This is the ultimate guide to veganism! It contains EVERYTHING that you need to know about how to go vegan; including a week by week transition timeline, vegan meal plan, easy vegan recipes to try, suggestions for the best vegan food replacements, a list of cruelty-free personal care products, vegan grocery lists, and holiday meal plans!
This guide to veganism is quite extensive, so if you'd like to skip to a specific section, use the list below and click on the topic that you want to read.
What is Veganism?
You might be reading this guide because you're wondering how do you become vegan, because someone close to you is already vegan, or because someone you care about is transitioning to veganism and you'd like to learn more about it.
Whatever the reason, I want to applaud you for taking the next step and learning more about living a vegan lifestyle! If you're a parent or friend who wants to support your child, sibling, friend, or significant other, thank you for being so open-minded about veganism! I promise you that your support will mean so much to the vegan person in your life.
This guide to veganism will help you through the transition and it will guide you on your journey. That's what being vegan is, it's a journey and a lifestyle.
This process is not a race and you should do it at your own pace. Whether that means making the full transition to a vegan lifestyle overnight, in one month, or over one year (like I did), do whatever feels right for you. Some people can go vegan overnight but it's difficult and I wouldn't recommend it. You want to set yourself up for success, not for failure.
Differences Between Vegan vs Vegetarian & a Plant-Based Diet
Let's go over the vegetarian vs vegan definitions since they're the most common. Being "plant-based" has been a more recent term to describe a diet that mostly consists of plants, but we'll go over that too.
Plant-Based means that your diet consists mostly of plant-based foods (fruit, vegetables, legumes) and you try to avoid dairy, eggs, and meat. You might eat them occasionally but not often. WFPB means the same except you also don't consume any processed oils or highly processed foods.
Vegans consume no animal products, they don't use animal-derived products, and they don't participate in any activity that supports cruelty to animals.
Vegetarians don't consume meat but they do eat animal-derived products like cheese and honey.
There are also different types of vegetarians:
- Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian: Does not eat red or white meat, fish, or shellfish, but they do consume dairy products and eggs.
- Lacto-Vegetarian: Consumes dairy products but eats no red or white meat, shellfish, fish, or eggs.
- Ovo-Vegetarian: Eats eggs but consume no red or white meat, fish, dairy, or shellfish.
- Pescatarian: Eats fish and shellfish but don't consume red or white meat.
- Flexitarian: A semi-vegetarian who mostly eats plant-based but occasionally consumes meat.
You can learn more about the different types of vegetarians, here.
Should I Try Being A Vegetarian First?
If you're worried about giving up multiple food items all at once (food blocks), then it might be a good idea for you to try a vegetarian diet first before going 100% vegan. This is what I did and it worked for me. It took me one entire year to make the full transition and being vegetarian first helped me to feel like I wasn't giving everything up at once.
Don't let anyone pressure you into going vegan before you're ready. It's a lot of changes to make at first and you should do it at your own pace.
Try cutting out one animal-based product at a time for either in weekly or monthly increments. When you're comfortable with not feeling tempted by it anymore, cut out the next animal product.
For me, the process looked like this. I started by cutting out red meat first, then chicken, followed by fish, then dairy milk, butter, and coffee creamer, then eggs, and cheese was last. Some stages took me a week to feel comfortable while others took me a month to feel okay about not eating anymore.
The process will be different for everyone but what helped me was finding replacements for the items I was cutting out. Once I found a product that I liked, like dairy-free coffee creamer, then making the switch wasn't that hard anymore.
Before we get into too much detail, let's go over a few of the most FAQ's that I get asked all the time! If you have any other questions, please leave it in a comment below and I'll answer it and add it to the post.
How Do I Start Being a Vegan?
The easy answer is to cut out all animal products from your diet. I'm going to go more in-depth on this topic later on in this post, so keep reading.
What are Veganism Benefits?
Living a healthier lifestyle, saving animals, and doing your part to protecting our planet are the main veganism benefits.
Do Vegans Eat Fish?
No, vegans do not eat fish because they're living, sentient beings.
What Can You Eat as a Vegan?
Vegans can eat so many things but here are a few of the most popular items:
- Nut Butters
- Vegan Meat Substitutes
- Vegan Dairy Products (vegan cheese, vegan sour cream, plant milk)
- Vegan Egg Products
- Vegan Desserts (Like these Tropical Mango Candy Bars!)
What You Can't Eat as a Vegan
Vegans choose not to consume:
- Animal Meat
- Dairy (Milk, Cheese, or Butter)
- Seafood or Shellfish (Fish, Clams, Oysters, Shrimp, Lobster, Scallops)
- Gelatin (Certain brands of marshmallows and gummy candy are made with gelatin)
- Lecithin (This ingredient is derived from animal tissue and is found in certain salad dressings)
- Certain Types of White Sugar (Use only organic sugar to make sure that it hasn't been filtered with animal bone char)
- Certain Types of Alcohol (Use this website to check and see if the alcohol you want to consume is vegan-friendly or not)
Is It Expensive To Be Vegan?
It's only expensive to be vegan if you solely exist on vegan meat replacements and processed foods. If you prepare all of your meals from scratch and your diet consists of inexpensive beans, grains, vegetables, and fruit then it's considerably less expensive to be vegan.
Check this out if you'd like to learn more about how to be vegan on a budget.
Is It Healthy To Be Vegan?
It's extremely healthy to be vegan as long as you're mainly eating whole food plant-based healthy foods (check out this vegan food pyramid infographic to gauge which foods you should be eating the most and least of in a day). While vegan junk foods taste delicious, it's helpful during the transition period, and it's great for an occasional treat, it's not the most healthful option to eat every day.
Speaking of being a healthy vegan, let's talk about vegan nutrition.
Being vegan is a very healthy way to live. However, I'm not a nutritionist and I wanted to learn more about the food I was eating, so I did a lot of research which led me to this book, How Not To Die by Dr. Greger.
This book is life-changing and I love how the book is set up. I also really appreciate that all of Dr. Greger's facts are backed up by scientific studies that you can look up.
