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Going vegan: The ultimate guide

How to go vegan

Going vegan or even just thinking about going vegan can seem like a daunting change. With so much buzz around veganism right now it can be difficult to get straight answers or find a clear path. So we’re here to give you everything you need to become vegan.

This guide covers everything you need to know.

Vegan Meal Chloe

Vegan Definition

Becoming vegan starts with understanding what veganism is.

The dictionary definition of a vegan is, “a person who does not eat or use animal products.” This is a very clear and literal definition of veganism but does not quite explain the whole lifestyle or motivations around it. This can make going vegan difficult when you’re trying to navigate anything other than food.

With our society, excluding all animal products or animal involvement in manufacturing is almost impossible. Things like medication, hospital treatments and even £5 notes can make it a bit of a minefield.

A better definition of vegan is the one from The Vegan Society:

Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.

This is a much clearer definition of a vegan lifestyle and will help you to make your own choices.

Ordering a cheesecake at a restaurant because they didn’t have any non-vegan options, however, doesn’t count as doing the best you can. You can live your life without that non-vegan cheesecake.

Healthy Vegan Cooking

Why go vegan?

Going vegan for your health

It’s not just vegans spreading rumours about the health benefits, there have been many studies proving that a balanced vegan diet is not only the healthiest diet but can reverse some damage caused by a diet full of meat and dairy.

The China Study is one of the most famous studies looking into diet, weight loss and long-term health. The study looked at the connection between nutrition and heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

Study outline: 65 counties in China were selected and had varied diets, lifestyles and diseases across the board. The diets ranged from completely plant-based to heavily animal-based. The research found that those leading a more plant-based lifestyle had a lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and other chronic disease.

Dr Michael McGreger is a physician and recognised speaker on nutrition, food safety and public health issues. He founded nutritionfacts.org which is one of the most comprehensive guides to nutrition that’s easily accessible to everyone. Dr McGreger lives and advocates a plant-based lifestyle and teaches purely on research-driven facts.

Calf Field

Going vegan for the animals

Health might not be your biggest driver for making a change. You can eat just as much junk food as a vegan as you can a meat eater. But the focus is on animal welfare. More and more people are waking up to the reality of the meat and dairy industry and we can’t pretend that they’re happy and healthy animals any longer.

There’s no difference between a pig, a puppy and a human - we’re all animals. To have a hierarchy of which animals are to be protected under law and which ones can be abused and eaten is complete nonsense.

People are amazed when they see footage of a calf cuddling up to a human and wanting fuss. “It’s just like a dog!” Because it is. It’s an animal that wants the same compassion that a dog does.

Going Vegan Fields

Going vegan for the environment

Veganism is picking up more attention now that people are becoming more concerned over our environmental impacts. Going vegan is one of the easiest and most impactful things you can do for the environment. Reducing your plastic waste and taking public transport is great, but the impact doesn’t come close to cutting out meat and dairy.

The meat and dairy industry is about to surpass oil as the number one contributor to greenhouse gases. However, this doesn’t even take into account the proportion of transport emissions that are caused by the meat and dairy industry.

A study by Oxford University, published in the Science journal, took data from 40,000 farms in over 119 countries and found that the production of meat and dairy is responsible for 60% of agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions - while only providing 37% of the world’s protein levels.

The lead author of the study, Joseph Poore said:

“A vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth, not just greenhouse gases, but global acidification, eutrophication, land use and water use.

He went on to say ...

“Avoiding consumption of animal products delivers far better environmental benefits than trying to purchase sustainable meat and dairy”.

The documentary Cowspiracy also gives an in-depth explanation into the reality of the environmental impacts of the meat industry.

With environmental concerns, it comes down to necessity. It’s difficult for people to cut every single thing out of their lives that contributes to our negative global impact. Walking everywhere isn’t an option and not every area of the country has electric buses. But eating meat and dairy isn’t a necessity, as the China Study demonstrated, so it becomes one of the most damaging things we can do. If we can reduce the damage with no negative consequences to ourselves, shouldn’t we?

Joseph Poore states that it would be “far bigger than cutting down on your flights or buying an electric car”.

