How To Start A Vegan Diet – Without Losing Your Mind
Thinking about starting a vegan diet but not sure where to start? A vegan diet means you don’t eat any animal products — meat, dairy, fish, and even eggs.
For many people, the thought of giving up dairy and meat can definitely be overwhelming — especially if you love eating out and aren’t a genius in the kitchen.
One way that works for many people is to start gradually. The following 8 tips will make the transition easier and smoother – so you’re more likely to stick with the transition:
1. Start by cutting out red meat
The first step must be fairly easy. And for many people, that starts with slicing red meat (we don’t seem to get as attached to it as we do to our cheese).
Start eliminating pork, beef, lamb, and other red meats from your diet. However, allow yourself white meats such as fish, chicken and seafood.
You can also start trying meat-free versions of bacon and other meats that you can find at your local grocery or health food store, just to see which versions you like. When you start to feel good about not eating red meat, you can move on to the next stage.
2. Chop the chicken
Cut out the chicken – but still add seafood and fish like tuna, salmon, shrimp, etc.
You can also start making some vegan meal recipes (you can find loads online – and they often get reviews from other vegans too – so you can find ones that REALLY taste good).
3. Cut out seafood and fish
You’re pretty much vegetarian now – congratulations! Now it’s time to cut the seafood and fish – but keep testing other meat alternatives like soy-based patties etc.
Your protein will also come from legumes like lentils, chickpeas, and black beans. There are also whole grains, veggie ground beef, veggie patties, some other meatless items like the vegan bacon.
4. Farewell to cheese
OK, this might be the more painful part for many of us. We love our cheese. But there are cheese alternatives like rice cheese and soy cheese. You will have to experiment here to find out which type of cheese is right for you.
For example, I can’t stand soy cheese – but there’s a rice-based cheese I can buy at my grocery store that’s awesome – it even melts like real cheese!
5. Eliminate eggs
This can also be a little challenging – especially since eggs are used in many baked goods and recipes.
But there are plenty of egg alternatives that you can use when baking your treats. Some people use gelatin and water mixtures (which are fine for recipes with fewer than 3 eggs).
Other options include applesauce and egg replacer powder, which you can often find at many health food stores.
6. Cut out cream and butter
Again, this can be a challenge, since cream is commonly used in coffee — and butter is commonly used in baked goods recipes.
But the good news is that there are great vegan alternatives. Coconut oil makes an excellent substitute for butter in recipes (it’s basically a 1:1 substitute ratio). You can also use olive oil when preparing dinners like stir-fries.
And for cream, there are some excellent non-dairy cream alternatives like soy milk, coconut milk (very thick and creamy), or even coconut butter.
Shop around your grocery store as there are specially formulated non-dairy creamer options in the natural foods section. (Sometimes regular coconut milk or almond milk will separate in your coffee – those milk jugs habit separately in your coffee).
7. Release milk
This might seem difficult – but you have a lot of options here, so it’s really not that bad (I found cheese much more difficult!).
Vegan alternatives to milk include rice milk, soy milk, coconut milk, and nut milks like almond or cashew milk.
You can also use this milk for baking or cooking, eat it with your cereal or just drink it from a glass.
8. Find the best vegan recipes and restaurants
Good news – you are now fully vegan. But you still have to live your life without being chained to your kitchen.
And you need to maintain a social life – which means eating out!
Now it’s time to find more recipes you love (so you can have them on hand throughout the week). I usually pick a day like a Sunday and prepare all of my food for the week, freezing the meals that will be used towards the end of the week.
Also, start researching what you can have at restaurants. Depending on your area, you might actually find a vegan restaurant or cafe.
Not sure what to eat at a particular restaurant? Most places have their menus online so you can check what’s on the menu. You can also call ahead and ask what they might have, what you might eat. Many restaurants are more than accommodating if you give them a hint (they want your business, after all).
So that’s 8 steps on how to start a vegan diet without going insane. Some people like to take things step by step.
However, if you prefer to get in with both feet, another option is to use a vegan meal delivery service for a month or two. This will ensure that you eat delicious food (so the transition isn’t that difficult) and that you can slowly learn the lifestyle at your own pace.
Going vegan can be challenging — but there are ways you can make it a lot easier. Hope these tips helped. You’ll soon be feeling healthier and stronger! Good luck and to your health!
Thanks to Karen Johnston