Vegan How To: Part 1 (How To Make The Transition)

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{Catching up? See the Introduction, Part 1: Making the transition (this post), Part 2: Replacing Dairy Milk, Part 3: Homemade Oat Milk, Part 4: Homemade Almond Milk, Part 5:  Ten Tips for eating out as a vegan}

After seeing your comments and emails pour in on Monday and Tuesday, I’m so thankful I took the plunge with my new Vegan How To series. What a great way to kick off 2013. We’re already starting conversations about important topics. While I can’t promise to have answers to all your questions, I can share my experiences with you and encourage you to do the same. There are many things we can learn from each other so let’s talk, share, and get inspired!

Today’s topic is about making the transition to a vegan diet. What I’ve written below is what has worked for me, so take this with a grain of salt – everyone’s experience will be different (and I’d love you to share yours below!). It’s also worth repeating that I’m not a nutrition/health professional and my opinions/experiences should not be substituted for medical advice. Always consult your doc before making any diet/lifestyle changes.

How I made the transition to a vegan diet (in a somewhat condensed nutshell, but not really because I’m chatty):

1. Slow and Steady

I’ve never been the type of person who rushes into anything. Eric and I dated for 8 years before we got hitched. I’m turning 30 this year and I don’t feel close to being ready for motherhood. It took me a year to finally start this how-to series. You get the point. It doesn’t help that Eric is the exact. same. way. We can barely decide what laundry detergent to buy let alone make major life decisions. On the bright side, the decisions I do make are often long-lasting and my transition to a vegan diet was no different. I was in recovery for an eating disorder and looking to make some positive changes to my diet. After all, I had lived off of processed, fat-free, artificially-sweetened diet foods for years and I knew it was taking a toll on my health. I suffered from IBS and other digestive issues, so per my doc’s suggestions I experimented with reducing my consumption of meat and dairy to see if it would make a difference. When I started to shift away from all that dairy I was eating, I felt better, my skin started to clear up, and many of my digestive issues decreased. I was never a huge meat eater to begin with, so that part wasn’t as difficult for me, although it was still a challenge. Overtime, I really had no reason to go back to my old diet, even though giving up certain foods like cheese proved to be very difficult (more on this in a future post). When I’m asked what worked for me, I always say baby steps. Yes, it’s a cliché, but small changes really add up over time!

This isn’t to say that going cold-turkey won’t work for you – many people go cold-turkey with diet/lifestyle changes and are successful with it.  That just wasn’t my approach. I think it comes down to your personality and what you think will work best for you.

2. Stock your pantry

A well-stocked pantry is one of the keys to success, especially in the beginning. We need options and fuel! And by options and fuel, I don’t mean the dry lettuce and tomato salads that restaurants often try to entice me with. How about fresh produce, legumes, herbs/spices, quinoa, rolled oats, edamame, and almond milk to name a few. I wrote a post a while ago called “My Vegan Pantry“, listing the most common foods I have stocked in my cupboards from dried beans to vinegar and everything in between. I do need to update the post, but I still hope it’s helpful for you. Keep in mind that some of the items are my baking ingredients and not what I would consider “necessities” by any means.

IMG 1981 thumb   Vegan How To: Part 1 (How To Make The Transition)

When I first made the transition I stocked my fridge with mock meat and dairy products like Tofurkey slices, vegan sour cream, and TVP crumbles. Yes, if you go back in time on my blog, you might come across the odd Tofurkey sandwich! The truth is, I had no idea how to eat a fulfilling, vibrant, and healthy diet on my own without these substitution foods. I wasn’t wrong for eating them, I just didn’t have all of the knowledge I needed at the time. I didn’t feel great eating these products, or at least, I didn’t feel as great as I did without them. Eventually, I discovered how to thrive on a vegan diet without relying on them, but I do recognize they were helpful for me in the early stages.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that a big bowl of lentils and tomato sauce was much more satisfying than mock deli meat from a box. Once I made this connection, it got easier and easier.

3. Be your own teacher

If you think that I grew up learning to cook and bake, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Four years ago, I had no idea how to cook dry lentils or so much as roast a batch of root vegetables. I could barely dice an onion for the life of me! This meant I had to teach myself how to prepare almost all of the foods I now enjoy. I did a lot of reading, Googling, watching cooking shows, devouring cookbooks, and searching You Tube for how-to videos. Little did I know, this girl who used to survive on diet foods would soon find a passion in food and cooking like never before. So can you.

Along the same lines, it’s good to research the nutritional aspects of a vegan diet. There are many books out there now with this information to help guide you. I also recommend checking out Forks Over Knives for an inspirational documentary on the benefits of a plant-based diet.

4. Focus on what you add, not take away

As I mentioned in my first post, I eventually learned that a vegan diet is really about what I add and not what I take away. The more I focused on all the new foods I was trying, I really didn’t feel like I was missing out at all. My diet used to be so limited and boring, lacking in colourful produce, and inspiration. I was pleasantly surprised by the wide variety of foods I can eat on a plant-based diet. If you are feeling stuck in a rut, challenge yourself to try one new food a week and pick a recipe to make with it. There are so many recipes and tutorials available online that make cooking new foods a breeze. Or better yet, start a food blog to document your new journey! Having accountability online is a great motivator and you get to meet other like-minded friends.

