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Becoming vegan overnight seems pretty inspiring, yet it might not work for everyone.
Additionally, switching your diet entirely without knowing how to do it right can make the whole transition much harder.
Becoming vegan slowly is a great way to approach veganism. The easiest way to start is to:
Cut down on your consumption of animal products by removing the ones you don’t like that much. Then, gradually work on swapping all animal-based ingredients and meals with plant-based alternatives.
In this article, I will share ideas, guidelines, and tips, when transitioning to veganism that hopefully can help you speed up the process and feel more comfortable with a 100% plant-based diet.
How To Become Vegan Slowly:
1. Identify & focus on your motive.
First and foremost, have clear reasons why you want to become vegan.
Going vegan has many benefits for your health and our environment. However, it is essential to remember that veganism isn’t just a ‘diet’ or environmental movement.
Veganism is an ethical choice, which goal is to exclude as much as possible all forms of exploitation and cruelty to animals for food, clothing, or any other purpose.
If you want to stop supporting animal cruelty while helping the environment, and improving your health, focus on these goals.
Many people who jump into veganism without a motive often slack off and start consuming animal products again. So, identifying the reason is a crucial step.
Related post: 8 Environmental Benefits Of Reducing Meat Consumption
2. Eat more meals you already enjoy that happen to be plant-based.
There are for sure various dishes that you enjoy and are already “naturally” vegan.
This includes peanut butter banana sandwich, oatmeal, hummus, various Indian dishes, veggie stir-fry, veggie stews, bean and rice burrito, lentil stew, bean chili, etc.
Incorporate more of these foods into your diet. For example, consider trying:
- For breakfast: A sandwich with peanut butter & banana or oatmeal with fruits & seeds.
- For lunch: One of these Indian vegan recipes.
- For dinner: One of these lazy & simple vegan recipes.
3. Slowly start cutting animal products you don’t like much anyway.
You can gradually cut down one food group at a time. For example, I first became vegetarian since meat was the easiest thing for me to give up.
Then, I started removing milk and yogurt, cheese, and finally eggs & honey (the hardest for me).
Pick the animal products you eat and enjoy the least, and cut them off. Then, gradually go to animal products that are a bit harder to let go of.
4. Gradually work on swapping animal-based ingredients with plant-based alternatives.
While removing animal products from your diet, it is essential to start incorporating more plant-based alternatives. This includes whole grains, beans, legumes, tofu, nuts, and seeds.
Switching to plant-based alternatives will make it much easier to cut down on animal products even further simultaneously.
- Plant-based milk instead of dairy
- Soy or plant-based yogurt instead of dairy yogurt
- Aquafaba (the water from a can of chickpeas) as egg white (suitable for meringues, mouses, and baked goods)
- Flaxseed meal as eggs (ideal for cakes and baked goods)
- Tofu scramble (with back salt & nutritional yeast) instead of scrambled eggs
- Fermented cashew cream cheese instead of cheese
- Nutritional yeast for a cheesy kick
- Bean burgers, mushroom-based burgers, or mock meats instead of real meat
- Seitan, tofu, tempeh, beans & legumes for protein instead of meat
When trying any of the plant-based options, remember that these are just alternatives; do not expect that a vegan bean burger will have 100% the same taste like a real burger, or cashew cheese will be exactly like real cheese.
If you go with these expectations, you may end up disappointed. These alternatives can taste somewhat SIMILAR to the real thing, but their taste will still be different. So always remember that, and don’t have any unrealistic expectations.
5. Don’t be afraid to experiment with new products.
Finding various new & exciting products can make your transition so much easier. For example, before going vegan, I had no idea what’s seitan, tempeh, nutritional yeast, or cashew cheese.
Additionally, don’t be afraid to give an ingredient/product a second chance. 😀 I know SO many people who hate tofu at the beginning (including me!!!).
But the truth is that tofu can be extremely delicious if you prepare it right.
Just look online at how to make a specific vegan ingredient taste good, such as tofu, and follow one of the many recipes out there.
On the contrary, some vegan alternatives, like vegan cheese, CAN taste like a shoe.
But let’s be honest, that doesn’t apply only to vegan foods. You probably bought something that you thought would be good at least once, but it had a terrible taste.
Even though rarely, this can also happen when buying vegan alternative foods. Just don’t give up until you find the tasty vegan substitutes, because believe me, they exist!
In short – just because you tried one vegan cheese or veggie burger you didn’t like, it doesn’t mean all vegan cheese and veggie burgers are terrible.
6. Veganise your favorite dishes!
It’s way easier to stop eating animal products if you can eat the same (or similar) meals and foods you have always eaten.
That’s why it is BEST to find vegan recipes for your favorite dishes. Check these veganized beef dishes for some inspiration, or look online on how to make them:
- Vegan Bolognese
- Vegan Carbonara
- Vegan Steak
- Vegan Eggs (product), or Tofu “Egg” Scramble (recipe)
- Fudgy brownies
Do a quick search for your favorite meal that contains animal products but a vegan version of it, and try it out!
7. Learn more about animal agriculture.
Killing an animal that doesn’t want (and need) to die for food and our sensory pleasure (taste) is unnecessary and inhumane.
