Going Vegan and How to Jumpstart Your Journey
Going Vegan Doesn’t Have to Be Hard! Here’s Your Step by Step Guide on How to Become Vegan.
Welcome to your ‘Going Vegan’ guide! Whether you found this through my social media profile or a Google search I hope this guide supports a lasting positive change or shift in your life. Going vegan or adopting a plant-based diet can be a major decision. But it doesn’t have to be “hard”.
While this guide is meant to be a standalone blog post it is also the first article contained within the Kitchen Dance Partii’s 30 Day Going Vegan Challenge. To access the full challenge click here. Otherwise, keep reading and most importantly enjoy the journey.
Find Your Why for Going Vegan
I remember when I first went vegan. I was overwhelmed and to be honest not sure if I would even follow through. I grew up in the South. Austin, Texas to be exact. If you know anything about Texas then you are well aware BBQ and Burgers are two things you will find on just about any menu. To top it off, I also grew up in the Southern Baptist culture where after church potlucks happened just about every Sunday. Let me be the first to tell you healthy food like salads and whole grains were not on the menu.
But I’ve always been the person to want better for myself. To seek growth, even when it was uncomfortable. I remember starting a health fair at my church to help our congregation learn more about healthy food options. To try and support others in being active participants in their health. This failed. You want to know why? Because at the time I was too inexperienced to understand people have to want to change for themselves. They must be self-motivated for any true change to happen.
So, what sparks self-motivation? According to Goalcast, one of the largest communities for achievers in the world, “your motivation is sparked by a deep desire within you”. This desire is typically tied to your why. Your why could be your health. Your why could be wanting to save the animals. Your why could be wanting to help our planet. Your why could be your family. There are so many reasons you could select for your why. Whatever it is once you find it and know it to be true, sit with it.
Finding your why is what will keep you going on those days when it gets hard. It will keep you motivated on those days when you want to grab your favorite non-vegan meal. It will keep you going on those days when you may not want to meal prep or plan. Finding your why is the most important part of the journey. I can promise you once you’ve selected a strong enough ‘why’ you’ll keep going. Trust me this is coming from someone who thought she could never give up meat. Yet here I am… going strong! I’m also loving it more than I thought. So this is why I know if I can do it you can too and I believe in you!
If you want support Finding Your Why be sure to check out our 30 Day Going Vegan Challenge. It contains prompts to help you successfully identify your why. Once you’ve found your why, what’s next? Now it’s time to put it into action! I never suggest going through your pantry and refrigerator and throwing everything out. That’s wasteful. What I do suggest is beginning to stock up on your vegan staples. Which is what is reviewed in the next section.
Grab Your Vegan Staple Foods
Do you enjoy grocery shopping? It’s one of my favorite things to do. I love roaming the isles and exploring the new and different food brands available. It’s also interesting checking out how grocery stores in different neighborhoods have different food items. Supply and demand, I guess. But either way, after going vegan one of two things will happen: you’ll get real familiar with your local grocery store or real familiar with your local vegan restaurants.
My assumption is if you’ve landed here you have some interest in cooking. If that’s the case these next two sections will be perfect for you! If not, feel free to skip to the Going Vegan While Traveling section.
Before we go any further there’s a common vegan myth I’d like to dispel. Going vegan doesn’t automatically equal better health. You could easily go vegan and eat junk and thus be unhealthy. To go vegan in a healthy way generally means to follow a whole foods plant-based diet. That’s one “extreme” of the vegan diet spectrum you could land. I prefer to be more realistic. I know I am not going to cut out all the oils but I will cut back. I know I won’t cut out all processed foods but I will drastically cut back. Keeping those things in mind I am sharing the vegan staple foods I’ve found work best in my kitchen.
Here’s what my vegan staple foods grocery list looks like. Again, I recommend starting small. A great place to start would be the produce. Then as you run out of cheese, cow’s milk, and meat you may begin to replace these items with vegan substitutes like sauces, plant milk, and legumes.
My Vegan Staple Foods Grocery List:
Lemons and/or Limes
Herbs & Spices
Ground Dry Mustard
Meat Alternatives (i.e. Beyond Meat, Impossible Burger, Field Roast, etc.)
Nuts (i.e. Almonds, Walnuts, Cashews, Peanuts)
Oils, Vinegar & Condiments
Sunflower Seed Oil
Apple Cider Vinegar
Whole Grain Pasta
Cold & Frozen Foods
Plant Milk (i.e. Almond, Oat, Rice)
For a complete printable vegan staple, grocery list click here.
Learn to Veganize Your Favorite Meals
Now that your refrigerator and pantry are stocked it’s time to start cooking! I recommend learning to veganize your favorite meals. What does that mean? Let’s say your favorite non-vegan meal is ramen. You either make it at home or you love going to your local ramen restaurant and grabbing pork belly ramen with a jammy egg. So how could you possibly get that same great warm and filling ramen to be vegan? Easy! Replace everything that’s not vegan with a vegan equivalent. In this example here’s what I would do:
Pork Bone Broth → Miso Broth
Pork Belly → Marinated Tofu
Jammy Egg → Vegan Sunny Side Up Egg
If this seems too good to be true before you knock it, be sure to check out my breakfast ramen recipe. I share a solid bowl of ramen you just may decide to add to your repertoire.
