Whether you do it for ethics or your health, going vegan is one of the best decisions you will ever make. With every bite of food you take, you will be healing your body and taking a stand against animal cruelty.
When you’re at square one, altering your lifestyle can be a bit overwhelming. Don’t worry though! With the right tips, you’ll be cruising through your new vegan life like a pro.
Follow these steps to become a confident and thriving vegan.
Do some research about the vegan diet. Find answers to questions like: What ingredients aren’t vegan? What grocery store nearby has the largest variety of vegan foods? How much do I need to eat?
Learning the basics will give you a strong foundation so you stumble less. PETA has a list of animal-derived ingredients that you might find helpful. I also recommend reading The 80/10/10 Diet by Dr. Doug Graham. Even if you don’t eat 80/10/10, the book has so much information to help you learn about how your body functions.
List Your Favorite Foods
Write out a list of all the foods you love eating, whether they are vegan or not. For all the non-vegan foods, look up recipes for a veganized version to swap it out with.
You’re more likely to succeed on a vegan diet if you have this list of foods handy anytime you’re hungry. The last thing you want is to have a growling stomach and not know what you want to eat. It’s in those instances that you’re more likely to eat animal products because that’s what you’ve always known so it’s “easier”.
Some of my favorite foods are:
- Carrots and Hummus
- Amy’s No Cheese Pizza (I add my own Daiya)
- Salad with corn and avocado
- Baked Potato
Try New Foods
You never know that you don’t like something until you try it. And even then, your taste buds change on a vegan diet so don’t write foods off completely. On a vegan diet, people are usually exposed to foods they’ve never tried before. So have fun discovering new food, who knows what you’ll find!
I went 27 years not liking avocados because of the texture. Just recently I could feel my taste buds changing and my body craving more vegetables and fatty foods. Now, I love putting avocado on my salads and in my burritos. I even make avocado sandwiches! I never would have imagined.
Just because you’re vegan doesn’t mean you have to make all your meals at home. Even if you live in an area with zero vegan restaurants, you can still enjoy a meal out.
The key is knowing where to go and how to order. Trust me, I’ve been to restaurants that didn’t have a single vegan thing on the menu and still managed to find something to eat.
If you find yourself at a not-so-vegan-friendly restaurant, ask for any of these typically-vegan dishes.
- Italian: Pasta with Pomodoro Sauce (usually tomatoes, olive oil, garlic and basil)
- Mexican: Rice and Bean Burrito
- Sushi: Vegetable Roll, Avocado Roll, Edamame, Miso Soup
- Thai: Pad Woon Sen, Pad See Ew (always double check they don’t use fish or oyster sauce)
- Anywhere: Salad (make sure there is no dairy in the dressing)
Make the Ethical Connection
You’re more likely to stick to the vegan diet if you make a connection deeper than food. When you’re no longer eating just for yourself, but for the animals and the planet too, it’s harder to reject it and go back to eating animal products.
I went vegan for health reasons and made the ethical connection just by chance as I was educating myself about veganism.
If you want to learn more about the ethics of veganism, check out:
Track What You Eat
While you’re first starting out, it’s so important to make sure you are getting in enough calories, vitamins and nutrients. Eventually you will get a feel for how much you need to eat and of what foods. But until you get there, it’s helpful to keep track so you can see what nutrition you get from specific foods.
A great resource for this is Cronometer. You can download the app on your phone or you can visit the website on your computer. You’re also able to track your exercise to keep track of calories burned.
Find a Mentor
Whether it’s a friend, blogger, YouTuber, or anyone else, find someone you can go to for inspiration, knowledge, recipes and advice. It’s ideal to have a relationship with that person that allows you to converse, ask questions, and get answers.
The vegan community is a very welcoming and cohesive community eager to offer guidance to new vegans or those considering crossing over. I am more than happy to be your mentor and provide advice, recipe ideas or just chat about veganism. Just send me an email!
Some of my favorite vegan YouTubers are:
- Megan Elizabeth (She has 2 channels: here and here)
- Ellen Fisher
- Happy Healthy Vegan
- High Carb Hannah
- Raw Alignment
Keep a Journal
In addition to keeping track of the foods you eat, write down how you’re feeling. Are you feeling energized after drinking a smoothie? Did that vegan pizza make you gassy? Are you feeling bloated? This will help you to see what foods you thrive on and what foods just don’t agree with you. Cronometer (mentioned above) has a section for Notes where you could write this all down.
On top of tracking how you feel physically, jot down how your emotional and mental health is doing. This is a life-changing experience so you’re bound to have some ups and downs. If you read my Why Did I Go Vegan post, you saw that I included an excerpt from a journal I kept when I first transitioned. It has served as a great reminder of where I came from and why I will never go back.
I sincerely hope these tips help you thrive on your new vegan lifestyle. Feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions or would like me to be your mentor. It would be an honor.