Thinking of going vegan? If so, congratulations—you’re making the right decision! However, what happens if you want to switch to a plant-based diet but you don’t know where to begin? Even long-time vegans remember the days when we weren’t sure how to read labels or were confused by ingredients with six consonants in a row. Luckily, going cruelty-free has never been easier thanks to an endless supply of online resources, meet-up groups, vegan doctors, and even musicians who help spread the word about the benefits of a plant-based life. Still, you might need some help when making the transition, which is why we’re providing six tips that’ll have you saying “please pass the kale” in no time.
1. Be ready
For the times when you aren’t sure if you can go vegan, have some re-enforcement. To accomplish this, make a list of all the benefits of going vegan so you can refer to it when needed. Then, whenever you think you might fall off the plant-based wagon, take out your list to remind yourself that a cruelty-free diet helps with medical conditions, improves our environment, and lessens needless animal exploitation. When you’re done reading your list, have some vegan ice cream!
2. Think of it as an evolution
Going vegan doesn’t have to happen overnight. It takes time to transition, so think about what you eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and see what vegan substitutes would need to be implemented. Then, remove one animal product at a time. Adding vegan-friendly foods to your diet (such as oats, non-dairy milk, nuts, grains, tofu, legumes, and avocado) helps create fantastic eating habits that will only serve you well. Whatever substitutions you choose, make sure to keep your meals fresh, balanced, and simple. Start by choosing to eat vegan two days a week, and pretty soon, two vegan days a week will be seven, and you won’t want to look back!
3. Find a partner
Thinking of cool and creative ways to eat fresh and wholesome food is a fun activity for families. Plus, going vegan is an excuse to try any fruit or vegetables you’ve never seen before, so visit your local farmers’ market and ask for samples. Furthermore, there are many great vegan meet-up groups that you can join. Once you become integrated into the community, you will have plenty of support and love around you. Having a group of friends with similar values also means you’ll be able to share recipes and tips. Remember: becoming vegan is an exciting time, so have some fun with it!
4. Tap into the wealth of vegan resources
You aren’t the first person to go vegan, which might explain why there are many resources to help you evolve and maintain a well-balanced diet. Check out cookbooks and websites such as The Vegan Society, Vegan For Everybody, No Meat Athlete, Vegan Cookbook For Beginners, and Quick and Easy Vegan Comfort Food for meal inspiration. Mark your favorite recipes, and designate one or two days a week to eating vegan. There are also many useful apps such as HappyCow, Ease, Cozi Family Organizer, and Mealboard to help create lists, meal plans, and recipes that make and maintain digital vegan grocery lists.
5. Ask your local grocery store to point out all vegan products
Trader Joe’s has a vegan list readily available, but that doesn’t mean they’re the only grocery store with information on plant-based products. Wherever you shop, ask a staff member about the store’s vegan products. If the employees aren’t sure, ask them if they can create a list or easily identifiable labels for you and other vegan shoppers. Once your grocery list is set, shopping will become fast, fun, and easy.
6. Remember why you are doing this
Everyone has a reason for going vegan. Maybe it’s because fish are disappearing from our oceans, or the fact that you can get just as much protein by eating a plant-based diet as you can from a carnivorous one. Perhaps you’re tired of the propaganda perpetuated by the meat and dairy industries, or you can’t fathom contributing to the needless deaths of so many living creatures. Whatever your reasoning, never forget that you are making a huge change to your health, humanity, animals, and the planet.
Guy Vaknin is a chef and owner at Beyond Sushi.