How to Become Vegan

By Jason Hill

First of all, congratulations on your decision to go vegan. It may very well be the best decision you ever make.

If you haven’t decided yet whether to become a vegan and you’re just browsing around to see if the lifestyle is for you, then I hope this article is informative and enlightening. It takes a lot of courage to want to go vegan in a non-vegan world.

If you’re totally new to veganism, that’s perfectly fine. You probably have a lot of questions, which is normal and understandable — it’s a major lifestyle change! But don’t let that scare you. While becoming a vegan is not always easy, it is usually one of the most rewarding life changes a person can make.

That brings me to the point of this article: Whether you’ve decided to go vegan yet or not, my hope is that I can help you decide. And should you decide to live the vegan life, I hope I can guide you through the exciting, fulfilling transition and teach you how to become a vegan.

What is Veganism?

Veganism is a lifestyle focused on excluding all types of animal-based foods, such as meats and dairy, and other animal-derived products, such as clothing.

Instead, vegans stick to a plant-based diet — one rich in vegetables and fruits, whole grains, legumes, and nuts.

A vegan plate filled with vegetables

This is partially responsible for why vegans tend to shed some pounds after going vegan (even when weight loss is not their primary goal) and tend to be healthier than the standard population in general — they plan meals filled with nutritious foods, avoiding most heavily-processed foods as well as unhealthy animal fats.

Why Do People Become Vegans?

There are two primary motivations for going vegan, and they aren’t mutually exclusive (usually it’s a combination of both):

  1. Animal rights reasons
  2. Health reasons

Animal Rights Reasons

There’s been a recent wave of released media — such as in-depth articles and provocative documentaries — that has caught the attention of the masses.

This wave of vegan-inspired content has illuminated the dark sides of animal-based food production, including the living conditions of the animals.

In fact, farm animal welfare is a huge issue that deserves our attention, regardless of our dietary preferences. The media has done well in shining a light on this terrible, oft-unseen aspect of animal-based food production.

The main reason for many people wanting to go vegan is because they are horrified by the way the animals are treated.

Health Reasons

While the claims found in the media could be endlessly debated, they have been largely successful in getting their messages in front of the population. It is usually health-conscious folks — or those trying to become health conscious — who take the message to heart and decide to learn more about veganism for health reasons.

Often, however, it is a combination of the above reasons. They turn to veganism initially to help the animals, and then they just feel better after avoiding all animal-derived products.

10 Steps to Successfully Becoming a Vegan

Hopefully by now you’ve made up your mind to become a vegan. Great! It’s important to understand right from the start that going vegan isn’t easy. There are many challenges — in fact, most of the world will seem like they’re against you.

Thankfully there are some tricks and strategies that can help you get past the obstacles and set you on your way to a happy vegan lifestyle.

Here are ten tips for going vegan successfully:

1. Get the Right Mindset

If you see your transition to veganism simply as a huge lifestyle change, chances are good that you may find it difficult and unpleasant. This is probably one of the most important reasons that some people go vegan, but couldn’t stay vegan in the long run.

The idea here is to build the right mindset that will fuel your decision and give you enough power to overcome your craving for meat for good. Try to read up on veganism as much as possible, watch videos that show the level of cruelty animals have to go through just to be put on your plate, as well as try to understand a lot of the other huge number of benefits that a vegan lifestyle offers.

This will help your commitment to a cruelty-free life grow much stronger than your selfish desire for meat, and your taste for animal-based foods would disappear into nothingness faster than you may think.

2. Get into the “Food Experimentation” Mode

If you thought going vegan meant surviving on a few boring foods all your life, you couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, you will actually be left amazed at the variety of vegan food out there, and would soon realize that animal-based foods barely offer any options when compared to the foods you’re going to discover when following a vegan lifestyle.

Don’t Be Afraid to Try New Things

However, in order to be able to make the most out of the food empire you’re going to take over, you will need to develop a habit of trying new vegan foods and not getting disappointed when you don’t like a few of them. The vast majority of them may well leave you surprised at the way they make your taste buds come to life, though.

You will probably regret not wanting to go vegan sooner, and that’s exactly the kind of “push” your mind needs to crowd out meat-based foods once and for all.

You may want to get into a habit of trying a new vegan food every day or two. Doing so will help you discover more than enough vegan foods you love in less than a month. And that may very well turn out to be the point where the first food that comes to your mind when you feel hungry is a vegan food.

3. Gain Some Vegan Knowledge

As mentioned above, reading as much as you can about everything vegan is going to help shape the right mindset you need to make the ultimate shift. While this isn’t exactly a requirement per se, there’s perhaps no significant lifestyle change that you can achieve and stick to without doing some reading on it.

