So you’ve decided on becoming vegan? Congratulations on your choice! It’s not an easy one to make especially when it has a massive impact on your current lifestyle.
Considering you’ve thought thoroughly about your decision, the following content is a beginner’s guide in becoming vegan. One of the common mistakes made by a lot of people is jumping right into it or not knowing where to start.
For that reason, I decided to review my experience when I first began and also, analyzed what I know now. Take out your notepad because we are going to dive into some high-quality content.
First and foremost, remember your why.
In a previous article, I highlight the importance of setting an intention as to why you want to become vegan. Again, when you are staying true to what you believe in, making choices at grocery stores or restaurants will be backed by your intention.
Additionally, make several copies of your written intention list and tape it everywhere in your house. That way, you are always inspired by your goals and are motivated to stick to your new dietary change.
Secondly, clean out your kitchen.
A piece of advice that my raw-foodist coach once gave me is, “If you don’t have it in your kitchen, you will not be tempted to eat it.” She is absolutely right!
Therefore, in a box, place all items from your kitchen that are not in agreeance with your new chosen diet. One concern you might have is not wanting to throw away what you have purchased, and you don’t have to. You are welcome in taking that box and donating it to a homeless person, or you can give it away to your friends or family.
If you don’t know what items to remove from your pantry and/or are not motivated to google search, below I list a summary of things that are not vegan:
Dairy: milk, processed cookies (Oreos), cheese, coffee creamer, yogurt, dairy ice-cream, and bread.
When it comes to dairy, you want to read the LABEL, specifically the INGREDIENTS section. Most of the products will have in small letters a particular sentence you need to keep an eye out for which is might contain milk, eggs, or nuts. If that label is anywhere on the product, don’t bother in purchasing it.
Eggs: pasta, snack bars, waffles, sauces like tartar or mayo.
Eggs are used everywhere and almost in anything. Same as the label above keep an eye out for that warning. There are beer and wine products that contain a gelatin-based substance derived from fish. Processed snack bars are a big no-no, especially, Special K or RXBAR. Again, read the ingredients label to help you find out if that product has eggs or not.
Chips: Cheetos, Doritos, or processed potato chips of any kind.
Popular branded chips in the store contain dairy or food coloring. On top of food coloring being a chemical that is harmful to your body, some contain Carmine which is derived from an insect. Also, chips contain refined sugars that are a cause of heart disease and other disturbing health issues.
Chocolate: Hershey Kisses, hot chocolate, boxed cake or brownie mix, or cocoa butter.
Oh yes, this one is hard, but listen, there are better alternatives for chocolate like Cacao. Chocolate has milk and sometimes even eggs. These are found in candy bars and ice-cream desserts that already contain dairy.
Lastly, as Phoebe from the tv show Friends once said, “Anything with a face on it:” chicken, seafood, lamb, red-meats, and pork.
Eliminate all products from your kitchen that come from an animial or even have traces of animal. These items include but are not limited to frozen dinners, burger patties, canned soups, jerky, frozen pizzas, dressings (usually contain eggs), and marshmellows (contains gelatin devried from animals skin and bones).
Next, purchase a vegan cookbook.
Let’s consider the fact that maybe you weren’t or aren’t much of a chef. If you are looking for vegan meals that are fulfilling your taste buds, understand that you might have to spend more time in your kitchen.
Right now, you might be saying in your head that you don’t have the time. Well, consider this: if you spend an extra fifteen minutes in bed each morning scrolling through Instagram or lounge on the couch binge-watching Netflix tv shows, then you have time to prepare meals.
Thankfully, purchasing a vegan cookbook will help you jumpstart on learning new vegan recipes. Ensure that you are buying one that agrees to your specific diet. If you are a vegan, then make sure all recipes in the cookbook you buy are in fact, vegan. Don’t go off buying a vegetarian cookbook if you don’t eat eggs or cheese.
With today’s technology, you can also purchase or download a free recipe app from your phone. Having the ability to review recipes from the palm of your hand makes the transition even easier for you.
Lastly, once you have found a vegan cookbook that is attractive, scan through the recipes and the ingredients. You will want to get familiar with which ingredients are used consistently in the recipes you find most appealing. Once you get familiar, move forward to the next step in the list of our beginner’s guide of becoming vegan.
Let’s go shopping!
Like a lot of people tend to believe, shopping for healthy groceries is expensive however, it can be affordable if you are smart about it.
Before expecting to use up all of your paycheck at a whole food store, make a grocery list. Divide the list by greens, fruits, legumes, and superfoods. Having to divide your type of groceries will best determine where you can find all of your items and at a lower cost. Most likely your list will consist of a lot of veggies and fruits in which you can purchase at a local farmers market. The best part of going to a local farmers market is that all of their produce is usually organic and tremendously cheaper than a natural whole food store.
If you choose to go to a grocery store instead of a farmers market and you are still looking to eat organic, please review the photo below:
I highlight the importance of eating organic since your diet will mostly consist of vegetables and fruits. You want to ensure that you’re not purchasing anything genetically modified (which is harmful to your body). You can click here if you want check out how my personal grocery lists tend to look like.
Time to have fun with making meals!
Now that you have your kitchen stocked whip out your cookbook or recipe app, and start looking for things to make.
For those who have tight schedules, consider reviewing recipes that allow you to meal prep for the week ahead. Meal prepping is a great way to help you stay on track and also, enables you to save cooking time.
Secondly, don’t be afraid to explore and create your own recipes. There are moments when I crave Italian or Asian food. Since those types of cuisines consist of a lot of carbs and GMOs, I stay away. But, also, since I create dishes like zoodles and plant-based alfredo sauce, I don’t tend to find myself wanting to cheat on my diet. So, if you’re a big fan of burgers, find recipes that allow you to make healthy veggie patties and switch the processed buns with lettuce! There are always ways to help kick the meat-craves to the curve. You just have to look for the healthy alternatives and try them out.
Once you find the things you enjoy eating the most, stick to them. Don’t force yourself to eat foods that you don’t like. That’s only going to deviate you from your goal of staying on track. But again, it’s okay to explore! Have fun with flavors and seasonings. You’re going to be surprised with how tasty meals can be without involving meat.
Remember your intentions, and don’t lose motivation!
One of the essential elements in a beginner’s guide to becoming vegan is to stay on track and have fun with it. The path you are taking is not going to be perfect at all times. You most likely will run into speed bumps along the way with temptations.
As I mentioned above, fall back to your intention list and continue to maintain your motivation based on why you are on this new eating lifestyle. One way to help you to stay motivated is by connecting with other people online or at local events with similar eating habits. There are tons of folks out there on the same path and who have a lot more experience. There is a great deal of information you can probably learn from there. More importantly, you can grasp new tips and advice from meeting these new people or reading their online posts about how they expand their diet.
Now that you’re on a new vegan/plant-based/vegetarian path don’t hesitate to take notes of how you feel each day. Track your progress, and every day that passes by – praise yourself. It takes a lot of work and also, lots of courage to maintain a new dietary life change.
For that, have compassion for yourself and be your own cheerleader. You’re the only person in control of your body and your wellbeing. There is no one out there keeping track of your progress. So, remind yourself of your commitments and your accomplishments. Maintaining a positive attitude and mindset on your new diet path will help you to make this whole becoming a vegan thing – a seamless ride.