How to transition from vegetarian to vegan. Ultimate guide. Great tips for transitioning to a vegan lifestyle after being a long term vegetarian. Why you should go vegan if you’re vegetarian for the animals and the planet. Tips to make transitioning to a vegan lifestyle easier.
I’ve heard all the excuses and I’ve said them all as well:
”I could never give up cheese”. “I just love cheese too much to go vegan”
I get it. It took me a long time for veganism to finally sink in.
I’ve switched from vegetarian to vegan twice in my life.
What can I say, old habits die hard. But, I’ve been vegan for 4 years now.
Guess what? You don’t have to “give up” cheese, you just have to start buying the delicious cheese made from plants instead of animal’s boobs.
It’s never been easier to go vegan than it is right now.
The vegan alternative section is blowing up.
If you’re vegetarian right now, know that you’re already halfway there.
Being a vegetarian is a great stop along the way, but if your goal is to not pay people to hurt and kill animals (more on this in a minute) and to adopt the most environmentally friendly diet, veganism is where you want to be.
It’s all about mindset
Changing your diet is extremely hard at first.
You’re going against decades of industry-funded messages telling you that animal products are normal and natural to eat.
It’s important to lay the foundation in your mind first.
When the times get tough, and you want to revert to your old habits, a strong ethical code and joyful mindset will keep you going.
This should be a joyful process.
It will stick if you’re happy and feel empowered while doing it.
Every time you opt-out of animal products, think of all the good you’re doing.
I’m not saying to take this and turn it into “why you’re better than non-vegans”.
I’m saying to make a positive association with veganism so that it’s more likely to stick.
Stay out of the mindset of “giving something up” and focus on all of the new foods you will be adding to your life instead.
I’ve heard many people say they eat a wider variety of foods now that they’re vegan.
You can still eat all of your favorite foods, they will just be made from plants now.
Every time you choose a vegan alternative, you’re voting with your dollars.
Money speaks extremely loud.
By not buying animal products, you’re demanding that you want to see a change in the way we treat animals and the planet.
That’s some powerful-ass stuff.
Falling off the wagon is normal, just get back on.
It took me years to finally switch from being vegetarian to vegan. I fell off the wagon NUMEROUS times. It’s just part of it.
You’re undoing a lifetime’s worth of social conditioning and industry-funded brainwashing
Don’t beat yourself up when you slip up. It’s part of the process.
Figure out what led you to that slip up, and change it in the future.
It helps to not label yourself as vegan, until you feel like you’ve got it all down.
It takes the pressure off in the beginning (unless you want to use pressure to motivate you)
Be kind to yourself.
Keep educating yourself with articles, books and documentaries and get back on the wagon when you’re ready.
Keep an open mind
These foods won’t taste EXACTLY like eggs and cheese, but they are really flipping close.
Open up to how they taste without comparing them to eggs and cheese. They have a fantastic flavor when they stand alone.
Change your expectations of what cheese and dairy will taste like. Over time, you will create a new standard.
A couple of months ago, I accidentally took a bite of a dairy-cheese pizza (they messed up my order and gave me dairy cheese) and it was really shocking how wrong it tasted to me.
It tasted sour and off, like how vegan cheese tastes to people when they first try it.
I had become accustomed to the way vegan cheese tasted after 4 years of being a vegan.
The dairy-based cheese was no longer my standard to how cheese should taste. It tasted off-putting to me.
Try to alter your expectations and standards of vegan cheeses and eggs. Over time, they will change naturally.
Connect with the animals
There’s no way around it: If you’re vegetarian for the animals, you’re still contributing to their suffering and death.
Connect with you ethics first. This will help you to stick to veganism long term.
You’re throwing your money away if you buy “organic” “free range” and “grass fed”. They’re not much healthier or less cruel than they’re conventional counterparts.
Those labels are a way for the companies to appease your conscious while still making money.
These products still kill animals. They all end up at slaughter houses when they no longer produce eggs or milk.
The meat and dairy industry are businesses and their goal is to make money.
Don’t fool yourself thinking that they care about animals. They care about their bottom line.
Even if eggs are free range (this label really isn’t reinforced and doesn’t mean much) and organic, baby male chicks are ground up alive or suffocated in a trash bag because they will only cost the industry to keep them alive.
They are seen as useless byproduct.
Cows can live to be up to 20 years old, chickens can live to be 10 years old.
They are both killed within 2-4 years because of the stress of producing excessive amounts of eggs and dairy.
Dairy products are some of the most cruel.
Baby calves are ripped from their mothers after just a few days of their birth ( yes, even organic and grass fed)
The females are turned into dairy cows and raised on formula, and the males are sent off to be killed for veal.
Meanwhile, the mothers moo for days on end mourning the loss of their babies.
This is done over and over until they can no longer produce milk.
If your goal is to reduce animal (and human) suffering as much as is practical and possible, then veganism is the only answer.
You’re not “giving up foods”, you’re replacing
Now that we’ve laid the foundation in our minds, here are the practical applications to switching to a vegan lifestyle.
Find cheese, egg and dairy replacements and don’t be afraid to use them. Do this one at a time. Week by week.
Try out different brands if one makes you want to vomit. There are so many to choose from now.
First, replace milk with plant milk (soy and hemp are my favorites)
Then, replace your coffee creamer with a plant based one. (So delicious, nutpods or just plain full-fat canned coconut milk are my favorites)
Replace your yogurt if you’re a yogurt eater. Follow your heart, silk and daiya all have vegan yogurts that are pretty easy to find.