In the first half of the book, each chapter is about a different disease and how to prevent them with a vegan diet. In the second half of the book, each chapter is about different food and what it does to your body when you consume it.
I loved learning the nutrition behind each food item, vegan diet benefits, and how to protect my body from disease. I highly recommend that you read this book if you're interested in learning the vegan nutrition facts behind the food that you eat.
Dr. Greger also has a delicious whole foods plant-based cookbook (that I love!) that goes along with the nutrition book if you need some inspiration in the kitchen.
What Vitamins Do Vegans Need To Take?
I also take a vegan morning multivitamin, nighttime multimineral, liquid probiotic, and D3+K2 drops. I love Mary Ruth's vitamins because they're high-quality, made with clean ingredients, they taste good, and I love taking liquid supplements instead of swallowing pills.
You can use my discount code STACEY15 to get 15% off your next Mary Ruth's vitamin order! (affiliate)
Always double-check the ingredient label before you take any vitamins or pills because many vitamin capsules are made of animal-based gelatin. Look for capsules that are made with plant cellulose or specifically say they use vegetable capsules.
How to Become Vegan Step by Step
Okay, now that we've gone over the basics, answered some FAQ's, and touched on vegan nutrition info, I want to walk you through step-by-step how to be vegan. At least, this was the easiest way to become vegan for me, so it might work for you too.
- Think About Your Mindset and Reason Why - Why do you want to go vegan? Is it for the animals? For your health? For the environment? Or all three? Once you figure out your reason, it will make it easier to stick to your new vegan lifestyle.
- Research Veganism - Watch documentaries, youtube videos, read vegan blogs, join vegan FB groups for support, and educate yourself about being vegan. When people (family, doctors, friends) question your motives (yes, this will happen!) you need to be informed about your decision.
- Make a Plan - Decide how you'd like to make the transition. Whether it's overnight, over a few months, or by making small changes throughout the year. Or you might want to try out being a vegetarian first!
- Clear Out The Pantry & Fridge - If your fridge and pantry are still full of animal products then it's going to be hard to resist them. Either finish what you have or give it away (to friends, family, or donation centers) so you can go grocery shopping and stock up on fresh fruit and vegetables.
- Pick Out Simple Recipes To Try - I know it's overwhelming to change the way you've been cooking for your whole life but it's actually just a couple easy swaps! You'll get the hang of it real quick. If you don't want to search for recipes, you could try my free 1-month vegan meal plan.
- Go Grocery Shopping - Make a list of the ingredients you need to make the easy vegan recipes that you already looked up and go grocery shopping. Stick to your list!
- Cook - Actually cook the recipes that you picked out and bought the ingredients to make.
- Evaluate - After your first week of being vegan, take a minute to think about what worked for you and what didn't.
Research and Helpful Veganism Resources
If you've made it this far, you probably already know your reason(s) for going vegan. Now you need to research your reason and educate yourself about your choice.
Articles About Vegan Nutrition, Facts, and Statistics
- What is the Healthiest Diet on the Planet?
- Plant-Based Food Nutrition Information
- Food Education and Healthy Solutions
- Meat is Heat: The Effects of Diet on Global Warming and Climate Change
- Want to End World Hunger? Hello, Veganism!
Vegan Facebook Groups to Join
You should join the following vegan Facebook groups to see vegan recipes in your Facebook feed + you can meet other vegans in the groups!
- Easy Vegan Recipes
- Vegan Recipes to Share
- Vegan Recipes with Love
- Vegan on a Budget
- Vegetarian & Vegan Recipes
Vegan Recipe Websites You Should Check Out
The following vegan recipe websites are my favorite websites to find new delicious vegan recipes to make at home!
- Stacey Homemaker
- Vegan Huggs
- Veggie Inspired
- A Virtual Vegan
- Healthier Steps (Gluten-Free)
- Veggies Save the Day (Gluten-Free)
- Cadry's Kitchen
- Rabbit and Wolves
- Connoisseurus Veg
- Cilantro and Citronella
- Vegan Richa
- Vegan in the Freezer
Veganism Documentaries You Can Watch to Increase Your Awareness
You can watch some of these documentaries on Netflix or YouTube:
- Forks Over Knives
- Food choices
- What the Health
- Eating you Alive
Youtube Videos and Speeches You Should Watch
The following videos are truly inspirational and they will change the way you think about being vegan.
- James Aspey - This Speech is Your Wake Up Call
- Earthling Ed - You Will Never Look at Your Life the Same Way Again
- Gary Yourofsky - Best Speech You Will Ever Hear
- Earthling Ed - Land of Hope & Glory
Inspirational Veganism Activists Instagram Accounts to Follow
If you're looking for vegan celebrities to follow on Instagram, check out these accounts.
Instagram Accounts to Follow for Vegan Recipes
You should follow all of these Instagram accounts so your Instagram feed will be filled with lots of pictures of delicious vegan food and new recipes to try!
- Stacey Homemaker
- Plant Based RD
- Veggie Inspired
- Vegan Huggs
- A Virtual Vegan
- Rabbit and Wolves
- Healthier Steps
- Veggies Save the Day
- Best of Vegan
- Cadry's Kitchen
- Connoisseururs Veg
- Cilantro and Citronella
- Vegan Richa
- Vegan in the Freezer
Instagram Accounts to Follow for Vegan News & Information
Veganism Books to Read
- How Not To Die by Michael Greger
- Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition by T. Colin Campbell
- The China Study by T. Colin Campbell
- Prevent & Reverse Heart Disease by Caldwell Esselstyn
- Eat Like You Care by Gary L. Francione
- How to Go Vegan Book
Vegan Cookbooks to Try
All of the following are officially my favorite vegan cookbooks! Each one is unique and features a different type of vegan cuisine. From easy vegan recipes and veganized Indian-inspired recipes to vegan instant pot recipes, there's a cookbook for everyone!
