I have been wanting to create a “how to” guide to going vegan for quite a while now, but as I sat down to do it, I realized just how difficult this was going to be. There are so many points I want to cover, but I also want to keep this to a length that is readable and appealing to those that I am writing this for. With that being said, along with this post, a new series for sweetsimplevegan.com has been created! I am inviting guest bloggers to share their take on how to go vegan! Find my full list of guest posts here.
I’m just going to be upfront about this. In the beginning, this may be hard, frustrating, foreign and definitely controversial in some instances where those around you do not support your views, so you MUST constantly remind yourself that it will get easier. This is one of the simplest lifestyles, but going into it from a place that is most often times the complete opposite end of the spectrum will take some work. Tell yourself that you are ready for the change, that you are doing this because the only thing that will come out of it is GOOD, and remind yourself WHY you want to do this. (This is also further discussed below).
Be prepared for the opposition that may come! What I like to keep in mind is that they don’t understand the unfamiliar change that is being made, but if I stay strong and show them how beautiful this lifestyle is, the lifestyle becomes less unfamiliar and actually more appealing and desirable to myself and others alike 🙂
Included within your initial preparation is education. Yes, I know that some of you are already set on the decision to make this change and don’t see this as much of a need, but this is an important action for you to take not just initially but consistently throughout your journey. This will help you stay grounded and hold sight of positives to maintain your encouragement towards change.
Education prior to your change will allow for you to more easily maintain an idea of why you not only want to do this, but essentially now NEED to do this. No matter how many times I have seen certain documentaries, take Forks Over Knives for example, I always am so fired up at the end of the film and reminded that I have made one of the best decisions I will ever possibly make in my lifetime by simply going vegan. I have saved so many animal’s lives, and am making a positive change for the better that I just want to share with the whole world!
Here are a few of the resources I recommend (in no particular order):
Documentaries and Videos: Earthlings, Forks Over Knives, Earthlings, Food Inc., Vegucated, Fat Sick and Nearly Dead, Hungry For Change, Food Matters, Supersize Me, Cowspiracy, The Best Speech You Will Ever Hear (above)…
Websites and Social Media: Plant Based Athlete, Fully Raw Kristina, Rawvana, Ahnest Veggie, My Eclectic Kitchen, Freelee The Banana Girl, Jason Wrobel TV, Christine Salus, Happy Healthy Vegan, Eco Vegan Gal, Infinite Waters, Naturally Stefanie, Mango Island Mama, Mindful Diabetic Robby, Easy To Be Raw, OK Raw, Ellen Fisher, Cissy Lala, High Energy Parenting, Rawsome Healthy, Dara Dubinet, Raw Synergy, The Life Regenerator, The Raw Advantage, Raw Mama Nature, Fruits and Roots, …
Revamp your pantry
Out with the old, in with the new! Get rid of the bad, and make way for all the good <3
Remove all of the temptations and anything you know will set you up for failure. Not only will this help you with your food choices, but I also believe it will help you with mental clarity as well. When I was able to get rid of all of the “junk”, I started to feel like my kitchen and pantry held a more positive environment. It was like a weight was lifted off of my shoulders and the fog was cleared out of my mind.
There are two issues that I know will come up: what about the money spent on the items I am getting rid of? What if I live with others who want to keep the food?
These definitely make the situation more challenging. For the first question, in my opinion, the money that you will be saving in the future simply because you will be HEALTHY is worth it. Your health should be the most important aspect of the situation. Give it away, donate it, do with it as you choose. I am not going to tell you what you can and can’t do, and you will know what is best by your own belief.
As for the latter question, this will be complicated and challenging, but I will tell you that I went through the same thing when I first moved home from college and went vegan. I wanted to just go into the kitchen and throw everything away and get it over with, but my parents were extremely money conscious and also they were not going to give up their foods simply because I was. This kind of made me even more dedicated to the situation. I proved to them that I myself could go without the foods, that I was healthy, happy, and that I made a change for the better. I kept dedicated to my health and promoting veganism, and eventually, they started to follow my example. It took a few years, but it happened. This may happen with those you live with, so be patient. Focus on YOU for now, and once you are strong and comfortable, then you can shift you energy into helping not only yourself but those around you as well.