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General guidelines for going vegan

Don’t eat:

  • Meat - including fish
  • Dairy
  • Honey
  • Animal derived ingredients - like gelatin or additives
  • more

Don’t wear:

  • Wool
  • Silk
  • Leather
  • more

Don’t use:

  • Products tested on animals
  • Makeup with animal derived ingredients - like Cera Alba (read on for more)

Read on for an in-depth guide to becoming vegan...

Going Vegan Food

How to be vegan: Food

We’ll start by tackling the most obvious part of veganism - food.

What is a vegan diet?

A vegan diet is one that is absent of any animal-derived products but specifically relates to food. Some people choose only to follow a vegan diet rather than the whole lifestyle and so they would avoid meat (including fish), dairy, honey and eggs - this is typically referred to as a plant-based diet.

Vegan foods that can make the base of your diet

  • Legumes: Beans, lentils and peas
  • Nuts: Nuts & nut butters like peanuts and almonds
  • Seeds: Like hemp, chia and flax
  • Tofu, seitan, tempeh: Meat-style substitutes
  • Vegetables: Peppers, aubergines, cauliflower, beetroot and potatoes to name a few
  • Fruit: Oranges, bananas, mangos and avocado (yes it’s a fruit) to name a few
  • Grains: Oats, rice, quinoa, couscous and more
  • Pasta
  • Bread

Reading labels

When searching for foods yourself, get used to checking labels. Labelling on food is becoming clearer and so it’s becoming easier to determine vegan foods without having to consult the internet.

The first thing to look for is the ingredients in bold. These are the allergens. The most common allergens found in food are eggs and dairy. This makes it easier to spot on first glance whether the product is suitable. You’ll likely see a lot of ‘milk powder’ in things.

Not all non-vegan ingredients are labelled in bold though. Some that might catch you out:

  • Meat
  • Fish
  • Honey
  • Additives

We’ve put together a list that’ll help you identify foods and ingredients to avoid.

Food to avoid when going vegan

Here are some of the main ingredients to look out for when identifying vegan food.

  • Meat
  • Poultry (chicken, turkey, goose, duck, quail etc), seafood (fish, anchovies, shrimp, squid, scallops, calamari, mussels, crab and fish source etc), beef, lamb, pork, veal, wild meat etc.
  • Dairy
  • Milk, yoghurt, cheese, butter, cream and ice cream etc.
  • Dairy-derived ingredients: whey, casein, lactose, milk powder.
  • Eggs
  • From any animal including chickens, quails and fish.
  • Bee products
  • Honey, bee pollen, royal jelly etc.

Other additives & derived ingredients

  • E120, E322, E422, E 471, E542, E631, E901, E904, E920
  • Cochineal, carmine, natural red 4
  • Gelatine
  • Islinglass
  • Shellac
  • Lanolin
  • D3 (usually non-vegan but can be from a vegan source if labelled)
Going Vegan Shopping

Vegan supermarket foods

Now you know the base of a vegan diet and the ingredients to avoid, where do you shop? You don’t have to start shopping at health food shops and you can ignore the myth about vegan food being more expensive. When people think vegan food is more expensive, it’s because they’ve seen the vegan treats, frozen foods and ready meals.

You’ll find vegan food at every supermarket and we’ve linked to the vegan womble's supermarket vegan lists to help you out...

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Accidentally vegan

Some ‘accidentally’ vegan foods that aren’t always found on supermarket vegan lists. These aren’t necessarily marketed as being vegan and don’t always carry a vegan label. Keep an eye out for these vegan treats:

