A lot of people decide to go vegan at the beginning of the year for a multitude of reasons, whether it be for their health, to help the environment, or they just want a change. Lucky for those people, veganism is steadily growing in popularity, especially with many national food chains adopting the Beyond Meat and Impossible burgers, and it’s now easier than ever to go vegan. However, if you’re still hesitant and need a little encouragement, here are 3 tips from someone who’s been vegan for the past 5 years!

Beyond Meat Burger at Against The Grain Brewery and Smokehouse
Beyond Meat Burger in Louisville. Image Courtesy of Against The Grain

1. Start Slowly

The standard American diet is so revolved around meat, dairy, and eggs that for most people, thinking about going vegan is thinking about cutting out over half of the foods they regularly eat. Picture a classic American breakfast. You’re probably picturing something along the lines of bacon, eggs, sausage, and buttered toast. It’s no wonder cutting out so many of these foods seems scary! But it’s okay, because you don’t have to cut it out all at once. You can start by cutting out one type of food at a time. For example, you can start by cutting out red meat. Or even cutting out red meat a few days of the week. Once you get used to that, you can move on to white meat, and then in a few weeks or months, cut out eggs, and so on. This is a softer and less overwhelming transition, and can make the switch feel more natural.

2. Don’t Beat Yourself Up

If you do quit animal products cold turkey (pun not intended), there’s a lot of information to take in and there can be a bit of a learning curve about whether things are actually vegan or not. For example, your favorite frozen veggie burger may actually have eggs in it, (although most companies that make this type of product have moved towards making their products fully vegan, yay!) or maybe you think you’re ordering a vegan dish at your favorite Thai restaurant but it’s actually made with fish sauce, or you didn’t realize that your favorite candy is made with gelatin. I could go on but you get the point.

These kinds of mistakes are bound to happen, and when they do, there’s no need to make yourself feel bad. Just because you accidentally ate a little bit of egg whites, doesn’t mean you can’t call yourself a vegan anymore. We are all always constantly making mistakes, and that’s not a bad thing! We learn from them, we move on, and we go forward with a little more knowledge for the next time we’re in that situation.

3. You Don’t Have To Go All In

There have been so many times that people have said to me “I really want to go vegan but I just don’t think I could give up cheese.” If you’re one of these people, I have a secret to tell you: you don’t have to.

Make the rest of your diet plant-based, and still eat cheese! This way, you’re still reaping the benefits by avoiding the meat, eggs, butter, etc, but don’t have to feel like you’re depriving yourself of something you really love. Eating a mostly plant-based diet and still eating cheese is still beneficial! A fair warning with this tip, if you do this you may get people commenting that “cheese isn’t vegan!” or that “you’re breaking the rules!” If this happens, the best thing to do is tell them that you’re mostly plant-based, and remember that what you choose to eat doesn’t affect them, and at the end of the day what they think of your dietary choices doesn’t affect you either.

If you’ve been considering going vegan but have had reservations about starting, I hope these tips have helped you and made the idea seem a little less daunting!

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