For those of you who are already a veggie or eat a plant-based diet but are thinking about going all the way to vegan the change can seem quite daunting at first. But there are some simple strategies and savvy hacks that can make the transition much easier. Pretty soon you’ll be a fully-fledged vegan and you won’t have noticed much change in what you eat.
This will help you to stay firm in your choices and beliefs. There are so many documentaries, books and studies out there that delve into the complex topics of going vegan and the impact it has on the planet.
Ultimately when someone comes at you and asks and questions why you are vegan you will know exactly why and speak intelligently about the topic to others and share the vegan love.
Make changes slow and gradual
Going cold turkey and taking everything non-vegan from your diet at once is the hardest way to transition to veganism. There are a few strategies you can choose to employ to help you make slow and gradual changes that will over time hopefully build to full-time veganism:
- Take direct dairy and animal products out of your diet – cut out actual milk, yoghurt, cheese and eggs but don’t worry about cutting out your baked goods and crisps with milk traces in them for now
- Move on to indirect animal sources and hidden dairy such as spreads, veggie burgers, fresh pasta, cakes and treats.
- Move to beauty products, clothes, household items,
Just replace with vegan / cruelty-free options – don’t throw things away this is incredibly wasteful and pointless.
OR – this is my preferred method
- Just choose one mealtime or one day a week to go completely vegan and build up from there!
Get food inspiration
Going vegan doesn’t mean you have to live off lettuce and bread. Whatever your favourite meal might be I promise there’s a vegan version out there that someone has made; from pizza, to tacos, to burgers, to spicy ‘wings’ to doughnuts and cookies going vegan doesn’t mean missing out! It just means you might need to get a bit more creative with cooking. Since becoming vegan I’ve got to learn about amazing new flavour combinations and ingredients I’d never tried and made some super tasty food that my non-vegan friends never even noticed what they were eating was animal free! There are great recipe resources online – like Ohsheglows!
On YouTube, there are channels like Hot For Food and fitness YouTubers Maddie Lymburner, High Carb Hannah, Jon venus, Naturally Stephanie and Christie Swadling who post fab recipes all the time. Niomi Smart, Zanna Van Dijk and Madeleine Shaw although not strictly vegan have some great vegan recipes that they also share across their social media.
Just try out as many recipes as you can and find some inspiration and you’ll soon build up your own vegan recipe repertoire that will make it easy and amazingly tasty to be a full-time vegan.
Make sure your nutrition is en-pointe
Going vegan will not mean that you become nutrient deficient but it does mean that you need to be on top and aware of your nutrition to ensure you are getting all the minerals and vitamins, proteins, carbs and fats you need to live and thrive. Supplement B12 is a must and iron and magnesium supplements can also be handy add-ons. If you’re a very active person and struggle to get enough complete proteins in your diet (think hummus and pitta, rice and beans) then there are also a lot of plant-based protein powders out there; based on pea, rice and quinoa proteins, that are worth investing in to ensure your protein consumption is sufficient to support your activity levels and optimise performance.
Take advantage of vegan alternatives
My biggest worry, when I was transitioning to veganism, was chocolate. I wasn’t that bothered about dairy as I’ve never much-liked milk or been a cheese eater – chocolate and ice-cream have always been my thing. But there are so many great vegan alternatives that are out there whatever you’re into and therefore we should take advantage of them; Linda McCartney does a great range of vegan style sausages, burgers, chicken duck, scampi etc. and healthy! If you’re a cheese fiend then try out vegan cheese (Vio-life does a range and Sainsbury’s have launched their own vegan selection!), switch from dairy yoghurt to soya or coconut yoghurt (Alpro, The Coconut Collaborative, KoKo and Co Yo are all good) try out all the other plant-based milks that are out there to replace dairy (almond, rice, coconut, soya, oat – there are so many to choose from and I find there are particular ones that work best for certain drinks/smoothies / things I am making so you really just need to find out what you like best. If you’re a dessert person like me then Oppo icecream, Oreos, vegan sweet treats from Pollen & Grace (available in Planet Organic and online), moo chocolate and cliff bars are all great to satisfy a sweet tooth. It’s all about being adventurous and trying out all the alternatives that are out there as they are really tasty and you won’t feel like you’re missing out at all.
In fact, you might find you refer them to the real deal!
Check your labels
You would be shocked by how many hidden animal products there are in foods you never thought would contain them. For instance, I had a love of the BBQ pop chips but then discovered they actually had milk in them?! Always checking the food and nutrition labels on foods will help you steer clear of these sly animal coated products.
Don’t be afraid to adapt a menu when going out to eat!
When going out to eat most places will have vegan options on the menu – even if they don’t know it themselves! Salads, veggies, bread, rice, potatoes, nuts, olive oil, pasta are all common staples that will feature on most menus so you can simply just adapt a particular dish to suit your needs! More and more people are now jumping on the plant-based living band wagon now and restaurants are recognising this so most of the time there are vegan options on the menus of high street restaurants like Wagamamas, pizza express, Zizzi and Nando’s.
London provides amazing dedicated veggie and vegan restaurants -Farmacy, Redemption, Mildreds, The Gate, 222 veggie vegan, Club Mexicana, Spice Box, Manna, Black Cat Café and for a sweet treat Cookies and Scream are all ones that easily spring to mind.
Find a vegan community online or nearby so that you can connect with other vegan people
Going vegan can be a lonely road to travel but there are so many online vegan communities that you can join and connect to. It is hard being a one man band especially if your friends and family are a bit resistant to your choices to be vegan or struggle to understand it so a great way to overcome this is to connect to other vegans. Not only will it give you a channel to ask questions and advice (like supplements, health queries or recipe recommendations) it will also introduce you to a whole group of new people with similar interests who might become new friends.
Don’t think you have to do ‘vegan’ a certain way
Remember when making the transition to vegan is that there is no wrong or right way to do it. Just because my vegan doesn’t look like your vegan doesn’t mean you are doing it wrong. Find what works for you and ignore any criticisms or negativity that gets thrown at you – and more often than not you find those that are most critical are vegans themselves who feel you should be ‘being vegan’ a certain way. Do what makes you feel good and surround yourself with people who support you. Making one change towards going vegan is better than none!
If you have a cheat meal or you ‘slip up’ and consume an animal product don’t beat yourself up about it. Being 100% vegan all the time can be tricky when you are first starting out and so whatever your effort is it is important that you recognise and celebrate it.
85% vegan is still a fantastic way to make a sustainable impact on the planet, benefit your health etc. so much more so than 0% vegan so see each change you make as a great victory!