  • Starburst
  • Millions
  • Haribo – Sour Rainbow Strips, Sour Rainbow Twists
  • Flying Saucers
  • Love Hearts
  • Polo Mints Original
  • Jelly Tots
  • Sherbet Fountain
  • Skittles
  • Cadbury Bournville Plain Chocolate
  • Green & Blacks – Dark Chocolate, Hazelnut & Currant, Ginger, Maya Gold, Espresso, Spiced Chilli, Lemon, Mint
  • Lindt Excellence – 70%, 85% and 90% Dark Chocolate
  • Elizabeth Shaw Mint Crisp Dark Chocolates
  • Divine – Dark Chocolate Mint Thins, Dark Chocolate Ginger Thins, dark chocolate bars in various flavours
  • Ritter Sport Marzipan
  • Fry’s Chocolate Cream
  • Marks and Spencer Veggie Percy in a Twist and Colin the Caterpillar Sour sweets
  • Turkish delight – almost always vegan but do double check the label
  • Lotus Original Caramelised Biscuits
  • Fox’s Ginger Crinkle Crunch Biscuits
  • Fox’s Dark Chocolate Chunkie Cookies
  • Fox’s Party Rings
  • Bourbon Biscuits
  • Oreo cookies
  • Nairn’s Biscuits – Dark Chocolate Chip Oat, Stem Ginger Oat, Mixed Berries Oat, Fruit & Spice Wheat Free
  • Crawford’s Pink Wafers
  • McVitie’s – Ginger Nuts, Fruit Shortcake, Fig Rolls, Hobnobs, Chocolate Chip Hobnobs
  • Mr Kipling – Apple & Blackcurrant Pies, Treacle Tart
  • Lotus Smooth Caramelised Biscuit Spread
  • Peanut butter
  • SunPat Choc-A-Nut Peanut Spread
  • Tesco Bourbon Biscuit Spread
  • Hershey’s Reese’s Shell topping
  • Marmite Yeast Extract
  • Betty Crocker Cake Mix – Super Moist, Devil’s Food, Vanilla, Chocolate Swirl, Carrot Cake
  • Jus-Rol Bake-It-Fresh Pain au chocolate (Most Jus-Rol pastries are vegan – just be sure to check the label.)
  • Pot Noodle – Beef & Tomato, Bombay Bad Boy, Sweet & Sour, Brazilian BBQ Steak, Chilli Beef, Chinese Chow Mein, Piri Piri Chicken, Sticky Rib
  • Batchelors Cup A Soup – Tomato, Tomato and Basil
  • Heinz Cup Soup – Vegetable, Minestrone
  • Bird’s Traditional Custard Powder
  • Sainsbury’s Raspberry Jelly

Source: Peta

Beginners shopping list

If you’re doing your first vegan shop but don’t know where to start, this is a great list of some useful vegan foods - including some treats.

  • Fruit: Pick up a selection of your favourites. Don’t feel like you need to suddenly eat exotic fruits. Bananas are a great staple as they tend to be more filling than other fruits. They’re also good to throw in your bag to keep you going throughout the day.
  • Lemon
  • Pasta
  • Pasta sauce
  • Rice
  • Spinach
  • Cauliflower
  • Broccoli
  • Avocados
  • Onions
  • White potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Courgette
  • Butternut squash
  • Chickpeas
  • Red kidney beans
  • Black beans
  • Oreos / Bourneville bar
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Tomato sauce
  • Polenta
  • Vegan cheese
  • Almond milk
  • Houmous
  • Flour
  • Rice noodles
  • Bread
  • Tomatoes
  • Mushrooms
  • Vegan mince
  • Peanut butter
  • Jus-Rol Fresh Pain au chocolat
Going Vegan Junkfood

Healthy vs junk food

Of course, we promote eating a healthy vegan diet but there’s plenty of vegan junk food out there to satisfy any cravings.

If you’re transitioning into veganism, our advice would be to just limit the animal products first before worrying about becoming the healthiest vegan.

But when you’re feeling those cravings, you don’t need to go back to meat and dairy, here are some alternatives:

Supermarket treats

  • Oreos
  • Bourneville chocolate
  • Co-op dark chocolate bar
  • Vego bar
  • Tescos vegan chicken nuggets
  • Vegan Ben & Jerry’s
  • ASDA meat-free popcorn chicken
  • Linda McCartney ¼ pounder with Tesco/Sainsbury’s vegan cheese
  • VegiDeli Maple vegan bacon
  • Betty Crocker Chocolate cake & frosting

Homemade treats

Meat & dairy replacements

Going vegan doesn’t mean you have to go raw vegan and never eat processed food again. You can do it your own way and if that means living on vegan chicken nuggets forever, you do you.

There are plenty of vegan mock meats, cheeses and milk that’ll replace any non-vegan food items you have. Some main supermarket brands are:

  • Quorn (not all of it is vegan)
  • Linda McCartney (not all of it is vegan)
  • Fry’s
  • Supermarket own brands
Going Vegan Nutrition

Nutrition

You won’t miss out on any nutrients when eating a vegan diet, but if you’re making big changes to the foods you’re eating you want to make sure you’re getting enough of everything so that you don’t feel unwell.

