Veganism is becoming trendy these days and more and more people are adopting it as a lifestyle. There are lots of tips on how to transition but it might seem impossible or intimidating for some of you, it might seem like you will have to give up some foods and habits you enjoy.
Below I want to share my experience and thoughts on the transition.
Basically there are two ways – you either radically switch overnight from omnivore to vegan or do it gradually. Both ways can work depending on your discipline, current diet, and many other things.
I transitioned gradually after a decade of being vegetarian and having vegan months or weeks here and there. Right before the change, my diet was already 80-90% plants so it went quite effortlessly, without me feeling like I am missing out on something. Majority of my lunches/dinners were vegan, while I had some breakfast/snacks with dairy or vegetarian meals on the weekend. So I already had a strong habit of cooking vegan meals, knew what I like, what plant-based alternatives to use etc. I’ve also researched the topic quite a bit. I did slip a couple of times since the same month I transitioned. I had a 2 weeks business trip to the USA but wasn’t hating myself for that and just got back on track immediately. The most important on this journey is to experiment and learn about yourself.
So if you have a regular omnivore diet try starting with Meatless Mondays, or 2-3 days a week eating completely vegan. Some people manage to shift quite easily after Veganuary – you try it as a challenge for 1 month and realize your body enjoys it so why stop. Another popular approach is weekday vegan – pretty self-explanatory. Those gradual changes don’t seem so restrictive to our mind and we have a safe space to build the confidence of functioning an enjoying the diet which will have higher chances to stick for long. Of course, some hardcore vegans might say that eating a bit of meat/dairy you are still responsible for animal suffering and your microbiome will still be the omnivore one. But overall a person who transitions to veganism gradually during a couple months or years, or sticks to a weekday vegan approach is still better for animal welfare than a person who tried to switch quickly, failed and is discouraged to try ever again. Do it the way which is easier and more enjoyable for you. If you start this journey prepared, knowing your way in the grocery store, when cooking or eating out, knowing how your body feels with certain types of foods you will avoid lots of stress. The important thing to consider when switching are supplements – if you are taking any already are they vegan or have vegan alternatives. You will probably want to start supplementing B12. With the rest of supplements research, play and experiment, each body requires something different. If you are training frequently your diet will need a bit of planning, to make sure you get enough calories and proteins when transitioning. After some time observing how you feel, you will approach this more intuitively. You might even lose some muscle mass in the beginning, but don’t get discouraged, just keep experimenting and feeding your body calories it craves, after a month or two it will adapt.
Let’s sum this up with some brief tips to help you transition:
- Do your research – on veganism impact on your health, planet, supplements, food swaps
- Experiment in the kitchen with plant-based alternatives of dairy/meat
- Join local vegan community (or online community) for tips, events, inspiration and connecting with fellow vegans
- Find a vegan influencer whose content you trust and get inspired – Instagram, Youtube channel, podcast etc. For example, I really love Plant Proof podcast.
- Plan your grocery shopping ahead
- Find a great vegan restaurant to enjoy a meal regularly and help you realize you are not missing out
- Cook vegan meals for your friends and family (or take them to your favourite vegan restaurant)
- Don’t get discouraged if you feel weird at first. Bloating, stomach pain/discomfort might be typical for people switching from a diet with low fibre intake. In 1-2 month you microbiome will adapt and you gonna feel amazing.
- Observe and celebrate positive changes. If you have extra weight, veganism will certainly help with that (considering you eat whole food healthy diet), you’ll have better skin, energy levels etc. Enjoy it!
- Don’t waste your time and energy on arguing with people who are against veganism. It will only bring you frustration. If somebody wants to discuss this topic, lay your arguments politely, point on benefits but move on to another topic if you feel uncomfortable.
- Occasionally have a cooking challenge of veganizing some non-plant dishes.
- Bring your own snacks/food when travelling or going to a place where you are not sure your eating preferences might be accommodated.
- If your diet is quite unhealthy don’t switch to a plant-based version of the same junk diet. Take your time but try getting rid of as many processed foods as possible and explore whole food sources like vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts etc. But if that veggie burger, oreo or cheese alternative helps you stay on track do indulge from time to time.
No matter if you do it partly, over time or switching to 100% vegan immediately, great job! You are doing something wonderful to your body, mind and our planet. I personally lost weight, improved my energy levels and my mind became more peaceful. A plant-based diet for me was a trigger to other positive lifestyle changes – quitting alcohol, caffeine, regular meditation and running etc.
Enjoy the journey and benefits it brings. Veganism is not a restriction it is a path of abundance, love and compassion 💚