5. Don’t expect perfection

I have slipped up on my vegan diet just like many of you have. Guess what? We are human! My advice is to focus on all the amazing choices you’ve made to date instead of that time when you slipped up. No matter what kind of diet you eat, every time you chose plants over animals you are making a difference. For me, this journey has been easier and easier as the years go by. The cravings I once had are much, much less. Instead of craving the old foods, I now crave the new foods that I eat. It’s amazing how the taste buds can adapt when you give them a chance.

6. Get support

Find friends who want to take this journey with you. I didn’t know any vegans until I met many friends online through reading other blogs and going to meet ups. It’s important to have a support system. Join clubs, recipe groups, meet ups, and attend conferences. I’m going to my first vegan conference (Vida Vegan Con) in May and I’m so excited to meet new friends in this community.

7. Pack food

When I leave the house for long periods of time, I always pack snacks or meals with me. Whether it’s an afternoon out or a few days at the in laws, I plan ahead and bring food. You can always find a couple energy bars in the bottom of my purse on any given day! Most days I don’t need them, but I feel great knowing I have a healthy snack on me in case the hunger monster strikes.

Well, I could go on and on, but since this is already quite wordy I will pass it over to you!

What’s your approach when making a change – slow and steady or cold-turkey?

How did you make the transition to a vegan or vegetarian diet? What strategies worked for you?

Have you read any books or watched any movies that helped you with the transition?

Are you making changes to your diet right now? What are you doing to make the transition easier?

For Part 2, see Replacing Dairy Milk

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{ 209 comments… read them below or add one }

Kirsten Lee January 2, 2013

This is very inspiring! I have made many baby steps and it’s comforting nowing that you, and many others in the veg world transition slowly. I am not 100% there, but getting more comfortable and learning how to acknowledge my cravings. I always thought I was a sweets person, but I crave more savory foods. I first got introduced to vegan by the ‘plant based dietitian’ I then read The China Study, a must read! I am now reading some of Kathy Freston’s books.

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Liz January 2, 2013

Hi Angela:

I am doing more of the I Quit Sugar program with Sarah Wilson in Australia – a recipe book, of which YOU are a contributor . . I loved seeing that when I first started reading it! So, I while I am not vegan, I have been delving into more fresh, whole foods and am hoping to start up green monsters again. Your recipes have been a huge help to my parents, as my dad is going through chemo right now and this is the diet he has to be on. They have tried several of your recipes and loved them! For my husband and I, the creamy avocado pasta sauce is so, so good, but I have to say your chocolate torte and chocolate pudding have been the best. I’ve made both to rave reviews. The first time I saw the recipe for the chocolate pudding and made it, I read all your exclamation points and gushings over it and thought, seriously? This girl must be crazy – it can’t be that good or that authentic. Call me crazy :)

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Angela (Oh She Glows) January 2, 2013

hah you should see my posts before I do an “exclamation mark” edit. I guess I missed that post. hahh. Anyhow Im so happy you are enjoying the recipes, thanks for trying them!

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Tina January 2, 2013

Great tips, thank you! Looking forward to reading the rest of this series. My own transition to veganism happened gradually. I started out when I was fifteen, taking away red meat. Then over the years I also dropped chicken, fish, and at long last also dairy and eggs. Each time I took something away I did it as a sort of dare to myself; “let’s see if I can manage a month without this!”. I think that made it easier to overcome the mental barrier, to think that I could always go back to eating whatever I like and that this was not a permanent change. The thing is, I never went back to eating any of the things I took away after the trial periods were over! My final and hardest challenge was the transition from ovo-lacto-vegetarianism to veganism, and my challenge lasted for a whole year, to really give myself the chance to adapt. Now, over a year later, the thought of staying vegan is not nearly as intimidating as it seemed back then. Not at all, in fact. :)

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Ashleyy January 2, 2013

HO.LY CRAP.
thank you so much for sharing this! I am also in recovery from an eating disorder and in turning my attention to the quality versus quanity of my food (ie, less processed), and the nutritional content (fibre! protien! healthy fat!) vs CALORIES above all else, I am really hoping that this shift to vegetarian/sometimes vegan will help me develop a healthier, more positive attitude towards food.

I’ve been “vegetarian” for a month (but I’ve eaten meat in that time – i’m not interested in being hard on myself, nor am i interested in restricting foods I truly enjoy (like yogurt!), which I which i likely won’t go full-vegan).

anyway, I just wanted to thank you for this. My family is a bit worried about my decision to go vegetarian, due to me ED past. Its hard for me to explain that this is about a change for the BETTER.

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Megan January 3, 2013

I completely understand what you mean. I had an eating disorder several years ago as young teenager, and even when it was “over,” I struggled with stubborn remnants of it until 2010, when I became interested in being truly healthy. Honestly, learning what is truly good for one’s body, rather than just what everyone says looks good, is what cured me. I started with removing many processed foods, sugar, and high-fat animal products, with no initial intention of taking it very far. However, I’m almost entirely vegan now (I’ll occasionally eat yogurt or honey or eggs from free-ranging hens at the farm where I keep my horse). It happened gradually; I don’t think anyone can really predict how far they’ll want to go in the future. The important thing is to discipline yourself toward current goals.