- The How Not to Die Cookbook: 100+ WFPB Recipes to Help Prevent and Reverse Disease
- Fuss Free Vegan: 101 Everyday Comfort Foods Vegananized
- Chloe Flavor: Saucy, Crispy, Spicy, and Vegan Recipes
- Vegan Richa's Indian Kitchen: Traditional and Creative Recipes for the Home Cook
- Thug Kitchen: Eat Like You Give a F*uck!
- Vegan Comfort Cooking: 75 Plant-Based Recipes to Satisfy Cravings and Warm Your Soul
- Vegan Instant Pot Cookbook: Wholesome, Indulgent Plant-Based Recipes
- Oh She Glows Cookbook: 100+ Vegan Recipes to Glow From the Inside Out!
- The Kind Diet: A Simple Guide to Feeling Great, Losing Weight, and Saving the Planet!
Now it's Time to Make a Plan!
You've made up your mind and you've done the research. Now you're ready to dive in and get started with your new veganism lifestyle! But should you jump in or just stick your toe in the vegan pool?
Everybody is different and your veganism transition might not be the same as mine. Guess what? That's okay! There is no right way to do it. Just keep your eye on the prize and keep working towards your end goal. If you can go cold tofurkey and stop consuming animal products overnight, that's awesome!
However, if you're struggling with the idea of giving up the foods (food block!) and products that you're used to (like me!) then it will probably work better for you to slowly chip away at the vegan iceberg. That's okay too!
What's a Food Block?
A food block is a food group or specific unhealthy item that you want to give up but you feel like you can't so it's stopping you from reaching your goal of going vegetarian or vegan. It can feel very difficult or even impossible to give up these specific items (for me it was cheese) because they're very tempting to you.
The easiest way to deal with these food blocks is to remove them completely from your home (no temptation!), avoid going places that might tempt you to consume them (at least for the first few months), and then work on replacing them with vegan substitutes one at a time at home.
If you have multiple food blocks and are worried that you can't give them all up at once, it's completely acceptable to give one item up at a time. It might take you a few weeks or a few months to stop getting cravings and that's to be expected.
How to Slowly Become Vegan: Week-by-Week Steps
You need to decide what type of veganism transition will work best for you. If you'd like to go vegan slowly, try to follow this outline to transition to a vegan lifestyle in less than six months.
- Week 1 - Incorporate Meatless Monday into your meal plan and keep doing it from here on out.
- Week 2 - Completely remove red meat from your diet (or whatever animal product is the easiest for you to give up first).
- Week 3 - Pick out a new vegan product to try from the grocery store.
- Week 4 - Try a new vegan recipe to make for breakfast or lunch this week.
- Week #1 - Completely remove white meat from your diet.
- Week #2 - Try a recipe with a meat substitute, like this vegan sausage peppers and rice skillet.
- Week #3 - Start eating a small side salad with your dinner 2-3 times a week.
- Week #4 - Pickup a dairy-free coffee creamer to use in your coffee (I recommend Ripple unsweetened half & half!)
- Week #1 - Completely remove fish and shellfish from your diet.
- Week #2 - Try to eat vegetarian meals for the entire weekend.
- Week #3 - Pickup a new vegan product (like So Delicious Salted Caramel vegan ice cream!) to try from the grocery store.
- Week #4 - Stop consuming honey and make the swap to maple syrup or agave.
- Week #1 - Completely remove eggs from your diet.
- Week #2 - Try a new recipe that features beans as the main ingredient, like this easy vegan chili or chickpea curry.
- Week #3 - Pickup a new vegan product to try (Just Egg is awesome!) from the grocery store as a replacement for eggs. Or try this recipe to make an eggy tofu scramble.
- Week #4 - Watch a vegan documentary from the list to remind you why you're doing this.
- Week #1 - Completely remove dairy from your diet.
- Week #2 - Try a new recipe that features tofu as the main ingredient, like this almond butter tofu.
- Week #3 - Go out to a restaurant and order a vegan meal to celebrate! Remember to use the Happy Cow app to help you find a vegan restaurant.
- Week #4 - Now it's time to completely clear out your pantry, fridge, and freezer of any animal-based products. Either give them away to your friends, family, or neighbors or you can donate it to a local food pantry.
Congratulations, you did it! How did it go? Was the monthly guide doable? Did you have any setbacks?
Do your best to continue living a clean vegan lifestyle from here on out. If you slip up, it's okay! It happens to the best of us. Just chalk it up to a learning experience (figure out what your triggers are) and keep moving forward.
Now let's talk about the good stuff, the food!
What is Vegan Food?
Vegan food is just regular food that doesn't contain any animal products.
Vegan food is not complicated to make, I promise. Try to cook from scratch as much as you can, use fresh ingredients, lots of flavorful seasonings, and eat as many greens as possible. Over time, you'll see your taste buds start to change and your food cravings will change too.
Once you get used to cutting out animal products, it's really easy to veganize your old favorite recipes!
Cooking Tools That All Vegans Need
I've bought and tried a lot of different kitchen appliances and tools to cook with. The following products are the ones that I use every single week, so I think that they are the best and most important kitchen tools for all vegans to have.
- Tofu Press - I use this tofu press at least once a week to make low-carb veggies tofu tacos or almond butter tofu. At first, I just wrapped the tofu in towels and put a pot on top of it but the press is so much more convenient and it's inexpensive.
- Instant Pot - I should just make a space on the counter for my Instant pot because I pull it out of the cabinet constantly. Canned beans are cheap but dried beans are even cheaper and they're so easy to make with an instant pot. This is my favorite Instant Pot black bean recipe that I make often.
- Blender - I use this small blender to make dressings or sauces and I use this high-powered blender to make everything else. If you want to make creamy cashew alfredo sauce, you need a strong blender.
- Large Skillet - I use this enameled skillet any time that I need to saute something. I just leave in on the stovetop because I use it every single day.
- Cast Iron Dutch Oven - I use this enameled dutch oven to make soup, like hearty cabbage and white bean soup, stuffed pepper soup, and lemon artichoke soup.
- Glass Containers - If you're a vegan who cares about your environmental impact, you'll want to reduce your use of plastic as much as possible. I've used the same set of these glass containers for 5 years and they're still in great condition! I can't tell you how much I love these!