Check out What’s In My Kitchen, a list of tools I use and groceries I normally have!
Constantly remind yourself of your reason for change
Why are you making this change to begin with? There are so many different reasons why one may transition into a plant-based diet: an improvement in health? for the animals? for the environment?
Embrace the why of this whole situation, and try to give yourself constant reminder of it. This is one of the top tips I feel I can provide you, and for some people this is crucial to preventing failure.
With all that will be going on in your mind and body during the changes you are making (which will most likely be drastic as compared to previous lifestyle), forgetting why you are doing this in the first place will easily allow for you to regress back into the state you were trying to change. This also needs to be a personal decision, and you have to be comfortable with your choice. If you are going into this for someone else or for a decision that you yourself are not 100% accepting of, it will be difficult for you keep motivated and to stay strong!
A video by Ralph Smart outlining the insane benefits of a plant based diet, both physically, mentally and spiritually <3
Be easy on yourself when you make a mistake
Depending on where you are coming from in your previous lifestyle and habits, this transition may be challenging. When I made the change, although I knew how much my health was going to improve (the reason why I considered going vegan in the first place), I was constantly clouded by thoughts of restriction and elimination. No where in my mind did I embrace the abundance, vitality and clarity that I was going to achieve. I began to discourage myself without even being on the lifestyle for longer than a few months, and this is what caused me to struggle to maintain it and remain on the wagon.
I was stressed out by all of the pressure I put on myself to maintain this lifestyle perfectly, and I was always angry at myself for my instances of failure.
Things did not take a turn for the better until I actually began to focus on all of the accomplishments that I had made so far at that point, instead of punishing myself for the failures and mistakes. I told myself that I had to learn from them in order to reach my goal of transitioning into a vegan lifestyle in order to achieve the health improvements I had set into this lifestyle for to begin with. I was no perfect, not would I ever be, and realizing that definitely took all the weight off my shoulders that were preventing me from success.
Take baby steps
Depending on the kind of person you are, and your reason that adopting a healthier & plant-based lifestyle, you may consider jumping into this cold turkey. From my own personal experience, I advise that you don’t. Although it is optimal for you to change as soon as possible for your health, the environment and the animals, this may not be practical for achieving long term success.
For a while, I personally became so fixated on all of the bad and scolded myself for ever considering going back to it. Although I was happy with the fact that I was no longer consuming any animal products, I was also miserable because I started to feel empty, extremely restricted, and guilty of wanting and previously consuming the “bad” foods.
Instead of fixating yourself on elimination and restriction as a whole like I did, set sub-goals for yourself to eventually reach your main end goal of a 100% plant-based vegan lifestyle. Try eating 1 vegan meal a day for however long it takes for you to pick up the habit, then make it 2 meals, then eventually all of your meals.
What “kind” of vegan are you?
High carb, low fat? Raw Till 4? High fat, low carb? 100 % Raw? 95 % Raw? 83 % Raw?
W H O C A R E S !
The more you try and “label” yourself at the start, the harder you are probably going to make it. The fact that you are choosing a plant-based vegan lifestyle is 100% more HEALTHY, BENEFICIAL, ETHICAL, ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY than other any diet AND lifestyle that includes animal products.
Everyone has different opinions, preferences AND lives; your body may react one way to a certain “kind”, while another persons will react totally opposite. You can take advice and learn from the experiences of others, but don’t use that to beat yourself up about “imperfections”. Listen to your body, and learn from your OWN personal journey. Keep it simple to begin with, to get yourself used to things, THEN consider what “kind of vegan” you are if it matters that much to you.
Try to keep it sweet and simple
A plant-based diet does not have to be hard, but it can be if you make it that way. Stick to the basics: raw fruits and vegetables. Not only are these whole fresh and raw sources of nutrients, they are nature’s fast food. You can grab-and-go with fruits and vegetables, no preparation is needed, and you can eat as much of them as your heart desires.
What makes this lifestyle complicated is if you focus on creating “gourmet” meals. It is not practical for you to go all out for every single one of your meals or to make homemade everything everyday. I say stick to the basics, such as fruit meals, salads, soups, etc. Overtime, once you are acquainted with these foods, you can expand your diet and skills and learn how to create more intricate meals/foods with better technique in a decreased amount of time.
