Have you finally decided to go vegan, but you need that extra bit of motivation, or information? Here’s 23 useful tips to keep in mind when switching to a 100 percent vegan diet. If you don’t have time to read the whole article, feel free to jump to the summary at the end.
1. Learn more about nutrition
What constitutes a healthy meal, or a healthy diet? How many grams of protein do you actually need each day based on your lifestyle and body weight? Which nutrients help you have more energy, sleep better, improve your mood, and boost your immune system — and which do the opposite?
I believe everyone should know at least the basics of how and what we should eat to be healthier, however as a vegan (or someone who would like to transition to veganism) this is especially important. Eliminating animal products from your diet won’t automatically make you super healthy, and there’s definitely a lot of vegan junk food out there, so do your homework and learn more about nutrition.
2. Understand the benefits of going vegan
Depending on many factors, including your current diet, the country you live in, and the people you’re surrounded by, going vegan could be very easy or very difficult. But there’s one thing that pretty much guarantees it will be easy, and that’s having a very clear reason why.
This is why it’s crucial that anyone shifting toward veganism becomes aware of the benefits of the vegan diet, or lifestyle. These include health benefits (provided you are health conscious and understand how nutrition works, as explained earlier) as well as the benefits of leading a more ethical lifestyle, in which and by which you reduce unnecessary suffering and help the environment.
3. Join vegan meetups
Let’s say you’ve finally decided to transition to a diet that’s 100 percent vegan, but all your friends are skeptical, and consider veganism to be stupid or even morally wrong. In such a situation, you’d almost certainly have a hard time going vegan, and even if you did, you’d probably give up very soon.
When it comes to our diet, habits, career, interests, attitude, and life in general, we need to be selective about our social circle and the people we spend our time with because they will inevitably influence the way we live. With that in mind, if there’s vegan meetups in your area — go for it! You’ll have the chance to meet like-minded individuals who will encourage you rather than telling you you’re crazy.
4. Attend vegan events
Besides meetups, there’s many different vegan events you can attend, such as festivals, markets, fairs, and shows. By attending such events you’ll be able to meet people like you and learn more about veganism in general.
For example, by visiting a vegan food market you may discover there’s a particular kind of vegan cheese you absolutely love; or you may eat a vegan meal which is supposed to replace a non-vegan dish but tastes exactly the same or even better, and is easier to digest. Vegan events are an opportunity to learn more about the lifestyle, and will always be a good investment of your time.
5. Eat at a vegan restaurant
Do you think going vegan will automatically prevent you from eating out, or making the experience too stressful as you’ll have to scan every single ingredient on the menu? Thankfully, unless you live in a tiny village, you’ll almost always be able to find vegan restaurants (or at least restaurants with vegan options) around you.
And even in the rare case in which that’s not a possibility, you can always ask the server to have a meal without cheese, or eggs, or whatever animal product they normally use. But when you can, go to a restaurant that’s actually vegan — a really good one. The food will be amazing and you’ll discover new vegan meals you could prepare yourself at home.
6. Go vegan — gradually
The thought of eliminating all animal products from your diet can definitely be a bit scary, especially for those who aren’t even vegetarian yet. So my advice would be to do everything gradually; don’t be too hard on yourself, and don’t be too strict in the beginning.
Regardless of how motivated you are, there’s no need to go vegan overnight. It’s perfectly okay if it takes a little bit of time. Keep learning about veganism, be curious, and discover what foods you enjoy the most. If you are currently eating all animal products, consider eliminating one at a time (for example, eliminate milk first, then all dairy products, then meat, and so on, while listening to your body).
7. Use grocery lists
Although some large supermarkets now have vegan aisles, the same isn’t true for smaller ones. If you only buy groceries once in a while, and don’t have a lot of time when you do so, then it makes sense to prepare a grocery list before you shop.
It can be overwhelming going to a supermarket and having to buy a lot of food but seeing only non-vegan products. By knowing what to buy in advance, you’ll save a lot of time and won’t have to check every single label of every single product. If you find it easier, you could even shop online and get some items delivered to your house.
8. Learn about the meat industry
As we saw earlier, it’s important to have a strong enough why when you go vegan. And although it’s usually better to focus on the positive — for example, the health benefits of eliminating certain foods from your diet — you should also be aware of all the negatives that come with not sticking to your plan.
In the case of veganism, one of the negative things you no longer contribute to is the unnecessary suffering and killing of some animals. Not all farming involves cruelty, but sadly, in many cases it does. Being aware of what the animals can go through before they become food can definitely open your eyes and encourage you to stop eating meat. There’s no need to watch videos or documentaries if you find them too disturbing; you could simply read a few articles online.
9. Learn about the dairy and egg industry
If you’re reading this article, you probably know it already, but I’ll mention it anyway: a vegetarian diet — one where you don’t eat animals but still consume their products — doesn’t end unnecessary animal cruelty, especially if you are buying milk, dairy, or eggs that come from intensive farming.
