If you had asked me the easiest way to transition to vegan a few years ago, I would’ve said I hadn’t the slightest clue! I was a vegetarian for about six years, then I went back to eating meat for about six months. Due to circumstances in my life (I was in an unhealthy relationship and overall just mentally exhausted, to my core), I knew I needed to make some changes. I never intended to become a vegan, and I never really gave it any thought. I loved cheese too much to even consider it, to be completely honest.
I was exhausted, I was done, I was tapped out. I reached deep and meditated on peacefulness. Finally, one Sunday night, I was just speaking the the Universe, a god – any god, Mother Nature, anyone or anything who would listen. I said “Please show me what I need to do to bring peace into my life”. I was picturing like a retreat to a farm sanctuary to volunteer with horses, or maybe a trip to the mountains to relax and learn yoga. I really don’t know what I was expecting but…
The next morning, I woke up and realized I wanted to go vegan. I was one of those people who said they would never go vegan, so it was kind of like I was living in an alternate universe at first. When I realized I had gotten my answer to peacefulness, I took it and I ran with it. Over the course of the next few weeks, I made several other BIG changes in my life. I still can’t believe the whirlwind domino effect going vegan had on me, but I’m so thankful.
I told the girls we would be vegan at home and they were able to make their own choices at school, with friends, etc. I was not going to have any animal products in my house but I wouldn’t force them to adopt my lifestyle changes. Overall, it hasn’t been too rough so far! I think this is partially due to the mindset shift we’ve had.
If you’re excited and ready to make the transition to vegan, your transition will be much easier. All the nagging in the world won’t get someone on board before they’re ready, but you can educate/nudge them a bit (read how to convince your family to go vegan). We have all had to figure it out for ourselves, and your family will have to go through that process as well. Try to avoid making rude comments, or it will take them even longer! Yes, that means no “Oh yes, that dead animal carcass looks like it tastes amazing” when they say they could “never be vegan”. When you make comments like that, it turns people off. Educate without judgment.
Easiest Way to Transition to Vegan
Add before subtracting.
Like with any lifestyle change, it’s easier to add to what you can do/eat/get rather than taking away and feeling deprived. The first step to failure with diet changes? Feeling like you’re not getting to eat the good stuff! Prevent this problem by adding more fruits and veggies to your diet before you start taking meat away.
If you don’t want to go cold turkey (no pun intended), start by slowly reducing the amount of meat you eat at each meal while also adding vegetables, beans, and other non-animal sources of protein.
Start with what you know.
Trying vegan alternatives to your favorite foods is most likely going to be the easiest way to start your transition to vegan (like this Vegan Mac and Cheese!). The problem with trying vegan products is that some won’t taste the greatest, especially at the beginning of your transition. The longer you have followed a vegan diet, the better some of these substitutes will taste! So if you don’t like a product right away, try it again in a few months.
We’ll talk a lot about vegan products on the blog, so be sure to check back often for our honest reviews. Right now, our favorite meatless crumbles are Gardein brand. They are actual crumbles, whereas Morning Star turns out more like mush.
We made these vegan nachos with Gardein meatless crumbles, some water, and taco seasoning. It cooks up just like real meat does.
The best sliced vegan cheese we’ve tried is FieldRoast brand. It tastes like Havarti cheese, super creamy! It also melts perfectly on sandwiches, grilled cheese, burgers, and more. The kids like to pack their lunches with tomato and cheese sandwiches and FieldRoast Chao is the only one that’s passed their pickiness. 😉
As far as non-dairy milks go, cashew milk is thick and creamy and a flavorful alternative to cow’s milk. Leave the cows milk for the baby cows! Almond milk is a popular milk alternative, and coconut milk is a solid option as well. We like the coconut milk in the cans because it’s frothy and thick – perfect for adding to your coffee.
There are so many vegan options, even at Wal-Mart! No matter which stores you have in your area, you’ll be able to find at least a few products that are vegan. I’m sure it’s much easier in places like San Diego and New York City, but even in small town Arizona we are able to be vegans. 🙂
Consider starting a garden.
Gardening can be intimidating. Even after working at a huge organic farm for a while, gardening at home is completely different. Perhaps you don’t have a green thumb, or perhaps you don’t have a large backyard, but some people grow crops in their kitchens! Starting a garden is a good way to save money by going vegan, too.
The #1 key to a successful garden is soil. Start by growing what’s easy. If you live in the desert, you’ll want to grow different crops than if you live in the Midwest or on the East Coast.
Many times, the first year of gardening will be complete crap. This can be discouraging because you’ll put so much work into it and get very little crop from it. Just keep working at it because the next year (and the next, and the next) will be easier, and yield more.
In my first year of gardening here in Arizona, I’ve attempted to grow many crops. It’s been frustrating because, so far, I’ve had the best luck with radishes. Other than that, I haven’t had a whole lot produce other than swiss chard and mint. Ants decided to invade the garden and eat all of the swiss chard, so we didn’t get to enjoy it much!
Do your research and know your why.
I combined these two steps because it’s so important to know your WHY, but also to have research to back it up. It’s totally acceptable to give up meat and animal products just because. It’s also totally acceptable to give them up because you just really love animals and are against animal cruelty! No matter what your reason for going vegan, you’re going to be questioned by friends and family so it’s best to have some research and facts on hand to spit back when necessary. It doesn’t have to be a confrontation, but just having a few one-liners will keep awkwardness to a minimum.
Documentaries on Netflix: Cowspiracy, Earthlings, Forks Over Knives, Vegucated, Super Size Me, and PlantPure Nation are all great vegan documentaries to start with. In most cases, documentaries are fairly one-sided, but the information is generally pretty accurate in my experience.
Books to read (some are free!):
Make it fun!
If you’re going vegan on your own, you have free reign to mix it up and have fun with it! If you’re trying to get your family to transition as well, it might be a little more difficult. Make it fun by including the family in meal planning, and by starting off with fun vegan cookbooks like Vegan for Everybody, But I Could Never Go Vegan!, and a not-so-kid-friendly-but-still-amazing one, Thug Kitchen 101: Fast as F*ck.
Need to start with desserts first? That’s totally fine, too, of course. Follow my Vegan Desserts pin board!