Vegan for beginners: the unofficial guide to going entirely plant-based

Going vegan for beginners can seem like a huge life change, but it doesn't have to be. Here's what you need to know!

Green vegan breakfast meal in bowl with spinach, arugula, avocado, seeds and sprouts. Girl in leggings holding plate with hands visible, vegan for beginners
(Image credit: Getty)

Going vegan for beginners can seem like a big, daunting lifestyle overhaul at first, but that doesn't have to be the case at all. Many people may be interested in becoming vegan but are still uncertain about what exactly it means.

One major vegan faux pax: people within the vegan community probably find it frustrating when others mislabel them as vegetarians. A major difference? People who are vegan don't eat anything that comes from animals, refraining not just from meat but all animal byproducts including dairy, eggs, and even honey.

Removing all animal byproducts from one's diet might seem intimidating at first or lead to nutritional concerns, with people trying to figure out which vegan foods are high in protein.

Technically speaking, people who embrace veganism in all of its glory also avoid any type of clothing and entertainment that includes and exploits animals. (Only faux fur here, people!) The University of New Hampshire has put together a simple guide that the public can reference when differentiating the differences between adopting a vegetarian and a vegan diet.

Though it may seem like a big shift for some, finding out more about the perks that come with being vegan might just make the switch over seem that much easier. Here is everything you need to know about going vegan for beginners.

Vegan meal. Chickpea veggie burger with fresh vegetables on rustic cutting board

(Image credit: Getty)

Vegan for beginners: What are the benefits?

Following a vegan diet comes with a ton of benefits. With all of those fresh, organic ingredients, veganism promotes healthy weight loss. Recipes and meals using vegan items will naturally reduce cholesterol levels, which decreases one's chances of heart disease.

Studies have also shown that veganism is an excellent tool to combat the chances of certain cancers. On top of all of that, people who live with diabetes are able to get a much better handle on blood sugar levels when they make a switch to veganism. And, on the surface level, there is a tremendous amount of evidence that suggests embracing a vegan diet will ultimately improve the appearance and health of the skin

Aside from health benefits, many vegans have shared that the diet and lifestyle encourage and promote compassion. It allows people to be more mindful of their own health as well as of the environment, the planet, and all of its inhabitants. As a community, striving to preserve natural resources is always the more ideal situation.

Plus, think of all the new and exciting snacks and dishes that will come with exploring a vegan menu!

Cropped shot of young Asian woman coming home from grocery shopping, unpacking and organizing fresh and healthy organic fruits and veggies from a reusable bag to a rattan basket on the table. Responsible shopping, zero waste, sustainable lifestyle concept

(Image credit: Getty)

What are some steps to take to switch to veganism? 

Once people have a better understanding of what veganism actually is and all of the benefits that come with it, they might be wondering about what steps they can take to begin the vegan for beginners' journey for themselves. 

As many professionals in the vegan culinary industry will say, planning is key. Talk to the people in your life and ask them for support and assistance if that is what you are seeking. Rush University Medical Center has shared one of the best pieces of advice when it comes to this lifestyle decision: "Veganism doesn't have to be all or nothing. By creating your own roadmap and being realistic about what you want to achieve, you'll be more satisfied with making the change." This can be an extremely helpful mindset to embrace when preparing to make this change. 

Another idea is turning to social media for inspiration. Some people might be surprised at the amount of success vegan cooks and foodies have on platforms such as Instagram. (We love Tabitha Brown—like so, like that!) Finding inspiration to live a vegan life will make each step, hopefully, a little easier and a little more meaningful. 

Delicious summer vegan meal, cooking healthy green beans salad with grilled tofu, fresh colorful mix cherry tomatoes, thyme herbs and lemon zest served in rural cast iron skillet, wooden forks, top view

(Image credit: Getty)

What recipes should vegan beginners try?

A key step to going vegan for beginners is to find some plant-based recipes that will get you excited. The Ordinary Vegan is an excellent place to start looking for inspiration and recipes. Nancy Montuori is the face behind the source that so many people have turned to over the past few years. The Velvety Red Lentil Soup with Cherry Tomatoes & Shredded Coconut and the Cauliflower Steaks with Pear Curry Chutney capture Montuori's passion and talents. Best Home Recipes is another awesome platform that has put together some super fun and creative vegan recipes, like showing readers how to make their very own vegan ice cream

If doing things digitally isn't your jam, no need to worry. Montuori has published an amazing book called The Easy 5 Ingredient Vegan Cookbook: 100 Healthy Plant Based Recipes. It's a great investment for any vegan but especially for people who are still learning about how to master a plant-based diet. 

Deciding to switch to a plant-focused diet is an excellent lifestyle choice. However, be sure that your body is still getting all the supplements it needs. With a little planning, along with a lot of inspiration and creativity, anyone can create a way of eating and living that fulfills you inside and out.

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