So tip number 9 to go vegan is to simply learn more about the dairy and egg industry and to be aware of the cruel practices they often involve. Once again, not all farming is bad, but most eggs and dairy products you see at your local supermarket definitely aren’t very ethical, so that’s one more reason to go vegan and stop contributing to that.
10. Learn to cook
The more you rely on snacks and pre-made meals, the harder it’ll be to stick to a vegan diet. This is why it makes all the sense in the world to learn to cook at least a few vegan recipes; ideally, meals that are both healthy and delicious, and that don’t take hours to prepare — no need to become a chef.
By cooking some or most of your meals yourself you’ll know exactly what ingredients you’ll eat, for extra peace of mind. Plus, cooking could turn into a pretty enjoyable hobby. Over time, you may even be able to create your own vegan recipes and share them with your friends or partner.
11. Ignore other people’s opinions
By going vegan, you’ll inevitably face some forms of criticism sooner or later, even if you aren’t actively promoting the lifestyle. This could be a friend or colleague asking you why you have such an “extreme” diet over and over again, or getting nasty comments on social media whenever you post anything related to veganism.
Now, most people will perfectly understand you, and some will even admire you for your choices. But be aware that sooner or later you’ll meet someone (in person, or even online) who finds veganism inconceivable, or dangerous, or even morally wrong, and criticizes you in some way, or thinks you’re nuts. My advice would be to simply ignore them and focus on the people who do support you. Again, keep in mind: the situation I described is rare — most people won’t react in any way when you tell them you don’t eat certain foods.
12. Get enough vitamin B12
By having a 100 percent vegan diet, you are at risk of nutrient deficiencies if you don’t do your homework. One of these nutrients is called vitamin B12, and although it doesn’t apply to vegans only (it is estimated that over a third of the population in the US is deficient in B12), those with a plant-based diet are definitely more at risk. Don’t overlook this because B12 deficiency can come with some serious side effects.
So, does this important vitamin come from animals? Not really: it actually comes from bacteria that lives in the soil, and that’s how the animals absorb it; in some cases, the animals are given synthetic B12 injections as well. One way you could eat vitamin B12 as a vegan would be to eat a lot of algae, such as chlorella, but the easiest way is to supplement — ideally with injections. Also, get your blood levels checked regularly to make sure you’re getting enough of it — it is a pretty important nutrient.
13. Get enough vitamin D
This is another essential nutrient that people should be concerned about, and I’m referring to people in general, not just those with a vegan diet. Because the best and most natural way to absorb vitamin D is through sun exposure, rather than food, those who live in colder climates are usually deficient, regardless of their diet; especially during the coldest and darkest months.
Having said that, vegans may be at greater risk of vitamin D deficiency simply because the foods highest in this vitamin all come from animal sources. So when going vegan it’s especially important that you ensure optimal vitamin D levels. You can eat fortified foods, such as cereal or soy milk, but it probably won’t be enough. Regular sunlight exposure, when possible, and supplementation (for example, vegan vitamin D pills or oil) is your best bet.
14. Get enough calories
Besides the ethical advantages, a vegan diet can help you lose weight as you’ll no longer eat harmful fats from animal products (and hopefully you’ll be more health conscious as well). However, it is possible that by going vegan and not tracking your calories you won’t get enough of them.
This is even more likely if your diet is raw or mostly raw: fruit and vegetables are packed with essential vitamins and nutrients, but they’re almost always very low in calories, so make sure to include calorie-dense foods in your vegan diet as well. This is especially important if you workout regularly.
15. Find vegan dairy alternatives
Those who aren’t familiar with vegan diets and meals often assume that vegans aren’t able to eat anything that tastes good. Sometimes you tell people that you don’t eat dairy products and they’re just shocked. “What? You don’t eat ice cream, or cake? And how can you live without cheese?”
Luckily, there’s many different vegan alternatives to all dairy products. For example, there’s at least ten different kinds of plant-based milk; they all taste great and they’re very digestible compared to cow milk. The same is true for ice cream, chocolate bars, yogurt, pasta sauces, and even cheese itself. So don’t worry, you won’t miss out.
16. Find vegan meat alternatives
And for those who miss dishes with meat as an ingredient (for instance, burgers), or even the taste of meat itself, there’s still many vegan alternatives out there. You may not be able to find them in every supermarket, but larger ones will definitely have them.
Vegan meat alternatives could be especially useful if you’ve just decided to go vegan and you’re looking for ways to replace all your previous meals without spending too much time learning new recipes, or trying out new meals. Surprisingly, some plant-based meats taste almost the same as, or even better than, animal products, and they’re quite inexpensive too.
17. Talk to a nutritionist
Afraid you won’t be getting enough calories or nutrients when transitioning to a vegan diet? Worrying that eating all these different foods all of a sudden will cause digestive problems? It’s easy to have a vegan diet that’s both delicious and healthy, but if you’ve just started it may be a bit overwhelming.
