Veganism shouldn’t be a mystery. It should be easy, fun, and accessible. And so I’ve made the Beginners Guide on How to Go Vegan to make the transition to a plant-based diet just that! Let’s dig in
This post was originally published on April 15, 2018. Last updated on March 13, 2020
Veganism is on the rise!
Whether motivated by health, concerns for the environment, or a desire to reduce the pain and suffering of animals and people alike, it is becoming abundantly clear that we need to take another look at our diets and make some changes. While veganism is about abstaining from animal products entirely, not everyone is ready for that great plunge and I believe that any steps towards reducing animal consumption and increasing plant-based foods in one’s diet is a step in the right direction.
Let’s celebrate those steps forward!
Comprehensive Vegan Resources
In the nearly 14 years that I’ve been vegan, I’ve learned a lot. I have spent the last 8 years building this website as a resource that helps make the transition to veganism easy and sustainable. For those of you who are new to veganism, I have a library of resources that include articles such as:
- What is Veganism and other Frequently Asked Questions
- Where Do Vegans Get Their Protein
- How to Replace Eggs in Nearly Everything
- The Ultimate Guide on Vegan Sugar.
Today I want to share 8 tips and tricks I’ve learned about going vegan. These tools are meant to help prepare you to be well equipped as you prepare to make one of the best transitions of your life.
Table of Contents
Want the printable pdf? Click here!
1. Learn how to Stock a Vegan Pantry
The most important advice I can offer is to have a kitchen full of exciting plant-based foods. When I first went vegan I became obsessed with every resource that could tell me how to stock my newly plant-based kitchen. From cookbooks to blogs I wanted to know exactly what I needed in my kitchen to make veganism not just possible, but easy.
Over time I figured out what must-have staples I needed, what dairy and meat alternatives were nice to have on hand, and the best ingredients to make any kind of vegan cuisine. I learned that keeping a mixture of fresh produce and quick grab-n-go convenient meals is key to success.
WHERE DO I GET MY GROCERIES?
A lot of people ask me where I get my groceries. I get them all over the place. For produce, plant-based cheese and milk alternatives, and other refrigerated goods, I typically shop at Whole Foods or Trader Joes. They both have great selections of vegan groceries and are always coming out with new products to try.
For most of my non-perishable items, I shop at Thrive Market. Thrive Market is an online marketplace that is on a mission to make healthy living easy and affordable for everyone. Thrive Market has thousands of best-selling organic foods and natural products and they are priced 25-50% lower than traditional retail prices!
How do they do that? By getting their food at wholesale prices, Thrive Market is able to cut out the middleman and provide awesome goods at a HUGE discount! Cheaper prices, better foods, and the convenience of it being shipped right to your door! And the best part? When shopping, you can filter your search to “vegan” items only and you’ve got your own online vegan grocery store! Thrive Market has saved me a ton of money and time and I HIGHLY recommend checking it out.
Click HERE to use my link and you’ll get an extra 25% off your order AND get a free 30-Day Trial to Thrive Market.
Get my full shopping list, as well as my pantry staples here.
2. Get a Vegan Starter Kit
One of the most helpful tools to begin your vegan journey is to get yourself a vegan starter kit. I personally put together this Vegan Starter Kit based on what I believe is most useful when starting out your vegan journey. It’s a mixture of vegan staples, meat and dairy replacements, and some wholesome and satisfying vegan snacks.
- Organic Coconut Oil– Coconut oil is a staple in my vegan pantry. It is my go-to oil for cooking and baking and I LOVE this ethically sourced organic coconut oil. It’s top quality for a great price!
- Upton’s Natural BBQ Jackfruit – If you haven’t tried jackfruit yet, Upton’s Natural is a great place to start. Thrive Market offers a few different flavors of prepared jackfruit which are great in tacos, on pizza, or in sliders!
- Raw Organic Cashews – Cashews are a staple in my vegan pantry. I use cashews for cashew cheese sauces, creams, custards, and more. Because I use cashews in so many different ways, I highly recommend it.
- Pete’s Bourbon Smoked Black Pepper Vegan Jerky – This is one of my FAVORITE vegan snack foods. Pete’s Jerky is chewy, flavorful, and so so good. It’s a must for new and old vegans alike.