My family still doesn’t really understand (my parents, anyway; my siblings are more open, especially my younger sister who is almost 17), but making delicious healthy food for them has helped them see some of the potential of truly good food. You can’t effectively argue someone over to your position on health. It makes people feel defensive and hostile. The best way that I’ve found is simply to live by my principles and let others see how good it is–you’ll affect them without even trying.

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Katrina Brush January 2, 2013

Love this series. I am constantly trying to take baby steps to improve my family’s health. I have found the more fruits, vegetables, raw nuts, and healthy grains I eat the less I want/crave heavy meats and sugars. It is a process to listen to your body and give it what it really needs to function properly. I love trying new foods and introducing them to my children, but even more I love listening to my children encourage each other and their friends to try new foods.

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Jack January 2, 2013

I think making gradually changes daily, weekly or monthly is the best way to go about making long term decisions. I’ve been vegetarian for a year and a half and am gradually making the decision to be vegan and gluten-free. Lucky for me, my future mother in law also went vegetarian to vegan for health reasons so I always have a good role model when I crave old foods. Also, we both LOVE cooking ( I just got more vegan cookbooks for Christmas) and it is something we can share together. Health is wealth! Can’t wait to order your new cookbook!

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Robin January 2, 2013

Angela, thanks for doing this series! On 12/23, I arbitrarily decided to start a “vegan experiment” just to see how I felt with it, exactly how difficult it would be (I am currently visiting my parents on winter break from school – well stocked with my mom’s faves like cheese, greek yogurt, and baked goods!), etc. Other than a couple slip-ups, I have been doing quite well with it. Like you, I ate little meat to begin with so that was not a very big challenge. I think I’m a cold turkey type of person, as I’m very type A and really take the plunge whenever I commit to something. I’m planning to sort of reflect after a month of this, to see how everything’s working out, specifically for protein, vitamin B12, iron, and keeping me well fueled for distance running. I certainly appreciate all your great recipes and advice, now that I am relying on some different foods than before to keep myself full!

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Melissa January 2, 2013

Robin, your journey sounds so very similar to mine. I too became a “snap vegan” over winter break from college. It was one of the best decisions I’ve made; however, I was really unhealthy with my approach. Rather than filling my body with unprocessed nutrition, I ate a ton of carbs and fake meat/cheese/anything-not-vegan to appease my appetite. I did cheat a bit, especially after eventful college parties and the drinking that is involved (lowered inhibition made me go gaga for cheese.) It takes a lot of research to be successful at veganism (but it is TOTALLY worth it.) After 6 months of being really unhealthy and a quasi-vegan, I learned how to treat my body. Today, I feel great and, with the help of Angela, I am able to eat almost any food that I’m craving… and not feel guilty about it. My advise is to avoid the pre-made meals and fake products as much as possible… although the beginning of the journey is when you crave them the most :/ While maybe not the best/most viable option for everyone, keeping track of what I ate using MyFitnessPal on my smartphone was the best way for me to ensure I was getting enough of what I needed. Best of luck to you!

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Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table January 2, 2013

Totally unrelated, but I love that you are 30 and not having babies. Sensitive subject after being harassed by my family all through the holidays. LOL!

Back on topic, I couldn’t agree more with the tip on packing your own food. I follow a strict diet in training, and I have no problems as long as I am prepared. Panic hunger is never a good thing!

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Kimberly January 2, 2013

My husband and I can totally relate with the being 30 and babies thing! Your not alone!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) January 2, 2013

Glad we’re not alone :)

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Nicci G January 2, 2013

Thank you for writing this series! I saw forks over knives in November and started doing 4 days vegan as my goal (dairy is my weakness on my ‘off days’). 2 months later i’m mostly vegetarian and 4-5 days vegan with very little issue.. If I had to do Cold Turkey, i’d likely quit but having a few ‘flex days’ is definitely helping my transition. One of your commenters yesterday talked about the Vegucated movie. I watched it last night on Netflix and wow… I don’t think I can eat meat again. The movie was brutally honest about factory scale farming. And even with Dairy, it’s shocking how inhumane the industry is. Really really sad. Cheers to you and your good work of spreading the benefits and tips for living a plant based life.

