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How to Become a Vegan

Three Methods:Doing It the Healthy WayForming the HabitsStaying On Track

Most omnivores think becoming a vegan is impossible and can't even begin to imagine how they might be able to survive, let alone enjoy life without typical flavors they have been used to. They're just not being creative enough! With a positive attitude, a desire to make a change in a healthy direction, and some diligence in grocery aisles, it is possible to discover a whole new world (possibly a better one) and reap a multitude of physical, mental and emotional benefits (not to mention financial savings!).

Method 1
Doing It the Healthy Way

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    Plan it out. Just because a vegan diet is low in calories and fats (and completely cholesterol free), that doesn't mean it's healthy. Although chances are most vegan things will be better for you than what the typical American eats. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says a vegan diet is only healthy if it's well-rounded and planned out. If you're considering going vegan for health reasons, you might also want to consider buying organic.[1] If it's not, you're missing out on vitamins and nutrients that your body needs to function. So do yourself a favor and do it right.
    • Do your homework. What foods that you like (that are vegan-friendly) do you need to start putting in your diet? Nuts? Quinoa? Beans? Be sure to consider whether or not you think it is important to cut out honey, gelatin, etc. As well as if you want to be a "full vegan" or just a dietary vegan. There are animal fats in soaps, there may be leather or the like in your shoes and clothes, etc. Does animal testing bother you? Some products and foods are tested on animals and that can also be something to avoid.
    • Get online. There are tons of websites catered to budding vegans that are full of recipes, quizzes, fun facts, and interactive tools to get you on board. They'll even do a week's worth of recipes for you![2] Utilize what you have at your disposal to ensure you're partaking in a balanced diet.
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    Get a physical. Visit your doctor and make sure you are in decent physical shape. Tell your doctor your plans to become a vegan and ask if there are any considerations to take into account given your medical history. For example, those with anemia need to be particularly attentive to get enough iron in their vegan diet. Some doctors aren't well educated in veganism and mistakenly believe it is unhealthy or that you can't get enough protein or calcium. You only need about 50 grams of protein if you're a female, 60 if you are a male. 1000 to 1200 milligrams of calcium are needed depending on your age. Humans aren't actually able to even absorb the calcium in cow's milk, so calcium-fortified plant milks and orange juices are an excellent substitute.
    • Ask your doctor how to maintain a balanced diet with your new eating habits. They'll be able to shed some light on how to obtain the necessary vitamins and minerals you need to function on top of your game.
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    Be clear about why you're becoming a vegan. This is a huge change in your lifestyle, not to be taken lightly as a trend. Having your reasons lined out will not only ensure that you don't waste your time and efforts doing something you're not really passionate about, but it'll also help you stick with it. And answer questions when people raise an eyebrow at your dining choices!
    • If there's a particular essay, picture, or quote that reinforces your desire to become a vegan, print it out and put it in a place where you'll see it often, like your refrigerator.
    • In case anyone asks, the vegan diet is appropriate for all lifestyles (as long as it's done well). Athletes, pregnant women, children, and seniors all can benefit from a healthy vegan diet.[3] No need to defend yourself when the in-laws start the inquisition. You've got science.
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    Investigate the science behind nutrition, food and health. You don't have to be a nutritionist or medical doctor to understand the background of healthful living. Learning as much as you can about nutrition, food and health will only do you good. You'll become an expert in no time when it comes to plant-based alternatives.
    • You'll still get your protein if know what to look for. Luckily, plenty of plants are high in it: tofu, beans, nut, seeds, quinoa and whole grains are all protein-packers.[3]
    • When you buy soy, almond, or rice milk, make sure it's fortified with calcium. Same goes for orange juice!
    • Avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil are all good sources of healthy fats.[3] Those are necessary too!
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    Ask questions. Real vegans (or a buddy with similar interests) can help you on your new adventure. Surf for communities online or look for a local club or group in your area. The easiest way to do this is to find a new favorite vegan restaurant, a favorite table, and go from there.
    • The Vegan Society has a great website that's full of resources, news, and even helps you shop! Talk about an exciting, addictive hobby. Who needs Pinterest?