You don’t have to plan for every single breakfast lunch dinner and snack all day everyday for the rest of your life. NO! Don’t drive yourself crazy.
But, at the start, keep a general idea of what you intend to make, in any way you choose to. What I love to do is make large batches or rice, beans, quinoa, etc., as well as dressings, marinated kale, pesto, oatmeals, etc. so that I can enjoy it throughout the week. Don’t binge buy “healthy ingredients” that you see all over Instagram and Pinterest. If you don’t know what to do with them, and don’t have a plan on what you want to do with them, you may just be wasting your money, and in the long run, cause yourself to view this lifestyle as ‘expensive’. You can do that all you want later on, but in the beginning, I suggest keeping your meals simple.
What will you do if you fail?
Maybe this isn’t something you want to think about, or maybe you think you will succeed and can skip this step. Well, I say otherwise. You have no idea what is going to happen with this change, or what is going to be thrown in your way that can throw you off. What is imperative is that you plan for what to do when faced with these obstacles.
What will you do when you visit a friend who is not vegan for dinner? During your upcoming road trip next month? If your husband or wife pressures you to eat animal foods? When your friends attack your new lifestyle choice? When your doctor lectures you on how you should eat meat? When you feel sad and confused and want to give up?
Write out the possible obstacles you think you might face, and then some that you don’t think are likely but will be there just in case. Then, write your plan of action for each of the obstacles.
AND ALWAYS KEEP IN MIND that tomorrow is a brand new day. You are not today who you were yesterday, or who you will be tomorrow. We are all constantly growing and changing, and learning from our own mistakes. And, we are all human! Some make more mistakes than others, and some people hide their mistakes more than you would think. Don’t compare yourself to others and their journey, focus on YOU.
On a budget or limited in options?
My favorite person to turn to is Whitney of Eco Vegan Gal. She recently did a video series titled “Healthy Organic Vegan On A Budget” where she has created 30 videos and an ebook to help you adopt this lifestyle more efficiently.
This goes along the lines of preparation. I always try and keep dried fruit, granola, or some fruit in my backpack, purse or desk at all times. I know some days you will be like “Eh, I’ll be okay!”, but I say to be prepared for the worst! A lot of times, people may fall off the wagon because of hunger and desperation. This way, you can keep yourself satiated until you leave for home, or even for you to snack on on your long drive home to prevent you from a pit stop somewhere unhealthy. Find my snack recipes here.
You can dehydrate food yourself in your oven or with a dehydrator. Check out the dehydrator I use here.
Changes in social situations
This was the most challenging for me, and is something that I initially did not realize had such an impact on my lifestyle choice.
If your current group of friends and family truly love you, it won’t matter what the heck you’re eating and supporting. If some of them do not support your lifestyle change, view you in a different way because of it, or are negative towards you after the switch, well, should they matter to you that much if they can’t even respect your individuality? The people you surround yourself with are ultimately the people that will help shape who you are or will become. Yes, you are your own person, but sometimes the influence others will have on you is inevitable. If you are going to surround yourself with those that will cause you to lose sight of who you are, what you believe in, and what is most important to you in life (being that these are positive, of course), I don’t see that sort of relationship as a healthy one.
This could also be looked upon at the other end of the spectrum as well. Even if your friends don’t choose to make the same change you have, don’t put yourself up on a high horse and talk down to them. If you do that, maybe you will lose them because YOU were the disrespectful one in this situation. When I initially went vegan, I was SO EXCITED to share this beautiful lifestyle with the world. But without even realizing it, I started talking down to the people closest to me in my life, sharing my opinion and sometimes even criticisms towards the lifestyles they lived. My intentions were always good, and I always had in mind how much it would benefit their health and well-being, but not a lot of people will realize that. In order to inflict the longest lasting impression on others, all you have to do is practice what you preach. Live the life you always rave about, and allow them to SEE from EXAMPLE just how beautiful it is! When they are ready, they will willingly choose to make the change 🙂
Here are a few tips I have learned:
- Offer to bring a dish to your net gathering
- Suggest a new location for your dinner outing with friends — find a place that has options for both you AND your friends, in case they are not interested in a vegan meal. This way, both of you can be happy, while also being able to try something new.