- Large Glass Mason Jars - If you're on a budget, it's a lot cheaper to buy grains, nuts, seeds, and beans from the bulk section. These are the glass jars that I use to store all of my dried goods (see picture below).
Easy Vegan Recipes You Should Try First
The following recipes are all easy vegan recipes that you should try first during your transition to veganism because they're easy to make and taste delicious! Also, you could join this Facebook group to find more easy vegan recipes to try!
You might also find this free 30-day vegan meal plan to be helpful too!
Vegan Breakfast Recipes
Vegan Lunch Recipes
- Roasted Vegetable Hummus Wraps
- Southwest Quinoa Salad
- Avocado Arugula Tomato Salad
- Vegan BLT Sandwich
Vegan Snack Recipes
Vegan Dinner Recipes
- Lentil Sloppy Joes
- Sweet Potato & Black Bean Burritos
- Walnut Quinoa Taco Meat
- Vegan Pesto Pasta
- Easy Stuffed Pepper Soup
- Creamy Taco Pasta
- Sweet Potato Black Bean Enchiladas
Should You Use Vegan Meat Substitutes?
Vegan meat substitutes are great options to enjoy! I especially love jackfruit, vegan sausages, and the occasional vegan chicken tenders or vegan burger.
When you're first transitioning, having a vegan substitute that looks like a chicken tender or beef burger to eat instead of the animal-based version can be extremely helpful to satisfy your craving and keep you on your vegan journey.
Try these recipes made with vegan meat substitutes:
- Vegan Mushroom Stroganoff
- Vegan Sausage, Peppers, and Rice Skillet
- Slow Cooker Whiskey Pineapple BBQ Sliders
- BEST EVER Vegan Enchiladas
- 17 Jackfruit Recipes that Taste Better Than Meat!
Should You Try Vegan Dairy Replacements?
I didn't eat any vegan cheese for the first year that I was vegan because, at that time, I had heard so many negative things about vegan cheese and the way that it tasted.
However, the vegan food industry has come so far since then! The vegan cheese that is made now is creamy, cheezy, and actually tastes like the dairy cheese that I remember.
However, I will say that my friend who is not vegan yet (but trying!) tried my all-time favorite vegan cheese and hated it. I think it's because she is still used to animal-based cheese. When you haven't had animal-based cheese in so long, a creamy and flavorful vegan cheese might taste great to you but not to someone who still consumes dairy cheese on a regular basis. Does that make sense?
I still recommend that you try it but don't be surprised if you don't love it right away. It might take you a few months to get used to it. We love to use vegan cheese for sandwiches, macaroni and cheese, gluten-free quinoa pizza, and to make vegan spanakopita!
Here are some cheezy vegan recipes for you to make at home:
- Lentil Crunchwrap Supreme
- Cheezy Macaroni and Cheese
- Creamy Spinach Artichoke Dip
- Spinach Artichoke Dip Stuffed Shells
- Broccoli Cheese Soup
- Broccoli Stuffed Potatoes with Cheese Sauce
Where Do Vegans Get Their Protein?
One of the main questions that you'll be asked a lot as a vegan is, "You don't eat meat? OMG but where do you get your protein?!"
Most people aren't aware that getting their protein from meat is actually second-hand source of protein. Cows, pigs, and chickens don't eat other animals to get protein, they get protein from eating grains and plants! Then humans eat the animal to get protein from their meat. Why not skip the middle man (the animals) and just eat the original plant-based sourse of protein? Makes sense to me.
Also, did you know that the largest animals in the world only eat plants? Elephants, rhinos, hippos, gorillas, bison, horses, manatees are all herbivores!
Vegans can get all the protein that they need from beans, grains, lentils, vegetables, tofu, tempeh, nuts, seeds and lots of other plant-based sources. Check this list out for more plant-based sources of protein.
Which Grocery Stores are Veganism-Friendly?
I love grocery shopping and I like to shop around and look for the best deals on my favorite vegan products. In my experience, I've found the best options at the following stores and I made vegan grocery lists for each store to help you know what to look for while you shop.
Remember to bring your reusable shopping bags and produce bags with you when you go grocery shopping. These mesh produce bags (See middle picture below) are my favorite reusable bags! I've had my set for almost two years and they're still in great condition. They're super strong, durable, and they hold a lot!
- Farmer's Market - Look for a local farmers market to find the best prices on local organic produce. Every week, I share my weekly vegan grocery haul of everything I bought from my local market. If you'd like to see the products that I buy and the meals that I make each week, follow me on Instagram (@Stacey_Homemaker).
- Costco Vegan Grocery List - Look here for the best price on bulk organic products like brown rice, quinoa, crackers, frozen vegetables, frozen fruit, and glass storage containers. Follow me on Instagram (@Stacey_Homemaker) to see my Costco vegan grocery hauls every other week.
- Whole Foods Vegan Grocery List - If you don't have a local farmer's market to go to, I've found affordable low prices on organic produce at Whole Foods. If you're an Amazon Prime member then you'll also get an additional 10% off any products already on sale + special sales just for Amazon Prime members. It's a nice perk!
- Sprouts - I have a vegan grocery list for Sprouts coming soon but I've found fantastic prices on produce and vegan products at Sprouts.
- Trader Joe's Vegan Grocery List - Trader Joe's has great prices on organic produce and they have lots of vegan specialty products that I love and can't find anywhere else. You can see my vegan grocery haul from Trader Joe's, here.
Best Vegan Products and Substitutions
Over the years, I've tried So. Many. Vegan. Products. I've taste-tested tons of vegan food products trying to find the best of the best. The following store-bought prepared vegan food products are my personal recommendations. If I missed any of your favorite vegan products, leave a comment below, and I'll pick it up to try the next time I go grocery shopping!
This list is not sponsored by any of these brands, these are products that I truly like and buy regularly (as you can see in my vegan grocery haul pictures below!). Always check the ingredient label to make sure it's vegan before consuming as companies can change the product ingredients at any time without notice.