Sometimes people switch to a vegan diet and don’t eat enough food or enough variety and then blame the vegan diet for making them feel ill.

Supplements

Because of the misconception that a vegan diet won’t give you all of the nutrients you need, a lot of people worry about taking a multitude of supplements. You don’t need to. You can get everything you need from a balanced diet. Eating meat and dairy doesn’t give you your essential vitamins, it’s everything else you eat with it.

Many vegans supplement B12 as this is a concern for everyone. This can either be through fortified plant milks, nutritional yeast (an amazing vegan ingredient), liquid drops/sprays or tablets. There are options to do B12 shots but it’s not essential. Here’s more on how we don’t need as much B12 as we think and why the problem isn’t exclusive to vegans.

Plan ahead

Eventually, things will become second nature but when you’re going vegan it’s important to plan ahead. Try not to get caught out when you’re away from the house or in a rush. Plan out your work lunches, snacks on the go and what you can eat from restaurants you’re visiting.

It’s a great idea to keep a note on your phone with lists of cruelty-free brands and vegan foods that you can refer to if you’re in a rush or don’t have internet to do any research.

If you’re going to be travelling, take food with you or if you’re going to a friend’s house, offer to bring food.

Check out our articles on the best vegan travel snacks and tips for travelling as a vegan.

Going Vegan Restaurant

Eating out

Eating out is a whole lot easier than it was a few years ago. Whether or not restaurants are truly behind the vegan cause, they realise that they need to join in or lose out on business. Most places will offer a vegan menu, if not an allergen menu, to help you find something suitable without asking the kitchen.

Here is a list of some of the most popular restaurants and their vegan options - including how to modify items to make them vegan.

Nandos

Nandos have a dedicated veggie section to their menu - most of which can be made vegan by omitting the ‘yoghurt mayo.’ This includes their Sweet Potato & Butternut or Supergreen wrap, pitta and burger with sides of chips and garlic bread.

Zizzis & Pizza Express

Zizzis and Pizza Express both offer vegan cheese and have a good selection of vegan mains. Zizzis also have a delicious chocolate torte!

Wagamama & Yo Sushi

Fancy a Katsu curry? Yo Sushi do a breaded tofu katsu curry and an entirely vegan menu, while Wagamama have just introduced a faux chicken, seitan katsu curry on their dedicated vegan menu.

Alcohol

It might not seem like the most important thing but alcohol is something that surprisingly isn’t always vegan. This is down to additives and filtration processes. Beer and wine tend to be the most affected by this and so it’s good to have some options in mind for when you’re out at a bar or buying drinks from a shop.

We’ve listed a few drinks that are vegan-friendly and the ones to avoid which you can keep note of.

Wine

  • Aldi - Project Sauvignon Blanc
  • Aldi - Argentinian Malbec
  • Vinalba Malbec Bonarda
  • Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Beaujolais-Villages Coteaux Gratiniques
  • Italia Pinot Grigio

Fizz

  • Aldi - Organic Prosecco
  • Aldi - Veuve Monsigny Champagne Brut
  • Champagne Charles Lecouvey Brut NV
  • San Leo Prosecco

Beer & Ale

  • All Brewdog beers
  • Budweiser
  • Carlsberg
  • Beck’s
  • Heineken
  • Guinness

Spirits

  • Smirnoff vodka
  • Malibu rums
  • Captain Morgan rum
  • Jack Daniels

Note: A lot of supermarkets will label their own brands if its vegan so if in doubt, check for own brand alcohol.

Barnivore is also a great resource for doing a check on your favourite tipple.

Going Vegan Beauty

How to be vegan: Beauty & cosmetics

Now that we’ve addressed food, we need to look at beauty and cosmetics. These are products we used on a daily basis that are often not suitable for vegans.

