When most people contemplate going vegan, their first inclination of how to go about it is often exactly wrong. That is, the focus is typically on cutting out meat, dairy products, and eggs. And while it’s true that vegans don’t eat these things, when you change your diet by taking things away you’re naturally going to create feelings of sacrifice and deprivation.
So rather than focus on cutting out non-vegan foods, focus on crowding them out. In other words, to make an easy and permanent transition to a vegan diet, the smartest thing to do is to be constantly discovering new foods. The more foods you try, the more foods you’ll like, and the more you’ll find yourself gravitating toward making more and more vegan choices.
Going vegan is a great time to work on upgrading your cooking skills, since nothing is so reliably vegan as something you’ve personally cooked. If you’re just starting out with vegan cooking, it’s wise to start with a cookbook or two devoted to quick and easy recipes you can make every day, featuring ingredients that are easy to find. A few great choices are Robin Robertson’s Quick-Fix Vegan, Marc Reinfeld’s 30-Minute Vegan, and Lorna Sass’ Short-Cut Vegan.
Naturally, you’ll want the bulk of vegan foods that you’re sampling to be healthful choices. Try to make many of your meals heavy on vegetables, and also be sure to include other wholesome nutrient-rich foods like whole grains, fruits, and nuts. At the same time, keep in mind that simply eating mostly healthful foods is not enough to ensure you’ve covered all your nutritional bases. It’s wise to read a basic book on vegan nutrition. The best one we know of is Vegan for Life by Jack Norris and Ginny Messina.
In addition to learning about nutrition, make absolutely sure that you find a reliable and regular source of B-12. Since this crucial item isn’t found in un-supplemented vegan foods, the easiest way to make sure you’re getting enough is to take a sublingual B-12 tablet every two or three days. Be aware that the consequences of B-12 deficiency are dire and potentially irreversible, so please don’t take any chances with this crucial nutrient—especially since you can satisfy your needs for an entire year for less than $10.
Finally, you’ll find that reading a book-length guide to vegan living can really speed up your transition, while minimizing moments of inconvenience and uncertainty. A few popular titles include Erik Marcus’ The Ultimate Vegan Guide, Victoria Moran’s Main Street Vegan, and Elizabeth Castoria’s How to Be Vegan.