Vegan Bread Options
- Vegan Sliced Bread - Ezekial Bread, Dave's Killer Bread, or Ezekial English Muffins
- Vegan Burger Buns & Hot Dog Rolls - Silver Hills Sprouted Power Buns
- Vegan Taco & Burrito Tortillas - Stacey's Organic Tortillas
Vegan Egg & Dairy Substitutes
- Vegan Milk - So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Milk
- Vegan Chocolate Milk - Ripple Chocolate Milk
- Vegan Coffee Creamer - Ripple Unsweetened Half & Half
- Vegan Cold Brew - Califia XX Espresso Cold Brew (The holiday peppermint and pumpkin flavors are delish too!)
- Vegan Cream Cheese - Kite Hill Chive Cream Cheese
- Vegan Ricotta - Kite Hill Almond Ricotta
- Vegan Sliced Cheese - Violife (Provolone and Cheddar), Chao, and Follow Your Heart (Pepperjack)
- Vegan Shredded Cheese - Violife Shredded Cheddar Cheese or Follow Your Heart Mozarella
- Vegan Feta Cheese - Violife Feta Cheese
- Vegan Butter - Miyokos Cultured Cashew Butter
- Vegan Sour Cream - Kite Hill Unsweetened Plain Greek Yogurt
- Vegan Mayo - Organic Vegenaise
- Vegan Eggs - Just Egg
Vegan Meat Replacements
- Vegan Pork - Edwards & Sons Organic Canned Jackfruit
- Vegan Bacon - Lightlife Fakin Bacon or Sweet Earth Benevolent Bacon
- Vegan Chicken Tenders - Gardein Seven Grain Crispy Tenders
- Vegan Fish Fillets - Gardein Golden Fishless Filets
- Vegan Deli Meat - Field Roast Mushrooms Deli Slices
- Vegan Sausage - Field Roast Sausages (All three flavors are delicious)
- Vegan Burgers - Beyond Meat Burgers
- Vegan Thanksgiving Turkey - Gardein Holiday Roast
- Vegan Vegetable Burgers - Dr. Praeger's California Vegetable Burgers
Vegan Dessert Products
- Vegan Ice Cream - So Delicious Salted Caramel Ice Cream, Ice Cream Bars, and Ice Cream Sandwiches
- Vegan Peanut Butter Cups - Unreal Dark Chocolate Peanut or Almond Butter Cups
- Vegan M&M's - Unreal Crispy or Peanut M&M's
- Vegan Popsicles - Chloe's Popsicles
- Vegan Cheesecake - Frozen Daiya Cheesecake (The key lime and pumpkin flavors are our favorite!)
- Vegan Whipped Cream - So Delicious Coconut Whip (in a tub)
- Vegan Caramels - Cocomel Coconut Milk Caramels
- Vegan Cinnamon Rolls - Annie's Cinnamon Rolls
- Vegan Gummies - Surf Sweet Gummy Candy
Now that you've followed all the steps to go vegan and you're living a healthy and happy vegan lifestyle, you might run into some of the following issues and find these tips useful.
Cruelty-Free Personal Care Products
When I first went vegan, I didn't even think about my makeup or personal care products (that I used every single!) day not being vegan. Unfortunately, a lot of mainstream personal products are still tested on animals. As a vegan, it's important to not support those companies with your money.
If you're interested in learning about vegan clothing options, check out this article, from Peta.
What Labels Should You Look For?
Do your best to only buy products that have the cruelty-free label that means they never test their products on animals! This is the label on my toothpaste. Let's look at the symbols and I'll explain what they mean.
OTCO - The label stands for Oregon Tilth Certified Organic, which means that it's an organic certifier and nonprofit company that promotes biologically sound & socially equitable agriculture.
NSF - This label means that the product contains at least 70% organic ingredients.
Non-GMO - This label means that the product contains no genetically modified ingredients.
V - This is the vegan label and it means that the product contains no animal products, animal byproducts, and no animals were used during the manufacturing process.
Leaping Bunny - This label means that the product is never tested on animals, so it is 100% cruelty-free.
Other important labels to look for:
- USDA Organic - This label means that the product is made up of 95% organic ingredients.
- Fair Trade - This label means that there are ethical working conditions and fair prices provided for the suppliers.
Which Cruelty-Free Beauty Products are the Best?
Once I looked through all of my personal care products and realized that most of them had been tested on animals, I got rid of them all and started buying cruelty-free products instead.
I tried a lot of different products. Some were great and some were pretty awful. The following items are my all-time favorite cruelty-free products that I use every single day. You can find a lot of these items at stores like Whole Foods and Target.
Don't waste your money on products that you don't know if they really work or not. The following personal care products are all awesome, and not just because they're cruelty-free. They're truly wonderful and better than the non-vegan products I used a few years ago. I even got my non-vegan mom hooked on a lot of these products, they're that great!
If you want to see which brands are cruelty-free, check out this list.
(1) Jason Hi Shine Hair Gel - My husband and I both use this hair gel. It gives the perfect amount of hold without making your hair feel dry and crunchy.
(2) Andalou Floral Toner - I spray my face with this toner after I wash it. It smells like roses and it feels great on my skin.
(3) Acure Brilliantly Brightening Cleansing Gel - This is my favorite face wash to use when I need to wash off my makeup. It's so gentle and it leaves my skin feeling so fresh and clean.
(4) Acure Brilliantly Brightening Facial Scrub - This is the best exfoliant! Your face will feel so clean and smooth after you use this scrub.
(5) Acure Marula Oil - After I use the cleansing gel or the facial scrub (I switch off during the week) at night, I always follow it up with the Andalou toner and then I moisturize with this marula oil. It's so moisturizing! I have very dry skin and it really helps and it doesn't cause breakouts.
(6) Andalou 1000 Roses Beautiful Day Cream - In the morning, I use this day cream (after I wash my face) because it moisturizes without being shiny, so it works great under my makeup. It smells really good too!