Non vegan cosmetic ingredients

Cosmetics, beauty products and even household products also need to be checked for non-vegan ingredients. We’ve produced an in-depth guide specifically for beauty that you can check out. Here are some of the most common ingredients to look out for:

  • Carmine (Alt: Cochineal Dye, Cochineal Extract, Crimson Lake or Carmine Lake, Natural Red 4, C.I. 75470, or E120)
  • Lanolin (Alt: Wool Wax or Wool Grease)
  • Beeswax (Alt: Cera Alba or E901)
  • Gelatin (Alt: Gelatine)
  • Collagen
  • Retinol (Alt: Vitamin A) Retinol does not always have to be from an animal derived source, but often is.
  • Tallow (Alt: Rendered Animal Fat)
  • Guanine (Alt: G, Gua)
  • Ambergris (Alt: Ambergrease or Grey Amber)

Animal testing

It’s not just the ingredients you need to check but whether the product has been tested on animals. You might be aware of the term ‘cruelty-free’ being used when describing cosmetics or household items. This simply means free of animal testing. Testing on animals would deem a product to be not suitable for vegans, even if the ingredients appear vegan friendly.

Some companies, like L’Oreal, have started marketing their products as vegan because of the ingredients but they have still been subject to animal testing.

Read our guide to determining whether a product is cruelty-free.

The ultimate vegan beauty guide

Everything you need to know to find the best vegan beauty products

Going Vegan Fashion

How to be vegan: Fashion

As well as beauty ingredients, the clothes we wear can contain animal-derived fabrics.

What to avoid - materials

As well as the obvious leather, lots of clothing is made up from a mix of materials and it can be difficult to determine if something is suitable.

The main fabrics to look out for are:

  • Leather
  • Silk
  • Wool
  • Mink
  • Fur
  • Cashmere
  • Angora
  • Suede
  • Tweed

Sometimes fabric seems completely synthetic but will actually contain 3% wool or 20% silk. To check, look for the white labels sewn to the inside of the clothes. Typically they’ll be near the bottom of clothing on one of the side seams.

Make sure to flick through each ‘sheet’ of the tag as it’ll often split up the item into several components and list the materials for each one.

When determining leather or non-leather products, you need to look out for certain symbols. Again, they’re usually broken down into their components: sole, upper and inner.

Check out our guide on understanding the fabric symbols to determine if clothes are vegan.

The ultimate guide to vegan fashion

Everything you need to know for a stylish, cruelty-free wardrobe

Vegan shoes

It’s not just the fabric that you need to watch out for with shoes, some brands use glues that contain animal derived ingredients. The ingredients usually come from the boiling of animal connective tissues.

Going Vegan Medication

How to be vegan: Grey areas & medication

Once you’re on your vegan journey and have addressed your diet, cosmetics and clothing, you might run into a few grey areas. As they’re grey areas, there are so many differing opinions within the community that it can be difficult to decide for yourself.

We’ve listed the main ones and tried to give you enough information for you to make your decisions.

Grey areas

There are some grey areas in veganism that can often cause debate within the vegan communities. These include:

  • Palm oil
  • Parent-owned
  • Companies selling other non-vegan products
  • ‘May contain’
  • Things already bought & offered
  • Medication

Palm oil

Palm oil isn’t animal derived in itself but the method of harvesting it causes devastation to orangutan habitats and often includes pain and suffering for the animals living in those areas as they are set on fire or torn down.

However, there are ethical and sustainable methods of harvesting palm oil, which are important because when done correctly it causes a lot less damage to the environment than other oils as we can produce more product with less land and resources required.

It’s difficult to determine just how sustainable or harm-free the palm oil is that we see on the back of ingredients. Act For Wildlife has an amazing guide on shopping for products with palm oil responsibly with a list of safe brands. Check it out.

Parent-owned companies

Parent-owned companies are ones that are cruelty-free themselves and might even be completely vegan, but they are owned by a larger company who do test on animals. For example, L’Oreal used to own The Body Shop for a short while. The Body Shop, despite it stocking in Chinese airports at one point (where products would be taken for animal testing during spot checks), is cruelty-free and was founded on that ethos, however, when it was sold to L’Oreal, its profits would also contribute to a company that still allows animal testing.

One argument is that companies that see its cruelty-free brands flourishing might make the decision to transition their other brands into cruelty-free companies. These giants will follow money and if they see more money being spent on cruelty-free brands, they might want to please the consumers.

The other thought is that they’ll continue their cruel practices but funded with the profits from a cruelty free brand.

As we defined, veganism is about doing the best we can. So many of our everyday, affordable and easily accessible brands are owned by parent companies. It’s down to your own judgement. However, we’ll always show you ways to support 100% vegan, independent businesses and even ways that you can make your own products.