- Califia Almond Milk Creamer, Unsweetened – Finding a good creamer for your coffee is essential as a new vegan and after trying nearly all the vegan creamer available, I stand 100% behind this one from Califia Farms.
- Organic Coconut Sugar – For a healthy alternative to sugar, I make sure always to have a bag of organic coconut sugar in my pantry. While I use a variety of sugars, coconut sugar is my go-to.
- Vegan Egg– If you’re new to veganism, then you might still be wondering how to replace eggs. Follow Your Heart’s vegan egg is perfect for scrambles, baking, and more!
You can check out my complete starter kit right here; it’s the perfect introductory box to veganism.
3. Plan your meals out
It can be so hard to come up with a satisfying vegan meal at the end of a long day. That is why I totally recommend trying a meal plan, especially when you are first getting started. Meal planning and prep work take the stress out of cooking, making this new diet exciting and easy.
There are quite a few meal plan apps you can purchase if you want to customize your own meal plan, however, if you’re just starting out, I recommend checking out my 4-Week Vegan Meal Plan. This 4-Week Meal Plan is the ultimate starting place for new vegans. It includes 4 weekly menus (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) 4 corresponding printable shopping lists + 1 shopping list of vegan staples, and 36 recipes planned out for a whole month of eating. You can read all about the 4-Week Meal Plan here.
If you’re not looking to spend money, simply spend more time on My Darling Vegan. This blog is meant to be a resource for everyone, specifically those who are new and transitioning to the vegan lifestyle. Here you’ll find hundreds of recipes that use simple to find, whole food ingredients with minimal prep. Use the filter button on the recipe index to look for recipes that feature particular ingredients, types of cuisines, or fit certain dietary restrictions. From there, you can create your own meal plan and shopping list.
4. Learn how to Veganize Any Meal
Think of a food you absolutely love and can’t imagine life without. Is it French Toast? Or perhaps Creamy Fettucine Alfredo? Maybe it’s the creamy decadence of créme brúlée. For me, it’s a saucy, juicy, sauerkraut-filled Rueben. Whatever your comfort food of choice is, there is a satisfying way to veganize it.
That is one of the purposes of My Darling Vegan and I have spent countless time testing out comfort food recipes to find the perfect vegan substitutions. Here are a few articles that will help you learn how to veganize YOUR favorite comfort foods at home.
- How to Replace Eggs in Nearly EVERYTHING
- Is Sugar Vegan? A comprehensive Guide.
- How to Make Perfect Crispy Tofu
- The Wine-Lovers Guide to Vegan Wine
And coming soon…
- Vegan Cheese For All Your Needs
- Best Plant-Based Alternatives to Meat
5. Try a Vegan Meal Delivery Service
There are many of you who want to go vegan but finding the time to cook is a problem. Then perhaps, rather than a meal plan, you need a Meal Delivery Service. There is a huge array of Meal Delivery Services out there. Some provide fully cooked frozen meals while others offer fresh, pre-measured ingredients to allow you a homecooked meal with minimal prep.
Here are a few Meal Delivery Services I recommend trying
Purple Carrot is an ENTIRELY VEGAN Meal Delivery Service that offers fresh, pre-measured ingredients to some of the most flavorful meals. You can pick out meal plans for either 2 or 4 people for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You know exactly what you’re getting in each meal, including nutritional information and prep time. And friends, the food at Purple Carrot is AMAZING. I’ve used Purple Carrot on and off for years and I can’t say enough good things about it. Check them out here and get $30 off your first box!
Veestro is another one of my go-to Meal Delivery Services. It is also ENTIRELY PLANT-BASED (gotta love that!). Veestro offers frozen meals and specific meal plans to meet your needs. You can order a meal plan geared towards Weight Loss, Chef’s Choice, or order your meals A la Carte. Veestro offers Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner and the biggest bonus with Veestro is there is zero meal prep required. Their food is delicious, convenient, and affordable. Read my full review of Veestro here. Or go straight to their website and check them out for yourself. Get 30% off your first order with the Coupon Code: MYDARLINGVEGAN
While I haven’t tried Sun Basket personally, I know a lot of people who love this service. Sunbasket is similar to Purple Carrot in that they provide fresh, pre-measured ingredients for delicious homecooked meals with minimal prep. Sun Basket offers a ton of options, but this is not a vegan service. The best way to use Sun Basket is by creating your own menu from their clearly labeled vegan options. Try it today and get $35 off your first order!
