I've been a vegan for over three years. Even though it's very natural and easy to be vegan for me now, the transition was kinda tricky, to be honest. I had to learn all about vitamins I'd need to find new sources for, as well as cooking substitutes to keep in mind (I watched a lot of documentaries and YouTube videos to learn all this). However, when I passed that stage and got used to eating a vegan diet, it became easy. If you've been wondering how to go vegan, you've come to the right place. Below are some of the most important tips and information you'll need to know to make going vegan a smooth transition. 

What Is Veganism?

salad, Healthy, Thai, homemade, Vegan, coconutbowl, kale, cabbage
Nicole Burnett

It can be hard to differentiate the terms vegan and vegetarian at first. A vegetarian is someone who doesn't eat any type of meat (chicken, cow, shrimp, fish, etc). On the other hand, a vegan doesn't consume meat or any animal byproducts like dairy and eggs. Also, a vegan doesn't wear leather or anything that came from an animal, and vegans don't use beauty products that have been tested on animals. In this article I'll talk about how to go vegan, however, going vegetarian first might be useful for some people. 

Useful Information on Veganism

Elyse Carley

Learning about veganism before actually trying it is very important. If you don't do your research first, you'll probably go back to eating animal products because you won't fully understand why it's important to make these dietary changes. The first time I tried to go vegetarian I didn't do research and I went back to eating meat after a month. 

Here are a few things I recommend watching and reading before going vegan:

1. Watch documentaries – Cowspiracy and What The Health are my favorites, and they're both on Netflix.

2. Watch Youtube videos like Best Speech You'll Ever Hear and Dairy Is Scary!. Also, some of my favorite vegan youtubers are Kalel, Stella Rae and Tess Begg. I always get meal ideas from them.

3. Read about what macro and micronutrients you'll need to eat and supplement with. The most important one is B12 because it's hard to find in plant-based products. Read up on the common nutrients vegan lack in their diet to know which vitamins you need to take.

4. Have an arsenal of helpful articles like this guide to vegan fast food, lists of the best vegan cheeses and vegan cream cheeses, vegan Instagram accounts to follow, and these 7 easy vegan recipes that rock.

Vegan Food Blogs to Follow

Going vegan cold-tofurkey might work some people, but making small changes is usually better and will lead to a more sustainable lifestyle change. To start, learn how to make some basic vegan recipes like this vegan chili or these vegan pancakes. Some of my favorite vegan recipe blogs are Minimalist Baker, Hot for Food and Chocolate Covered Katie. Then, when you already added vegan recipes to your diet, start cutting out foods like chicken and then pork and then cow and so on.

Vegan Substitutes at the Grocery Store

Grocery Shopping, groceries, shopping, Whole Foods Market, Whole foods market sign
Shelby Cohron

Another great idea is to start looking for meat and dairy replacements in the supermarket. My favorite ones are Chao Cheese Slices, Gardein Chicken Tenders, Beyond Meat Burgers, Tofurky's Sausages, Daiya Frozen Pizzas, Tofutti's Cream Cheese, Califia Farms Almond Milk, Silk Vanilla Yogurt and Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream. The prices of these products are different, some are very affordable and some are quite expensive, so there are options for everyone. Most of these products can be found at any grocery store, but if you want to be sure, go to Whole Foods or Trader Joe's to find them. 

How to Read Labels

While some products say vegan loud and clear, most vegan-friendly products don't. You'll have to learn to read the label of a product you want to buy every time you go to the store. For example, milk can be hidden in products using different names such as casein, whey, and lactose; eggs can be called albumen or methionine; there is also lard, gelatin, retinol, beeswax, and some other hard-to-pronounce ingredients that aren't suitable for vegans. I like to have a screenshot of this helpful list of ingredients that are not vegan to make my life easier when I'm shopping. This might seem overwhelming at first, but I promise you'll get used to it.

You'll be surprised at how many things you already eat are vegan. This includes Oreos, some chips, unfrosted Pop-Tarts and most cereals. Here's a full list of accidentally vegan foods. For products that are not on this list, you just have to read the label and make sure there are no sneaky animal products in there. 

"Veganizing" Your Favorite Recipes

Laura Subiaur

We all have that meal that we can't let go of, but the thing is you don't have to. There are many ways to make your favorite meals vegan by simply replacing some key ingredients. I've used an egg substitute called aquafaba (the liquid in a can of chickpeas) and almond milk to make a vegan carrot cake. I've also made pizzas with vegan cheese that I buy at the store, donuts with vegan toppings such as Oreos, and ice cream with coconut milk instead of cream. You can substitute coconut oil or margarine for butter and tofu for eggs in most baking recipes. Literally anything can be made vegan, you just have to search for recipes and maybe try a few before finding the perfect one for you. 

What If You Mess Up?

apple, girl eating apple, Orchard, girl
Alex Frank

It's easy to make mistakes and eat something that's not vegan on accident. I've done it myself, and instead of feeling bad I just learn from my mistake and move on. There's no such thing as a perfect vegan who never messes up, but we try our best to live a cruelty-free life. 

Learning how to go vegan is a big process and it will probably take time. But at the end of the day, the feeling of knowing you did as little harm to the planet and to the animals as possible is worth it. Once you learn all the basics and make the connection with what's on your plate and where it came from you will never want to go back to eating animal products.