Companies selling other non-vegan products

Companies selling other non-vegan products falls similarly under parent owned companies. You’re giving your money to a company who also uses non-vegan ingredients. A lot of beauty brands are cruelty-free and have some amazing vegan products, but also sell cosmetics that contain beeswax.

One thought is that to buy our vegan foods, we need to go to a supermarket and they too sell meat and dairy. Unless we can grow our own food or afford to buy directly from farmers who don’t also produce eggs and dairy, it’s not always avoidable.

‘May contain’

Food labels that say ‘may contain’ get a lot of people confused and causes debate. The ‘may contain’ label is there for allergy sufferers to know that the product was produced in a factory that also handles certain allergens. To cover themselves, the brand cannot 100% say that cross-contamination hasn’t happened at some point. A product that has a vegan ingredients list is vegan even if it says ‘may contain milk.’

Going Vegan Offered

Food that has already been bought and offered

Food that has already been bought and offered to you is another interesting debate. Technically no, it is not vegan if the ingredients are not vegan. Is any more harm done if you were to take a chocolate out of the selection box offered to you? No, however here are some things to consider:

  • It will still have health impacts
  • It can cause items to run out sooner and be replaced
  • You lead by example and want to demonstrate to the people around you that it should be taken seriously

There are groups of people called ‘freegans’ who will only buy vegan products but will consume non-vegan products that were otherwise going to waste - including dumpster diving. Rather than taking food offered to them, they’ll eat food that no one was going to eat.

What to do with non-vegan things

Not a lot of people were born and raised vegan and so at some point in their lives have acquired non-vegan products. This might be animal tested makeup or leather shoes and belts. There’s no hard rule on what you should do with these items and so it’s completely down to personal choice. Owning the items doesn’t cause any more harm and so the ‘damage has been done’ so to speak.

Animal tested cosmetics won’t last forever and generally can’t be passed on or sold, unless sterilised, and so you may want to use them up and then replace them with vegan products.

Items that are long lasting like leather or woollen clothing can be sold, donated or just kept. You don’t lose the right to be a vegan if you continue to wear these items, but you might feel uncomfortable doing so knowing where they have come from.

Medication

Firstly, you should always take medication that you need. End of. If you need it, take it.

Unfortunately, the drug companies aren’t very vegan-friendly and so instead we can look at ways to minimise the harm.

Try to only take medication when you feel like you really need it.

This one goes beyond veganism - we’ve become accustomed to popping painkillers as soon as we get the slightest headache and it’s not a great habit. If you feel like you need to ease a pain, see if there are more natural methods or even try to treat the cause in the first place. Of course, still take painkillers if it gets too much.

Lactose-free

A lot of tablets contain lactose, which give them that sweet coating. Try and look out for lactose-free options if they’re available to you. There might also be alternatives that don’t require lactose-coated tablets - like nasal sprays for hayfever if you can’t find lactose-free tablets.

In cases where your medication is prescribed, always take it. You might, however, be able to request alternatives that don’t contain lactose. You should never choose between your health and trying to be ‘the most vegan’ you can be. Remember that it’s about doing the best you can.

The vegan society has put together a list of animal-free medicines here.

Going Vegan Plan

How to be vegan: Step by step guide

No one’s transition is the same or takes the same amount of time so expect your journey to be different. However, we’ve put together a suggested step by step guide to get you on your way. Feel free to chop and change to suit you.

Particularly if you’re coming from a meat-based diet, you’ll find it easier to do things slowly. This way you can learn as you go and make the changes you need to make according to your lifestyle.