(7) Oral Essentials Mouthwash - I love this because it's free from alcohol, preservatives, additives, and glycerin. It has a minty flavor and it's very gentle but it gets the job done.
(8) Pacifica Gardenia Perfume - This is my all-time favorite scent and I've been wearing it for years! We have a few gardenia bushes in our backyard and I swear the perfume smells even better than the actual plant! It's delicate and feminine, and it smells just like a fresh blooming gardenia. The bottle is small but the scent is very concentrated, so it lasts a long time!
(9) Redmond Earth Paste - This toothpaste is awesome and it's my husbands favorite. It doesn't foam at all so it's more of a paste but it works really well and the flavor is great. We've tried all the flavors, the others are okay but we like this spearmint flavor the best.
(10) Dr. Bronner's Peppermint Tooth Paste - This is my favorite toothpaste! It foams a little bit when you brush and the ingredients are super clean. My teeth feel so clean after using this toothpaste.
(11) Schmidt's Sensitive Skin Jasmine Tea Deodorant - I've been using this deodorant for years and I love it! It smells so good and works really well! My husband likes the bergamot and lime scent.
(12) Mineral Fusion Nail Polish Remover - This acetone-free, gentle, nail polish remover works just as well, if not better than the chemicals that I used to use. It quickly and easily removes even the darkest color of nail polish.
(13) Alba Sunscreen - I use and love the whole line of Alba sunscreen! It's reef-safe, it smells good, and it's easy to rub in. I never burn when I wear it. My husband prefers the spray bottle and I also like the sensitive face lotion.
(14) Good Clean Love Personal Lubricant - This product is organic, it's made with clean ingredients and it works very well.
(15) Sustain Natural Latex Condoms - My husband and I have tried a few different brands and this one is our favorite!
(16) Nature's Brand Organic Arnica Oil - Use this arnica oil any time you have a bruise or sore muscle, it helps to alleviate the pain and reduce bruising.
(17) Sovereign Silver Immune Support - (This is not medical advice, it's just my personal experience. Always follow your doctor's orders!) I use these drops as immune support if I feel a cold coming on or as a natural antibiotic if I have a small (not serious) cut. Of course, if my doctor tells me to take antibiotics to fight an infection, then that's what I do. I use these drops for small issues that are not serious.
(18) Trader Joe's Tea Tree Tingle Shampoo (It's a lot cheaper to buy it at Trader Joe's) - I'm obsessed with the scent of this shampoo! It smells like peppermint and it makes my scalp tingle a little bit when I apply it. It's from Trader Joe's and it's very inexpensive with clean ingredients.
(19) Trader Joe's Tea Tree Tingle Conditioner - I use this conditioner after I shampoo and it's very moisturizing. You can also get this at Trader Joe's.
(20) Everyone for Everybody Soap - This is one of the first cruelty-free products that I bought and I've been using it ever since. The coconut-pineapple scent is intoxicating! You can use this as shampoo, body wash, or bubble bath, but I use it as a body wash because it smells so darn good.
(21) Andalou 1000 Roses Body Lotion - You might have noticed a trend by now, I love the Andalou 1000 Roses line. It smells so delicious and each product is awesome! I use this body lotion every day, it's so moisturizing and creamy. You'll never have dry skin with this body lotion!
(22) Organic Cornstarch - You might be surprised by this one. I use this organic cornstarch instead of dry shampoo! The powder absorbs oil and makes your hair feel like you just washed it. It works best with light brown and blonde hair.
(23) Andalou Naturals Color Correct Cream (Nude) - Most days, I don't wear a lot of makeup. This color correct cream gives me just enough light coverage to even out my acne-prone fair skin. It doesn't feel heavy on my skin and it's very moisturizing.
(24) Josie Maran Vibrancy Foundation (Euphoric) - If I need a little bit more coverage for a night out or a special event, this is what I use. It doesn't feel heavy but it's effective and still looks very natural on my light skin.
(25) Thrive Infinity Waterproof Eyebrow Pencil (Audrey) - I love the thin tip on this pencil and it looks very natural on my eyebrows. The color is a perfect match for light brown eyebrows and it's waterproof!
(26) Thrive Infinity Waterproof Liner (Lauren) - This is my favorite eyeliner! The thin tip and super-smooth pencil make it so easy to apply. It's also waterproof which definitely helps in the Florida heat.
(27) Bare Minerals Combo Control Primer - This is what I apply first before I put on foundation. It works great for dry and oily skin (or combination like mine!) and it helps my makeup to stay on longer.
(28) Anastasia Brow Wiz Pencil (Taupe) - This eyebrow pencil works so well and the color looks so natural! If you don't touch it, it will stay on all day without fading.
(29) Pacifica Stellar Gaze Black Mascara (Supernova) - I've tried a few different vegan mascaras and this is the only one that doesn't leave black circles under my eyes after a few hours. That's a win in my books!
(30) Mineral Fusion Lip Tint - I don't like lip gloss because it's too sticky and lipstick is usually too much color for me. This lip tint is the perfect amount of color and coverage for me! It's also very moisturizing and feels like chapstick when you apply it. My favorite shades are blush and flicker.
(31) Alaffia Coconut Lip Balm - I keep a tube of this chapstick in my purse, in my makeup bag, in my desk...pretty much everywhere. I use it every day and it makes my lips feel so soft! It's not sticky at all and the flavor is very subtle.
(32) Mineral Fusion Blush (Flashy) - I've been using the creation shade of blush for years, it's the perfect natural pink color.
(33) Mineral Fusion Eye Shadow (Fragile) - This eye shadow trio is my favorite neutral color palate. The colors are so soft and natural, perfect if you just want a little extra shimmer.
(34) Mineral Fusion Concealer (Cool Froid) - I use the neutral shade because it's the lightest and it matches my fair skin. This is my go-to product if I wake up with dark circles under my eyes or an angry pimple pops up that needs to be covered asap.
(35) Aztec Secrets Healing Clay Mask - This face mask is the real deal! You mix the powder with apple cider vinegar and then you rub it on your skin. It will feel tight and your face will turn pink but it really works! It cleans out your pores, fights acne, and makes your skin feel super smooth!
