People choose to go vegan or give a plant-based diet a try for many reasons. Most people choose to go vegan for the animals, for the environment, and/or for health reasons. I went vegan for my health, but soon everything else came together as well. Even though I initially made the choice for my health, I soon made connections to the animals and environmental reasons for going vegan as well. My family has been vegan for nearly 6 years, and we’ve had so much fun experimenting with different foods, finding meals and snacks we love, and developing healthy plant-based recipes!
Veganuary is a challenge to go vegan for the month of January (or any month). It can be a fun challenge to try out a vegan diet for a month, to experiment with plant-based foods, try something new, and see how you feel. Eating more plants is awesome, so every step in that direction is a win!
Here are our top tips for starting a vegan diet and embarking on a vegan challenge, or going vegan.
Tip 1: Keep it Simple
Start with vegan foods you already enjoy! We sometimes think of vegan food as weird food that we’ve never had before, and being limited to iceberg lettuce and carrots. The reality is that so many delicious foods are vegan! You likely don’t realize how many foods you already enjoy that just happen to be vegan (ex. all of the fruits and veggies, oats, rice, pasta). Check out my What I Ate in My First Week as a Vegan post for details about how I got started.
Continue to eat the same foods you love, but in a vegan version:
- Make simple tweaks to recipes you already have (ex. using non-dairy milk instead of dairy, adding lentils or veggie ground to a marinara sauce instead of ground meat).
- Find new recipes to experiment with
- Find vegan alternatives for your favourite foods (ex. pizzas, burgers, hotdogs, burritos, and more).
So, whether it’s tweaking an old recipe, trying a new one, or finding a vegan prepared version, there are so many ways to eat a vegan diet, and keep it simple and enjoyable!
Tip 2: Make a Plan
Decide what meals and snacks you’d like to have. Once you’ve made tweaks to a recipe you already have, or have found a new recipe you want to try, you can make your grocery list accordingly.
It can also be helpful to search online for vegan options at restaurants, coffee shops, or health food stores. The Happy Cow website and app can be particularly helpful for finding vegan-friendly options near you!
Tip 3: Prepare
It’s time to go shopping! Grocery shopping can feel like a whole new experience once you’ve made the decision to try a plant-based diet or go vegan. It can feel a bit uncomfortable or limiting in the beginning, but shifting the focus to what you can have and what you do want to eat can make shopping more enjoyable. Turning the grocery shop into an adventure or a treasure hunt can make it fun and exciting!
Prepare your food. If you’ve purchased a lot of processed vegan food or canned/ frozen/ prepared items, you might not have much preparation to do. On the other hand, if you’ve chosen more whole plant foods that are fresh or dried, you may have a bit more preparation to do (ex. chopping veggies, preparing rice or beans, making a recipe for leftovers etc…) Regardless of what you’ve chosen, having food available, prepared, and easily accessible makes it much easier to stick with your vegan diet. It’s always a good idea to have yummy food ready to eat for whenever you’re hungry, or when you need to grab something quickly when you’re busy and on the go.
Tip 4: Be Kind to Yourself
It can be a little uncomfortable or overwhelming when first going vegan and slip ups can happen. Reading labels and exploring new vegan options will get easier over time. If you slip up and happen to purchase something that’s not vegan, give yourself some grace. You’re doing your best and mistakes happen. Keep going with your vegan diet!
Tip 5: Find Support
Connect with others who are already vegan, vegetarian, or plant-based. Finding someone else who is also curious about plant-based living and veganism can also be helpful for learning together, sharing recipes and resources, and leaning on each other for support. If you don’t know anyone in real life, there are many vegan and plant-based communities online that can be supportive and helpful when you’re making the transition. We have our Plant Fit Meg community here on our website, on YouTube, and on social media. Feel free to connect with us and ask any questions you may have. If you’re looking for a plant-based support group, check the Plant Pure Communities Pod Network to see if there’s a pod near you. We co-lead our local group in Kingston, Ontario – Kingston Whole Food Plant-Based Support Group. There are also many vegan and plant-based Facebook groups and Reddit forums.
You can get all of the nutrients you need on a well-planned vegan diet. Some people worry about possible deficiencies as a vegan. If you’re concerned about nutrition and covering your bases on a vegan diet, we recommend checking out:
- Nutrition Facts
- The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM)
- Brenda Davis, RD
- Julieanna Hever, RD
Bringing enthusiasm and excitement to your food and lifestyle can be helpful in making it more enjoyable. Turning it into a game, adventure, or an experiment can make it a lot more fun!
Give yourself time to make the transition and get used to eating different foods. It takes time to build new habits and routines. Your palate changes over time as well, so you might find that over time, you enjoy foods that you previously disliked.
Sign up for Veganuary or another plant-based challenge:
- The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM)
- Center for Nutrition Studies
- Daily Dozen Challenge
Check out my Going Vegan / Veganuary Playlist on YouTube for more information about going vegan, stocking your kitchen, how to eat vegetables, finding support, and more!
If you’re planning on going vegan this year and need coaching or additional support and accountability, contact me to inquire about 1:1 coaching!