How can I move toward a vegan diet?

Kathy Freston
Nutrition & Dietetics
Showing people who are trying to move toward a plant-based diet that they can still eat their favorite comfort foods is an important way to break down barriers and resistance to a new way of eating. Once the mind opens, it continues to expand. For many people, starting out on transitional foods like vegan meats, cheeses, and milks is a first, fantastic step, and they'll likely later incorporate more "real foods" like unprocessed grains, beans, vegetables, and fruits into their diet.
Start by adding in more produce to meals. Find some interesting vegetable/legume/grain based dishes and add them to your meals. Plant milks are great substitutes for cow's milk in many dishes. You can choose from soymilk, ricemilk, hempmilk, almondmilk, oatmilk among others. Treat your meat as a condiment, let it be a small part of your meal, with the veggies and grains as focal points. 
Vandana  R. Sheth
Nutrition & Dietetics
Tips to transition to a vegan diet:

You can do this transition in stages by starting with a few meatless meals/week and gradually easing the animal products out of your diet OR do it all at once. Often, it is easier for people to start by understanding the basics of a healthy vegetarian diet. Consider purchasing books about vegetarian nutrition and recipes to assist you through this process. A registered dietitian specializing in vegetarian nutrition would be a good resource to assess your individual needs and ensure that you are making healthy choices while meeting your nutritional needs.

Start incorporating more whole grains, fruits, vegetables, plant-based proteins such as beans, lentils, tofu in your diet.
Replace the animal protein in your favorite meals for plant protein. A few simple changes could include --
  • Crumbled tofu or ground “soy” meat in place of ground meat in your tacos or meat sauce
  • Tofu in place of meat in stir-fry style entrees
  • Beans in place of chicken in soups
  • Vegetable broth in place of chicken/beef broth
  • Veggie burgers in place of meat burgers
Be creative -- explore ethnic food such as Chinese, Indian food, Mediterranean, Thai, etc. to find more vegetarian options.

Pay attention to nutrition facts labels.

Ensure that you are getting a variety of foods in your diet to adequately meet your nutritional needs. You might need a vitamin B12 supplement if you are on a strictly vegetarian (vegan) diet.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.