I’m a Veg(eteri)an! Making the Switch

December 5, 2012 Comments Off

If you’ve toyed with the idea of transitioning from vegetarian to vegan, there are some things you need to know. Eating a balanced, healthy diet can seem more difficult when you get into vegan territory, but it’s actually easier than you think. Keep these tips in mind when you jump the fence.

Be Adventurous – The vegan lifestyle requires a reframing of how you view food. From birth, many people are conditioned to eat a certain way by using ingredients in specific manners. As you say goodbye to dairy, you’ll be forced to start experimenting with alternative ingredients such as non-dairy cheese and vegetarian margarine. Keep an open mind as you taste vegan-approved foods for the first time by understanding that the switch requires an evolution of your palate.

Gather Recipes – Not sure where to start when adapting your meals to vegan-approved versions? Begin gathering recipes from various sources. Vegan food blogs are a dime a dozen these days, and many offer wonderful, free recipes. Of course, vegan cookbooks are also available for purchase, but don’t feel as if you must spend a fortune to gather quality recipes.

As you begin experimenting with vegan recipes, choose versions that are highly rated by others. Using pre-approved recipes will increase your chances of vegan cooking success and will prevent you from wasting money on ingredients for recipes that haven’t been professionally tested. Many of your current favorite recipes can also be adapted by swapping dairy ingredients for non-dairy alternatives.

Recruit Support – Becoming a vegan in a meat-eating and dairy-consuming world can be challenging. Ensure that you stick to your guns by recruiting friends who have also been considering the switch. Strong moral support can make all the difference between your success or failure at adapting to the vegan lifestyle.

Surrounded by unwavering meat eaters? Join Facebook vegan groups and online support forums instead. Any type of vegan support, even the online kind, will be immensely helpful at bolstering your commitment to making the change for the long haul.

Know thy Purpose – Why are you thinking of going vegan? If you want to make the switch because it’s the current trendy thing to do, your commitment to the lifestyle likely won’t last long. Whether you decide to go vegan in opposition of animal cruelty or for health reasons, find a solid reason for making the switch and regularly remind yourself of that reason.

Know the Costs – Going vegan doesn’t have to automatically tag you with a higher weekly grocery bill. However, keep in mind that some non-dairy ingredients and other alternatives may cost more than their non-vegan counterparts. Avoid a budget crisis by tracking any grocery bill increases as you make the vegan switch.

If your costs do increase, begin shopping with coupons or cut out any unnecessary ingredients. Overall, remember that most natural foods cost a little more because of their higher quality and, as such, are worthwhile for your health.

Ditch the Dairy – A major concern often cited among those considering the switch from vegetarian to vegan is the loss of dairy products. If you love a good cheese or crave your morning glass of milk, your dairy dependence may be the main factor holding you back from making your move.

What many don’t realize, however, is that the vegan market is ripe with tasty dairy alternatives. From coconut milk ice cream to vegetarian margarine, you have plenty of options at your disposal to begin learning which vegan alternatives you prefer. As your palate begins adjusting to the flavors and textures of dairy alternatives, your dairy cravings will quickly diminish.

Don’t Preach – As you work to maintain your vegan diet, you likely expect meat eaters to bite their tongues when it comes to anti-vegan remarks. The road goes both ways. If you hold this expectation, then you must also be willing to avoid preaching to everyone you see about the benefits of veganism. As you remain committed to veganism, the benefits of your new vegan diet will be clearly evident to others without you having to say a word.

Drop a few letters from your title as a vegetarian and complete the transition to vegan. When you have the facts up front regarding vegan eating, you’ll gain more confidence as you complete the shift. It’s a lifestyle change that requires commitment, but it’s also one that can bring many healthy rewards. Looking to adopt a more natural lifestyle? Check out these 8 natural skin care products for your skin.

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