The Vegetarian Resource Group Blog

How Do I Transition into Veganism?

Posted on July 09, 2015 by The VRG Blog Editor

By Anne Custer

Once you’ve made a successful transition to vegetarianism, you might start to wonder about veganism. Vegetarians do not eat meat, fish, or poultry. Vegans, in addition to being vegetarian, do not use other animal products and by-products such as eggs, dairy products, honey, leather, fur, silk, wool, cosmetics, and soaps derived from animal products. There are many reasons why people decide to transition. For me, it was a deep conviction that I did not want to contribute to any type of suffering. Being a dietetics student, I was also interested in the nutrition benefits of a plant based diet and the healing and restorative power it can have. Those were the main reasons why I chose veganism, but everyone has their own. A few others are environmental or social justice reasons.

When you decide to become a vegan, it may be tempting to quit cold Tofurky. This works for some people. For others, this way may not be sustainable long term. To slowly wean yourself off of animal products, I suggest making a list of everything you eat in one day. Then, identify the animal products on your list. Each day after that, omit one item you’ve identified from your diet. It may take a few days for you to completely omit one product, but this is an adjustment; take the time you need to solidify your choices.

When I made the decision to become vegan, I stopped eating animal products immediately. I never really enjoyed cheese and I knew I could find a substitute for my Greek yogurt fix. I went to my local grocery store and searched around the natural foods section. Most stores I’ve been to have this type of section and this is where I find most of the packaged foods I buy. This is also where I found substitutes for yogurt, ice cream, and pizza. I enjoy So Delicious brand products such as their dairy-free blueberry yogurt and salted caramel cashew milk ice cream. For breakfast, I would take a container of yogurt and mix it with granola and fresh berries. Amy’s is also a great brand for a quick and delicious meal alternative. They have the best pizza too!

If you are concerned about vegan baking, eggs are surprisingly easy to replace in recipes. Mash a banana, use some oil, or make a flax egg. Take 1 Tablespoon of flax meal and mix it with 3 Tablespoons of water. Let it sit for a few minutes until a gelatinous mixture is formed. You can also do the same with chia seeds. As for eating eggs, tofu is a great substitute for scrambled style. Crumble the tofu and stir-fry it with veggies and any seasoning you usually use on eggs. Tofu crumbles and soaks up flavor easily making it one of the most versatile vegan foods. I’ve used it in smoothies, baked goods, stir-fries, and most commonly as a meat substitute.

As my friend once said, “Not all vegan cheese is created equal.” Some can be way too gooey or slimy and others get the taste all wrong. Field Roast’s Chao Creamy Original is my personal favorite. As you can see, the market has inspired companies to make a plethora of vegan substitutes for anything you may want. I’ve found that after eating vegan for over two years, I simply don’t crave animal products and desire the taste of wholesome, plant based foods instead.

After you’ve weaned off of animal products, people are going to start to notice and ask you all kinds of questions. Where do you get your protein? What about calcium or iron? Do you miss cheese? Wouldn’t the world be overpopulated with animals if we didn’t eat them? Here is a great resource for responses to common questions vegans are asked: My best advice is to be prepared and do all the research you can. At the end of the day, all you can do is stand firm in your beliefs and if people can’t accept that, then that is their prerogative. Explain to people, in a non- defensive manner, your stance and reasoning behind going vegan. Most people are genuinely interested and will respect your choice. But for that judgmental friend or overly concerned uncle, you may have to just smile and nod. Some people will never understand our choices, but as long as you have a reason, that’s all that matters.

Visit the VRG site for more resources and answered questions:

Anne Custer wrote this piece while interning with The Vegetarian Resource Group.

The contents of this posting, our website and our other publications, including Vegetarian Journal, are not intended to provide personal medical advice. Medical advice should be obtained from a qualified health professional. We often depend on product and ingredient information from company statements. It is impossible to be 100% sure about a statement, info can change, people have different views, and mistakes can be made. Please use your best judgement about whether a product is suitable for you. To be sure, do further research or confirmation on your own.

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