Furthermore, abusing cows, pigs, chickens, or other animal is no different than abusing dogs and cats.
The truth is that humans can thrive on a 100% plant-based diet, and we don’t need the flesh of dead animals to sustain ourselves.
Learning more about the way animals are treated, abused, and slaughtered, can be harsh. But seeing it will give you an entirely new perspective and a serious boost of motivation to reduce your animal consumption even further.
You can learn more on Youtube, or check out one of these documentaries:
- Dominion (Free on Youtube)
- Earthlings (Free on Youtube)
- Cowspiracy (Free on Youtube)
- What you eat matters (Free on Youtube)
- Vegucated (Free on Youtube)
- Food Choices (Free on Youtube)
8. Learn about the nutrition and supplements you need.
A balanced and healthy plant-based diet can ensure adequate intake of all the needed nutrients.
But at the beginning of your vegan journey, it is best to supplement with B12, multivitamin, and perhaps vegan omega 3 capsules.
This is just as a precaution, as least until you get used to eating 100% plant-based, and you know how to get all the nutrients you need quickly.
Learning more about nutrition doesn’t have to be tedious and time-consuming.
9. Read the labels.
There are “hidden” ingredients that you will start to learn over time. Pay attention to ingredient lists, and avoid products that contain animal-derived ingredients, like:
- gelatin, lanolin (comes from sheep wool, dough conditioner), rennet, albumen, bone char, butterfat, casein, lactose, shellac, vitamin D3 (fish oil), eggs, honey, milk, whey powder, etc.
What about the label “It MAY CONTAIN eggs, milk, etc.”?
It is still a vegan product. This is just a legal disclaimer because the food was made in a facility using equipment used to produce animal products. It’s there just in case you have a severe allergy, and there might be a slight possibility of cross-contamination.
10. Follow vegan blogs & Youtube channels.
Following vegan blogs, Facebook groups, and Youtube channels will help you normalize veganism, understand it better, and constantly find new information, recipes, tips, etc.
Seeing how people live and what they do as vegans will help you feel more comfortable and perceive it as a normal lifestyle and not something unusual.
This is exceptionally important if no one around you is vegan and you can’t seem to find the needed support.
Some of my personal favorite ones include:
- Earthling Ed (educational)
- Pick Up Limes (recipes)
- Avantgarde Vegan (recipes)
- Simnett Nutrition (recipes, education)
- Mic the Vegan (educational)
If you have any questions, doubts, or want to chat about veganism, you can always write me, and I will try to help with anything I can. 🙂
Tips on how to become vegan slowly:
Try to go vegan for a day, a week, or a month.
One vegan meal a day is a great beginner step to start becoming vegan slowly.
Next, you can begin eating only vegan foods on the weekends. If you like challenges, you can start eating only vegan meals on the weekdays and allow yourself some animal products on the weekends.
Another challenge is to go fully vegan for a week or 30 days and see how it goes. It is a challenge that many people participate in at the beginning of each year (Veganuary). However, you can do it any time of the year.
Spice it up & don’t focus on the foods you CAN’T eat.
A couple of years ago, it was harder to find vegan options for many things, but now, it is easier than ever. There are vegan alternatives to almost anything you can think of!
Additionally, when transitioning to a vegan diet, use various spices, seeds, nuts, etc., to bring your food to the next level.
And don’t focus on the foods you CAN’T eat. Instead, make a list and focus on the NEW things you want to integrate into your diet.
You may eat something that’s not vegan by mistake.
Don’t panic! It can happen, especially if you are new to veganism.
It happened to me, too. I got “vegan” cheese from a Health store in Berlin. I showed it to a friend (after eating half of it), telling her how much it tastes like real cheese.
Then, she saw that the symbol, which I thought was saying “vegan,” was saying “vegetarian.” It was so tiny that I didn’t pay attention to it. I felt kind of bad when I realized I ate real cheese.
But after I thought a bit more about it, I stopped judging myself, because it happened unintentionally.
If it happens to you, don’t break your head about it; consider it as a lesson, and be more careful the next time.
You MAY fall off the wagon occasionally while you’re still new to veganism, but don’t beat yourself up. It does get so much easier with time.
Going vegan overnight.
If you are an “all or nothing” type of person, you can try to go vegan overnight.
Dropping all animal products from your diet overnight can be pretty easy, especially if you are already vegetarian or pescetarian.
It may be a bit more difficult if you currently eat everything but not impossible.
Be prepared & don’t give up.
If you have issues with friends or family, try to explain that this is your decision and it is extremely important to you.
If you are traveling to a location where vegan foods are less accessible, try to prepare yourself in advance with some plant-based meals, snacks, and staples.
Not all vegan things are healthy.
Oreos are vegan, as well as many other not-that-wholesome foods. Remember that if something is vegan, that doesn’t automatically make it healthy. Enjoy the “junk” side of vegan foods, but always provide good nutritional meals for your body to feel good.
Don’t become “that” vegan.
By “that” I mean terrorizing, negative, and rude towards others who aren’t vegan. This approach can make people resentful towards veganism.