What if Your Spouse or Family Doesn't Want to Go Vegan with You?
I've heard a lot of people say that they could never go vegan because their spouse or kids aren't vegan. The truth is that, yes, this issue can make it a bit more complicated, but if there's a will there's a way.
If you're in charge of the cooking at your house (like I am) then you should explain your new dietary preference to your family. Tell them why you're doing it, explain why it's important to you, and then ask them to join you on this journey. Give them the option. You never know, they might agree to try it with you!
If they don't want to join you on your journey to veganism, then you have a few options:
- You can still prepare all of the food for your partner or family but tell them that everything you cook will be vegan. If they're hungry enough then they'll probably eat it. (This is what happened with my husband and now he's 100% vegan, so this method is definitely effective!)
- You can cook vegan meals but also cook meat on the side for your spouse or kids to add to their meals if they wish.
- You can only prepare your own meals and tell your significant other or family that they have to cook their own meals (if the kids are old enough) if they refuse to eat your vegan meals.
- If someone else in your household does the cooking, then you may need to begin cooking for yourself since it's your dietary preference and not theirs.
What if You Don't Know Any Other Vegan People?
It's very likely that you won't know any other vegan people right away. The easiest way that I made new vegan friends was to join vegan Facebook groups.
It felt like a whole new world opened up to me when I found this veganism group, this group, and this group on Facebook. I had no idea that there were specific groups (with thousands, even hundreds of thousands of people!) for vegan people to connect with each other, support each other, share recipes, and to discuss vegan issues.
I made a lot of new vegan online friends that I shared recipes with and found new vegan products to try based on their recommendations. It really helps you to realize that you're not alone on this vegan journey!
You can even search for state or town specific vegan Facebook groups that setup vegan potlucks in your town, or share reviews of local vegan restaurants, or vegan events that are happening. It's a great way to meet and make new vegan friends in person!
How to Get Your Family to Support Your New Lifestyle
It can feel isolating to try to go on this vegan journey alone. Luckily, my husband did this with me so I had someone to talk to and experience it with. None of my friends or family members are vegan, so we definitely felt excluded sometimes and it would've been a lot harder if I was doing it on my own.
I think that my parents thought it was just a phase that I was going through and they didn't really understand why I was doing it. They were always supportive but they didn't participate, at first. Never in a million years did I think that one day (three years later), I would get my meat-loving dad to go to a vegan restaurant and eat (and enjoy!) a beet burger with me!
It took a few years but they finally came around, and so will your family! Even though my parents are not vegan (yet!), they do respect my decision.
If you decide to go vegan, don't expect all of your friends and family to jump on board with you right away because that's probably not going to happen. Most people are resistant to change, especially if it challenges a way of life that they've been living for 10, 20, or 30+ years. It takes time. Eventually, they'll (hopefully) come around, but you have to give them time to process this big change.
Ways to Encourage Your Friends and Family to Try Veganism
- Don't turn every event, meal, and family gathering into a veganism rally. This really turns people off from learning more about veganism. I wouldn't bring it up at all unless someone specifically asks you about it.
- Just live your life and set a good example. Your family will eventually see how happy you are living this lifestyle. You don't need to push your views down their throats to prove how great veganism is. The proof is in the vegan pudding.
- Offer to cook a meal at your house for any friends or family members that express interest in vegan food. They may want to learn more about it but they might be intimidated and not know where to start. Show them how delicious vegan food is and how easy it is to prepare.
- Treat your friends or family to a meal at a vegan restaurant (that they probably wouldn't go to on their own), so they can see that vegan food isn't weird or boring at all.
- For family events and holidays, always offer to bring a few vegan dishes to share. I always bring this spinach artichoke dip, everyone loves it! People have this misconception that vegan food is just salad or rabbit food. Show them that vegan food is just delicious food!
How to Find Local Vegan Restaurants
I wish I had known about Happy Cow when I was first transitioning to a vegan lifestyle because it would have made life so much easier!
Happy Cow is a website and app that you can download on your phone that shows you "vegan food near me" and what menu options are vegan at specific restaurants that are safe for you to eat!
You can even search your city or town in the "Find Vegan Restaurants Nearby" search bar at the top of the page to find vegan restaurants close to you. It's so convenient to use when you want to eat out.
My Favorite Veganism-Friendly Chain Restaurants
I'm lucky enough to live in an area that has a bunch of veganism-friendly local restaurants but I also love these chain restaurants!
- Chipotle - I love a sofrito bowl or burrito! FYI if you don't want sofrito, you could order a veggie bowl or burritos and get guac for free!
- Mellow Mushroom - I switch back and forth between the Thai Dye pizza with tempeh or a veganized version of the Holy Shiitake pizza.
- Sweet Tomatoes - The salad bar is fantastic and there is always at least one vegan soup option. I especially love that they label everything if it's vegan/vegetarian/gluten-free so you don't have to ask.
- Blaze Pizza - I always get a high-rise pizza and load it up with all the veggies! They'll even change their gloves and use a new pizza cutter for you if you ask.
- Cheesecake Factory - The cobb salad and vegan burger are delicious options here.
Is it Hard to Travel as a Vegan?
Traveling as a vegan can be very easy if you do your research ahead of time. I recommend that you search Facebook for specific veganism groups in the area that you're visiting. I would also join this vegan travel Facebook group to learn from other vegan travelers.
Make sure to download the Happy Cow app on your phone to help you find local vegan restaurants while you're traveling. Also, download the Vegan Passport app to help you order vegan food at the restaurants.
As an Orlando local and Disney fan, I have extensive experience of eating vegan in Disney World, at the parks, and even on a Disney cruise.
If you're planning on visiting Disney World for your next vacation, make sure you check out these helpful lists:
- Best Vegan Quick Service Options in WDW
- Top 12 Best Restaurants (with Plant-Based Options!) in Disney World
- Complete Guide to Eating Vegan on a Disney Cruise
Being Vegan During the Holidays
It's easier than ever to be vegan during the holidays and you don't have to miss out on anything! Whether you're hosting a party at your house or if you need to bring a special dish with you to a family event, my vegan holiday guides have exactly what you need.
