A lot of people think they need to go from no meat to veganism all at once but it’s ok to take it slow. Start by going meat-free a few times a week or even just switching to dairy-free milk in your tea and coffee.

Many vegans also avoid leather and fur clothes and beauty products that have been tested on animals. Vitamin D deficiency is a risk for beginner vegans so talk to your doctor about getting some supplements or incorporating more fortified foods.

What is Veganism?

Veganism is a diet and lifestyle that excludes all foods derived from or that contain animals. It also extends to avoiding leather, wool, silk and other animal-derived clothing, and products that are tested on animals such as pharmaceutical drugs or cosmetics. Veganism is a stricter version of vegetarianism, and it includes some subsets such as fruitarianism, raw veganism (eating fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and legumes that have not been cooked), and the whole foods, plant-based diet or WFPB (an eating plan that replaces all animal products with whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans/legumes, nuts and seeds).

The reason for going vegan can vary from person to person. Some may go for the health benefits, while others may want to help save animals from cruelty. The environment is another concern for many, as factory farming destroys habitats and pollutes waterways with runoff.

Ethical vegans believe that all living things have a right to life and freedom from exploitation and violence. They see animals as conscious beings that feel pain and fear just like humans do, and they oppose the needless suffering caused by people for food, fashion and entertainment. They avoid meat, dairy, eggs, fur, leather and wool, and they attend animal sanctuaries instead of zoos and circuses.

People who are mainly concerned about the environment often choose to be vegan for practical reasons. A vegan diet is often less environmentally damaging than a non-vegan diet, since it reduces waste and resource consumption. It’s also healthy, as the vast majority of vegan foods are full of fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals.

Some vegans extend their beliefs beyond the diet, aiming to exclude all forms of animal exploitation and cruelty in their lives as well. This can include not wearing wool or leather clothes, purchasing synthetic fabrics, not buying beauty products that were tested on animals, and visiting animal sanctuaries instead of zoos or petting farms.

What Can You Eat on a Vegan Diet?

A vegan keto diet includes fruits, vegetables, beans/legumes, grains, tofu and nut butters. You can also find plenty of options for dairy alternatives like non-dairy milks, ice cream, cheese and yogurt as well as meat substitutes. It is important for beginner vegans to be aware that some foods can have animal products in them even though they look and taste completely vegan. This is particularly true for foods that have been processed or contain additives. The best way to avoid this is by reading the labels of packaged foods and purchasing only those that have a vegan logo on them or have ingredients that are free of things such as bone char, gelatine, whey and shellac.

Aside from avoiding meat, fish and dairy, a beginner vegan should aim to get enough protein (preferably from plant sources) and calcium. Protein can be found in legumes such as kidney and black beans, soybeans, lentils and edamame. Vegetables such as broccoli, kale and collard greens are rich in calcium. Vegans can also choose to take a calcium supplement.

Some people may worry about their ability to make the switch to a vegan diet, especially if they have been eating a lot of foods containing animal products in the past. It is a good idea for beginners to start slow and gradually cut out meat, milk and eggs from their meals while increasing the amount of plant-based food that they consume each week. It is also a good idea for them to consider getting a full blood work up before making the switch to a vegan diet so that they can check their iron, vitamin D and B-12 levels.

What Can You Not Eat on a Vegan Diet?

A vegan diet excludes all foods containing animal flesh or byproducts. This includes meat (beef, chicken, pork, lamb), fish, shellfish, dairy products (milk, yogurt, cheese) and eggs. It also excludes foods containing gelatine, which is made from collagen extracted from skin and bones of animals, and Worcestershire sauce, which contains anchovy extract. Many packaged products contain hidden dairy ingredients, so vegans must read food labels carefully to avoid these.

It is important for vegans to eat a wide variety of plant-based foods to ensure they are getting all the nutrients they need. Beans and legumes (chickpeas, lentils, soybeans, edamame, grean beans) are an excellent source of protein. Vegans can add them to salads, soups, stews, and pasta dishes or make them into burgers and other entrees.