Method 2
Forming the Habits

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    Ease into it. Make a plan to give up one kind of non-vegan food per week. Not only will this make for an easier lifestyle adjustment, but it will also help your body make the transition as smoothly as possible. Any sudden, drastic change in your diet would likely wreak havoc on your body, especially if you go from being an omnivore to being a vegan.
    • Listen to your body and be easy on yourself. Don't force yourself to completely change everything at once without guidance. You need to know how to properly substitute for certain elements such as protein and fats before thinking that a head of lettuce is all you need for the rest of your life. Start by removing meat, then eggs and cheese, then all dairy products, and then worry about diligence when it comes to ingredients lists (some get pretty sneaky).
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    Know the difference between live foods and life-less products consumed as food. It's much trickier for vegans than for vegetarians. You already know that you can't eat cheese because cows are exploited in order to generate the milk to make cheese, but did you know that even most cheese alternatives contain casein, a milk protein? Do your homework and read ingredient labels to prevent accidental consumption of non-vegan food.
    • You'll soon find that vegan websites will endorse certain brand name products. Knowing what to look for in the aisles will cut down on turning grocery shopping into a tedious chore.
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    Learn about tofu (and soy products in general). It's a good source of both protein and calcium, and you can prepare it in a variety of ways. It takes a little getting used to, especially if you've never eaten much tofu before, but give it a chance.
    • Tofu, along with soy or rice milk and other non-meat alternatives, can be your best friends in the vegan world. Name a product, there's a tofu version of it. And it doesn't taste bad either!
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    Make time to cook. Most prepared foods are going to be off-limits, so whether you like it or not, you're going to have to learn to cook. It'll give you a greater connection with your food, as it can be exciting and very rewarding (your friends and family will dig it, too). Recognize that the taste and experience of your food is just as important as the practicality of implementing it into your lifestyle. Be creative and choose a variety of produce and products to avoid monotony and boredom.
    • There are many vegan cookbooks and free online recipes nowadays to provide you with inspiration. Investing of your best energies and mental capabilities to the daily task of cooking vegan meals can enhance your enjoyment and satisfaction of re-training your taste buds to savor new, even strange flavors. Who knew this path was going to be so exciting?

Method 3
Staying On Track

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    Maintain balance. If you find yourself constantly fatigued or groggy, you may be missing something imperative to your diet. It can get pretty easy to eat the same things day in and day out, but with a vegan diet, that's not kosher. Make sure you're getting enough protein, calcium, iron, vitamin everything...the list could go on, but it would exceed your bandwidth usage.
    • Taking a supplement is a good idea. A daily multi-vitamin will ensure that you're getting everything you need. If you have questions, talk to your local pharmacist or get in a quick chat with your doctor.
    • There are no reliable plant sources of B12 (B12 found in plants is usually due to contamination with animal feces), which can lead to deficiency.[4] You should take a B12 supplement. Deficiency in best cases can cause significant fatigue/debility. In worst cases, it can increase heart disease risk and anemia and may also cause severe irreversible damage to the nervous system. A good tip is to eat foods that are fortified with B12 (check the label) such as yeast flakes, cereals and nondairy milk.
    • If taking Omega-3 supplements, keep in mind that most are made from fish oil, and are not vegan. Vegan sources of Omega-3s include flaxseeds, flax oil, and walnuts. 1 tsp of flax oil meets your daily needs.
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    Reward yourself. After learning how to cope with the extreme makeover in your kitchen, your budget, your past time, your health, and your appearance, make it a point to treat yourself to a new wardrobe, a vacation, or a new kitchen. You've earned it!
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    Share your delight. There is nothing more satisfying than being acknowledged for pleasing somebody else's tummy. Treat some family or friends to a gourmet meal that you yourself prepared with all the trimmings. Be a vegan evangelist through positive demonstration (not through nagging) and help others discover how they too can make that transition from eating flesh to savoring fresh, whole foods.
    • That being said, those around you take into account your dietary needs, so take into account theirs. Not everyone will be thrilled when presented with a tofu steak. But that doesn't mean you need to incorporate their love for eating animals in your cooking. If you go eat at someone else's house, be sure to bring your own food just in case. Thank them if they make you a dish or even try to cook something vegan, regardless of whether or not its actually vegan.