It’s a given that you will have to make quite a few changes as far as shopping, cooking, as well as some other lifestyle choices, among other things. This is where the knowledge you gain through reading useful information about veganism may come in handy.

Find Vegan Books

A book that many vegans-to-be vouch for is Kristy Turner’s But I Could Never Go Vegan! It’s believed to be a perfect fit for people new to veganism, as it introduces them to the “ethical” lifestyle in a super-easy and perfectly comfortable way. Apart from that, it comes loaded with as many as 125 great vegan recipes, all of which are incredibly easy to make without you needing any crazy fancy cooking skills or tools.

The book walks you through lots of photos of the dishes it teaches you to cook, and honestly the photos look so tempting that you will find it hard to not get yourself to cook even if you’re not a fan of cooking.

That said, there are probably tens of other such books that are focused towards “beginner vegans” and you certainly can’t go wrong reading a couple of them. You will likely learn a lot more in a few hours that way than you would in a few months on your own.

Vegan Books Can Also Provide Motivation

However, you also need to keep in mind the fact that deciding to go vegan is one thing, but maintaining the motivation to stick to it as a long-term lifestyle choice is another. This is where the books and films or documentaries that take you on a first-hand tour of the cruel aspects of the meat businesses come in. They may very well turn out to be the source of motivation you need to commit to veganism in a way that you wouldn’t ever want to even imagine going back to your previous lifestyle.

The books Mercy for Animals and The Skeptical Vegan are pretty good options for this, but there are tons of excellent books, movies, and documentaries for this purpose.

4. Take Care of Your Nutritional Requirements

Although you’re very likely going to eat much more nutritional foods as a vegan than you did as a meat-eater, it’s still always a good idea to make sure you’re getting the right amount of nutrition through your vegan diet. Again, while vegan food is generally quite healthy when compared to its non-vegan counterpart, it’s to be noted that we now have vegan versions of pretty much all types of junk food out there as well.

While eating a decent variety of vegan food may put you in a better position to meet your body’s nutritional requirements, it’s far from a reliable “food habit.” In other words, you would want to do some research and pick the right vegan foods depending on your nutritional requirements.

A pretty good resource for this is going to be Jack Norris and Virginia Messina’s Vegan for Life. You will get to know pretty much everything you need to know about getting all the nutrients you need, ranging from B-12 to calcium to all the important proteins.

The B-12 is something that deserves some special attention as you’re unlikely to get it without supplementing the vegan food. A good solution to this is simply taking a sublingual B-12 tablet every three days or so. There’s no reason to ignore this, as it would help you cover your B-12 requirements for just about $25 a year.

5. Shopping for Groceries the Vegan Way

Of course, as the food you consume change drastically, so will the way you shop for the items to make them. Now, the first thing to keep in mind here is that you can start by shopping for stuff that will allow you to make those quick, easy vegan dishes and snacks.

They are not only going to be easy on your taste buds, but they are also much easier and quicker to shop for. The places to shop for your vegan foods include the typical supermarkets and natural food stores, and even the farmers’ markets if that’s an option for you. Also, don’t forget that there are many new vegan stores going online as we speak, and they can be great places to shop from as well.

Supermarket shopping for people learning how to become vegan

If you think grocery shopping for vegan foods is difficult, think again. There’s probably no supermarket that doesn’t offer a great variety of foods for vegan diet, such as beans, rice, fruits, vegetables, pasta, soy milk and many more. However, you wouldn’t want to limit yourself to the typical supermarkets; instead, you can use the opportunity that has came your way thanks to your transition to a vegan lifestyle to transform your shopping skills.

Natural Food Markets Aren’t As Expensive As You Think

A natural food store will likely blow away a supermarket if you want to shop for a diverse range of vegan foods. I know most people think that a natural food store is going to be more expensive, but you can get around that as well.

Simply keep an eye on the prices when you’re shopping and you will be quick to find the right things to shop for. However, you may actually find them to be cheaper, as a supermarket would usually sell them at list prices while a natural food store that specialize in certain items will sell them for a good discount.

Then many natural food stores also have a bulk foods department where you can shop for your staples for much cheaper than you would otherwise have to pay for them.

The deli is another item that deserves some special attention. They are actually far from cheap, but there are probably not many better way to introduce yourself to a wide range of unfamiliar vegan food. However, the good news is that they are surprisingly easy to make yourself, and are going to be way cheaper when you get used to making them on your own.

Not All Vegan Foods Are Made Equal

There are also certain vegan foods you would want to avoid, and one of them are frozen vegan foods. Now, I know that it may be hard to resist the temptation to get a bunch of stuff from the frozen foods aisle, but they often cost a fortune and are not exactly the best options in terms of nutritional value or taste.

Of course, they may still be much better than their non-vegan counterparts on all fronts, but if budget is a factor you need to consider then you would rather spend time in the bulk foods section than the frozen foods one.