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Ashleyy January 2, 2013

“Vegucated” was the thing that got me started on vegatarian as well. My boyfriend was leery until he watched it with me…he is now going “mostly veggie” as well, although he says he will likley still eat meat “selectivley”

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Kimmy January 2, 2013

Great post Angela! I wish I would have had something like this when I decided to go vegan. I went cold turkey and found it a little tough, but persevered and glad I did.
Packing food is probably the best advice so you don’t go hungry when you’re out and get stuck with no veg-friendly options.
Best thing I ever found was cute snack-size things in health food stores (lara bars, kale chips), until I started making my own with a dehydrator. Best investment I ever made =)

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Lara January 2, 2013

Hi :)
first of all, thanks for this amazing series. I really love getting to know more about other vegans out there, even if they are completely different characters than I am. I do not have any vegan friends either, but some of my friends are vegetarians.
When I went vegan over a year ago, it was in september, it was hard for me. I did the cold-turkey thing because I had stomach pains for over 2 weeks. No doctor could tell me why, so I decided I would just cut everything out of my diet that could impact my health. At first I was on an almost raw, gluten-free, vegan diet and started to feel much better. As I was a vegetarian for 6 or 7 years for ethical reasons before I went vegan, I soon got hooked on all the aspects that are considered part of a vegan life: protection of animals, health benefits and so on..
I read some cookbooks (they are german, so you probably won’t read them anyways) and did A LOT of research on the internet. Today, I am completely convinced by my vegan lifestyle. I never look back and think “Oh, I would like to eat some cheese/whipped cream…” because I am extremely convinced by what I am doing. Meat and dairy products are slowly starting to gross me out, to be honest. I hope I will stay vegan forever.

Again, thanks for the great series. Maybe I’ll even meet msome new vegan blogger-friends through YOU! :)
Best wishes, Lara

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Deedee January 7, 2013

Would you share with us some of the cookbooks you liked? Usually I only find 2-3 really nice recipes per book… Vielen Dank :)

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Nicola January 2, 2013

Hi Angela,

I’ve been a long-time reader (but a seldom-commentor) and adore your blog. Indeed, you’ve been such an inspiration to me that I’ve gone and started my own blog. It’s still developing, but as evident in your post, life is often comprised of baby steps :)

My journey with food has also been somewhat tumultuous: IBS, celiac disease and various food allergies have seen me experiment with several different diets. I had never been much of a meat eater as a child and found myself naturally turning to vegetarianism as a teenager. But I too lived off of processed tofu-meats, pasta and cheese (this was before I developed celiac disease). When I was 21 I suffered a traumatic physical injury and that was what triggered the gluten and dairy intolerances. It took a lot of time and several elimination diets to determine what the dietatry issues were, but once we figured it out, life improved dramtically! Ironically, it was at this time when I developed my love and passion for food. I think we often don’t always pay attention to the relationship between what we put in our bodies and how we feel, both physically and mentally. Once I figured this out (duh!) food became fun again, not a daily battle. So does this answer any of your questions? I guess I had to go cold turkey with some things due to health issues. When I have a choice to make a change, I often ease my way in. I think the literature that has inspired me the most is blogs like yours, Sarah Britton’s “My New Roots”, and the cookbooks of both Ani Phyo and Celia Brooks Brown. Thanks for all your help and inspiration. Keep it coming :)

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Lina January 2, 2013

Great post! This statement resonated most with me because it’s so true: “every time you chose plants over animals you are making a difference.” Sometimes I have “perfectionist” tendencies, and it always helps to remind yourself that a little bit at a time goes a long way.

#7 is also a key thing for me. I don’t have kids either, yet I seem to pack “like a mom” … any purse or bag I own has at least one squished granola bar lying in the bottom of it ;)

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Elisabeth January 2, 2013

I am so thankful for this series! I started diet changes June of last year due to extreme pain, no energy, and horrible PMS. First it was just gluten free and as I was just wrapping my head around that and figuring out that I still wasn’t feeling great I found out I had to give up dairy, oats, meat, and peanuts. So it was kind of cold turkey for me…first I pouted…included in the pouting was stopping all cooking for about a month! My poor husband! I just had no idea what to eat…then I found this blog and some others and the Happy Herbivore cookbook in the library. Eating vegan has been amazing! I can easily adapt it to my food intolerences! I can easily add some meat for my family if I have to…and whats more it looks good, tastes good, and is actually stuff I want to eat!

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Sara January 2, 2013

What a perfect beginning for the series! I’m so glad to hear it has been a journey for you as well. I’m the same way, I tend to stick with things better if I slowly adapt instead of plunging in. I also totally agree that slipping up does not mean you’re a failure and what is more important is every single time you choose plant over animal you are making a difference that counts! Love your blog, you’ve inspired me in so many ways, especially having a similar background and being Canadian! I started my own blog finally after reading yours for so long and it’s true that writing about the changes you want to make creates that sense of accountability and the push to get it done!

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Sharla January 2, 2013

I have been gradually moving toward vegan for a few years now, but never quite 100%. Baby steps are the way to go with ANY change that I want to be lasting. This post is perfect timing for me as I have learned so much about processed foods in the last year and am really making an effort at a more clean/whole approach to eating now. Can’t wait to see all your tips!!

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Jennifer January 2, 2013

I gradually transitioned to a whole foods, plant-based diet, and feel like I am still in the process of it. It’s a learning process each week to be sure! I strongly feel that eating this way is a process of adding foods, rather than subtracting, like you mentioned above Angela. I switched as I wanted to make a major dietary change for my 35th bday – this is also referred to as the 35 project ’round my house. My goal initially was to have an 80/20 intake of plant-based/non plant based foods.

