Whether you’re giving up animal products for the sake of your health, animal rights, climate change, or any other reason, going vegan will take a bit of planning. We asked the experts how to make the transition easy.
Go at your own pace
Victoria Moran, author of the book Main Street Vegan, recommends removing one kind of animal from your diet at a time (“chicken and eggs are a great place to start”); being “vegan at home” to better control your food; or trying “vegetarian for now” and continuing to eat eggs and dairy. Even Mark Bittman’s “vegan before 6:00” rule could help with the transition when you’re worried about how to become vegan. Andre Kroecher of Daiya Foods suggests, “Start with the one thing you consume the most and substitute it with the vegan version,” such as almond milk instead of whole milk. Jenné Claiborne, The Nourishing Vegan, advises: “Crowd out less healthy or non-vegan foods with a yummy vegan addition. For example, have a green smoothie before your usual breakfast, or some fruit before an afternoon cookie. By eating the plant-based food first, you won’t have as much room for other stuff, and you’ll develop a taste for the healthier option.”
Think of it as an evolution
When going vegan, “people get so caught up in rules, they become anxious,” says Terry Hope Romero, author of the book Vegan Eats World. “Relax and learn to love to cook, explore new cuisines, and be adventurous with food. Most importantly, be easy on yourself. Don’t view a vegan lifestyle as the finish line, but as an evolving process of conscious eating.” Vegenista blogger Melissa Bechter says, “As my commitment to a cruelty-free lifestyle became stronger than my cravings, I found that eventually I lost my taste for animal-based foods.” Find out how many vegetarians and vegans go back to meat.
If you want, start quietly
It might be easier to become a vegan if you can avoid questions or scrutiny from others. “Don’t announce what you are doing; focus on yourself and being conscious of your surroundings, body, and food addictions first,” says longtime vegan John Salley, a four-time NBA champion and a partner of Vegan Vine wines. “Be still and strong in your ability to control your own life.”