Next, replace eggs. For baking you can use ground flax or chia seeds, or bananas. To replace egg whites in a baking dish you can use the water from canned chickpeas (aquafaba)
For a breakfast dish, you can make tofu scramble. Sprinkle it with some black salt for that eggy flavor. You can also buy some JUST EGG to make an omelette.
Alright, now its time to replace cheese.
Try out the different vegan cheese brands.
My absoulte favorite is Vio life. Their feta cheese is seriously AMAZING!! My other favorites are Chao and follow your heart.
You can also make your own cheese and cheese sauces at home out of cashews or nutritional yeast.
Raw cashew will be your best friend.
Buy them in bulk and soak them in boiling water.
They can be soaked and blended to make a delicious, creamy base for soups, pastas, curries or desserts. Check out my Smoked Gouda Mac & Cheese recipe.
I get it, cheese is addictive and hard to quit. It’s literally addictive. It’s filled with caso morphines that make a baby calf addicted to it so they keep coming back for more and growing bigger and bigger.
Last but not least, replace hidden animal products. Find vegan alternatives to all of these products.
A tip: read the allergen warning in bold at the bottom of ingredients.
It has to show if there is any dairy or eggs in them.
It takes some initial searching at the beginning, but once you learn what brands you can buy and it becomes second nature.
I promise, over time, you’ll get used to these new flavors.
Learn how to eat vegan out of your house
I know it can be easy as pie to eat vegan at home, but then people freeze up when outside of their home.
The hardest part is the social aspect (more on this in a minute). I promise it gets easier if you are kind and confident in your veganism.
You’re already adept at finding vegetarian options at restaurants. Now just ask if those dishes can be made without dairy and eggs.
You can also play around with the menu.
Look at their sides and make a meal out of sides.
Look at their dishes and ask for no meat, dairy and eggs on them.
Ask if the chef can make a vegan dish. some chefs get excited at this aspect.
If you have a choice, choose more vegan friendly restaurants: Mexican, italian, indian, chinese and ethiopian are the easiest to order vegan at.
It makes dining out a MUCH more enjoyable experience.
Use the “happy cow” app to find vegan and vegetarian friendly restaurants.
Yelp also now has a vegan/vegetarian filter. Go to restaurants, hit filter, scroll down until you see vegetarain or vegan.
For more info about this, I have a whole article of how to eat vegan on the road
Learn the basics of vegan nutrition
This is important to ensure you don’t turn into an ex-vegan. This is easily preventable if you know the basics of vegan nutrition.
Instead of going into detail, I will link a few fantastic websites to get you started.
Vegan Health - vegan daily requirements
Vegan RD - vegan nutrition 101
Nutrition Facts - Dr. Greger runs this non-profit site. He and his volunteers read the peer-reviewed studies on nutrition published every year in the scientific journals and he dissects them for you.
Lighten up and eat vegan comfort foods
You shouldn’t ever feel like you’re missing anything being a vegan.
If you do, then you’re probably being too strict with your diet.
Lighten up and learn how to cook your favorite comfort foods.
I promise you, there is a way to make every meal that you love vegan.
Just look up the vegan recipes for your favorite meals. They are out there
If one recipe sucks, keep trying until you find a good one.
It’s also ok to indulge in vegan junk food once in a while.
Even vegans need to binge-out occasionally.
Go ahead, and enjoy some vegan ice cream, pizza, burgers and desserts.
The social factor will get easier after a while
Since you’ve been vegetarian for a while, your friends and family are probably a little primed for your switch to veganims.
You’re already halfway there.
The hardest part about going vegan is the social aspect. I won’t lie.
Most people quit for this reason as well.
That’s why it’s important to find a community; So you don’t always feel like the outsider at parties and events.
Join facebook vegan groups in your city or join local vegan meet-ups. Check in with them regularly.
We are surrounded by the carnist mind-set. It’s important to find a group of like-minded vegans to off-set that.
When you first switch, friends and family may give you a hard time.
The more comfortable and confident in being a vegan and kind you are, the quicker they will come around.
Don’t be a push-over vegan. Don’t make fun of yourself for the sake of someone else’s comfort. I was guilty of this for a long time. I would laugh at the vegan jokes that people made because you don’t want to seem “uptight” or like an “ass-hole vegan”.
Be confident and compassionate in your decision without tearing them down.
Your friends and family may even start making you delicious vegan dishes when you come to visit (my mom loves cooking me vegan food now)
If not, then always bring food so you have something to eat and make sure it’s damn delicious so everyone will STFU.
Stop buying products tested on & made from animals.
DON’T attempt this until you have fully switched your diet and feel comfortable.
Don’t try to do this until about a year into being vegan.
Start buying cruelty free cosmetics, clothes and body care. Try your best. Don’t obsess over this. Take little steps at a time.
This should be a very slow process.
Keep the products that you have and replace them with cruelty-free products when they run out.
What are you waiting for!? Go vegan!
Relax and enjoy the process.
It’s easy to be angry when you first learn about the cruelty rampant everywhere, but it will burn you out.
Approach veganism with joy and compassion.
Focus on all of the amazing new foods you’re eating.
Focus on all the good you’re doing for the planet, fellow humans and the animals.
Don’t be a push over vegan. Stand up for yourself and the animals.
Take this as slowly as you need. Falling off the wagon is part of it. Just brush yourself off and get back on when you’re ready.
So, what are you waiting for? Go vegan!