How to transition from a vegetarian to a vegan diet (2023)


This week (May 15-21) is National Vegetarian Week, encouraging the public to eliminate meat from their diets for the good of the planet. If you're already giving up meat, you might be thinking about giving up animal products entirely and going vegan.

Adopting a fully plant-based diet has been highlighted as the best thing we can do to reduce our carbon footprint and contribute to animal suffering. Many experts have noted that there is a global move away from meatimportant to prevent a climate catastrophe. We also breed and kill 80 billion land animals for food each year, and more and more people are ethically turning away animal products.

Many people who adopt a plant-based diet do so after a period of vegetarianism, but it can often be daunting when you don't know where to start.

Plant Based News(PBN) spoke to a range of nutritionists and other experts for tips on successfully transitioning to a plant-based vegan diet. From the best supplements to the healthiest foods, here's everything you need to know.

Note: This is a general guide only. For personal advice on your diet and health, you should always consult your doctor

(Video) What you need to know before switching to a vegetarian diet

How to start a plant-based diet

Many people who adopt a vegan diet for ethical reasons will immediately eliminate animal products from their lives. This is often because they found out the truth about itbrutality of the livestock industry, and "cold vegan turkey" will be the only way to go for them.

If you're switching to a plant-based diet for other reasons and are concerned you're not making it, some nutritionists recommend a more gradual approach. A slower transition to a plant-based diet can sometimes offer the best chance of success.

"Some people find it easier to phase in and eliminate one animal product at a time."Maria-Sabbat, nutritionist and health coach, tellsPBN. “For example, you can first avoid dairy products, then eggs and finally other animal products. This approach allows your taste buds and habits to adapt better.”

What to eat on a vegan diet

veganism isno diet, and those who follow this lifestyle may not necessarily want to eat the healthy, whole foods we traditionally associate with plant-based eating. Some people find it easier to start their new diet by eating plant-based versions of their favorite animal foods. In 2023, this couldn't be easier.

Supermarkets are often stocked with suppliesvegan cheeseAndMeat, and the vegetableEgg markethas increased dramatically in recent months. You can also buy vegan meals at a number of meat-heavy fast-food restaurants, includingBurger King,MC Donalds,KFC, AndNandos.

How to transition from a vegetarian to a vegan diet (1)

If you want to follow ahealthy plant-based dietExperts say it should include a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes (like beans and lentils), nuts, and seeds. "This strain ensures you're getting an adequate range of essential nutrients," he saysTully Zander, nutritionist and owner of Vegans First.

It can also be a good idea to try other foods that you may not have considered as a vegetarian. "Discover new plant-based foods and recipes to keep your meals interesting and filling," he recommendsMelissa Wasserman Baker, Nutritionist, Nutritionist and Founder of Food Queries.

Vegan foods with protein

Contrary to popular beliefget enough proteinFor people who eat plant-based foods, this should not be a problem. According to Wasserman Baker, here are some foods to look out for to maximize your protein intake:

(Video) How to transition to a plant based diet and stick to it

  • legumes
  • Tofu
  • Tempeh
  • I argue
  • Edamame
  • Andenhirse

(You can find more tips hereYou can find vegetable protein sources here)

Vegan foods with calcium

How to transition from a vegetarian to a vegan diet (2)

Many people believe that calcium comes exclusively from dairy products, but plant foods also have plenty of it. When transitioning to a vegan diet, Wasserman Baker recommends consuming the following foods for calcium:

  • Fortified plant-based milk
  • Calcium-rich tofu
  • Leafy green vegetables (such as kale and kale)
  • Plant-based fortified yogurt

Vegan foods with iron

Iron deficiency is often associated with a meat-free diet, but you don't need to worry if you're eating the right plant-based foods. Wasserman Baker recommends the following:

  • legumes
  • Tofu
  • Tempeh
  • Fortified Cereal
  • Spinach
  • Dried fruit

She also recommends eating vitamin C-rich foods with iron-rich meals to maximize iron absorption. These include citrus fruits and peppers.

In addition, more and more plant-based meat products are fortified with iron (see label).

Vegan foods with omega-3

Omega-3 is usually associated with fish, and some vegans may wonder where it's best found in plant sources. Thankfully, there's no need to consume fish oil to ensure you're getting enough. Wasserman Baker recommends choosing:

  • linseed
  • Chia seeds
  • walnuts
  • hemp seeds
  • Omega-3 food supplements derived from seaweed

Veganism and B12

Both vegetarians and vegans may have concerns about getting enough vitamin B12, which is not typically found in plant-based foods. While some people are wary of supplements, many are unaware that livestock tend to supplement B12 in the first place. B12 is produced by bacteria and is also found in soil. Due to modern agriculture and the lack of soil, it is difficult for both humans and non-human animals to naturally absorb B12.

Wasserman Baker recommends choosing a reliable B12 source, which generally means taking a supplement. B12 can also be found in fortified plant-based milks, breakfast cereals, vegan meats and nutritional yeast.

(Video) Thinking You May Want To Try a Vegetarian Diet but Not Sure Where To Start?

The best supplements for a vegan diet

You should always speak to your doctor or a registered dietitian if you have any concerns about dietary supplements. As a general rule, someone following a well-planned vegan diet may only need to consume B12. Regardless of what diet someone follows, however, other supplements are sometimes required.

