So you want to go vegan but don’t have a clue how? It’s actually quite easy if you have a plan. If you haven’t already, make sure you sign up to this years Veganuary to receive lot’s of guidance, tips and delicious recipes.
You don’t have to jump headfirst into veganism. Follow these 15 simple steps to help you instead.
Step 1 – Relax
First, take it easy. If you feel like you can go vegan overnight then that’s great.
However for others, it’s a gradual process. Change isn’t easy and going vegan is a big change. So relax. Changing to a plant based diet does not need to happen overnight. In fact, a slow, healthy transition is great too.
Step 2 – Know why are you doing it
It’s important to know why you want to go vegan. Why do something if you don’t know why you are doing it? That’s crazy!
There are many reasons, the obvious being animal welfare but your health and the environment are also valid reasons. Knowing why significantly helps you in your transition, it keeps you focused and reaffirms why you’re doing it.
Step 3 – Find Recipes
Simply type in ‘vegan recipes’ and you will find billions of websites offering fantastic recipes. Pinterest is a great start and is one of the first places many people look for vegan recipes. Remember, if you have signed up to Veganuary this year, they will send you delicious recipes straight to your mailbox to make life easier.
Step 4 – Make a meal plan
Now you know what you would like to cook, you can develop a weekly meal plan. Get off to the shops, buy what you need and get cooking. Meal plans can help you stay on track, avoid getting caught out and they help keep it cheap too.
Try cooking double the recipe in the evenings and use the leftovers for lunch the following day.
Step 5 – Get varied
Vegetables should now be the star of the show and lucky for you there is an abundance of them to choose from. Don’t be afraid to try new things. Trying new foods and ways of cooking are someof the best parts of being vegan. Get experimental in the kitchen. Use vegan alternatives and try to re-create your favourite foods ‘veganised’.
Step 6 – Know your nutrition
The more you learn about nutrition the more you will be able to plan your diet accordingly. Eventually, it will become second nature to you. Nutrition Facts is a well known website for plant-based health and wellbeing.
Step 7 – Get enough calories
One of the biggest mistakes new vegans make is not eating enough calories. You will often hear people complain about feeling tired or sick. You then find out they are only eating 1200 calories a day even though they used to eat 2500+. Plants foods geenrally have fewer calories than animal based foods – it is easy to fall short on calories.
Step 8 – Go alternative
The recent upsurge in vegans over the last couple of years has resulted in thousands of vegan food alternatives coming to market. You name it: vegan meat, milk, cheese, candy, cakes and even pies are all now available.
If you are lucky enough, your local supermarket will stock some of them. If not, you can always find them online. It is now easier than ever to eat pretty much exactly the same on a plant-based diet!
Step 9 – Eat junk food (if you want to)
People often associate veganism with obsessive healthy eating. This isn’t true at all. You can have fun and enjoy many of your favourite junk foods just ‘veganized’. In the UK, you can now pretty much get anything in a vegan version. Explore your local supermarket and see what you can find.
Being vegan doesn’t mean you have to give up on naughty treats.
Step 10 – Use happy cow
What do you do when you fancy a meal out at a restaurant? Make use of the website Happy Cow which can be used to find restaurants in your area that accommodate vegans. It works all over the world!
At the click of a button, you will be able to see all your local restaurants that have vegan options. Thankfully, in the UK most chain restaurants all have vegan options now!
Step 11 – Watch out for sneaky ingredients!
Just because something seems vegan, do not assume it is. There are sneaky ingredients everywhere. The main culprits being milk solids, milk powder, whey powder (milk), eggs and gelatin.
Lot’s of crisps in the UK are made using milk solids and you will be surprised to find out that a lot of white wine has egg in its ingredients! Thankfully, supermarkets are getting much better at labelling their products but always double-check.
Step 12 – Learn about veganism off the plate
Vegans avoid all products that contain animal parts, not just food. This is can be difficult to keep track of but you can make a good effort to avoid these products as much as possible and where is practicable. Products from companies that test on animals are also a big no no, so be sure to check your cosmetics for the leaping bunny label before buying. Dolma Fragrances is not only vegan but cruelty free too.
Step 13 – Learn more
Always keep learning about your new plant-based diet and the reasons why you decided to do it in the first place. Inform yourself on animal agriculture issues, keep up to date with the health benefits and look at research on how it benefits the environment.
Keeping yourself informed in this way, allows you to manage your diet better and reaffirms why you are doing it in the first place.
Step 14 – Ask for support
You may find the people around you make fun of your decision. This can be tough. Don’t be afraid to call them out and ask them to support you. Knowing your friends and family support your decision makes it that much easier. But accept some resistance, you can’t please everyone. Don’t get upset about silly jokes either, just laugh them off.
You can also take on Veganuary or your new vegan diet with a friend or family member. It’s a great fun to try new things together!
Step 15 – Join a vegan community
If you can’t find support in real life, you are sure to find it online. There is plenty of support for newbie vegans out there on the internet. There is an abundance of free information, advice, support and recipes if you look in the right places. If you have taken the pledge with Veganuary, you will get all this support via email but it’s good to speak to real people online too for extra support.
The advantage of being part of an online community is that you get lot’s of information all in one place. It’s also a chance to connect to likeminded people, ask questions and share experiences.
Most importantly, have fun! Whether you are just doing Veganuary or committing to veganism more permanently, it can be a fun experience. You will eat some new, amazing food. Meet some new interesting people and also connect to your world. Many vegans report a mental shift around their food and say they feel happier for their new diet.