direction is a success. Even if you stay working on this step, attempting to commit 1 day a week to veganism for an entire month, it is not a failure. If you are making sincere efforts towards the environment, animals and your own health, it’s progress.
Keeping Things Diverse
It’s important at this point to keep trying new ingredients, new recipes and food combinations. Try to make your 1 vegan day a week something you look forward to. Find recipes that look interesting and perhaps use an ingredient you’ve never used before. Gather the necessary ingredients in the week and come your vegan day give it a try. Not everything will be a resounding success, that’s cooking, but you wil gradually build up a repertoire of recipes you can fall back on, modify and enjoy.
1 Day Vegan Meal Plan
Take a look at the example below for what a day’s worth of food may look like.
- Baked Beans on wholegrain, seeded toast
- A cup of tea with soy milk
- Roasted sweet potato wedges
- Bean and avocado burrito
- A handful of mixed nuts
- Mixed berry protein smoothie
- Lentil Risotto with greens and mushrooms
The above will vary depending on your nutritional needs and goals. If you’re aiming to lose weight, or bulk up your quantities will vary.
5. Eat Vegan When Dining Out
This step is to introduce the idea of being “vegan” in a public setting. Being the “fussy vegan” is a source of anxiety for many people who are thinking of fully committing to a plant-based diet and a restaurant is a perfect example of navigating a social situation as a vegan.
Eating out as a vegan is easy or difficult depending on where you live. I live in a major city here in the UK and quite frankly, I am spoilt for choice. I can choose any restaurant around and can pretty much guarantee there will be at least 1 vegan option for me, if not more. However, I have also visited more rural areas where me and my wife have struggled to get so much as a bag of chips that aren’t cooked in animal fat.
The best thing to do is to research the restaurants you typically go to and see what vegan options they have. Then, try looking at other restaurants you wouldn’t normally go to, and see what they do for vegans. For example, Lebanese food may not be a usual for some people, but their cuisine is chock full of vegan options like falafel and delicious dipping food.
Tips to Eating Out as a Vegan
There are 2 tricks to eating out as a vegan. Let’s say someone has a birthday coming up and they’ve booked a restaurant you’ve not been to before.
The first tip is to plan ahead. Look at the restaurant’s menu online or give the restaurant a call to enquire. On their menu, you will normally see dedicated vegan and vegetarian symbols next to items. Sometimes, Indian and Pakistani restaurants will have meals like Chana Dal that already are vegan, or can be made so if you simply ask for vegetable stock and no animal-products to be added like cream or ghee. Italian meals can be made vegan quite easily too.
The second tip is to get creative with side dishes. Say you’ve been invited to a meal and it’s a place that really is not accomodating to vegans, like a BBQ restaurant or a steak house. In these situations, you can usually piece together a meal from the side dishes. It’s not ideal but chips/fries, vegetables, rice, beans, and sweetcorn are all usually available and in a pinch can be combined to form a meal.
Curiosity and Confrontation
You will often encounter people interested in your reasons for being vegan. Sometimes their interest is healthy. Sometimes it’s a misguided concern for your health. And sometimes it is born out of an insecurity they have over their own choices.
It is important to handle all of these situations with kindness and patience. Remember your research and know veganism is a healthy and compassionate way of living. Explain the ideas and reasoning if people so wish.
In my experience, most people are extremely warm and receptive to veganism and are simply fascinated by the choice to “deny” yourself certain foods and wonder how difficult or easy it is.
My usual response is that I honestly no longer see things like meat, milk, and eggs as food and therefore it is easy for me to not eat them. You will develop your own ways of handling these conversations over time.
6. Add 1 Extra Vegan Day A Week
Coming to the end of the steps to becoming vegan, you will commit 1 extra vegan day a week until you are eating vegan every day.
By the time you get to this step, you will already be eating fully vegan 1 day a week, eating vegan when dining out, and you will be having at least 1 vegan meal every day. At this point, some people will feel ready to dive straight into veganism 7 days a week.
For others, adding an extra “vegan day” every 1 or 2 weeks allows you to transition to veganism in a way that suits you.
Ultimately, you should do this at your own pace. What you don’t want to do is rush into veganism and find yourself ill-prepared and miserable.
A great idea here is to plan every single meal for your first week as a full-time vegan. That’s breakfast, lunch, snacks and main meals for 7 days. This will enable you to simply focus on your normal everyday life without the concern over what your next meal will be and whether or not you can make an adjustment to veganism fit into your life.
Most importantly, don’t worry if you slip-up or fail. Start again where you left off. Find your motivation and remind yourself why you want to be vegan. Whether that reason is your health, the animals, the planet or a combination of all 3.
7. Collect Your Vegan Badge
Congratulations, you will by now be a fully-fledged member of the vegan club. By following the steps to becoming vegan above you have demonstrated a genuine attempt to be a better person and you are now part of a social movement that betters the world in many ways.
The first rule of Vegan Club is you should definitely talk about Vegan Club. In an absolutely positive way of course.
Not that your veganism will go unnoticed. People, in general, are genuinely interested by it. When the eventual questions do come, e.g. “why did you choose to go vegan?”, you can explain your primary motivation for choosing veganism. This shouldn’t be a rant or a lecture, as this has the immediate effect of putting a barrier between you and the person (although sometimes you will really want to rant and rave). Just try and explain your reasons and passion in a confident and patient way.
Sometimes you’ll not want to discuss veganism and just enjoy your meal, for example, and that’s fine too. Sometimes you’ll feel you’re being lured into a debate you just don’t want to have at that time or the person seems like they’re just looking for confrontation. It’s ok to not engage sometimes. While advocating for veganism is a good thing, your actions can sometimes speak louder than your words.
Always try to remember how you felt about veganism before you started your journey. How nice it would have been to have had someone rational and non-judgemental to discuss the ideas and practical aspects honestly and with some passion.
Most of all, be kind. That is the whole point of veganism. That is kindness to yourself, other beings, and the environment.