Let’s be clear: being vegan is not easy. Most people think that veganism involves just your diet, but it’s so much more than that. When you decide to become a vegan, you’re renouncing all animal products, whether they’re related to food, to your clothes or to the products you use. You might be inspired by the message behind veganism or celebrities who follow this lifestyle and decide to take the plunge. However, going vegan overnight is the worst mistake you can make. You might not be prepared for the challenges and lifestyle changes you need to make, making it more likely that you will give up. Instead, follow these five steps to make a more lasting change that will also be a lot easier on you.
1. Identify Your Reasons For Doing It
To follow something as strict as a vegan lifestyle, you need to have strong reasons to stick to it. Think about why you want to become vegan and write all of this down. Don’t be afraid to write everything that comes to your mind, no matter how shallow they might sound. Remember, the goal is to determine whether veganism is for you, not for anyone to judge your reasons. Even if it’s something as small as ‘Because Susan has excellent skin and she’s a vegan’, don’t hesitate to write it. If you feel your reasons for becoming vegan are truly compelling enough, then get ready to become one. If you don’t think they’re strong enough for you to stick to this lifestyle in the long run, then forget it. You could dabble in a vegetarian diet or go vegan for only short periods of time.
2. Get All The Information
When you’re going to make a change as drastic as this, it’s crucial that you have all the facts. Giving up major food groups like dairy, meat and poultry means that you will have to find new sources of nutrients predominantly found in these foods. Vegans are prone to deficiencies in calcium, protein, vitamin D and iron. These deficiencies are by no means inevitable. There are plant sources for all these nutrients, you just need to find them and eat more of them.
You will also have to get a complete health checkup and clearance from your doctor before you embark on veganism. If you have a history of breast cancer for instance, your doctor will advise you to stay away from soy (usually a staple in vegan diets).
3. Learn A Few Trusty Recipes
Going vegan often means that you will have to start cooking your own meals more. This is so you have complete control over what goes into your food. Vegan cooking can be very easy as long as you find the right recipes. Collect at least five recipes you love that are fast and simple. This will give you fallback options for when you’re tired and don’t have time for an elaborate meal. Being vegan will open you up to a whole new world of vegetables and spices you never dreamed of using before. So find a good grocery store or farmer’s market and start cooking!
4. Remove All Non-Vegan Foods
When you’re so new to the vegan diet, don’t try to test your willpower. Remove all non-vegan food items from your house so you don’t feel tempted to indulge every now and then. When you’re a new vegan and you’re starving, bacon can be very hard to say no to. Of course, removing all non-vegan food from your house is much easier when you’re living alone or with other vegans. If you’re living with non-vegans, try to designate a cupboard just for you and your food. This way you won’t have to see other foods when you’re searching for your own.
5. Ease Into It
You might have the best intentions, but going vegan cold-turkey won’t make things easy for you. Instead of going full-vegan from day 1, do it in different phases. For one month, cut out red meat from your diet, the next, remove white meat and seafood and gradually cut out dairy and honey as well. It won’t seem like such a dramatic change to you and will give your body time to adapt to this new diet. This way, you’ll experience far fewer cravings. Within a few months, you’ll be a full-blown vegan without even realizing it!