If that’s the case, talking to an experienced nutritionist (ideally one who specializes in plant-based diets) would be a great investment of your time and money. Although there’s plenty of free information about going vegan online, it won’t be the same as being guided by an experienced professional. Besides, they will be able to advise you and give you a diet specifically for your body type, metabolism, possible food intolerances, and so on. Definitely something you want to consider.
18. Bring vegan snacks when traveling
The vegan lifestyle is growing, now more than ever, and businesses are adapting, so chances are you’ll be able to find vegan food in most airports and restaurants when traveling. However, you don’t want to take it for granted (and you definitely don’t want to walk around an airport for hours so you can find the only kiosk with vegan options).
The easy way to fix this is to simply prepare one or two meals yourself and bring them with you. Or, just bring snacks that don’t need to be refrigerated or cooked — fruit like apples or bananas, or nuts and seeds. This way you’ll save time and money and you’ll never have to worry about having to find vegan food when traveling.
19. Track your mental and physical health
When switching to a vegan diet, most people don’t experience any negative side effects — if anything, their health and vitality increases. However, do be aware that it may take a while before your body gets used to the new diet, even if it’s super healthy, and that you may notice changes in your energy levels or digestion.
It’s a good idea to track your weight and how you feel in general when going vegan; it’s an even better idea to get regular blood tests and, as explained earlier, talk to a nutritionist if you have any concerns. Listen to your body because it may tell you how you should improve your diet, or whether you need to consume more protein, or more calories, or more minerals, and so on.
20. Don’t try to convert others
It’s great that you’ve decided to switch to a diet (or lifestyle) where you no longer contribute to the unnecessary suffering of animals; and if your friends seem enthusiastic about your change and would like to do the same, then do guide and encourage them.
But in general, it’s best to keep your views for yourself, and not to get involved whenever people talk about food (I’m referring to those who think vegan diets are absurd). Do mention that you don’t eat certain foods, and, if they ask you, mention the benefits as well. But don’t try to actively convert people who don’t want to change in any way — you’ll waste time and energy for nothing.
21. Realize many delicious foods are actually vegan
We’ve already seen that there’s many vegan alternatives to dairy and meat, but that’s not what I’m referring to here — I’m talking about foods everyone eats on a regular basis without realizing they don’t contain any animal products.
Some examples: peanut butter, bread, pasta, nuts and seeds, some biscuits, chips and fries, popcorn, breakfast cereal, rice, energy drinks, and even ice cream (fruit flavors don’t contain milk, at least not in the original recipe). More than just lettuce leaves.
22. Realize being vegan isn’t expensive
Another common myth about veganism or any other plant-based diets is that you need to spend a lot of money on them. The idea behind this is that you need to buy a lot of supplements, or eat more food than the average person, to make sure you still get all the essential nutrients in your diet.
But this couldn’t be further than the truth — if anything, the most expensive diets are those with lots of animal products, such as meat. And as we’ve learned, the only supplement you truly need as a vegan is vitamin B12, which is very cheap regardless of whether you get pills or shots. So if you’re on a budget, don’t worry — going vegan won’t break the bank.
23. Listen to vegan doctors or athletes
Still worried a vegan diet will cause some deficiencies or negative side effects in the long run? Veganism has often been demonized, so it’s understandable if you’re a bit skeptical, or even scared.
This is why my last tip to go vegan is to listen to people who have embraced the vegan lifestyle and are actually super healthy — for example, athletes or models — or very knowledgeable about health, such as doctors or nutritionists who have spent years studying the subject. You’ll never have to sacrifice your health by going vegan, and it’s good to listen to those that are living proof of that.
Tips to go vegan: summary
- Learn the basics of nutrition (such as macronutrients and micronutrients)
- Understand the benefits of a vegan diet, both in terms of ethics and health
- Join vegan meetups in you area and get to know like-minded people
- Go to vegan festivals, markets, fairs, and shows
- Discover vegan or vegan-friendly restaurants
- Take your time — you don’t have to (and probably shouldn’t) go vegan overnight
- Use grocery lists when you go shopping to save money and time
- Learn about the meat industry and its cruel practices
- Learn about the dairy and egg industry and their cruel practices
- Learn to cook vegan meals that are cheap, healthy, and easy to prepare
- Ignore those who think veganism is wrong or dangerous
- Prevent vitamin B12 deficiency by eating algae as wells as using supplements
- Get enough vitamin D, ideally through sun exposure as well
- Track your daily calorie intake because you may not be eating enough
- Find and experiment with vegan dairy alternatives
- Find and experiment with vegan meat alternatives
- Talk to a nutritionist who specializes in plant-based diets
- Bring vegan snacks when traveling to new places
- Track your mental and physical health and listen to your body
- Don’t try to actively convert others to veganism unless they ask you
- Realize many delicious meals and foods are actually vegan
- Realize a vegan diet doesn’t have to be expensive
- Listen to vegans who are very healthy or knowledgeable about health, such as vegan doctors
What do you think is the best advice for going vegan? And what’s the hardest thing about switching to a vegan diet in your opinion? Leave a comment and let me know! 👇