There are probably as many stories about “How I went vegan” out there as there are people who follow a vegan diet and/or vegan lifestyle. So what is the best way to go vegan? In this blog post, I want to give you 5 tips about how to transition to a vegan diet. I’ll also answer some common questions in the end.
Tip 1: Get clear on your why
For the environment, for the animals or for your health – there are many reasons to choose a vegan diet and all of them are valid! When you’re just starting out, it can be very helpful to get clear on your own, personal why.
Knowing why you are doing this can help when you get questions from friends or family. They might be curious and want to understand your motivations. This doesn’t mean you have to justify yourself. Just telling someone your thoughts and feelings about your decision to eat vegan can help them understand.
Tip 2: Look to others for inspiration, not comparison
There are so many posts and tips on how to transition to a vegan diet (hey, you’re reading one of them!) and it can be tempting to look for a one-size-fits-all solution. But just because something worked for someone else doesn’t mean it’ll work for you.
I do think it can be valuable and motivating to look to others for inspiration. They might’ve gone through some similar struggles and be a role model for you to keep you motivated.
Tip 3: Have a mindset of abundance, not restriction
When you first start your journey transitioning to a vegan diet, it can feel like suddenly you don’t know what you can even eat anymore. I encourage you to have a mindset of exploration and curiosity instead of focusing on what you can’t eat.
I’m sure you will discover many different foods you didn’t know before and you’ll get to like and love them! Focusing on trying new things can make the journey a lot easier.
Tip 4: Add instead of taking away
A common mistake I see when people transition to a vegan diet is taking away without adding anything. For example, taking away the meat or dairy components of a meal but not adding anything in return.
Legumes play a very important role in a vegan diet. They are packed with high-quality plant-based protein and other vitamins and minerals. A typical, mixed diet typically contains only little to no legumes.
Some food groups you’ll want to add to your meals are dark leafy greens, legumes, nuts/seeds and whole grains.
Tip 5: Keep your meals fun and exciting
Eating should be fun! Actually, one of the most important reasons why we will follow a way of eating – or not – is if we enjoy the food. I encourage you to experiment, try out new recipes and foods, and find recipes that you enjoy eating!
Spices can make a huge difference! Some of my favorite spices for cooking are cumin, paprika powder, onion powder, garlic powder and turmeric.
If you want more tips for cooking exciting meals, check out my free guide “how to easily make balanced & healthy vegan meals“.
Common questions about transitioning to a vegan diet
What is the best way to transition to a vegan diet?
The best way to transition to a vegan diet is the one that works for you! Everyone has different starting points (ie starting from a vegetarian diet), different goals (ie whole-foods plant based), different preferences and so there’s no one-size-fits-all.
How long does it take for your body to get used to a vegan diet?
A balanced vegan diet is high in vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes. This comes with a high amount of fiber (which is a good thing!). Fiber is digested in our large intestine by our gut bacteria. Our gut bacteria can actually change based on what we eat. So if you’re not used to eating a lot of fiber, give your gut bacteria some time to adapt and start slowly.
Also, eating a lot of legumes can cause some gastrointestinal problems like bloating or constipation for some people. Again, take it slow and give your body a few weeks to adjust and then these problems should go away.
How do I start transitioning to a vegan diet?
If you want to go vegan and don’t know where to start, I encourage you to look at what animal products there are in your diet at the moment. Then you can find alternatives for each step by step, starting with the one that’s easiest for you.
Another way is to take one meal at a time that you make vegan. You could for example start with a vegan breakfast. Then, after a week or two, you can add a vegan lunch/dinner and so on.
What is the difference between a vegan and a plant-based diet?
A plant-based diet is a diet that primarily consists of plants (vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, grains, legumes). But it doesn’t necessarily have to be 100% plant-based and can sometimes also consist of animal products. A vegan diet consists of only plants and no animal products.
Is it okay to eat vegan substitute products for meat/cheese/…?
Absolutely! Especially in the beginning, it can be so helpful to have vegan substitute products because they can make it so much easier.
Of course, vegan substitute products are usually highly processed. As a result, they have less nutritional value when compared to whole foods. But that doesn’t mean you need to avoid them. Enjoying some from time to time is totally fine.