Vegetarian to Vegan – If you were to think about the vegetarians and vegans that you know, one thing would become quite clear. There are far more people who identify as vegetarian than vegan.
This isn’t just true of your own social circle, though.
It is estimated that around 7 percent of the American population is vegetarian. However, just 4 percent admit to being vegan.
Now, let’s face it, these facts aren’t all that surprising. In fact, there is a good chance that you have probably tried to go vegan a few times and then back peddled.
There is absolutely no shame in that. Going vegetarian to vegan can be a rather intense lifestyle change. So, if you’re not quite sure about how to make the transition, this decision can be pretty daunting.
Well, the good news is that you don’t have to go down this path blindly.
The guide below will help you explore this lifestyle at a pace that is more suited to you. This way, there’s no need for you to make a straight jump into veganism.
What Does It Mean to Be Vegan?
First things first, let’s take a look at what being vegan, at least from a food standpoint, actually means. To transition from vegetarian to vegan, you will need to eliminate all foods derived from animals.
- Red meat
The list doesn’t end here, though. It is important to keep in mind that a number of ingredients are derived from animals but aren’t always seen as such. Vegans, however, make it a point to avoid these substances as well.
- Lactic acid
- Vitamin D3
The above ingredients can be found in protein shakes, certain candies, commercial cereals, and even liquor.
Vegetarian to Vegan Step 1: Broaden Your Food Horizons
Most people view veganism as restricting yourself. This, though, is the wrong way to approach your new lifestyle.
Sure, there are foods you are going to have to give up. At the same time, there is so much out there to add to your diet and new lifestyle.
Thus, before you subtract food from your diet, start adding to it. Think about all the foods you will have to embrace once you transition from vegetarian to vegan.
This may be tofu, legumes, nuts, non-dairy milk, egg replacers, and more. Now, add these to your current diet.
By doing this, you will be able to see these foods in a more positive light. Instead of judging them as foods you are being forced to eat as substitutions, you can view them as foods that can add both taste and nutrition to your diet.
Step 2: Run Taste Tests
There are now more vegan foods than ever before. So, if you are looking for something to add to your coffee or cereal, you can choose from soy, almond, coconut, cashew, rice, oat milk, and more.
Want some cheese? Not a problem, there are vegan cheeses made from cashews, almonds, tofu, and aquafaba.
OK, the very thought of these foods is probably enough to make you change your mind about transitioning from vegetarian to vegan but hold on for a second.
First off, none of these foods are going to come close to the “real deal” so forget about trying to find a perfect match. Rather, try to find alternative foods that you are going to enjoy.
Sure, they will take some time to get used to. Still, as long as you run taste tests with an open mind, you will learn to come around. Just give these foods a chance.
Step 3: Pick One Food to Eliminate
Since you’re already a vegetarian, eggs and milk are probably one of the last foods left to eliminate. To make the transition a little easier, try to remove just eggs or milk to start with.
Remember, if you will be removing eggs, you will also need to cut out cakes, pastries, pancakes, waffles, batter fried, and breaded foods.
On the dairy side of things, you will have to cut out the above foods as well as butter, cheese, ice cream, puddings, sour cream, cream cheese, and more.
You will need to get into the habit of reading labels to make sure that you aren’t eating anything that contains these ingredients.
Once you have stopped missing your dairy or eggs, then you can move onto avoiding the other food as well. Remember, it isn’t a race so take as much time as you need to make the transition.
4: Create Meal Plans
You probably took a look at all the foods you have to cut out and took a big swallow. Yes, this might seem like an anxiety-inducing list and it isn’t even complete!
Don’t worry, though, because there is a solution to your dietary woes.
Before actually setting off on your vegan journey, sit down and create a meal plan for your week ahead. You don’t need to get fancy with any of the dishes or recipes.
Just make sure you have an idea of what to eat for your three meals a day that doesn’t contain either eggs or dairy.
Then, stock up on all the ingredients you need to make these meals. You should then be set for seven days. Once the week draws to a close, go ahead and create more meal plans for yourself.
You may want to do this until you have fully embraced your new dietary changes.
On a side note you can always reference our blog here for great recipes.
Step 5: Don’t Focus on the Challenges
The easiest way to throw a wrench into your vegetarian to vegan transition plans is to focus on the challenges that lie ahead.
Once you decide to alter your diet, you are going to find yourself thinking about all the foods you need to eliminate. So, there’s a good chance you will spend most of your time lamenting the loss of chocolate cake.
Of course, you won’t be able to get the thought of chocolate cake out of your head that easily. Cue you eating half a chocolate cake about a week after you start on your sort-of vegan diet.
This is why your best bet is to think about your diet as little as possible. Fill your time with other things and this should make the transition less painful.
Step 6: Know Your Supplements
If you eat a healthy, balanced vegan diet on a regular basis, then you should have many of your nutritional needs covered. At the same time, if you stay away from fortified foods or don’t make an effort to be healthy, then you may be missing out on a few nutrients.
The best way to know for sure is to go to your doctor and get your various nutrition levels checked. If your basic diet isn’t providing you with the necessary vitamins and minerals, you may need to take supplements.
Some of the more common supplements for vegans are vitamin B12, iron, zinc, vitamin D, and iodine.
If you are planning on taking supplements, you should check that they are, in fact, vegan. This means that they can only be derived from plant sources and shouldn’t contain any animal products at all.
Step 7: Do Restaurant Research
More good news for you is that these days, vegan restaurants and cafes are a dime a dozen. Even if eateries aren’t specifically vegan, you are sure to find plenty of vegan options.
To make it simpler for you to ease yourself into this new lifestyle, do some research on the best spots for some vegan grub.
This way, should you start craving that slice of chocolate cake, you will know how to get your vegan fix. Not to mention, these are good spots to remember when you aren’t in the mood to cook.
Last but certainly not least, vegan restaurants and cafes are excellent places to meet like-minded individuals.
Vegetarian to Vegan Step 8: Falling Off the Vegan Wagon
Now, if you are lucky, you won’t experience this particular step. If you do happen to fall off the vegan wagon, though, know that you aren’t alone.
As mentioned, this can be a rather intense step to take. So, it stands to reason that you may backslide in the early stages.
The worst thing you can do if you end up indulging in something non-vegan is to get mad at yourself. You’re only human and mistakes happen. So just accept your slip up and move on.
When you compare your one infraction to all those days you spent as a vegan, you will realize that it doesn’t matter too much at all.
While transitioning from vegetarian to vegan may seem like a personal choice, you will be shocked to find out just how many people want to weigh in on your decision.
You are also going to be the butt of quite a few jokes. In time, you will learn how to take all of this in stride. Until then, just focus on the reasons you have chosen to go vegan and why this is the right thing for you to do.