- “Pre-eat” before gatherings — if you are in no control over where you will eat, or reach a situation where you don’t feel comfortable bringing your own dish, eat beforehand. This will prevent temptation, or you from getting hangry (hungry and angry…yes, it is a thing. I know you’ll live through it at least once going vegan). Yes, this is also awkward in a sense, and also at times you may feel rude, but if others are aware of the situation and respect your dietary choices, I’m sure they will be happy to know that since there is unfortunately not many options for you to choose from, you are already content and won’t be needing too much : ) .
- Have a gathering of your own! Spice things up a bit, and you throw the party/dinner. This way, you can ensure you have what you want, you can introduce others to this beautiful lifestyle, and you won’t have to stress about the food.
- A lot of places will make you a custom vegan plate if you ask. I was not aware of this, and was always too shy to ask, but restaurants will gladly accomodate their guests to be ensure the most satisfaction and their return. There is no need to explain yourself fully, but you can simply request for an egg-, meat- and dairy-free dish they can serve you.
- Find new friends with similar interests and passions — community (as discussed below) is a great part of transitioning into this lifestyle. They will provide the support you may long for in your situation. No, this does not mean to abandon your old friends, but this is simply a way for you to go out and enjoy yourself without the worrisome accommodations and situations that are mentioned above.
Here comes the questions, comments and interrogations…
This is unavoidable. There will ALWAYS be someone with an opinion on your choices that needs to be shared. I just advise that you be calm, and be prepared for this. Breathe, and look at this as a way for you to inspire others, inspire yourself to stay on track, and to give yourself credit for the knowledge you will learn!
Don’t be angry, annoyed, disgusted, or even ashamed of your differences. Sometimes, others are now concerned simply because they are unaware. I have learned that some people also don’t even realize the disrespect that comes from their curiosities or beliefs. All situations are different, so all need to be handled individually, but I just advise that you talk to others how you would want them to talk to you. Respectfully share your opinions, share that they have hurt you, or share that you would like to help them if they are willing.
Reach outside of yourself for further inspiration and advice <3
COMMUNITY is one of the most important aspects when transitioning into veganism. I chose to go vegan when I was 18, and I had no friends or family to help me, guide me, or to share my experiences with. The only reason why I was able to stay strong was because of the online communities I discovered. Social media, yes social media, was my golden ticket in my transition. I had no idea where I was going and I was coming from a background of hot cheetos, meat and dairy every single day.One day, I discovered Fully Raw Kristina on Youtube. That’s pretty much where I took off. Eventually, I started discovering more channels on Youtube, accounts on Instagram, facebook, etc, and those are what kept me motivated and inspired to keep going. I found food blogs online that I followed as well!
Being able to know that there are people out there who love what I love and support what I do was really comforting and encouraging.
There are too many people to list here, so I suggest you head over to my social media pages and check out who I follow and occasionally tag in my photos, so that you too can get a source of inspiration of your own.
Also, check out Finding Vegan (This is a MUST!). This website is an archive of ALL of the vegan blogs on the internet! If you have a vegan blog, make sure you contribute as well!
And….I have created a series that includes vegans from all over the world. They share their personal stories, tips and tricks on going vegan, which will allow you approach this lifestyle from many different angles. Find my full list of guest posts here.
Coming up will be blog posts from two of these beautiful mamas, Ellen and Cissy, that will include raising vegan children. It is still in the works, but it will be announced once complete.
I can’t wait for you to begin, you are going to love this, and all of the positivity it will bring to your life. Head over to my recipe page, and get cooking!
Need more inspiration? Check out my vegan recipe ebook, Sweet Simple Vegan, Lunch & Dinner!
- 22 of my favorite vegan entree recipes that are easy to make and include simple and affordable ingredients already found in our homes.
- Gluten-free, salt-free and low in fat!
- New and original recipes that were never published and only available in the ebook.
- Perfect for all people- those who are transitioning into a plant-based lifestyle, those who are currently living a plant-based lifestyle and wish to spice things up a bit, and even those who are just curious to delve into the plant-based realm of foods!
- Easy-to-follow directions with mouth-watering photos for every recipe.
Want more details? Click here!
Ebook is available via Paypal as well. Please send me an email on my contact page for this option. Thanks!