Transitioning to Veganism
The transition to veganism is a daunting task, even for experienced vegetarians, thus making this an area of particular difficulty for say, a passionate omnivore. Keeping this in mind, there are many different strategies that can help anyone taking the plunge achieve success, regardless of their reasons or rationale.
- Be prepared to fail, a lot. This is generally inevitable, and a bigger-picture life-lesson; failure is okay and often part of attaining success.
- Start small – replace steak and chicken with eggs and fish. Once those become a suitable source of protein on a daily basis, cut out fish. It’s time to start thinking about things like nuts and beans as primary protein sources, but don’t forget, B vitamins!
- Be inviting, there’s a never-ending sea of foods that you haven’t tried (which should be exciting). The more you pass on trying new things, the more restrictive your diet really is.
- Protein, protein, protein. You can never try too many types of protein that you can incorporate into your diet, especially as a vegan, even more so as a vegan that doesn’t consume soy.
- Don’t like those greens and veggies? Get over it. Part of coming to like different foods requires trying so-so foods over and over, and barring vomiting, trying them again.
- Get in the habit of reading labels, a lot. There’s no escaping label-reading when you have a family to shop for. While buying whole foods can help in avoiding massive bouts of label-reading at the grocery store each week, one should get in the habit of reading labels, because that oh-so-convenient-too-good-to-be-true snack could be laced with dairy products (yes, “laced”). Did you know that gelatin (e.g. Jello) is made from the hides and bones of animals? Not something you would know without reading labels carefully and researching your food.
- Soy/Hemp/Coconut/Almond milk are your friends, and more than likely the only surefire way to break free of dairy products – it’s tough.
- Salads are your friends too. They’re easy to make, you can buy the ingredients in bulk, and it’s not overly-ambitious to try get the majority of your calories, macro and micronutrients, as well as vitamins and minerals from a few salads each day.
- If you’re picky and can’t get over it, and it affects your ability to get a specific nutrient (e.g. protein, B vitamins, iron), do some research and find the proper supplement(s).
Talk to your physician before, during, and after transitioning. It’s important that you’re not missing anything. The last thing anyone wants out of making such a dedicated change for the sake of their health is to find out that what they’re doing isn’t healthy for them.
The end-all, be-all of transitioning to veganism is the understanding that failure will probably occur, and that despite what others may say, this is perfectly fine. If a particular aspect of veganism gives you difficulty, consult with other vegans via your preferred medium (restaurants, online communities, etc) as there are a lot of great resources out there that might have what you need. That said, it is extremely important that one becomes familiar and comfortable with a clear channel of communication with their physician, which, like understanding and accepting the possibility and reality of failure in walks of life outside of one’s diet, is a “bigger picture” tendency that one must learn to embrace.