I had read several books in the years leading up to the change. Most recently, Isa Chandra Moscowitz’s “Appetite for Reduction” was pivotal in planning meals (the bowl approach changed my work lunch packing big time!) I intentionally took a slow approach, as I knew if I tried to go cold turkey I would likely fail or have health issues like anemia due to lack of macronutrient balance. I also needed to give my family some time to mentally adjust. Reading and finding new blogs also helped immensely, as it now only gave me recipe ideas but in that I knew I was not alone. Angela, I have made many recipes of yours, and eagerly await your cookbook publication. Thank you for making this easy for others! I am incredibly grateful to you. Green monsters forever!!

What I have realized over the holidays when I ate (many!) foods that fell outside of a whole foods, plant-based dietary intake, is that I really like how I feel when I eat closer to 100% plant-based, and that I want to have fewer and fewer slip-ups, cheats, whatever you may call them. I am now comfortable with wanting to get closer to that 100% mark, and it seems to be the key to that is, #1, being prepared (not only #7 above, but planning meals including snacks) and #2…this is a tough one…how to say no when foods outside my desired dietary intake are offered. Or how to resist them at parties! Sometimes you can’t always bring your own (most of the time yes, but there’s always that one where it’s not an option, or doesn’t work out and you’re starving…gets back to #1 I guess then :)

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Houston January 2, 2013

I went Vegan overnight. The most important few things for me was the knowledge of how to cook grains (rice and later quinoa), having a stacked pantry so I always have something to eat, and MOST IMPORTANTLY planning ahead. Packing food and planning ahead has been a major help when traveling or being out all day because you never know if you will have a Vegan option to choose from. I too experienced a broadening of my “food horizons” after going Vegan and havn’t missed the old foods that I used to eat. I live with my parents and have gotten really good at timing my dinner so that I can still eat with my family, so you can be Vegan in an omni household and manage just fine. Thanks for the awesome post in what is going to be an awesome series!

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Kim January 2, 2013

This blog series is a great idea! Thank you for putting it together. I’m not vegan or vegetarian (yet), but my favorite blogs are related to this lifestyle and I’m convinced it’s the way to go. But here’s my biggest problem: living with a man who will never go this route with me. I love to cook, and at times have made two pots of chili – one vegan and one with meat, but I can’t do that every day.

Anyway, I’m on board and looking forward!

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Sarah January 3, 2013

Kim, I can sympathize with your situation about your man. I was vegetarian for 8 years (since Junior High), then between university meal hall and no kitchen in residence, there were so few choices aside from salad that I slipped back into eating some meat even though I’d never really enjoyed it.

In the 5 years I’ve been with my husband, who grew up a meat-and-potatoes kind of guy, I’d slowly been able to at least get him to cut back on meat since I was always making “weird” meatless foods and missed being a vegetarian. If it weren’t for him, I would have dropped meat instantly. And bless his heart, he always tried and liked what I made, but still loved a good steak just as much.

I’ve had issues with dairy the past few years and was trying to cut back, but again, I was still buying meat/dairy (mostly for him). This summer if I had mentioned to him we should try the “vegan thing” he would have probably thought I was crazy. I HAD been thinking about it for a while, but like you, thought I could never get him on board. I tested the waters casually by mentioning I had heard about Forks Over Knives and wanted to see what it was all about (no pressure), and he agreed to watch it with me “out of curiosity”. Maybe I just lucked out, but at the end of the movie he said, “Let’s do it.” I thought he was bluffing, but that night we cleared out the fridge/freezer of all meat/dairy and called up our parents to take it off our hands–at warp speed, before we could change our minds, haha.

We decided to that we’d try being vegan at home, but cut ourselves some slack for special occasions (eating out) and holidays (Thanksgiving and Christmas, so far) if we REALLY wanted. He’s cheated more than I have, but I would never complain since I’m still kind of in shock he was so willing in the first place. I don’t know if your partner would be quite as willing, but sometimes it IS easier for them to hear it from an outside source, like a documentary, so they feel like it was their decision. I felt that the nagging approach may have just backfired.

The best part of it all is that he now says he PREFERS my non-meat/dairy alternatives to what we used to eat. My biggest weapons for meat-conversion have been tofu-free/unprocessed meat-alternatives, like killer veggie burger with tons of toppings, Sloppy Joes (we call them Sloppy Jills), chili, and tacos, all with brown lentils (among other things) which I find have a similar texture to ground beef (tiny and hearty) but don’t taste like cardboard the way TVP does. In baking, chia eggs have yet to fail… can’t say the same for flax eggs. Vegenaise is amazing for dropping mayo. As for cheese/dairy, we use a lot of avocado/guacamole for creaminess in/on things like tacos, hummus on sandwiches/wraps, Daiya cheese has really grown on us, and Angela’s Lemon Basil Cheeze sauce is a favourite as well for things like pasta and as a pizza topping. I will admit that if goat’s cheese goes on sale I still buy it because it’s the one kind of dairy product that never upset my stomach in small doses, and until we don’t feel the need to cheat anymore that will be my one occasional vice at home.