Going vegan

  1. Write a list of everything in your life that will need changing - including makeup, food, drink, eating out, clothes etc
  2. Rank them in the order of easiest to hardest.
  3. Next to the easiest items write down how you can make that change and what you’ll need to do it.
  4. Start to make the easiest changes - perhaps picking a couple a week
  5. Stop buying leather, wool, silk and other non-vegan materials. These don’t come with cravings that are difficult to fight and so you can make a conscious effort not to buy any more products.
  6. Join a Facebook group. There are plenty of Facebook groups that cater to all kinds of vegans from plant-based foodies, beauty enthusiasts, junk food lovers, vegan mums and the list goes on - read on for a list of our top groups. These groups are a goldmine of tips and tricks that’ll help you along. You might find accidentally vegan desserts that’ll help you get rid of that final vice or learn how to adapt a meal to be vegan in your favourite restaurant. You can also use them to ask for vegan alternatives from people who have already been through the transition themselves.
  7. Cut down on animal products that you use as ingredients. When you’re baking, you can easily replace milk and butter with plant-based alternatives without the finished thing tasting any different.
  8. Substitute your meals. It’s easier to start with meals you’re used to eating and modify those before trying to figure out new meals and recipes. Find meat or dairy substitutes where necessary. This could be mock meats and cheeses or plant-based alternatives.
  9. Tofu is a popular vegan ingredient, but if you’re not used to cooking it, you can be left disappointed. If you want to start incorporating it, look for ‘firm’ or tofu that’s already been flavoured and prepared.
  10. Research on the go foods that are vegan. It’s good to have a couple in mind from different supermarkets in case you’re ever in a pinch. Most will have at least one vegan meal deal option as well as snacks. Check out our guide to vegan snacks.
  11. Keep your treats. You’ll have identified the hardest things to change and you can keep having them until the end of your transition when they’re your sole focus. Try to start seeing them as treats and not must-haves.
  12. Stop buying animal products at home. Once you’ve started replacing your meals, stop buying non-vegan products. Once they’re not in the home, you won’t have a reason to use them. Instead, allow yourself to just eat them when you’re out or with friends. Leaving them to just meals out allows you to adjust to the change at home without having to worry about social pressures.
  13. Treat yourself to a vegan meal out. Once you’re used to eating completely vegan at home you’ll find it easier to choose the vegan options when you’re out. Away from the pressure of a gathering with friends or a meal with the family, find someone who’ll be supportive of your transition and visit a nearby restaurant with great vegan options. Do some research on what your options are beforehand (most places will have a vegan or allergen menu) and treat yourself. You’ll realise that you don’t have to miss out at all. Here’s a guide to vegan options and some chain restaurants in the UK.
  14. At this stage, you’re pretty much there. There might be a few slip ups here and there with hidden ingredients or unclear animal testing policies but it’s important to remember that mistakes will always happen and that doesn’t make you any less of a vegan. Forgive yourself if you make any mistakes and just remember that you’re doing the best you can.
How To Go Vegan Support

How to be vegan: Support

Support groups

Joining a group of like-minded people will be extremely helpful for your transition - especially if your friends and family aren’t totally on board. There are lots of Facebook groups that you can join that have lots of people in the same boat as you.

Facebook groups we love

  • Vegan beauty UK
  • UK Vegan
  • Vegan Food UK
  • Vegan Supermarket finds UK
  • Vegan for Her

You’ll also find some great resources and answers to your questions on forums like reddit - here are a few…

Vegan subreddits

  • r/vegan
  • r/veganrecipes
  • r/Vegan_Food
  • r/veganfitness

Family & friends

If you’re struggling to make sense of it all to your friends and family, it can be tricky to carry on. It’s important to remember that you’re doing it for good reasons and remind yourself of this when people are questioning your choices.

Try to stay as calm as possible. It’s easy to get irate when it’s such a passionate topic, and one most of us feel extremely emotional about. While you’d be completely forgiven for arguing back, it’s difficult for people to sustain their anger when you’re so calm in return.

It’s helpful to have a few facts in your back pocket though so you can feel confident when answering their questions.

It’s not all or nothing - forgive yourself

Remember that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. We all make mistakes. Just because you made a mistake or had a ‘relapse,’ doesn’t mean you can’t carry on - just get back on board and try your best. Forgive yourself for making these mistakes and remind yourself that it’s a journey, not a restrictive diet that you can fail at.

Don’t give up and if you feel like you’re struggling, reach out to those support groups or send us an email, we’re always happy to have a chat or answer your questions.

Resources

Here are some resources we’ve found useful to make your vegan life a little easier:

How to be vegan: Documentaries and resources

We’ve listed some documentaries that’ll help you on your way and provide some motivation when you need it...

Vegan documentaries

If you need some inspiration or motivation at any point on your journey, we recommend watching these documentaries:

  • Cowspiracy
  • Earthlings (contains graphic images)
  • Forks Over Knives
  • What the health
  • Vegucated
  • Live and let live
  • Peaceable Kingdom (some graphic images)
  • Speciesism (minimal graphic images)

And as always, if you have any questions just get in touch! Email us at hello@daisily.co.uk

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