Being an advocate and passionate about veganism is fantastic, and if you feel like sharing more about your vegan journey – that’s great!
But focus on your journey, and understand that what you are learning & realizing isn’t what everyone else is realizing and feeling, too.
That’s why you should always first focus on living your best life, and being a good example, by learning more and sharing. Don’t criticize, judge, or shame people that are eating animal products.
Putting down others who may not be where you are could make those people hate veganism and never try it out of spite.
Is it hard to go vegan?
At first, it might be a little challenging. But with time, you will get used to and better at hitting your nutritional needs with beautiful, diverse food without eating animal products.
What should a beginner vegan eat?
- Fruits*: apples, bananas, pears, kiwis, oranges, grapefruit, lemons, peaches, plums, berries, grapes, apricots, watermelon, cantaloupe, etc.
- Vegetables*: broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, sweet potato, tomatoes, zucchini, mushrooms, pumpkin, kale, lettuce, etc.
- Grains & whole grains: oats, quinoa, rice, bread, tortillas, bagels, pitas, pasta, etc.
- Legumes: chickpeas, beans, lentils, edamame, peas, etc.
- Nuts & seeds: almonds, walnuts, cashews, sunflower seeds, pecans, tahini, peanut butter, or any other nut/seed butter.
- Soy products: firm or silken tofu, tempeh, soy milk & yogurt.
- Plant-based milk: oat milk, soy milk, coconut milk, hemp milk, cashew milk, hazelnut milk, almond milk, etc.
- Cheese alternatives & plant-based yogurt: soy/almond/coconut yogurt, nutritional yeast, vegan cheese slices, vegan cream cheese, etc.
*Always try to buy what’s seasonal.
Where do vegans get their protein?
There is plenty of protein in plants to meet all of your requirements. All plant foods contain amino acids in different proportions.
As long as you are eating enough calories and you focus on whole food plant-based diet, you won’t be deficient in protein.
Whole grains, beans, legumes, soy, nuts, and seeds are all great sources of protein:
- ½ cup (90g) kidney beans: 8g
- ½ cup chickpeas: 7g
- ½ cup lentils: 8g
- ½ cup firm tofu: 10g
- ¾ cup (100g) tempeh: 13g
- 1 cup quinoa, cooked: 8g
- 1 ounce (30g) hemp seeds: 9.5g
- 1 ounce (30g) chia seeds: 6g
- 1 whole-grain bagel: 12g
- 1 cup (240ml) soy milk: 8 – 12g
- 1 cup broccoli: 2.6g
- 1 scoop vegan protein powder: 20 – 25g
Do the vegan substitutes taste 100% like the real thing?
Most times, no. This is a common mistake that a lot of people make when transitioning to a vegan diet. Expecting a vegan burger to taste absolutely the same as a real burger isn’t realistic, and many times, you might feel a little disappointed.
For example, a tofu scramble won’t have the same taste like scrambled eggs. You can add spices, like turmeric (to get the yellowish color), nutritional yeast (for the “cheesy flavor”), and black salt (for eggy flavor). Then it can get pretty close (but not 100% exact) to scrambled eggs.
Why do I need to supplement with vitamin B12?
Regardless of your diet, you should monitor your B12 levels because vitamin B12 deficiencies are common in the general population.
A common misconception is that animal products contain B12, but usually, factory farm animals are also given B12 supplements.
Bacteria, not animals or plants, produce vitamin B12, and no matter if you are vegan or not, Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient.
Some plant foods contain some vitamin B12, like certain mushrooms and seaweed. In addition, many other plant-based food products, such as cereals, non-dairy milk, and nutritional yeast, are often fortified with vitamin B12.
If you don’t consume foods fortified with B12, it is recommended to take a B12 supplement.
Is vegan food more expensive?
No, most vegan pantry staples are some of the cheapest foods, including – rice, beans, lentils, chickpeas, pasta, fruits, vegetables, etc. Usually, meat, fish, and cheese can be much more expensive than various vegan foods.
Some foods, like vegan yogurts, ice cream, and cheeses, can be more expensive, but these aren’t foods usually consumed daily.
What are the benefits of becoming vegan slowly?
Making small changes to your everyday meals is one of the easiest ways to increase the amount of plant-based foods in your diet. While becoming vegan overnight seems admirable, the approach of becoming vegan gradually has its benefits, such as:
- It is a great way to adjust your taste buds to more plant-based foods
- You will be able to learn how to prepare various delicious vegan dishes, making your transition easier
- There won’t be too much pressure on your digestion
- You will be able to adjust your shopping habits easily
It is perfectly fine to take it slowly and to become vegan at your own pace. Just keep your end goal in mind, and don’t worry; you won’t miss out on your favorite foods. You can still eat pizza, burgers, ice cream, and pretty much anything you can think of.
You can re-create flavors, textures, and your favorite comfort foods using the right ingredients and spices.
Lastly, a vegan diet could look different for everyone, and there are all types of options available. As long as you eat a variety of fruits, veggies, legumes, seeds, and nuts – you will do great!
How to become vegan slowly – Infographic (Pin me!):