I’ve found that many people I talk to about my vegan lifestyle say that they unsuccessfully have tried going vegan starting from a diet that includes meat and other animal products. A drastic change like that is not sustainable.
Here’s a secret…transitioning your diet to 100% vegan does not need to happen in one night! If you try to cut out 100% of animal products in one shot, you are more likely to become overwhelmed by the change, be unsuccessful at sustaining the change in diet, and actually suffer from withdrawals from the certain foods. (Yes, animal products can be addicting. Read about it here and here.)
Here are some suggested steps to help you ease into a 100% vegan diet:
- Try a few vegetarian or vegan recipes a few times a week. I recommend not going too far off from foods you normally eat, and avoid too many products that are substitutions. Many people make the mistake of expecting veggie burgers, chik’n nuggets, and plant-based cheese to taste exactly like the real thing.
- Dedicate one day a week to going completely meatless. Increase the number of meatless days as time goes on. Do so with caution, if you reintroduce meat after abstaining for a long period of time, it could lead you to gastric distress.
- Another option to begin the transition to vegetarianism is to start by eliminating all but one type of meat, like chicken or fish.
- Once you’ve cut meat out of your diet, eliminate dairy. If necessary, you can allow yourself one dairy product like cheese or milk, or only allow yourself this dairy product on a certain day of the week. I also advise caution with reintroducing dairy after abstaining for a long period of time, as this could could lead you to gastric distress. (Let’s be real, should your food really cause you to get sick if you haven’t been eating it for long periods of time?!)
- At this stage, you will find that eliminating eggs will be relatively easy compared to the other foods.
- After removing eggs, you can focus on avoiding other foods that are commonly forgotten like honey, gelatin, whey, casein, lard, some red food coloring (cochineal, carminic acid, or carmine), some sugars, and some confectioner’s glaze just to name a few! When in doubt, Google! Also, check my post on some of my favorite Vegan Lifestyle Apps for some really useful apps.
My point is, go easy on yourself! Make this lifestyle change work for you. Don’t get caught up in labels and making extreme changes. Little changes add up over time and will make a difference for the animals or environment no matter how small!