How to Become a Vegan and get your new year started off right, with tips on reducing meat consumption, ditching the dairy, and thriving on a plant based diet!
How to Become a Vegan
I thought about titling this post “How to Become a Vegan in 29 Easy Steps…” sort of as a joke, because I think following a plant based diet is actually pretty simple, but I thought that might confuse people. And I thought about adding “How to Eat Less Meat in 2018.” But I’ll play to the SEO gods and give this post a title that will help people find it—because I think I have some helpful tips to share about How to Become a Vegan! 11 of them to be exact!
I became a vegetarian as part of a New Year’s Resolution 8 years ago, and vegan as part 2 of my resolution, two years later. I’ve never regretted it, or looked back. It just makes so much sense, and I wish I made the change sooner. Now, with a little experience under my belt, I often have friends asking “we want to eat less meat in our family, what meal suggestions do you have?” Or “dairy isn’t sitting well with us, how can we switch to a plant based milk?” Or even “we want to follow Meatless Monday, but don’t know where to start.” I always respond with similar advice, and I decided it was finally time to get it all written down in one place. So here we go…..How to Become a Vegan!
Stop eating animals.
I mean, this one feels so obvious. The best way to eat more plants is to stop eating animals. Easier said than done though, right? So let’s keep going.
Swap your milk.
This one couldn’t be easier! The dairy industry is absolutely horrific. Mother cows produce milk for their baby cows, not humans. This absolutely clicked with me during the two years I spent nursing my own two babies. Mommy cows are basically pumping round the clock to nurse the planet. So make a kinder choice and ditch the dairy. Not only will it help the cows, it will make you feel better too! Start simple, like using almond milk in your granola! Or subbing oat milk in your regular baking recipes. Plant based milk subs one for one, so it’s a super simple change to make!
Try Vegan Before 6
This theory comes from Mark Bittman, who advocates a meatless diet for breakfast and lunch, and then a dinner of your choosing. So start the day off with a tofu scramble or chia pudding, follow up with a big salad bowl for lunch, and then have a moderate dinner of your choosing. No need to go cold turkey* if that will be hard for you. (*pun totally intended.)
Veganize a few favorites.
There are so many mainstream foods that are easily veganized without any “weird” substitutes. Familiar foods are great to start with, because it doesn’t really feel very different. Try pasta with marinara. Black bean tacos. A tapas meal with hummus and olive tapenade. Becoming a vegan can be as easy as looking in your own pantry!
Try new foods.
On the flip side, sometimes it is more fun to be adventurous, and try some new foods. In fact, with nothing to compare it to, you might not be tempted to say “this doesn’t taste like such and such,” but like the dish on its own merits. Learn how to cook with tofu! Plain tofu on it’s own is about as exciting as a boiled chicken breast. It’s not tofu on it’s own that is delicious, it’s the way it’s prepared. So make up some Tofu Teriyaki, or try pizza nuggets made with tofu. Experiment and have fun!
Don’t be too restrictive
If it is easy for you to eat vegan at home, but is challenging to find vegan friendly dishes in restaurants near you, then just start by being vegan at home. If standing out in a social setting isn’t for you, don’t worry about eating vegan at a party. Even following an 80/20 “rule” will be good for your health, the planet, and the animals!
Find new and delicious vegan desserts that you love! You’ll be amazed to see how many dark chocolate bars are “accidentally vegan.” I found several in my Christmas stocking this year. My local co op has several vegan items in their bakery case. A local donut shop serves only vegan donuts! Or just make something decadent at home. Being vegan isn’t about deprivation.
Find a few vegan blogs that you love.
Finding some new blogs that you love can really help encourage you. In fact, most bloggers are quick to interact with their readers on social media, so if you get stuck, just reach out! I share recipes from my favorite fellow bloggers every day on my Facebook page—come join us! You might also enjoy some new vegan cookbooks, which will give you tons of ideas on How to Become a Vegan!
Don’t compare foods.
You will find that there is a vegan equivalent to almost everything, but they don’t always taste the way you remember. Don’t try to compare everything to it’s omnivore equivalent. I really like a few of the vegan cheeses, but I like them for what they are. They’re good, but they’re not the same. That’s ok. Don’t try to trick yourself by eating veggie chik’n nuggets and think they will be exactly the same. They’re so good, but they aren’t chicken. That’s a good thing!
Arm yourself with a few statistics.
Sometimes the most shocking thing for me is to read the statistics, and this is really motivating when I feel like I am the only one in the world eating the way I do. A pound of tofu requires 90% less water to produce than a pound of beef. 90% less! (read more here). Switching to a vegetarian diet benefits the environment more than driving a Prius! (read more here). Being vegan saves 100 animals per year, per person. I have so many friends who are cat and puppy lovers—why not extend that to cows, pigs, and chicken? (read more here).
Be kind to yourself!
If you misread a label it’s ok. Just remember for next time. It can be overwhelming at first, but it gets so much easier! I often compare it to when I first moved out on my own and ate Froot Loops for dinner every night because I didn’t know how to cook. I gradually learned some recipes and built from there. Same with when I became vegan. I found a few recipes that worked, and then added more and more until I was so comfortable in the kitchen. Have fun! And reach out if you need some ideas!
You’ve got this!
I hope these ideas on How to Become Vegan are helpful to you! If you have any questions, please drop a note in the comments below and I will do my very best to answer it for you. This list is by no means comprehensive, but I hope that it’s a good start and gives you some great ideas, whether you want to participate in Meatless Monday, or go all in as a new vegan! You’re going to love it!