Probably one of the most daunting things a new vegan faces is the transition from meat eater to vegan. You’re navigating completely new territory where the way you’ve eaten your entire life is flipped upside down.
There are countless ways to transition to a vegan diet, from going cold turkey to cutting out one animal product at a time to veganizing one mealtime at a time. Each method works for certain people.
Here I share how I successfully transitioned to a vegan diet in just one week.
Before we get started, you might find it useful to check out this helpful post on what I wish I had known before going vegan.
How long does a vegan transition take?
Depending on the person, a transition to a vegan diet can last anywhere from 1 second (going cold turkey) to several years! There’s no right or wrong length of time; just whatever feels right to you.
Mine lasted about a week. For me, it wasn’t the resistance to giving up animal products that prevented me from going cold turkey. I was raised in a house where you don’t waste money, so I didn’t want to just throw away the animal products I had already bought.
The last animal product I ate was strawberry Mochi ice cream.
(Now I just eat vegan Mochi!)
Taking your time to transition is a great way to minimize the shock to your body. Small changes over the course of a week or a month (or longer!) will allow your body time to adjust to your new diet.
When you’re deciding on how long your transition to veganism will take, consider this:
- How strong is your motivation to be vegan? If you’re highly motivated, you’re likely to get there faster.
- What’s going to be sustainable for you in the long run? Going vegan is not about speed, it’s about sustainability. What’s better: going vegan overnight and turning back to eating meat in a month, or taking a few years to slowly transition and staying vegan the rest of your life? Option #2 is the clear winner here.
3 steps to transition to a vegan diet
Going cold turkey isn’t for everyone. Making that big of a change all at once might be overwhelming and cause you to go back to eating our animal friends. So try what I did and go vegan in stages.
I chose to transition to vegan by mealtime (breakfast, lunch and dinner). I found this helpful because all I had to do in the beginning was focus on one meal of the day. The other two meals I could eat as I normally would. There was much less pressure to change my entire menu all at once.
Here are the three steps I followed to go vegan in one week:
1. Make a Vegan Breakfast
I started with the first meal of the day because it was easiest for me. My breakfast was pretty much already vegan. It was a quick win that I used to build my confidence as I transitioned. I veganized my breakfast by switching to smoothies every day and cutting out the occasional bowl of cereal.
If you’re someone who likes scrambled eggs and bacon in the morning, try swapping out your eggs with a vegan version. Once you’re happy with that, get some vegan bacon. You don’t have to give up your morning ritual!
2. Pack a Vegan Lunch
A couple days later, I tackled lunch. I was going through a turkey sandwich phase so I swapped that out with whole fruit (I was doing raw til 4) or the occasional salad. I could have easily replaced the turkey in my sandwich with a vegan meat or slices of tempeh.
Remember: there’s a vegan replacement for just about everything these days so you don’t need to completely change what you eat. Just swap out what’s not vegan for what is.
You may even consider switching steps 2 and 3 so you can make a vegan dinner, and take the leftovers for lunch!
3. Veganize Dinner
A few days after that, dinner time was where my horizon was really opened up. I used to eat a lot of chicken and pasta. Who am I kidding, I still eat a lot of pasta. But I started exploring with rice, potatoes, and other ingredients I hadn’t really used before.
And if I was craving something familiar, I would just whip up some pasta with marinara, tofu and vegan cheese.
By transitioning to vegan in stages, you’re not pulled too far outside your comfort zone while you find new vegan foods to replace your old favorites.
Have fun during your transition! It’s a time of complete discovery when you get to redefine what you eat. Enjoy it!