Many people have been making the switch to a vegan lifestyle in recent years and for good reason. The demand for plant-based foods is at an all-time high, thus creating more options than ever before.
If you are considering making this change but feel daunted by all of the information out there, then this article is for you. We share 11 steps to help you switch to a vegan lifestyle below.
I will start by explaining that a vegan lifestyle is not a diet. You can choose to eat a plant-based diet but not be vegan. Veganism is about abstaining from the use of animal products; diet is one part of this. Vegans reject the practice of animals being used as commodities.
Step 1 – Cut Out Meat & Fish
The first and most obvious step in becoming vegan is to cut out ALL meat and fish from your diet. This includes beef, pork, chicken, turkey, fish and shellfish. Instead, eat plant-based foods. There is now an extensive range of plant-based meat substitutes, which makes veganism more accessible than ever. You can get burgers, sausages and even bacon substitutes in most supermarkets now.
Step 2 – Cut out Eggs & Dairy
In addition to cutting out meat, eggs and dairy are also eliminated in a vegan diet. Just as with meat substitutes, there is now a lot of choice in vegan alternatives for cheese and egg dishes such as quiches or omelettes, so you will not have to miss out on these foods either. Eggs and dairy are eliminated because they are from animals, and animals suffer for us to have them. Many people ask why they can’t eat eggs from backyard hens. We cover that in more detail here.
Step 3 – Cut out Honey
Honey is something that confuses people. As we mentioned in the previous steps, veganism is about helping animals and not supporting animal cruelty. Bees are killed to collect honey, so you should avoid it as part of your vegan diet. You can find out more information on why vegans do not eat honey here.
Step 4 – Acquaint yourself with the common animal by-products in food
Many foods contain animal by-products. Since becoming vegan, I have been shocked with just how many things contain milk powder unnecessarily.
Common animal ingredients found in foods are:
- Milk powder
- Casein (caseinate)
- Lactic acid
- Lactylic stearate Salt of stearic acid (see stearic acid)
Step 5 – Look for vegan labelling on products
Labelling can help make finding vegan-friendly products easier. The Vegan Society label is the main one to look out for on food. If a food has been certified by them, you can be sure it’s completely vegan. Some manufacturers don’t want to pay for the licensing on the Vegan Society label, they may use their own variation.
Step 6 – Look to eliminate animal skins in clothing
Stop buying new clothing and textiles that contain wool, fur or leather. These all come from animals. Clothing can be a contentious issue, and you can really go down the rabbit hole with sustainability and modern-day slavery all key considerations. But the most important thing, to begin with, is to stop paying for animal skins.
Step 7 – Stop buying any new products with animal by-products
Now that you know what the by-products are to look out for, you should stop buying any new products that contain them. This goes beyond just-food. You should now be looking to eliminate animal products from your lifestyle as far as is possible. This includes beauty products, clothing as mentioned above and household products.
Step 8 – Ensure products are cruelty-free
In addition to avoiding animal by-products, you should also ensure that any new products you buy are cruelty-free. There is a growing market for vegan and cruelty-free beauty, household and clothing items. You can now find everything from shampoos to face creams that are vegan and cruelty-free. Labelling is available on many products to make them easier to spot. Below are some examples.
Step 9 – Be kind to animals
Animals are our friends. They’re not put on this planet for us to be cruel to. Practice kindness towards animals whenever given the opportunity. Feed the birds, make a safe haven for hedgehogs, plant flowers for the bees and live harmoniously with other creatures on this planet. I’ve found since making the switch to a vegan lifestyle, nature has been more visible to me. Butterflies have landed on me, Bee’s have needed feeding, and birds come to my little balcony every day for some food.
Step 10 – Educate others
This step isn’t mandatory, but by educating others, we are helping to spread the movement and speak up for animals. I respect everyone’s decisions in life, but I explain my own reasoning for being vegan often. I share posts on my social media accounts, and I tell people I am vegan.
So, there you have it, ten steps to help you make the switch to a vegan lifestyle. The important thing to remember is that everyone moves at their own speed, and every action makes an impact.
Take things at your own pace, and don’t feel guilty if it takes some time. Every meat meal you miss is an animal that didn’t have to die. Every time you refuse to buy a product containing unnecessary animal by-products, you are telling big companies that they need to make a change.