But let’s get you thinking, how could you do this on your own? There are a few tips and tricks you should consider when learning to veganize your favorite meals. Here are a few:
Swap sour cream for Living Coconut Yogurt or coconut yogurt with probiotics. This ensures you still get the acidity that regular sour cream gives you.
Looking for a butter swap?! The good news is there is vegan butter! My favorite vegan butter to cook with is by Earth Balance. You may find them here.
In search of that ever-elusive cheesy flavor? I’m going to be honest with you, you will likely never find something that tastes as good as regular cheese. But if you do please share it in the comments section below! But an alternative to getting the cheesy flavor you’re looking for is to use nutritional yeast. For example, if you want to make a creamy, cheese pasta sauce I would pair nutritional yeast with coconut milk. Let simmer and enjoy!
For more vegan substitute suggestions and ideas be sure to check out our 30 Day Going Vegan Challenge.
Going Vegan While Traveling
Of course, when you decide to go vegan you can’t necessarily stop the entire world. You can’t place your whole life on pause. You still have a life to live right?! So what about traveling when you first go vegan? This may definitely be a challenge.
The best way to set yourself up for success is to plan ahead! The first thing to do is understand the culture of where you’re planning to go. Does it seem vegan-friendly (i.e. restaurants, grocery stores, etc.)? If you’re really adventurous see if there are any local vegan events to attend. This will be a big clue of the culture in the area.
Next, know where the grocery stores are. Whether or not they have grocery stores dedicated to veganism or not know where they are. This is helpful because if there aren’t any vegan restaurants around you’ll have the ability to pick up produce and other items you need to get you through your stay. The good news is you’ll have a grocery list handy you can easily download and use while out and about.
Now that you’ve identified the grocery stores in the area it’s a good idea to do a quick Google search for vegan restaurants. If you aren’t able to find any vegan restaurants don’t panic! Check out a few of the high-ranking restaurants. Then review their menu to see if they have any veggie options available. If you’re still unable to find anything, call ahead! Talk to the staff at the restaurant and see how they may be able to accommodate you. Chances are there’s something they already have on the menu or can create that can be made vegan.
Last but certainly not least, there are always snacks! Remember to pick up some of your favorite vegan snacks on your way for those times when you aren’t able to find anything that qualifies. Trust me this will be a lifesaver.
Going Vegan During the Holidays
So you’ve survived traveling as a new vegan or traveling while vegan. It’s not an easy feat. Especially if you’ve decided to go to a foreign country. But you made it! Congratulations.
Now on to tackle being a new vegan during the holidays. This one is not necessarily as challenging as it may sound UNLESS you are the main cook during the holidays. Then it may prove to be a fun adventure. If you are going vegan around the holidays and it’s your turn to host the holiday meal, relax, I’ve got you covered.
The first thing to know and understand is almost any recipe can be veganized. So then the question becomes SHOULD you veganize this recipe? Here’s the thing just because it can be veganized doesn’t mean it should. Because you may not be able to mimic the taste you’re looking for. However, even if you’re unable to mimic the taste, you can easily find some great holiday-inspired / seasonal recipes that you will love just the same.
That said if you are determined to make the traditional holiday favorites like sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, and collard greens be sure to check out my e-book: Veganized Thanksgiving. It’s just the right recipe e-book to get you headed in the right direction. Happy Cooking!
Going Vegan Product Recommendations
This is where the fun begins. Yes, I am going to share with you some of my favorite vegan products. But I encourage you to test out brands on your own! You will run across some great ones, good ones, and maybe not-so-good ones. Either way that’s part of your journey and figuring out what you like and don’t like about the vegan experience.
If that isn’t really your thing and you’d prefer to skip the trials and errors I have made it easy for you. Below you’ll find some of my favorite vegan brands. Please note that for some of these brands I am considered an affiliate which means I may earn a small commission if you choose to purchase something from them at no extra cost to you.
- Happy Viking – nutritionally crafted plant-based shakes and protein powders to help you fuel better (Use code HVSAGEN for $15 off)
- Nowadays – plant-based vegan nuggets made mindfully with simple ingredients (Use code KITCHENDP25 for 25% off)
- Plant Faced Clothing – streetwear minus the sweatshop; cruelty-free clothing to spread the plant message
- Simple Ecology – eco-friendly/reusable bags made for everything from your next grocery trip to cooking your next recipe
- Omsom – An Omsom starter is a pantry shortcut for a specific Asian dish, combining all the sauces, aromatics, and seasonings you need (Use code SAGEN10 for 10% off)
- Onana – gluten and grain-free tortillas made from simple, allergy-friendly ingredients. Plantain-based, no banana taste
- Daily Harvest – Enjoy delicious, nourishing food that’s ready in minutes and delivered straight to your door (Use code KITCHENDAN for $40 off your first box)
- Immi – healthy, plant-based ramen packed with protein and flavor, made for the modern diet (Use code KITCHENDAN for $5 off your order)
Good Luck on Your Going Vegan Journey
Going vegan can be fun! I hope it’s a creative and nourishing journey for you. Aside from finding your why, I’ll leave you with this piece of advice: don’t think so much about how you’re giving up meat and dairy. But I encourage you to change your perspective to: expanding your palette to new plant-based foods and recipes. A small shift in perspective can make the world of difference.