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Are you considering becoming a vegan? I’m debunking some classic myths about veganism, and sharing a step-by-step guide to transition to a vegan diet!
I’ve been a vegan for almost 1.5 years now, but if I hadn’t started my blog, I probably wouldn’t have encountered veganism. Now that I have a little community of my own on here, I thought I’d pay it forward and share my tips to help you transition to a vegan diet!
So grab a iced latte and get comfy, because things are about to get detailed. And make sure you read till the end, as I’ve got a FREEBIE for you! And don’t we love free things. (yes, yes we do.)
Vegan vs. Vegetarian vs. Pescatarian: What’s the Difference?
To put it simply:
- Pescatarian = no meat
- Vegetarian = no meat or fish
- Vegan = no meat, fish or eggs or dairy products
In other words, a vegan diet avoids all animal products and focuses on plant-based foods such as fresh produce, whole grains, nuts and legumes.
Why transition to a vegan diet?
There are three main reasons why people choose to go vegan:
1. the Animals.
Recently, there has been a lot more awareness about the ‘horrors of factory farming’. More and more people are viewing animals as our equals, and hence avoid products produced by or tested on animals.
If you’d like to learn more about factory farming, I recommend the documentary Land of Hope and Glory produced by Ed Winters.
2. The Planet.
Animal agriculture is one of the most environmentally impacting practices on earth. Opting to consume more plant foods (which require less water and space to farm) over animal foods, is a great way to protect our earth for future generations.
If you are interested in reading more about the environmental impact of animal agriculture, I recommend this article from PETA.
3. Your Health.
There are significant health benefits from eating more a wholefoods plant-based diet. Some studies have shown that eating more plant foods can reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes and other diseases.
Sidenote: Just because a food is ‘vegan’, that doesn’t necessarily mean it is healthy! A lot of processed ‘vegan’ foods are packed with E numbers, saturated fats, and sugars. But the good news is that wholefoods and fresh produce are abundant in vitamins and nutrients. And we like those things!
If you are interested in learning more about plant-based nutrition, I HIGHLY recommend the book How Not to Die by Dr Michael Greger. I cannot recommend this enough. Just read it.
How to Transition to a Vegan Diet in 6 Easy Steps:
Okay, let’s do this.
1. Start slowly.
Sometimes if you rush into something too quickly, you’ll end up chickening out as it’s too hard. But if you start slowly and give yourself time to adjust to the vegan diet, you’ll realise it’s a piece of cake:
- See what you can make with the food you already have. Before hitting up the supermarket to stock up on soy milk, grains and produce, try making a vegan meal with the food already in your pantry.
- Turn it into a friendly competition. Start the day with some vegan breakfast burritos, and compete with your friends/family to see who can eat vegan foods for the longest!
- Gradually build it up until you are eating exclusively vegan foods. Yay!
2. Try some vegan alternatives.
There are so many vegan alternatives on the supermarket shelves now. From vegan eggs to impossible burgers, it’s sometimes hard to believe you’re eating vegan food.
Especially during the transition to a vegan diet, vegan alternatives to meat, dairy, and eggs can be a good way to make the process easier. As you further embrace the vegan lifestyle, you may find yourself consuming less of these processed products and reaching more for whole plant foods like oats, tofu, and veggies. YAY.
Sidenote: as someone who has never eaten meat in my life, the concept of having mock ‘beef’ or ‘mince’ does not appeal to me. However, if you are someone who regularly consumes these animal products, vegan alternatives can make the transition process a lot easier.
3. Make simple swaps.
So, what do vegans actually eat? I’m surprised by how often I get asked this question, because I eat pretty much the same foods as everyone else! (hello: peanut butter brownies.)
Transitioning to a vegan diet involves making a few simple swaps:
- Swap meat for wholesome alternatives such as tofu, black beans, lentils and chickpeas. Looking for a recipe using beans? Try my easy vegan black bean burgers!
- Swap dairy for soy or nut-based alternatives. There is a vast range of nut milks these days to suit every taste and allergen requirement. My advice when buying non-dairy milks is to slowly transition to buying unsweetened versions to avoid excess sugars in your diet.
- Swap the eggs for tofu or vegan alternatives. Tofu scramble makes a healthier alternative to scrambled eggs, whilst ground flaxseed, mashed banana, and applesauce are great egg substitutes to use in baking. If you’re interested in seeing a blog post about vegan egg replacements, let me know!
4. Try new foods.
Going vegan can seem very restrictive. You are most likely cutting out two of your main food groups, and that’s a lot of choice, right?
In reality, there are a LOT of different plants. So rather than thinking of the transition to a vegan diet as restrictive, you can think of it as consuming a variety of plant foods rather than a variety of animal foods. And don’t be fooled into thinking veganism is expensive, either! Whole grains and fresh produce are some of the cheapest foods in the supermarket. Opting for frozen produce over fresh is another great way to keep costs down.
Listed below are just a few of the many plant foods I enjoy. You can find most of them in your local supermarket, but it’s also fun to visit Asian supermarkets and try some produce from there!
- Fruits: mangoes, strawberries, blueberries, cherries, pineapple, watermelon, lychees, bananas, apples, oranges, raspberries, nectarines, plums, peaches, kiwis, pomegranate
- Vegetables: peppers, spinach, tomatoes, broccoli, carrots, lettuce, peas, cucumber, okra, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, onion, aubergine, sweetcorn, green beans, brussels sprouts, kale
- Legumes: black beans, chickpeas, moong beans, chana dal, urad dal, kidney beans, black eyed beans, white kidney beans, haricot beans, pinto beans
- Nuts: almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, peanuts, pine nuts, pistachios, macadamias
- Grains: rice, oats, quinoa, polenta, spelt, rye
You can also check out my pantry staples to learn more about my favourite foods!
5. Stock up on the essentials.
A whole foods plant-based diet provides every vitamin you need except one: vitamin B12. This vitamin is required for red blood cell production, so it’s important that vegans take a B12 supplement. You can take the supplement in many different ways:
- Swallowing a daily or weekly B12 tablet
- Taking B12 fortified gummy sweets
- Drinking a daily effervescent tablet dissolved in water. This is my preferred option (I’m terrible at swallowing pills!) and you can buy the effervescent tablets I use here.
Depending on where you live, you might also like to take a vitamin D supplement.
6. Try your best.
The important thing to remember about veganism is that every little bit counts. The fact you are reading this tells me you are already keen to start trying more plant foods, and that’s great, but don’t panic if you make a few mistakes along the way.
If you want to become vegan but you still want to wear leather, or if you want to eat more plant foods but enjoy some halloumi every now and then, I’m still proud of you! A lot of people these days seem to enjoy taking it out on people who half-commit to things – even members of the vegan community are doing it. My honest opinion is that whatever you are doing for the animals, your health, or the planet, however insignificant it may seem, does make a difference.
So once reading this, if you are still thinking “I could never go vegan”, that’s okay. I hope I have at least inspired you to incorporate more plant foods into your diet, and maybe reduce your meat consumption to a few times a week. If the whole nation were to do this, think of the impact it could have. Just remember, it starts with you.
Other resources you might be interested in:
- If you are looking for vegan recipes, I have compiled a guide of my top 10 tried and tested vegan recipes for you – GET YOUR FREE COPY HERE!