6. Take Small Steps
Veganism is a big shift for many and it’s reasonable that the transition may be slow. When I became vegan, it took me nearly a month to make the complete transition. I made the decision that I would be fully vegan when all the non-vegan food in my kitchen was gone and I took that month to read, study, and take steps towards my ultimate goal.
Here are a few steps you can take towards veganism if you’re not ready for the full plunge.
Go Meatless Until Dinner
This is a common approach taken by people who are trying to reduce the amount of animal products they consume. It can be very easy to eat plant-based for breakfast and lunch – you probably already almost do – and it makes the transition easier when you allow yourself something familiar at dinner time. Need some go-to vegan breakfast and lunch recipes? Try these fan-favorite Blueberry Overnight Oats for a quick and simple breakfast. Or my favorite breakfast, Easy Vegan Scrambled “Eggs”. Get all my breakfast and lunch recipes here.
Add One Vegan Dinner to Your Weekly Rotation
After eating vegan breakfasts and lunches for a few weeks, you’ll likely discover that vegan dinners aren’t that hard either! Start with one simple plant-based meal to add to your dinner rotation. Make sure it’s hearty, easy to make, packed with flavor, and made with whole, nourishing foods (rather than processed foods that will leave you feeling hungry afterward). In other words, you want a meal that you can look forward to, that fills you up, satisfy your tastebuds, and doesn’t require a lot of prep work. A couple of my favorite easy, flavor-packed dinners include Vegan Skillet Enchiladas, Skinny Fettuccine Alfredo, and Red Lentil Cauliflower Curry.
Have a “Crutch” Day
You’re ready to incorporate veganism almost completely but you still feel a little uncertain. If that’s the case, give yourself a “crutch” day. A crutch day is like a cheat day, but rather than feeling guilty about it, understand that allowing yourself a few non-vegan comfort foods while you make the transition is completely okay. A crutch helps you continue to move forward, one step at a time, helping you become the person you want to be as you transition into this new and wholely compassionate lifestyle. (psst…that means, give yourself some compassion, too!)
7. Try something new.
When you first start eating plant-based everything feels new. Don’t get overwhelmed by it. Make it an adventure. Have you tried Tofu Bacon yet? How about Cauliflower Queso? Or, my favorite, Cashew-Based Ice Cream. Maybe these foods sound strange but give them a try.
When trying new foods, it’s important not to think of them as an exact replacement, but a vegetable-based alternative to the foods you know and love. You might find a whole world of plant-based foods open up to you. When that happens, veganism is the opposite of deprivation, expanding your food options beyond expectation!
8. Get a CookBook (or two or three)
When I first went vegan, I was all about vegan cookbooks. I would go to bookstores and browse the vegan cookbooks for hours and my collection was huge. Now, with so many recipes online, fewer people are buying vegan cookbooks (including myself). However, I still believe in the transformative power of holding a book, filled with recipes and beautiful photos, in your hands.
Cookbooks are also great resources as they are packed with information about ingredients, stocking the pantry, how-to guides, and more. If you are looking to get a comprehensive vegan cookbook to start your journey, here are a few that I recommend:
- Isa Does It
- The Oh She Glows Cookbook
- Minimalist Baker’s Everyday Cooking
- The Blissful Basil Cookbook
- The Vegetarian Flavor Bible
- Vegan Richa’s Everyday Kitchen
Keep Calm and Have Compassion
Remember, veganism is about compassion and it must start within. To make a change as significant as veganism, you must have compassion for yourself and the people around you. The transition might be bumpy, not always easy, and come with unexpected challenges. While you’re transitioning, don’t think about it as all or nothing but a chance to learn new ways to do good with the foods you choose to eat. Like I said in the beginning, any step forward is a step worth celebrating. Celebrate your small victories. Let go of your mistakes. And always move forward with compassion and gratitude for the food that grows from this earth.
There you have it. How to go vegan in 8 easy steps.
I hope this gives you a few new ideas on how to easily introduce more plant-based foods into your life. The transition to veganism can feel scary but it doesn’t have to be. Get informed. Make it fun. Make it familiar. Find support. And don’t forget, I’m always here for you!
Want the printable pdf? Click here!
Written by Sarah McMinn