There are probably as many "How I went vegan" stories as there are people who follow a vegan diet and/or vegan lifestyle. As many as there are definitions or veganism. So what is the best way to go vegan?
Why Every "How I Went Vegan" Story Is Different
Everyone has a different starting point - maybe one person has already been vegetarian for a while while another person is starting from an omnivore diet. Everyone has different needs. Different food allergies. Maybe one person has a gluten intolerance. This will make this persons journey completely different to someone who is lactose intolerant and has already naturally cut out dairy in their diet.
People have different favorite foods they can't live without (or think they can't live without). For me it might be ricotta cheese. For someone else it might be bacon. Or pancakes. Or lasagna. Or chicken wings. Some foods are easy to veganize, others not so much.
It is also completely natural that everyone has different foods they absolutely can't stand. At all. Although that might change over time and with trying new things, it still influences how one way of going vegan might work for you while another won't. I personally really love chickpeas and anything made with it, so chickpeas quickly became a staple in my diet and an important source of plant protein. For someone who doesn't like chickpeas so much, this might look totally different.
I personally also feel that your reason for going vegan will significantly influence your journey of going vegan. When I went vegan, I didn't really make that ethical connection straight away. It was always in the back of my mind somehow, but it only really "clicked" after a couple of months (and watching a lot of documentaries). So for me, transitioning slowly was completely fine. But I think had I made that connection earlier, I would have preferred a more drastic change. Simply because it would've broken my heart if I had continued eating animal products, even if it were just small amounts.
Should You Copy Someone Else's Approach?
So, you see, it is not so much about copying someone elses steps to going vegan or finding the perfect way to go vegan. It is really more about finding out what works for you and discovering a way that is perfect for you.
I still think it can be valuable to look to others for inspiration. Maybe there's a particular change that someone made that really resonates with you. Or a specific struggle that someone went through you are experiencing yourself and can learn from them. Or simply having a role model for motivation can be a huge help. And also, I just really enjoy reading up on fellow vegans' stories, discovering the similarities, but also the differences.
What I encourage you to keep in mind when learning about how someone else went vegan, is: don't compare yourself. Don't feel like you should be doing something differently just because someone else did. Everyone is different. Everyone has a different way of dealing with and accepting change. Maybe you're totally fine with going cold turkey (although I don't quite know how to feel about using this idiom in this context). Or maybe you need a little bit more time to adjust and that is totally fine, too.
What Is The Best Way To Go Vegan?
So, with all that being said, I still think there is a best way to go vegan. Yes, yes, I know what youre thinking. Didn't she just explain at length how there is no single perfect way? And you're right. And that's exactly the point.
I think the best way to go vegan is to listen to yourself and find out what works for you. Find out what doesn't work for you. Take inspiration from others. Take advice from others. But don't take a pattern and try to force it onto your diet and your lifestyle. Instead, make it your own.
Maybe these questions and thoughts will help you figure out what's right for you:
- What does your current diet look like? What is your favorite food? Your favorite meal? What do you really enjoy eating? Maybe you can find a way to make it vegan and it'll be your new favorite thing. Or maybe you enjoy it so much, it'll be that last thing you'll veganize. That's also okay.
- Are there certain foods that your body doesn't like? Or do you have any food allergies? If they are staples in a vegan diet, try and find substitutes. Like sunflower seed butter instead of nut butters.
- What is your reason for going vegan? What's your motivation? How might that change your approach to going vegan?
- Where you live, is it easy to find vegan food in restaurants and on-the-go? Or do you need to put a little bit more effort into planning? Maybe being vegan while eating out will be the last thing you change and instead, focus on the meals you cook yourself.
- Do you enjoy cooking and incorporating new ingredients into your daily meals? Or maybe you are just starting out with cooking meals for yourself. Then I'd look out for easy recipes with few ingredients that only take 15-20 minutes to cook.
Continue with part 2 of this series: How I Went Vegan.