I have complete guides and menus for you to reference for each major holiday!
- 51 Spooky Vegan Halloween Recipes
- Ultimate Guide to Vegan Halloween Candy
- Ultimate Vegan Thanksgiving Menu
- Vegan Christmas Dinner Menu that Will Please All of Your Guests!
- New Year's Black-Eyed Pea Soup
- Easy Valentine's Day Breakfast
- Vegan Easter Recipes
- Mother's Day Vegan Dessert
- 4th of July Vegan Menu
If you feel stressed or anxious about being vegan for your first big holiday event, you're not alone. I was so worried about it too but it turned out fine. I brought a few vegan dishes to my non-vegan family's Thanksgiving a few years ago and it turned out to be no big deal.
I had built it up in my head to be a huge issue but nobody seemed to care about it but me. If anyone does say anything negative to you, just brush it off and move on. It's not worth it to get into a heated discussion about veganism at a family event.
Tips For Being Vegan During The Holidays:
- Eat something at home before you go to any event just in case there is no safe food for you to eat.
- Pack a granola bar or small snack in your purse or pocket just in case you get stuck!
- Always offer to bring one or a few vegan dishes (like a veggie platter, hummus, or spinach artichoke dip to share so you're guaranteed something vegan to eat. It also shows people that vegan food isn't that strange.
- Don't get into a vegan debate at any family event or gathering, it's not worth it.
- Don't push your views on anyone else or make comments about what they're eating at the event because that's what gives vegans a bad wrap. Keep your vegan opinions to yourself (I learned this the hard way) unless someone genuinely seems interested and asks your opinion.
- If anything negative is said about your vegan lifestyle, just let it go and move on. Leave the room (or party) if you feel uncomfortable or judged.
- If you don't feel comfortable going to the event at all then don't feel bad about that either. Do what's right for you and don't put yourself in a negative situation. Eventually, people will come around.
Going Vegan Side Effects
I included this list of going vegan side effects because I want you to be aware of what you might experience during this process. You might not experience any of them, but it's always better to be prepared.
- Cravings - You might wake up one day with a strong craving for meat or dairy. It can be difficult to resist but you can fight it by eating a vegan substitute (like a vegan burger or vegan cheese) to satisfy your craving. Eventually, these cravings will go away.
- Low Energy - If you feel tired or like you have less energy than you used to, go to your doctor and report your symptoms. They might order a blood test (specifically request that they check your B12 and vitamin D levels). You could be deficient (like I was in vitamin D) and you'll need to take additional supplements to boost your levels.
- Gas and Bloating - If you're not used to eating a lot of high-fiber beans or cruciferous vegetables (like cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower), then you might find yourself feeling more gassy than normal. There are so many factors that could be causing this issue like not drinking enough water or swallowing air while you're chewing. You can learn more about what causes gas and possible solutions, here.
- More Bowel Movements - Since you're probably consuming more fiber now than you did on the SAD (Standard American Diet), you'll likely be going #2 more often. The actual number of times per day will vary by person, but, at least from my own experience, there is a definite increase.
- Weight Loss - Plants are lower in calories so you may find yourself needing to consume more if you find yourself losing weight. This happened to me in the beginning, so I had to add extra calorie-rich foods into my diet to get back to the weight where I felt the most comfortable.
- Weight Gain - If you're a junk food vegan, you might find yourself slowly gaining weight. Try to work more WFPB options into your diet and less processed food to find a healthy balance that works for you.
- Feeling Isolated - You might feel alone or isolated from your friends and family if they don't support your new vegan lifestyle. If you don't know anyone else that is vegan, you should check out vegan Facebook groups (that I linked to earlier in the post) so you can talk to like-minded people and make new vegan friends online!
Going Vegan to Lose Weight
The problem with going vegan to lose weight is that you might not stick to it long term after you initially lose weight. Veganism isn't a diet that you follow for a few weeks to lose 5 pounds, it's a lifestyle.
However, if losing weight is the goal that gets you to go vegan initially and then you stick to it long term, that's great! If this is your "reason", then you might find the following resources to be helpful.
- 27 Delicious Vegan Keto Recipes for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner
- 21 Low-Carb Vegan Recipes that Will Fill You Up!
What if You Have a Setback?
It's very possible that you may have a set back where you eat something that is not vegan on accident or on purpose. You might have a moment of weakness where you give in to a craving.
It happens and while it's not ideal, it doesn't mean that you should give up or that you're back at square one. Don't be too hard on yourself, it happens to the best of us.
After the incident, think about why and how it happened. Try to avoid those triggers and putting yourself in that situation again in the future. Forget about it and move on. Don't let it eat at you and don't give up!
Final Thoughts About Veganism
I thought it would be helpful and beneficial to you if I put everything that I've learned about the pros and cons of veganism into this guide so it won't take you as long to learn as it took me. Of course, there's a lot that I still don't know about being vegan and new vegan products are coming out every day that I want to try, but this is a good place to start.
If you're feeling overwhelmed after reading this comprehensive guide to veganism, I get it. It's a lot of information to take in and it seems like there's a lot that you have to change in your life.
Keep in mind that it took me almost 5 years to learn all of this information and to make all of these changes. I didn't just wake up one morning and decide to go vegan overnight and then find replacements for all of my favorite products and recipes the very next day.
It was a slow process and it took me years to veganize all of my favorite recipes and to find the best vegan food products and cruelty-free personal care items that I'm happy with.
Is the effort worth it? Yes, 100%! There are so many pros to veganism that I would never go back to not being vegan.
Remember, try to transition to becoming vegan at your own pace, figure our your reason, do the research, try new recipes, and enjoy your new compassion-filled life. You're going to love it! I hope that this guide helps you learn how to start being vegan! You got this!!
If you have any questions or thoughts about veganism, please leave me a comment below, message me on Instagram, or email me! I'd love to chat with you and help if I can.