I have been vegetarian since 14 years old and vegan for about 5-6 years now. My journey was very organic and slow and I believe this is exactly what helped me to become vegan. I want to share my tips and tricks on how to become vegan or at least vegetarian as well as a little bit of my journey and thoughts on veganism with you.
First of all, nowadays there are far more vegan and especially vegetarian options than even two years ago. Even brands like Daneo, Garnier, L’Oreal – all started making vegan products or eliminating animal-derived ingredients to appeal to the vegan audience. When people ask me “how to become vegan?” or “is it hard?”, I just always think to myself “it is easy!”.
Secondly, some things that you already eat are more likely vegan or vegetarian without you realizing it. Very often when I talk to people about what I eat they are truly surprised when they learn that not all sorts of bread or pasta have eggs or milk in them. So education is a key. There are thousands of vegan products on a budget and you don’t have to feel like this lifestyle is only for wealthy people or you are going to starve. It’s not true, so let’s jump right into my tips.
- Start slowly. If you want to become vegan, I would highly recommend not cutting all the animal products at the same time. Your body is used to all these things and cutting them all at the same time can impact you in a negative way. Stop eating meat first, then cut fish from your diet, then eggs, milk, and cheese. However, I have to say that cutting cheese out of my diet was probably the hardest thing. Cheese is known to be addictive and a lot of people struggle with stopping eating this product, and I did too. It took me about 3 weeks to stop eating cheese completely but I did it and survived well!
- Research, research, research. I cannot stress this out especially if you are just converting into a vegan/vegetarian lifestyle. Research what vegan products and brands are available in your city, what vitamins and supplements you may need to take and learn more about nutrition, what dishes you can make, what is new on the market, research what vegan products exist, and what products may look like they’re vegan but in reality, they’re not. I would also recommend doing a blood test just to make sure that you are healthy.
- Experiment and try new products. You’re lucky to live in a time where almost every store and restaurant offers affordable vegan or vegetarian products and dishes. I have to admit that there are some extremely expensive products, but the majority of them are either the same price or slightly higher than animal products. Don’t be shy, try new veggies, or try to cook tofu in a different way! It’s a great way to learn what you like and how you’d want to cook in the future.
- Replace. If you have any cravings, use the vegan option of that product. Do you want ice cream? Eat vegan ice cream. Cheese? Well, lucky you, there are so many options! Bacon or chicken? Try vegan options!
- Don’t be harsh on yourself. If you accidentally eat cheese, drink milk, or can’t stop eating certain foods, don’t get upset. It’s ok, give yourself some time. Usually, people who became vegan were meat-eaters before and it means that eating animal products was a sort of a habit. And we need time to change our habits.
- Eat well. Make sure to include a variety of products into your new diet, and eat greens, fruits, proteins, carbs, and fats. But try to find balance. There are so many products that I wanted to try at the same time, but make sure that you don’t make this mistake. My fridge and stomach were really overwhelmed and sometimes it resulted in food waste which I truly can’t stand.
- Veganism is a lifestyle. Please, remember that veganism is not a temporary diet to lose weight. It is a lifestyle, a movement, and in general, veganism is not about vegan food but about animals that suffer from agriculture and meat and dairy industries.
- Remember your why. Changing your lifestyle is a massive step and it can be even discouraging at the time, so remember your main motivation, remember why you decided to do it. Keep going! There are so many Instagram pages, Facebook groups, or Reddit threads dedicated to veganism or a plant-based lifestyle where you can find support.
You can also download this free “How to become vegan” printable with tips and some food ideas. Just click on the image below.
As an additional piece of advice, I’d like to say don’t try to convert others. It’s a bad idea especially if you want to influence your close relatives and friends. Some of my relatives started eating vegan products just because I eat them and they are extremely respectful of my choices. When I just became vegan, I was very passionate about it and argued with everyone but it is simply not worth it when you can not have a well-structured dialogue.
If you plan to become vegan, know that there is a huge community that is ready to support you, and answer any questions you may have. So don’t hesitate to ask questions, experiment, and keep learning and trying new things..
On top of that, there are celebrities and organizations that constantly do plant-based challenges and you can participate in them. One of them is a Belgian challenge by EVA VZW (an organization that promotes a plant-based lifestyle and that I actually visited a few years ago when I was working on the assignment for one of my classes at Artevelde College University). You can find more information (in Dutch or French) HERE.
Here are a few other challenges and links that may help you:
- 22 days of nutrition by Beyonce (you need to pay for a meal planner)
- 30 days vegan challenge by Eating Well