Going vegan can have SO many wonderful benefits. It's healthier for you, it minimizes the amount of pain and suffering that exists in our world, it makes the world a greener and healthier place to live just to name a few. But it can be REALLY hard-- especially when you love meat and cheese like I did! I went vegan in January 2015 after spending over decades being a meat and dairy LOVER. If I can do it, so can you! Here's my fool proof plan for going vegan!
Preparing to Take the Plunge
Figure out why you want to go vegan.
For the animals? For the environment? For the amazing health benefits? To challenge yourself to do something new and out of your comfort zone? Tired of being lied to by the USDA and FDA? Whatever your reason is, this will keep you going.
Surround yourself with inspiration.
Depending on what your reason is, find something that inspires you. Watch documentaries. Read books. Watch YouTube channels (this is my biggest source of inspiration). Find a vegan blog. Look for vegan inspiration on Pinterest (check out my Vegan Inspo board HERE!) Talk to a vegan friend (Hi! Feel free to e-mail me!) I also HIGHLY suggest you order Peta's free Vegan Starter Kit HERE!
Find some new recipes that interest you.
By being prepared with some exciting recipes, your transition will be so much easier. You'll feel excited instead of deprived. You can find my favorite recipes HERE!
Take stock of your kitchen.
Look around your kitchen and start reading labels. Look for milk, eggs, casein (a milk protein), beef, chicken, fish, turkey, pork, etc. You don't have to do anything, except start to become aware of what you're eating. Check salad dressings, sauces, chips, cookies, etc. and just become familiar. This isn't about becoming overwhelmed with how many non-vegan items are in your pantry. This is about becoming more aware of what is in your house.
Okay, here we go!
YAY! Okay, let's do this. Your first step?
Cut out anything on 4 legs (beef + pork)
For 2 weeks, you're going to avoid eating any red meat, beef, bacon, ham, pork or anything that contains these products. Instead, replace beef with lentils or beans in tacos and burger. Look for products like Gardein, Beyond Meat, Tofurky, Field Roast, Boca, Lightlife and Trader Joe's for beef and pork replacements. Try making my vegan Mexican Pizza or try making Cassava Bacon!
Cut out anything on 2 legs (chicken + turkey)
This is where people freak out. Chicken and turkey are hailed as a healthier alternative to beef. It's really sad that so many people think they are doing wonders for their health by eating "lean meats" like chicken and turkey. The truth is actually VERY different. (Feel free to read HERE and HERE! )
So as you can see, chicken and turkey is actually VERY unhealthy for you. Plus, it's actually disgusting how your chicken gets from the farm to your table. So let's just go ahead and get rid of it. I have to admit this was the hardest part for me, so hang in there and be patient with yourself!
Add no chicken to your diet for 2 weeks. Instead, try these vegan chicken wings or maybe this vegan Chick-Fil-A sandwich (YES PLEASE) I mainly use tofu and chickpeas as a replacement for chicken. Also, be sure to check out my vegan chicken salad sandwich HERE. Again, check out Beyond Meat, Boca, Gardein, Tofurky and Morning Star for some awesome chicken replacements.
Cut out anything on no legs (seafood)
A lot of people wonder why I don't eat seafood. I don't know why fish, shrimp, crabs, clams and oysters seem to so many people like they aren't actually animals, but aren't they what we go to see at the aquarium?! So many people feel that they are so closely related to insects that they must not have feelings and fish is actually praised as a healthy food (spoiler: it isn't). PLEASE check out this graphic HERE that explains ALL the reasons vegans don't eat seafood!
So here comes the time to cut out shrimp, fish, crabs, oysters, tuna, salmon and Worcestershire sauce, and Cesar dressing (yes, Cesar has anchovies in it). Instead, check out Gardein's crab cakes and fish filets. Check out this Crab Cake recipe too! I've heard they're amazing!
Cut out dairy (milk, cheese, ice cream, cream, etc.)
Okay, this is another one where people lose their minds and swear they can't go vegan. YES YOU CAN! The milk industry is one of the most frustrating and disgusting industries out there. If you ask me about it, I could talk your ear off for hours. It's just really, really nasty. Also, YOU DO NOT NEED MILK. There are SO MANY STUDIES that point to the opposite (read THIS article or THIS!) or watch Cowspiracy or honestly, just Google "Why You Shouldn't Drink Milk". Dairy is horrible for you and is probably causing a ton of healthy issues you don't realize.
So here we go, for the next 2 weeks, just focus on cutting out dairy. Replace milk with almond, coconut or soy milk. Replace cheese with Go Veggie cheese, Daiya cheese or my favorite, Field Roast cheese. Replace cream cheese with Go Veggie cream cheese. Order pizza without cheese but load up on a ton of veggies! Replace ice cream with Ben & Jerry's Dairy Free ice cream, sorbet or So Delicious Almond or Coconut milk ice cream. There are so many options that there is no reason that in today's society, people still feel the need to eat dairy. Make THIS nacho cheese or make my Mac & Cheese!
Cut out eggs (and mayo!)
I would say that this is pretty easy for most people. Eggs are mainly used for breakfast, baking and mayo, which are all super easy to replace. A lot of people are curious as to why vegans don't eat eggs. It's because it's one of the cruelest secrets about our society. If you're brave enough, click HERE to see the real reasons behind the egg industry. It will absolutely make you sick.
So, here we go! The easiest part of your vegan journey! There are egg replacers that work really well. You can also use tofu for scrambled eggs or omelettes. When baking, there are SO MANY replacements for eggs it's unreal. I use a flax egg (1 TBSP of ground flax + 2 TBSP of water.) Nowadays, there is no reason to use REAL mayo when Hampton Creek Just Mayo sells their products of egg-free mayo and salad dressings (my favorite is their Cesar!) at places like Walmart, Safeway and basically every other grocery store I've been to recently.
Cut out the miscellaneous.
Now that you can call yourself a vegan, start reading those labels again. Make sure that your bread doesn't have eggs in it. Make sure that you replace your honey with 100% maple syrup or agave nectar. Cut out little things here and there like:
- marshmallows, Jello or anything gummy // these products are made with gelatin, which is made from boiled skin and ligaments. Ew. Read on it HERE.
- honey // Read HERE to find out why vegans don't eat honey...replace it with maple syrup!)
- white sugar // that white color? It comes from burnt cow and pig bones. Organic cane sugar is much tastier anyways!
- red dyes // like Red Dye #4/Carminic Acid/Carmine/Cochnieal which is all code for crushed up beetles
- L-Cysteine // a dough conditioner made from duck and chicken feathers or HUMAN HAIR, found in bagels in grocery stores, Einstein Brother's and Dunkin Donuts. Ew.
- certain beers and wines // which are made with FISH BLADDERS, y'all. That's nasty but check out Barnivore.com to see which alcohol brands are vegan!