Whether you are intending on going fully vegan or simply cutting out as much meat and dairy as possible while focusing your diet on fruit, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains, the positive effect you will have on the planet's health and the environment is monumental.
However, living a life based on plant consumption can seem remarkably daunting to a cheese-lover, a meat-eater, or simply anybody who has no previous experience of planning and preparing vegan meals. With these six easy steps, that task will hopefully be lessened, and you can get closer to the lifestyle you desire.
Why go plant-based, any way?
There are endless books, podcasts, documentaries, and even films that explain the plethora of reasons why more of the world's population should try and become plant-based or vegan.
One such argument is that it has far less of a strain on the world's space and environment, with plant-based diets taking up far less agricultural landmass than animal-based ones in terms of how much area is needed to provide food and energy for one single person. This, in theory, means vast swathes of the planet's farming land could be converted back into forests, aiding carbon dioxide reduction.
From a personal point of view, vegan and plant-based diets are also incredibly healthy, so long as you carry them out carefully and properly and ensure you replace the vitamins and nutrients that you are losing from meat and dairy products.
As per Go Vegan, the carbon footprint of a vegan diet can be 60% smaller than a meat-based diet. With that in mind, and the fact vegan and plant-based diets can improve heart health and reduce the risk of diabetes and cancer, it's time to take the plunge.
Don't be afraid to ask for help!
The first step when making any lifestyle change is to ask for help. Living a plant-based life from scratch, and without any support from friends or experts, is an entirely different prospect to doing so with help from people you trust.
If you have friends who are already vegan, they will be absolutely delighted that you are about to make the change and will be more than willing to help, give you recipes, and offer advice. It could also be worth consulting your doctor to better understand how the change of diet might affect your body in the initial stages.
Start slow--cut out meat day by day
Many converts will likely find it difficult to cut out meat instantaneously if they were previously living a meat-based lifestyle. This is also true of vegetarians turning vegan if they were to attempt to lose cheese, eggs, and milk overnight.
Therefore, taking baby steps could be the best course of action. If you are currently eating meat every single day of the week, cut it out day by day. In your first week, don't eat meat on Monday; in your second week, cut it out for Monday and Tuesday, and so on. That way, your body becomes more gradually used to losing the food group, and you become more used to cooking vegetarian or vegan meals in a relaxed manner.
Once meat has been removed from your diet, make a start on cutting down on animal products. If you were to go from a meat-based, dairy-based diet to a vegan one straight away, it would be easy to get lost and lose motivation. The day by day approach removes this instant jeopardy.
Buy vegan superfoods and specially crafted vegan treats
Once you have started living more days or weeks of your life as a vegan or a plant-based individual, look into what superfoods or snacks you can treat yourself with. Blueberries, kale, and pistachio nuts are all renowned as super-healthy vegan foods, while avocados are an undying trend.
In order to get you through the first few weeks, it's also important to find those naughty guilty pleasures that you might not have realized are vegan, such as Pringles, Bourbon biscuits, and some dark chocolates.
Now find your favorite dairy alternative
When going vegan or plant-based from scratch, ditching the meat is one matter, but removing dairy is quite another. Unless you are lactose intolerant, it is likely that during the vegetarian phase of your gradual shift towards veganism, you leaned quite heavily on dairy products such as milk and cheese.
In order to remove these, the next step is to find your favorite alternative. For milk, there are a number of different options to choose from, each with their own set of considerations:
Soymilk is low in fat, but deforestation in order to plant soy is a contentious issue
Almond milk takes lots of water to produce, but is still more environmentally friendly than dairy milk and has half as many calories
Coconut milk is excellent for cooking but is quite strong in flavor if you were looking to use it in the same ways as cow's milk
Oat milk can be made at home or bought and is high in vitamin D
Expand your possibilities with vegan cookbooks
Finally, once your nutritional count is in order, you have requested advice from friends, you have planned out how you are going to cut out meat and dairy, and you have delved into the world of vegan treats, it's time to start your vegan cookbook collection.
If you're doing a vegan diet for health reasons (even if it's only one of your reasons), I highly recommend the Forks Over Knives cookbook. If you're not all that into health and just want simple, delicious vegan meals, check out the Veganomicon. And for delicious vegan desserts, check out Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World.
Remember vegan vitamins and supplements!
If you are looking to take in all of the vitamins you need while becoming vegan, or if you are looking to turn your beauty and performance supplements vegan as well as your diet, then the options at Myvitamins are affordable and all-encompassing.
Using vegan vitamins and supplements can be an effective way to get the individual vitamins you require into your system or to simply boost your nutritional value through multivitamin tablets and gummies.
Hungry for more? How to go vegan in 9 easy steps.
And there you have it. Do you still think veganism is daunting?