10 Ways to slowly Ease into Veganism
The vegan movement has exploded over the last 5 years, to the point where what was once a hardly heard of – let alone understood – term is now so commonly recognised, that any high street chain will offer at least something tasty to quench a vegan’s thirst or quell their hunger. In fact, the number of vegans in Great Britain actually quadrupled between 2014-2019, to 600,000 people (1)! But despite there never being a better – or easier – time to go vegan, it might still seem like a daunting change. The vast majority of us (including the vast majority of vegans) grew up consuming animal products as the norm. Eggs, cheese, milk, chicken, fish, beef, you name it, we ate it. In many cultures, we learn to cook around these products, with them often being the centrepiece of the dish. So going vegan and omitting all the above presents a new challenge, but you might just be surprised how easy and how fulfilling a challenge it can be. So, if you’re looking to dip your toe into the world of veganism, read on for our 10 top tips on how to ease yourself into this new way of life.
1. Start with the basics
There are a few things that are so easy to swap out that you’ll hardly even notice – this may be the best place to start! Opt for oat milk in your latte, scramble tofu instead of eggs, and swap dairy yoghurt for plant yoghurt. Plant alternatives to milk are found in nearly all shops and cafes nowadays, so go on, give it a go!
2. Re-invent your faves
The last thing you want to feel is that you’re missing out. If your favourite meal is a lasagne, bolognaise, pizza, or even a burger, work on a plant alternative that you love. For example, you could swap mince meat for lentils and/or finely chopped mushrooms, and make a vegan bechamel with flour, olive oil, plant milk and nutritional yeast. Et voilà your lasagne!
3. Three core meals
There will be times when you are hungry and you’ll feel like falling back into old habits for convenience. This is where it is really helpful to have three (or more) core meals that are super easy and super tasty. Whether it’s a quick pesto pasta, a bean chilli, or a marinated tofu burger (trust me, these can be packed with flavour), find a few meals you can fall back on when time is tight and you’re starting to get seriously hangry.
4. Plan ahead
It’s a great idea to get into the habit of planning ahead. Whether it’s taking a minute to call up a restaurant and making sure they cater to vegans, or bringing snacks on a trip to somewhere where options might be limited. Planning like this can make all the difference. A few examples of great vegan snacks are medjool dates (nature’s sweet, gooey, sticky answer to caramel – they’ll blow your mind!), pistachios, cashews or peanuts, roasted chickpeas or split peas, homemade flapjacks, or your favourite fruit.
5. Explore ethnic foods, and embrace umami
Cuisines from certain cultures lend themselves beautifully to vegan cooking. Think Thai, Vietnamese, Indian, Nepalese, Japanese, the list goes on. Asian foods such as soy sauce, tamari, and miso are brilliant for bringing big depth of flavour, or umami. Other Asian foods such as tofu, tempeh and seitan act as fantastic meat replacements which are high in protein, low in saturated fat and totally void of cholesterol.
6. Find your mentor
This is a great way to stay motivated and inspired. Whether it’s in real life with a vegan friend or relative, or online, find someone who is willing to share their knowledge, support and best advice. Check out vegan recipe blogs, vegan Instagram or Facebook pages, and vegan YouTube channels. There is an unbelievable amount of useful information out there online!
7. Buy cookbooks or a magazine subscription
Magazines such as Vegan Food & Living offer a ton of brand new, varied and exciting recipes every month, as well as discussing all matters related to veganism. It’s a small investment for big rewards. Alternatively, treat yourself to a vegan cookbook. Again, there are a ton out there, from the Bosh! boys to Deliciously Ella to The Happy Pear, there’s a brand and a style out there for everyone.
8. Find your conviction
What is it about veganism that has piqued your interest? People generally go vegan for one or more of three core reasons:
- For ethics: The farming and slaughtering of animals causes intense suffering to its victims. Whether it’s the egg, dairy, fishing or meat industries, exploitation, pain and death are the common denominator. The best thing we can do to minimise animal suffering is to stop supporting these industries.
- For the environment: It might surprise you that, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), animal agriculture is responsible for releasing up to 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions – more than the combined exhaust from the entire transport sector (2). Some estimates put this figure as high as 51% when taking into account animals’ respiration, and other factors not included in the FAO’s analysis (3).
- For health reasons: A vegan diet, complete with wholegrains and cereals; chickpeas, lentils and other pulses; fruit; veg; and nuts and seeds can do wonders for us. It’s a diet that can aid in the reversal of type 2 diabetes (4, 5) and heart disease (6), can improve outcomes with certain types of cancer (7, 8), and can help us in losing weight or sculpting the body we wish for.
Find your reason(s) for adopting a vegan diet and build your conviction and resolve – this is what will help you stick with it in the long run.
9. Do your research
In order to truly find your conviction, you’ll want to conduct your own research into the main reasons above. Knowledge is key, and the more you are aware of the issues which bring people to veganism, the more likely you will be to commit.
10. Have fun with it!
If you remain curious, you’ll discover a whole range of foods, flavours and combinations that you’d never tried before. Enjoy the discovery, both of the food and of the reasons behind the movement. Embrace the change and the challenge, and most importantly, have fun!
- The Vegan Society. (n.d.). Worldwide growth of veganism. [online] Available at: https://www.vegansociety.com/news/media/statistics/worldwide#:~:text=The%20Food%20and%20You%202%20survey%20uses%20a%20larger%20number[Accessed 25 Nov. 2022].
- Steinfeld, H et al. Livestock’s Long Shadow: Environmental issues and options. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations; 2006.
- Goodland, R & Anhang, J. Livestock and Climate Change: What if the key actors in climate change are…cows, pigs and chickens?. WorldWatch. November/December 2009
- Anderson JW, Ward K. High-carbohydrate, high-fiber diets for insulin-treated men with diabetes mellitus. Am J Clin Nutr. 1979 Nov;32(11):2312-21. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/32.11.2312. PMID: 495550.
- Trapp CB, Barnard ND. Usefulness of vegetarian and vegan diets for treating type 2 diabetes. Curr Diab Rep. 2010 Apr;10(2):152-8. doi: 10.1007/s11892-010-0093-7. PMID: 20425575.
- Esselstyn CB Jr, Gendy G, Doyle J, Golubic M, Roizen MF. A way to reverse CAD? J Fam Pract. 2014 Jul;63(7):356-364b. PMID: 25198208.
- Saxe GA, Major JM, Nguyen JY, Freeman KM, Downs TM, Salem CE. Potential attenuation of disease progression in recurrent prostate cancer with plant-based diet and stress reduction. Integr Cancer Ther. 2006 Sep;5(3):206-13. doi: 10.1177/1534735406292042. PMID: 16880425.
Logan J, Bourassa MW. The rationale for a role for diet and nutrition in the prevention and treatment of cancer. Eur J Cancer Prev. 2018 Jul;27(4):406-410. doi: 10.1097/CEJ.0000000000000427. PMID: 29461280