We’re still experimenting and learning, and we do still get into ruts when we feel like we’re missing out. I think it’s important to go easy on yourself if you’re considering going veggie/vegan; if you can convince your man to first expand his horizons (sorry for the cliche) with some different foods, then maybe consider dropping meat gradually, then move on to no eggs or dairy, you’ll probably have better luck then jumping right into vegan. I hope you have the same luck we did, but if not, keep at least pushing yourself, and he may eventually come around and try YOUR chili and even prefer it :) Good luck to you both! Hopefully this was more helpful to read than it was exhausting ;)

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Kim January 3, 2013

Sarah, I am so touched that you took the time to respond with all of your wonderful suggestions! I’m going to print your message out for reference…

After reading some of the other comments above, I too thought it would be a good idea to watch Forks Over Knives, hopefully together. How that works out will be telling as far as how the rest of this ‘partnership’ may go. He can be quite stubborn. It sounds like your husband is a wonderful man and I envy your comments written in the “we”. ;-)

Thank you again so much!

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Sarah January 3, 2013

You’re welcome! I obviously tend to get carried away when I explain things, but I’m glad it was helpful to you, and hopefully to others. Best of luck again!

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Kristin January 2, 2013

My vegan journey started cold turkey when I realised that my health had gotten so bad (extremely obese with high blood pressure in my early 20′s) that if I didn’t do something I would probably not see 30. I started with Eat to Live and that was five very happy and content vegan years ago! My blood pressure is now normal, I’ve lost almost 60kg and I’m about to run my first marathon.
I’m so thankful to you and your blog for teaching me how to cook with all of the new and exciting ingredients I’d never even heard of in my meat eating days. I’ve always loved to cook but these days it’s even better :) And now with this new series you are doing you will be helping even more people make this amazing change to their life! You are truly inspirational Angela!
Thank you again.
- Kristin

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Averie @ Averie Cooks January 2, 2013

I love that your journey to this path was a slow, conscious, and deliberate one rather than just trying the latest and next greatest thing and bouncing around from this to that and back to something else per your 1. in that you don’t rush into things. I have to say on some things I DO rush into and make uber-snap decisions. Sometimes that works out for me, sometimes no so much. LOL

Can’t wait to see how this series unfolds!

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Stephen@HappyHeart January 2, 2013

I feel like I’m reading my own story! I suffered from so many digestive issues, recovering from about 10 years worth of anorexia, bulimia and binge eating at different times. Turning vegan helped me fall back in love with food again, introduce balance and variety and get over my fear of gaining weight. Thanks for sharing your story, such an inspiration!

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Abby @ The Frosted Vegan January 2, 2013

Angela, I love this series! I went vegan when my dad decided to a year ago, and I will NEVER look back. I am glad you wrote honestly and openly about the slip ups and process it takes, but I can notice such a difference when I don’t eat the way I would like to (after I just ate a handful of jellybeans, whoops). You are such an inspiration to me and I love showing others that eating vegan is not “weird” or “hippie” and can be much easier than people think. Keep doing what you’re doing girl!

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Shel@PeachyPalate January 2, 2013

The above comment is from me! I logged on to Stephen’s computer!!! :)

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Shannan January 2, 2013

When I went vegetarian I tried to do it slowly, but it just didn’t work. I wanted to see if I could do it before announcing to anyone that I was doing it. (Even to my then boyfriend, now husband!) It was hard not having any sort of accountability, especially when going out to eat. Since no one knew I was trying to go vegetarian, it was much easier just to order chicken. In fact, if I tried not ordering a meat product I would get weird questions about it.

Thankfully, Lent came around and I was able to tell all of my family and friends that I was giving up meat for it. Within a few weeks most had figured out that I wasn’t going to be eating meat again after Easter. It gave me a great way to ease everyone into the transition I was making. Plus, I finally had some accountability!

Looking forward to this series!!

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Nicole January 8, 2013

I used the same “excuse” almost a year ago… gave up meat for Lent and have no intentions of going back. I’ve been avoiding dairy & eggs over this past year, as well. Maybe this Lent I will see how I do going vegan all the way.

Looking forward to this series, too : )

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Alice in NYC January 2, 2013

I am SO glad you started this how to series! My husband and I went vegan last Summer, cold turkey (I’d been vegetarian for ~5 yrs but my husband ate meat daily), after watching Forks over Knives. It’s been challenging and thrilling and educational, and we both committed to keep it up in 2013. We have been leaning on some substitution foods that I’d like to move away from, so I’m really looking forward to following along on your how-to guide and really being smart about eating rather than relying on some “lazy” vegan foods. I’m also turning 30 this year and look forward to being a healthy, happy (and hot, why not? :)) vegan!!

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Christine January 2, 2013

I’m more cold turkey but then I often fall off the wagon because I was too hasty in my decisions. I am trying to learn to take more time to decide things and make changes in my life.

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Aimee January 8, 2013

Angela: Thank you for your time and efforts spent sharing with us all. I am so glad to have come across your page during my journey. It has helped me to know that I am not alone in my struggles, that I am only human and that I can successfully meet the challenges that lay ahead. I have decided to change my eating because of health issues/inherited illnesses and nutritional deficiencies. I am hoping to make a difference in my health before it is too late. Here is where I am at in my journey.