  • Find vegan remakes of your favorite non-vegan recipes so that you don't feel deprived. It is pretty easy to find ¨veganized¨ versions of almost any recipe on the internet.
  • Sampling a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, grains, beans, cereals, ethnic flavors, and endless brands dedicated to the whole food experience will teach you what you can incorporate into your daily array of delicious meals.
  • You can get a vegan sandwich at subway if you choose meatless and cheeseless on Italian bread. They have lots of veggies with avocado spread or mustard to go with it.
  • A rule of thumb for starting to cook vegan meals: A grain, a green, a bean. (Rice/pasta, veggie(s) of some sort, and either beans or lentils).
  • Visit vegetarian restaurants and challenge yourself to learn their menus. If they will not share their secret recipes with you, try to imitate what you've enjoyed eating by looking for it or something similar to it in books or online.
  • There are lots of vegan sandwich options, so don't be discouraged about sandwiches. Hummus, baba ganoush, peanut butter and jelly/banana, other nut butters (almond, cashew, etc), other jam flavors such as apple or blueberry. Be sure the bread is vegan.
  • Check for vegan options/restaurants near you.
  • Some pizza places will offer a cheeseless pizza, and most thin crust pizzas are vegan, just be sure to check online first. There are usually plenty of veggies to add to a pizza, as well as mushrooms.
  • Quinoa is a really good food for if you're a vegan, it's also very delicious. *Bananas can be used to replace eggs in certain recipes.
  • Don't give up! Being persistent despite your failures, disgust, or the discouragement of others is the strength of your will to succeed and live up to what you already know to be the best for you. And don't hate yourself if you happen to fall and find yourself gobbling down a cheeseburger or two. Forgive yourself and indulge yourself regularly with a sinless dessert like luscious tofu cheesecake. Some may like to have veganism as the goal and vegetarianism as the line they won't cross (That it would be acceptable to eat vegetarian sometimes, but wrong to eat meat).
  • Many Asian and Indian foods are vegan-friendly.
  • If you enjoyed Panda Express, they sell their sauces which are vegan, so you can try to recreate it.
  • Some may wish to throw out or give away any pans, cutting boards or utensils that have been used with meat.


  • Being a vegan does not necessarily mean one is healthier; take care to study nutrition thoroughly from unbiased sources before proceeding.
  • It's useful to remember that not everyone will support you in your decision to become vegan. Some family members that enjoy eating meat might not be supportive of your choice. Do not let their thoughts affect your decision because it's you that you are changing, not them. They may tease you about it and some may eat meat in front of you thinking they are teasing you that you can't have any (even if you absolutely do not want any). Some people will not try to accommodate you at meals, or when going out to eat, so remember to bring your own food just in case.
  • Be aware that most doctors receive astonishingly little instruction in nutrition during medical school. Furthermore, most doctors today received that education while veganism was largely ridiculed by mainstream Western societies. If your doctor opposes a vegan diet for apparently ideological reasons, then consult a registered dietician (RD), as they are typically trained in plant-based diets.
  • Do not use veganism as a way of masking anorexia or other eating disorders. Like any diet, veganism may be abused. Learn what your body needs to be healthy, then provide yourself with that nutrition.
  • Don't overdo the dessert and cake substitutes. Even if vegan, they can still render you overweight if you overindulge. Everything in moderation is key.
  • Some restaurants/waiters/servers may tell you something is vegan when its not. Whether they are trying to scam you or just clueless and guessing, its probably best to just check ingredients online, or call up and ask for an ingredient list.
  • Be careful of sweets, as many contain honey or gelatin. Some contain carmine, which is a coloring that comes from bugs.
  • Soaps, toothpastes, shaving cream, etc. can all have animal sources (If you don't just want to be a dietary vegan).
  • Be wary of too much soy; research soy side effects, as recent studies have found that it can be harmful (by messing with your hormones). If you base your diet on them, tofu and soy might quickly turn into your worst nutritional enemies. It's also been said that our bodies have trouble digesting soy.
  • Shoes may be made with leather or suede, hats/scarves etc. may be made with wool or other fur, almost any clothing can be made out of wool or silk. Angora is an animal skin as well.
  • If you have existing special medical conditions, always consult your physician first before embarking on a drastic change in your diet and lifestyle. Proceed with caution, and listen to your body. This applies to any diet. Being vegan cuts out quite a few options and if you already have an allergy or intolerance it can be difficult to work with all the special dietary requirements.
  • Veganism doesn't make you cool, nor does it make you any better (necessarily) than your omnivorous peers. Don't be a snob about it.

Things You'll Need

  • Transitional foods (veggie burgers, pre-made veggie burritos, or other pre-made foods)
  • Vegan food, as fresh and unprocessed as possible (many vegans also advocate organic foods)

Article Info

Categories: Vegetarian Health