So you’re thinking of switching to a vegan diet – GREAT! Great for the planet, great for your health, great for the animals (can you tell I’m a fan yet?) The following list is a full guide – the top 11 tips on how to switch to a vegan diet.
It’s understandable to be a little nervous about a complete overhaul of the way you eat. For most people, they’ve been eating the same way since they can remember! The good news is, there are a few simple things you can do to prepare, and make the transition smooth and fun too.
Mindset for How to switch to a vegan diet
1) First and foremost, get your mindset straight
And (I can’t shout this loudly enough) go easy on yourself!!
Some people switch to the vegan diet overnight and some take years – any way that you choose is fine.
Whether you want to start with one vegan meal per week or dive in headfirst, there is no right or wrong way. Just listen to your body mind and soul and do what works for you. Just remember that every vegan meal choice you make is a step in the right direction and enjoy it.
2) Do some learning for How to Switch to a Vegan Diet
There are some AMAZING pro-vegan documentaries out that cater to whatever angle you’re coming from. So whether your motivation is that you love animals, you want to help the environment, or if it’s for personal health reasons, taking a bit of time to hear some of the extensive research done by others can be really eye-opening.
You can read my article on the Top 6 Vegan Documentaries to Watch to Go Vegan Easily here. It makes it really easy to choose whichever ones appeal to you to watch.
This is how my husband and I switched to a fully vegan diet overnight (he was a full meat eater, I only ate chicken); we watched ‘Game Changers’ and ‘What the Health’ and honestly didn’t look back.
Get ‘Kitchen Ready’
3) Have a clear-out
Got some ice cream lurking at the back of the freezer? Some milk chocolate in the naughty draw? A tin of beans with ‘sausage’ bits in that seemed like a good idea at the time? Bag it up and give it away. It’ll likely feel good to have a clear-out and it’ll give you some lovely cupboard space to fill with yummy vegan goodies instead.
4) Make cooking fun
I’ve not found a food yet that I’ve not been able to ‘veganise’, so if you’re worried you might miss a certain kind of food by going vegan then don’t be! There are so many recipes online for this kind of thing, just put the word ‘vegan’ or ‘plant-based’ in front of the type of food you want and you’ll be surprised at how much is out there.
There are also some fun gadgets out there for if you’re feeling a little creative. I’m in love with my sushi maker and trying out different flavour combinations!
Shopping for a Vegan Diet
5) The basics
This is a massive topic and your shopping trolley will vary depending on whether you’re thinking about going vegan and still eating meat substitutes. Or, you might prefer to have a whole food plant-based diet (or something in the middle!). However, there are still a few things that most people will be buying on a regular basis:
- Plant-based milk.
- Beans and pulses, such as chickpeas, lentils, and baked beans.
- Rice and pasta (make sure the pasta doesn’t contain egg).
- Lots of fruits and veggies.
There’s so much choice on the supermarket shelves now, and some shops even have a vegan section! A little word of caution though – I’ve noticed that sometimes the word ‘vegan’ on the packaging can instantly double the price.
There’s quite often plenty of vegan options in amongst all of the other food items. Just be prepared to spend some time reading labels – don’t worry though! yes, this is kind of a pain, but I promise you won’t have to do this forever. You’ll learn to quickly recognise which foods are vegan and which aren’t, or at least where to quickly look to find out.
You will almost definitely see food that doesn’t appear to have any animal products in but doesn’t specify ‘vegan’ on the packaging. This may mean it’s made in the same factory as other food that does have animal products in so they can’t 100% guarantee there hasn’t been some cross over. It’s your call as to whether this bothers you or not – there is no right or wrong here.
6) Easy swaps
Plant-based milk, vegan chocolate (or just most dark chocolate), vegan sausages… need I say more!
There are loads on the shelves or in recipes online. The variety is huge and you may need to try a few different brands before you find one you love. But hey, having to try out different chocolates is definitely not the worst thing in the world!
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Great for keeping things fresh and trying new food! You’ll food that you just might not have thought of if you were searching online. Definitely not a necessity but really nice to have around; these are a few of my favourites:
The main one: B12. Some food is fortified with Vitamin B12 but to be one the safe side, a daily supplement is recommended to avoid anemia or nervous system damage. B12 comes from micro-organisms in the soil, which then get eaten by animals and transferred into a human diet that way. Taking a supplement is just cutting out the middle ‘man’.
I personally like the Solar brand of B12 as it’s suitable for vegans and yummy, but there’s loads of brands out there to choose from.
A lot of new vegans seem concerned about getting enough protein in their diet. If this is you then know you’re not alone! But, if you have sufficient beans, pulses, nuts, firm tofu, etc (there are loads of plant-based protein sources) then you shouldn’t need to supplement.
Having said that, if you want to take a plant-based protein supplement then go for it! There are loads of good options out there and I find adding a scoop of vanilla protein to a smoothie can be absolutely delicious!
9) Eating out and take-away’s
There are loads of great places that do vegan options now, and usually, it’s made clear on the menu so it’s easy too. If you’re not sure it’s worth calling ahead to check; I’ve found that people are usually really helpful and will know right away what the vegan options are (I think they get asked a lot more these days).
Some places will have vegan food (like chips/fries) that doesn’t specify ‘vegan’ on it. This may be because it’s cooked in the same oil as non-vegan food. Just remember, it’s really down to you as to whether this bothers you or not. You can ask a member of staff what the reasons are and decide for yourself. Do you, and make no apologies!
Support for How to Switch to a Vegan Diet
10) Dealing with negativity
Starting out on this journey can be a little daunting, especially if you’re going it alone.
This is often a big concern for people who are wondering how to switch to a vegan diet, but handled the right way you can turn a negative into a positive!
The reality is that there will be people you come across that don’t really understand why you would want to be a vegan – and that’s ok! As long as you do. Some people will be curious and want to know more and others may be a little dismissive of it (sometimes intentionally and sometimes not).
Just remember that you’re becoming a vegan for your own personal reasons and you don’t owe an explanation to anyone. But, if you want to chat about it with people (who also want to chat about it) then why not!
11) Meet like-minded people
Whether this is online or in person, it can be really nice to know that there’s plenty of other people who think the same way as you on the subject.
When you’ve been doing it for a while, it can also feel really good to help new vegans who are also wondering how to switch to a vegan diet.
If you’re looking for advice on how to switch to a vegan diet, people who are already vegans are usually so happy to help!
There are loads of ‘vegan beginner’ groups on Facebook that are great places to ask questions, and tonnes of beautiful Instagram pages to follow if you want recipe ideas. Just do a bit of searching and get involved with the ones that appeal to you.
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