In the past I have always approached things “Cold-Turkey” but too, fell “off the wagon” a short time later then became discouraged at my efforts. This time, I am making my changes slowly. Not in any particular or orderly fashion. But just increasing my fruit and veggie intake making them 80 percent my diet. Increasing my legume consumption to a daily intake and decreasing both my dairy and meat consumption. I used to over eat meat proteins since I have always contended with “low-blood sugar” issues. Eat to Live by Joel Fuhrman made sense and convinced me to change this.

Now I am fine without meat though on occasion I still allow myself to eat it. I know eventually, I will become full vegan. I changed my milk years ago to rice and/or almond. Real butter and Cheese is the hardest thing for me to give up completely right now. Butter because I just love the flavor and question the ingredients in the alternatives. I have tried several replacements for cheese (including Dyia) and just can’t seem to enjoy them. I can taste the nutritional yeast too much and don’t care for the flavor. My next venture is to find a homemade recipe that might just satisfy as a cheesy replacement.

I have yet more reading to do, as I am still on my learning curve and loving it!

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Leah January 2, 2013

Angela I’m so happy you decided to do this series. I think it will be great for me!

I began venturing into vegan foods after I picked up “The Kind Diet”. This was a couple of years ago when I was living with my mom. We actually ended up loving it! Once we stopped thinking in terms of restriction, it became a lot of fun. We tried tons of new foods, and my digestive issues were getting better without the OTC drugs I’d been on for a long time (also – a huge shout out to unfiltered apple cider vinegar for that one!).

Unfortunately I fell off the vegan wagon and haven’t found the encouragement to get back on. Part of it was moving out of my mom’s house, and the other part was laziness (boo). But now I’m ready to try again, and my roommate/partner of 2 years is super encouraging! I think this series of yours is exactly what I need – I’ll be stocking my pantry this week :)

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Kerry January 2, 2013

Thank you so much for this series! I went completely vegan about 4 months ago, and I feel great! I was vegetarian for most of my life, but because of pressure from my friends and family, I did go back to eating meat for a few months about a year ago. I felt terrible, so I cut out meat again (except fish) and then finally decided to go completely vegan. I made the transition from pescetarian to vegan overnight, and it was really easy. Fish really creeped me out to begin with, so that was easy to give up. I never liked cheese or eggs very much, and with all the great milk substitutes available, I never felt like I was missing anything. Baking has been a little bit of a challenge, but I’ m still learning! Your blog has been a great help and inspiration to me, and I don’t know what I’d do without your recipes! Thank you for everything.

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Anele @ Success Along the Weigh January 2, 2013

I’m so excited for this series and I’m not even vegan, just know that things have to be tweaked here and there and you’ve always given great tips/recipes. So just more awesome from you, missy! Thanks, I’m sure it’s a time consuming but rewarding series to put together!

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Jil @ Big City, Lil Kitchen January 2, 2013

I’m a firm believer that nothing worthwhile comes easily (or quickly!) – love this post. Also, I mayyyy need to go out and get a bunch of mason jars and make my pantry goodies look as lovely as yours.

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Keri January 2, 2013

I love you!
I woke up yesterday thinking how can i transition myself and my family to wheat and dairy free and low and behold you have come up w a transition to vegan which is very inspiring to me…I grew up vegetarian but lost my way when I moved out of the house. But I have always been interested in healthy choices so I am on your site everyday checking out what you have to offer and find myself making vegetarian meals almost evry night. I just want to be one of the thousands of people who praise you for your hard work and generosity sharing with others what is important to you.
I write this as I sip a green monster and my kids are asking me for more…I think they love u too!

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Christina Summers January 2, 2013

Hi! I transitioned to become a vegetarian in February 2012 and a fully blown vegan in April 2013. I had a brief transition period during those three months. I removed the majority of animal products except for dairy in ice cream and fish for sushi. After my body started to cleanse itself eating fish started to become very heavy and unappealing so I dropped that hot. I held on to ice cream the longest, but when I found scrumptious vegan ice creams and banana soft serve there was no looking back.

I transitioned to a vegan diet for ethical reasons. I always had those PETA and Mercy for Animals handed out to me at college. I would glance at it, but then throw it away because it disturbed me too much….but I chose to ignore the truth. Until that day in February I read a few pamphlets front to back and cried. At that moment I became a vegetarian and three months later a vegan. I

I absolutely love everything about living a vegan diet. I am now more of the change that I want to see in the world. A huge part of my healthy transition is due to this wonderful, funny, informative and delicious blog. Thank you for everything Angela!!!!

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Mary January 2, 2013

Fork Over Knives definitely did it for me. I had NO IDEA how much eating animal products was affecting the environment, animals and my health. I am an all-or-nothing person so I went cold turkey! I felt a little sick the first week and I am pretty sure it was a dairy withdrawal, yuck. I was a vegetarian in high school and college, so I always knew I could eliminate meat again pretty easily. It was an easy and fun transition for me because I absolutely love cooking and saw this as a new culinary adventure. Luckily having been a vegetarian previously, I was already a tofu and bean lover!
As for eating, I ironically didn’t buy any fake meats and cheeses, although it would have probably made it easier on me in the beginning! I think because I had just read The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook which really encouraged me to eat whole, unprocessed foods. It’s an amazing and resourceful book to learn about different foods and their benefits.

