Whether you’re motivated by the health benefits of going vegan or want to make a difference when it comes to the environment and animal activism, transitioning to a vegan lifestyle is a big step for you and your family. Here are some tips that can help make the process a little easier.
There’s a lot to learn about veganism, and it can definitely seem overwhelming when you’re first getting started. Food-wise, a good place to start is learning about common non-vegan ingredients to watch out for. A lot of them will sneak up and surprise you (McDonald’s french fries aren’t vegan?).
Another important thing to consider is nutrients. Chances are you’ve heard some joke about vegans and protein already! Do some research on food sources of nutrients like iron, vitamin B12, and calcium, or consider supplements if necessary.
You might also want to research some vegan recipes to get yourself and your family excited about the transition to a vegan lifestyle. There are countless blogs, websites, and even YouTube channels dedicated to vegan recipes and other helpful tips! A good place to start is looking at recipes from non-Western cultures, where dairy or meat ingredients might be less common.
Of course, don’t forget about non-food information, too. A quick Google search can give you lists of non-vegan clothing, beauty products, or household goods, from leather belts to dish soap that’s tested on animals. But don’t worry—there are plenty of cruelty-free alternatives to take their place.
Stock Up (and Consider a Purge)
Once you’ve learned the basics, you’ll be ready to hit the grocery store. Read through the recipes you’ve compiled and add some vegan staples to your shopping list. Whether you do a full order in one fell swoop or you pick up a few new items each week, stocking your pantry with common vegan items will make your time in the kitchen a lot simpler as you adjust to cooking with new ingredients and making new kinds of food.
Be sure to pick up some junk food and “accidentally vegan” snacks while you’re at it, too. Contrary to popular belief, you won’t adopt a vegan lifestyle and suddenly decide to live on salad exclusively! By keeping snack foods on hand as well as healthier ingredients, you’ll be well-prepared for those inevitable cravings and boredom eating.
You might also want to sort through what’s currently in your pantry, too. Whether you jump into the deep end and transition to a 100% vegan lifestyle overnight or you take the process more slowly, you’ll likely find it much easier to make that switch if you have fewer non-vegan foods leftover. Consider donating unopened items to a local food bank or other organization, or passing things on to friends or family who aren’t vegan (or becoming vegan like yourself). You can do the same with non-vegan household items, like wool sweaters—use them up or give them to someone who’ll use it themselves.
Go All In, or Take it Slow
At the end of the day, you know yourself best. Think back to your “why,” your reasons for making this transition in the first place. If you’re hoping to help save the planet, you might want to make the biggest impact as quickly as you can by becoming a full-fledged vegan overnight. If you’re making the switch to improve your heart health, for example, a slower progression might help you to make a more painless transition.
As you go through this transition with family, you might even make the switch at different times. Your son or daughter might not be ready to give up their favorite chicken nuggets right away, or your significant other might be hesitant to change Taco Tuesday to a meatless alternative. Ease into things with meat replacements like veggie burgers or tofu “fish sticks.”
You might even slip up, either consciously or through a food item you didn’t realize wasn’t vegan. And that’s okay! Just start again. With these tips and a bit of effort, you and your family can transition to a vegan lifestyle with ease!