Search For A Good Farmers’ Market

Going to a farmers’ market is very likely your best bet if you have one in your area. You will find way fresher and better-tasting produce at a fraction of the price at a farmers’ market. You may want to check out directories like this one that may help you find a farmers’ market in your area.

Finally, there’s also Trader Joe’s and even Amazon where you can find all sorts of vegan foods — including some of the most delicious ones. A Trader Joe’s is going to be a much cheaper place to shop from, though if you have some luck on your side you may also find some great sellers on Amazon that sell vegan foods made using high-quality ingredients at fairly low prices. Another possibility is the new AmazonFresh area of Amazon.

6. Transform Your Kitchen with These Basic Kitchen Tools

Being a vegan is going to be a lot easier, not to mention a lot of fun, if you brush up your cooking skills a bit. Don’t let the thought of having to learn to cook (better) intimidate you, though, as with the right kitchen tools it’s going to be a breeze.

And by right kitchen tools, we don’t mean those highly sophisticated kitchen gadgets that can set you back hundreds of dollars, but rather a few simple but incredibly useful ones that you can find for as less as about $20 apiece. These mainly include toasters, blenders, immersion mixers and slow cookers, though there are also a few other that may be worth considering once you start cooking regularly.

Don’t forget a good knife, too. My personal recommendation would be the Victorinox Fibrox knife set available on Amazon. They boast amazing workmanship, especially for the price they’re being offered at, and if you take care of the sharpening requirements every 6 months or so they will certainly help you take your cooking experiences to the next level.

Once you get past the “basic cooking zone” and are ready for a more “involved” cooking experience, some of the more advanced kitchen equipment like a pressure cooker and a food processor may turn out to be great additions to your kitchen.

7. Time for Some Cooking Help

Of course, we know that simply suggesting you the right kitchen equipment isn’t going to be enough. You’re going to need some help with getting started with vegan cooking as well, and you will be surprised how easy it is to come by.

What we just said may sound a little contrary to what you may have heard from other beginner-vegans, and that’s because many of them end up going for the wrong cookbook as their first cooking resource. When you’re just starting out, you don’t need anything fussy or gourmet or to learn many advanced cooking skills.

Just stick to learning the quick and easy meals and you will be good to go. They are also way quicker to make and you’re likely to enjoy making them. That said, you always have the option to branch out once you get perfectly comfortable with them.

Here are what seem to be some of the best cookbooks for new vegans:

If you’re after a fancy touch to your vegan cooking, then The Oh She Glows Cookbook can be a fantastic choice. It’s kind of an all-round resource for those that want to learn to cook gourmet dishes that taste great but don’t demand a lot of time.

There are also cookbooks entirely dedicated to different types of cuisines, as well as even specializing in certain areas such as pressure cookers, bread baking, crockpots, salads and more.

However, you would be pleased to know that in order to be able to cook a surprisingly diverse variety of vegan food, all you need to do is just learn to make 5 foods the vegan way: smoothies, salads, grilled veggies and sandwiches. Once you learn these basic types of vegan-friendly foods, you’ll be well on your way to being a happy vegan.

8. It’s OK to Ask for Help

New vegans often need a helping hand, and one of the best ways to get help can often be to talk to a vegan. There are many forums and online groups for vegans that you can easily find with a bit of searching on Google.

There are also many local vegan groups so if you think you could do with more help than what the internet can offer, you can always consider getting into one of them.

9. Don’t Lose Sight of Your Motivation

Always keep reminding yourself of your motivation and reasons for going vegan. While going and staying vegan can be much easier than you may think, there are some factors out there that may sometimes try to pull you down.

During such times, reflecting on your choices, reasons and motivation can go a long way in helping you get over the negativity that you may be dealing with. And so would visiting an animal sanctuary in your nearby area and watching videos about veganism and animals that are traditionally farmed.

10. Never Give Up

If you truly believe in veganism, your reasons behind wanting to go vegan, and yourself, veganism will eventually become second nature for you. Remember: if you’re dealing with certain issues, it’s very likely that people have gone through it before and will have advice and tips to help you succeed. But whatever you do, when things get tough — and they will — don’t give up.

Conclusion

Veganism is a lifestyle in which the person avoids all animal and animal-derived foods and products. People usually decide to become vegan for animal rights and/or health reasons.

No matter your reason for wanting to become a vegan, it is not always easy to make such a significant lifestyle change — especially one that seems to be as such odds to mainstream society. However, there are many steps you can take to make becoming a vegan easier than it would otherwise be.

Regardless, veganism is a worthwhile journey that will undoubtedly fill you with satisfaction and will likely make you feel better physically and mentally. We hope this in-depth guide has given you a better idea about how to become vegan.

Best of luck to you.