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Jessica January 2, 2013

I couldn’t agree more!! I love the new series, and I especially love all your recipes.

I went vegetarian 2 years ago, and made the vegan plunge a year ago. Going vegetarian wasn’t a problem, but just like you said, cheese was hard to give up! It took me almost three months to completely give up cheese, but I feel great now. I think what helped me most complete the change was having someone to talk to. Most people, when they learned I was vegan, would give me empty stares and say “Why? So you don’t even eat fish?” My sister went vegan before me, so we helped each other out, discovered new recipes, new produce, and great restaurants to eat out at. I think it’s also important to know why you are making the change. If you don’t have a reason you believe in, you won’t stick to it!

Thank you so much for this blog. You are truly an inspiration!

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Christine @ Shot Bun January 2, 2013

Hi Angela – thanks for sharing. I decided to go vegan about 6 months ago and although I struggled a bit at first, I am confident in my ‘vegan ways’ now. I have always loved to cook and bake so I didn’t see vegan food as a challenge per say, just a new type of cooking. Unlike many new vegans I love to spend time in the kitchen and I enjoy taking the extra time to prepare delicious plant based meals. It is definitely more time consuming to prepare healthy meals, but it is so so worth it!

When I went vegan I went cold turkey – with a few cheats. I told myself that if I went full vegan during the week I could indulge in a non-vegan ‘treat’ on the weekend. For the first two weeks I would have cream in my coffee on weekend mornings, and a square of milk chocolate here and there, but I soon realized I didn’t need those things anymore. I slowly added less cream and soon I could drink the coffee black. I now enjoy dark organic vegan chocolate way more than I remember milk chocolate tasting. Vegan is not a diet, it is a lifestyle and it takes time for your body to get used to it. I wanted to say thank you to you as well – your blog helped me get through the really tough times when I wanted to go back to cheese and chicken breasts. Your stories, recipes, and guides are very helpful and are a great resource for new/old vegans!

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Stephanie January 2, 2013

I remember reading your “Vegan Pantry” post and printing it out and filling up my own pantry. Like you said, I adjusted it to my own taste, but it really DID help. It still does. I’m having a hard time transitioning to vegan but your blog helps motivate me because everything you are describing here, I can relate to.

Thanks for creating the series!!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) January 2, 2013

I’m so glad to hear the list has been helpful for you! And yes the best part is that you can adjust it to your own needs. :)

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nicole March 18, 2013

I’ll have to check that post out!

I’m kind of feeling my way blindly through the transition right now, so the past few weeks I’ve been obsessively reading your blog. I also love Alicia Silverstone’s Kind Life site. The two of you have single-handledly given me the information I need to make healthy vegan decisions.

The first time I went vegan I hadn’t ever heard of your site, but I based it a lot on Alicia’s book and recipes. The problem was, the food was too time-consuming to make and I was used to eating “convenience foods.” I’ve been vegetarian for quite a while (2ish years now? since midway through college) but I was a vegetarian the same way I was an omnivore, and the same way that I, initially, was a vegan: eating convenient, highly-processed, unsatisfying foods that left me feeling sluggish and drained.

This time around I’ve embraced the Green Monster (I have it for breakfast every morning!) and oatmeal is even slightly more palatable with your peanut butter-applesauce recipe, so I’ve been making myself eat that some. I got a rice cooker with a steamer inside it, and for dinner a lot of nights I’ve been having rice, steamed kale, and a bit of a canned Indian food sauce (I’m trying to use it up since it’s one of the remaining non-vegan things in my pantry) for dinner every night. Those GMs are really magical. I just have the Classic GM, no tweaks on it yet, with peanut butter. I’m going to make your homemade oat milk recipe tonight and try using that in future – getting the health benefits of fresh oats without having to actually *eat* the oats will be a huge plus, and I really like oat milk.

Anywho! This novel-length comment was just to say: Thank you for this post, for your Green Monsters, for your oatmeal recipe, and for your frank discussion of where you struggled. It’s extremely helpful and motivating. And I will definitely be checking out the vegan pantry post!!

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Kate January 2, 2013

I’ll echo the 30 and not ready for babies sentiment! Respecting your own timeline is a very good thing! I’m loving this new series as I re-evaluate my eating habits. I was vegan for about 9 months but also in the depths of an eating disorder – it was all about restriction. Now, with a healthier mindset about food and what I want to put in my body, I’ve been revisiting a truly plant-based, whole food way of eating. This will be a great tool as I figure out what works best for my body. Thank you, as always, for your insight!

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Sarah January 2, 2013

I’m loving this series already! I’ve been challenging myself to cut out meat and dairy. I think one of the biggest helps for me is NOT pressuring myself to be perfect. If I find out there was a trace amount of cheese in the food I just ate, I coach myself not to freak out and then just move on. Expecting perfection equals frustration and giving up for me. So far with the challenge, so good!

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