I get a lot of questions about how I transitioned to being vegan, and how you should transition to being vegan. The answer is...I am happy to share my story, AND, your story will likely be different. My journey began as a vegetarian and I just stopped eating meat overnight. The first 2 weeks were really difficult, because I, like so many Americans, was so used to eating meat with nearly every meal. I started off buying a lot of veggie burgers, veggie sausage, eggs, and cheese and I stuck to a pretty boring diet. I literally had an egg sandwich everyday for breakfast, and a veggie burger and a salad every night for dinner. I lost a bunch of weight during this time - cutting out fatty meat and exercising regularly goes a long way :) see my About Me page for more. Then I spent about 6 months being vegan and I stopped because I fell into the thought trap that giving up eggs and cheese was just "too hard". I also got a lot of pressure from friends that this was too inconvenient and not a realistic lifestyle for my job (I travel a lot). I decided I would go back to just being a vegetarian and incorporated cheese and eggs back into my life. Over the course of the next few years, however, I got REALLY good at being a vegetarian. Meaning, I could make any item on a menu vegetarian and I would eat it - didn't matter if it was loaded with cheese or heavy cream, as long as it was vegetarian I didn't mind eating it. You can guess where this is going...
After losing a ton of weight, I gained about 20 of it back, started to feel lethargic everyday, couldn't convince myself to go to the gym regularly, and I was just VERY unhappy with myself. Knowing what I know today, that was because of the animal-product-heavy diet I was consuming. So I decided to jump back on the vegan train! I knew it would be difficult...anyone who regularly consumes cheese is likely addicted to casein, I didn't know what I would make for breakfasts without eggs, and when I looked up vegan-friendly restaurants around me my husband and I both panicked (we go out to eat several times a week).
So how did I do it? Similarly to how I transitioned to being a vegetarian, I bought a lot of substitutes, but this time I got creative! I dove in deep, teaching myself how to make vegan cheeses, I tried a million different ways to make a sweet potato, I spent a ridiculous amount of money at Whole Foods, and I loved (and love!) every second of it! I feel healthy, I have so much energy, my skin looks great, my hair looks great, and I am having fun doing it!
So what would I recommend you do?
- Be mentally prepared for some push-back from friends and family
- Remember that soon reading labels will be second nature - it gets easier!
- Learn how other people do it, and why they do it! There are TONS of great documentaries out there that are really encouraging and show you how truly important this lifestyle is...for your health, for the planet, and for the animals.
- Read up on non-vegan ingredients that companies tend to sneak into foods
- Find yummy substitutions!
- Experiment with new foods
- Find some vegan foodies and try out their recipes
- Introduce your family and friends to the food you create
- Get yourself a B12 vitamin (there is a lot of debate as to whether or not vegans need more...I will just say that this is all I take)
- Join vegan Facebook groups!
- Know that you will probably make mistakes, you will probably buy products you are used to and then realize when you get home they have milk or eggs or something else in them...that's okay! It happens to all of us!
- Ask questions!
- HAVE FUN! BE HEALTHY!