Transitioning from Vegetarian to Vegan
Hi Sassy,*****Sassy Sez:
How do I make a healthy transition from Vegetarian to Vegan?
Congratulations on your decision to go Vegan. Bravo to you! I love this question because you have included the word "healthy", which is really the most important part of going Vegan.
Because how many times have you heard of someone who reads a book or an article, or watches a movie or video clip online that makes them so impassioned about standing up for the animals that they decide to go Vegan right then and there?! Definitely commendable! Sadly, they usually give no thought whatsoever about whether or not the vegan food they're eating is actually GOOD for them and providing the nutrients they need.
"But I HAVE to save the animals!" they scream. So, what, they care more about the welfare of animals than they do about themselves? OY!
I believe it's more important to change your diet in baby steps, as you are doing. First you went Vegetarian and sat with that for a while. You learned how to make it work for you, which likely included shopping, cooking, eating out, social situations, etc.
Now, it's time to do exactly the same thing, but just take it another step forward. Going Vegan from Vegetarian is actually quite easy. But for the sake of my readers let's be sure we're on the same page..."Vegetarian"
means you have said goodbye to any foods which an animal had to actually lose its life for, which means meat of all kinds (yes, including chicken and fish) and any foods which contain these (examples include some soup broths, pasta sauces, and fish oil).
As a "Vegan"
you will release all the other animal products, which the animals did NOT have to lose their life for, including eggs, dairy (milk and cheese), and honey. Okay, okay, the way MOST animals are raised today to provide eggs, dairy, and honey DOES cost them their lives (read "Diet for a New America"), which is why it's important to opt for free-range and organics whenever possible.
So your mission, as you have chosen to accept it, is to go Vegan
which means saying farewell to eggs, dairy (milk and cheese), and honey.
You have already taken the biggest step, and that is the MINDSET you need to change your diet. You have already done this on the road to Vegetarian.
Now to go Vegan, here is what I recommend:
- Remove the eggs first. Eggs are easy to remove from your diet. Like, REALLY easy. Tofu is a great replacement for eggs such as in scrambled tofu and faux egg salad. And foods like pancakes and French toast are delicious and nutritious with the simple substitution of flax eggs. Some people might bring up the "protein" issue here, so be sure to read my Vegan Protein page so you can sleep easier;
- Next, remove the dairy milk and replace with non-dairy milks. There are so many out there to try, including almond milk, oat milk, rice milk, and more. I recommend you buy a few different brands and types of non-dairy milk and do some taste testing to find one you like;
- Next up, cheese...
Okay, this one seems to be really difficult for most people. When someone says to me "I could NEVER give up my milk and cheese!" it makes me laugh -- I recognize an addict when I see one!Cheese is addicting? WTF?
Yes, bovine lactation fluids (as Jeff would say) are 100% addicting. Believe it or not, when samples of cow's milk have been analyzed, it is found to contain traces of morphine. Cows actually produce this chemical (along with codeine and other opiates) in their livers and it can end up in the milk.**********End Side Note**********
Now, where were we?...
- While some would recommend you simply replace dairy cheese with non-dairy cheese I say SCREW THAT! You'll be replacing one addiction for another. When I went vegan, there were no cheese replacements so I learned to live without cheese at all. And it was the best thing I could have done because it helped me to discover how to live life without cheese! Instead, turn to healthy sauces made from whole foods like these Vegan Dips, Dressings, and Sauces. Or check out my popular and helpful course Get Sauced With Sass! which teaches you to create your own creamy and sinful-tasting wholesome sauces from scratch;
- Read this page on Vegan Nutrition, paying special attention to the sections on EPA/DHA, Calcium, and Vitamin D;
- Supplement with Vitamin B12;
- Check out my Best Vegan Books page and choose those which speak to you so you can educate yourself on vegan cooking and vegan nutrition.
- Lastly, if you use honey, replace it with a vegan sweetener.
Okay, that sounds like a lot of stuff to do. But remember, there's no rush at all! Choose ONE thing on the list above and do it for a month (or more!) until you feel comfy with it. Then move to something else on the list.
Hope this helps to get you started on the right foot.
Best wishes to you. xo