When I became vegan, I had already been vegetarian/pescetarian, meaning I ate no red meat or chicken, but did occasionally eat fish and dairy. Making the change was rather effortless. But for those unable to quit “cold turkey”, there are plenty of ways to change without having the cravings or withdrawals of animal products.
Meat is going to be the least missed. Watch enough videos of where your food comes from and if you have any heart at all, this will disgust you to the point that you will never be able to walk past the meat isle in the supermarket without it turning your stomach. If seeing repeated images of slaughtered animals, blood, horror and pain don’t do anything to you, but you really want to go vegan there are tons of possibilities.
1.) You can start to substitute little bits at a time or make vegan for what you eat now.
Faux chicken, faux beef, faux bacon, faux fish: anything can be made in a “fake meat” version. And your brain will not know the difference. By the time your faux meat goes onto a sandwich with lettuce, tomato and bread, you will think that it’s 100% normal.
Cheese is the hardest habit to break. Dairy products are addictive for a particular reason. In dairy, all milk, cheese, butter, ice cream etc, there are chemicals that are released into our brain. These chemicals or opiates are the result of the breaking up of casein, a milk protein. As they enter our bloodstream and to our brain we feel more calm, happy, tranquil. This happens on a subconscious level. So for many people they feel dairy “cravings”. Just like alcohol or other drugs, dairy becomes addictive. Cheese is the hardest to break because the Cheese contains far more casein than other dairy products do. As milk is turned into cheese, most of its water, whey proteins, and lactose sugar are removed, leaving behind concentrated casein and fat.
When we are young, this chemical serves us to help us relax and make a bond with our mother while nursing, however after 6 months we no longer need it. Learning exactly why this happens and why it is not necessary, in fact is actually harmful to our bodies, will help to wean ourselves from this habit.
There are also plenty of cheese substitutes now available. Or you can make your own vegan nut cheese!
2.) Visit different health food stores to experiment with new vegan foods. Many supermarkets have now added a “health” section where you can find tofu, natural foods, some fake meats or cheese and more. The demand is there. Ask around for the natural or vegetarian/vegan foods in the supermarket. The best choice would be the natural foods, bio-markets or in Europe now there are 100% Vegan stores around, one in Germany called Veganz, soon to be open in Italy. It carries over 1600 Vegan only products, absolutely no animal products anywhere!
3.) Start to learn your food labels. Breads, cookies, sauces, cakes, crackers, and more can and most likely have some kind of animal byproducts. Start to learn what the ingredients mean and where they come from. You would be suprised! Check also your soaps, shampoos, deodorants, detergents, etc.
4.) Go to a vegan potluck! Oh yes, vegan potluck. Here you will have the privilege of tasting many different vegan dishes and learning how to make them from the people that brought the food! Many vegans are happy to share their recipes with others 🙂 Vegan meetups and potlucks can be easily found anywhere, just do an internet search for something in your city.
5.) Stick with whole foods. If you can grab it off a plant and eat it raw, you will be OK. Many vegans claim to be healthy, but they still ingest chemicals through the form of processed vegan pizzas, vegan energy bars, vegan take out food, etc. Vegan does not equal healthy if you still eat chemically processed or “manmade” foods.
Stick to your decision! You might have friends or family that mock you or do not understand your decision. This is OK. First off, if they are your real friends or family, they are not going to ridicule you for making a decision different than them. If someone persists and asks why you made the vegan choice you can respond with several different answers. Maybe you simply want less suffering in the world, or maybe you want to make a better health choice. Or just tell them your body is not a graveyard. This will usually keep them from asking again. You can ask them what their reasons for eating meat are. I have not found anyone yet that had a legitimate reason for needing meat in their diet.