Nuts are another vegan staple. They are packed with protein, healthy fats, and vitamins and minerals. They are an excellent snack and can be added to smoothies, breakfast bowls, and salads for a crunchy texture. They are also great for making nut butters and vegan cheese.

It is important for vegans to eat enough foods containing vitamin B12. This nutrient appears naturally only in animal products, but can be found in fortified breakfast cereal, soy milk, and some brands of vegan “cheese” and tempeh. Some vegans choose to take a vitamin B12 supplement, as a deficiency can cause serious health problems. If you are considering taking a B12 supplement, talk to your doctor or registered dietitian (RD) before doing so. They can recommend a brand that is suitable for your specific diet. B12 deficiency can be life threatening, so it is crucial to avoid this nutrient deficiency.

What Can You Do on a Vegan Diet?

Many people decide to go vegan for ethical or health reasons. However, it is important to understand that a vegan diet can be restrictive and may not provide the essential nutrients needed for optimum health. For this reason, it is best to start off by gradually introducing plant-based foods and slowly decreasing the amount of animal products in your diet.

For example, you might try starting with meatless Mondays, where you eat only plant-based meals on one day of the week. This can help you build a repertoire of recipes that you enjoy, making it easier to cut out animal products entirely over time. It’s also a great way to meet other like-minded individuals who can support you in your vegan journey.

Another thing to keep in mind when going vegan is that you will likely be exposed to some skepticism from those around you. Some people may make fun of your decision or worry that you will not be getting enough of certain nutrients, such as protein and vitamin D. It’s best to stay positive and remember why you chose to become a vegan in the first place.

During this time, it’s also a good idea to find out if any restaurants in your area serve vegan dishes so you can order them on days when you don’t feel like cooking. You can also subscribe to a vegan magazine, such as VegNews, which will give you motivation and delicious meal ideas.

The key to a successful vegan diet is to always read the ingredients of any food you buy to ensure that it is completely free of any animal products. This includes processed foods, as well as items with hidden dairy or egg ingredients such as mayonnaise, Caesar dressing, marshmallows and many candies. The best source of protein for a vegan is beans, chickpeas, lentils and other legumes. Nuts and seeds also provide plenty of protein, as do whole grains and pseudograins such as buckwheat, amaranth and quinoa.

What Can You Do as a Vegan?

Vegans do not eat animals, including red meat, pork, lamb or beef. They also avoid poultry, fish and shellfish like crabs and lobster. Instead, vegans choose plant-based foods for their proteins such as tofu, beans and nuts. Vegetables are also a staple of the vegan diet, along with healthy oils, such as olive and canola.

Many people decide to go vegan for the environment, health or ethical reasons. However, you should still consult with a doctor or registered dietitian (RD) before changing your diet, especially if you have preexisting conditions or dietary needs. They can help you plan your meals and make sure that you’re getting the right nutrients.

Another thing to consider is that going vegan is a process. It’s important to take it slowly and replace animal products with plant-based options over time. For example, you might start by replacing cow milk with oat milk, then add in a tofu scramble for breakfast, collard wraps for lunch and chickpea curry for dinner. Over time, you’ll crowd out the meat from your plate.

It’s also important to stock your pantry with vegan food items, so that you always have something to eat. In addition to vegetables, fruits, beans and nuts, vegans can also eat plenty of whole grains and a variety of breads, rice and pasta. They can also eat plenty of nutrient-rich desserts, such as berries, citrus fruits and melon.

Finally, it’s a good idea for vegans to get their blood work done regularly, so they can ensure that they’re receiving the right amounts of vitamins and minerals. B12 is one vitamin that’s particularly important for vegans to get, since it only comes from animal products. If you’re not careful, you could develop B12 deficiency, which can lead to cognitive problems and depression.