"Consider working with a doctor to determine if you need additional supplements based on your individual needs and potential nutrient gaps," advises Wasserman Baker.

What you should consider when switching to a vegan diet

Switching to a plant-based diet can often be a learning curve, as many foods contain "hidden" animal ingredients. Examples include whey and casein (milk proteins), gelatin (an ingredient found in animal bones), andHonig(produced bybees).

In the UK and many other countries, some animal ingredients are printed in bold on packs as they are mostly known allergens. This includes milk and eggs. Some, including honey, gelatin, and many meats, are harder to spot on labels.

Tips for eating out as a vegan

A few years ago it might have been a difficult experience to be a vegan at a social event that involved food. However, vegan options are plentiful in numerous restaurants around the world these days. As awareness of veganism grows, many people are also happily accommodating to accommodating plant-based guests.

However, sometimes for newcomers to this lifestyle, navigating through social situations with non-vegans can be a daunting task.

How to transition from a vegetarian to a vegan diet (3)

"Let's address the elephant in the room, the social aspect," he saysJennifer Kropf, the editorial director and expert at Healthy Happy Impactful. "When you're the only vegan in the crowd, it can be a bit difficult to navigate family meals, parties and dining out. It can feel isolating at times when your choices aren't understood by those around you.” She recommends having a few “time-tested dishes” ready for social gatherings and familiarizing yourself with vegan-friendly spots.

"And remember, support is key," she adds. "There's an amazing community of vegans, both online and in person."


Why should you eat vegan rather than vegetarian?

For many people who adopt a vegan diet for ethical or environmental reasons, the vegetarian diet is not enough to provide reliefyour request.

Thedairy industryIt is not only responsible for around four percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, but also causes great suffering for cows. There are over 270 million dairy cows worldwide and a growing number of them are kept on factory farms.

Cows used in dairy farming are forced to get pregnant every year from around two years of age. At each birth, the calf is taken away from them a few hours after birth. Suckler cows often cry and howl for their babies for days after they are gone. Due to the conditions under which they are kept,lamenessand mastitis are common in dairy cows. When their bodies are exhausted and they stop producing milk, the cows are sent to the slaughterhouse.

There are also many animal welfare concerns in the egg industry. More than seven billion chickens are kept in egg factories worldwide. Most of these are housed in small battery cages that give them an area about the size of an A4 sheet of paper. In countries where battery cages are illegal,like Britain, they may be kept with up to 70 other hens in so-called “enriched cages”. In both cage systems, chickens are unable to exhibit natural behaviors such as spreading their wings, walking and foraging.

Male chicks born to the egg industry are overstressed and are therefore killed shortly after birth. This is often done by gassing or throwing them alive into an industrial shredder.

bottom line

Opting for veganism over vegetarianism is often seen as the most effective way to minimize your impact on animals and the planet. In addition, a balanced, plant-based diet is consistently associated with improvementsHealthResults. And as the global vegan movement grows, it's only getting easier to make your life as cruelty-free as possible.

Vegan recipes and food inspiration can be found here

You can find more tips on how to stay healthy as a vegan here

(Video) How Switching To A Vegan Diet Transformed This Woman’s Life.


How do you transition from vegetarian to vegan? ›

8 Tips to Take Vegetarian to Vegan
  1. Switch Dairy Products out for Non-Dairy Products. ...
  2. Go All-In with Plant-Based Proteins. ...
  3. Add Dark, Leafy Greens Every Day. ...
  4. Don't Worry About the Budget. ...
  5. Explore One New Vegan Recipe a Week. ...
  6. Share Meals with Friends and Family. ...
  7. Check out Your Local Farmers Market.
Mar 2, 2021

What is the best way to transition to a vegan diet? ›

Here are some tips to get you started:
  1. Start gradually. ...
  2. Stock up on healthy foods. ...
  3. Plan your daily meals in advance (Do meal prep 2 times per week) ...
  4. Replace animal ingredients with healthy plant-based food. ...
  5. Don't be afraid of volume when eating plant-based!
Jun 4, 2021

How long does it take for your body to adapt to a vegan diet? ›

Anywhere from three to six weeks, Esselstyn explained. Often, when a patient diligently follows a plant-based diet and then stays on it for up to six weeks, Dr.

Do 84% of vegans and vegetarians really go back to eating meat? ›

It even says quite plainly in the research findings: “84 percent of vegetarians/vegans abandon their diet.” As some argue, trying a plant-based or mostly plant-based diet for less than three months does not “make” you a vegetarian or vegan, and so to claim that may be overstepping the mark.

What happens to your body when you transition to a vegan diet? ›

Switching to a vegan diet can dramatically reduce your cholesterol levels, especially the bad cholesterol that can lead to heart disease. While meat and dairy products all contain dietary cholesterol and are high in saturated fat, fruits and vegetables contain zero cholesterol and are low in saturated fat.

How long does it take for your gut to adjust to a plant-based diet? ›

However, an overnight conversion from standard western omnivore to healthy high-fiber herbivore can result in a period of bloating and digestive discomfort as your microbiome and digestive processes adjust. Some people may need to take a step back and make the transition over a period of six weeks or so.

What is vegan face? ›

Vegan skincare means using cosmetic products that do not contain ingredients derived from animals. It also means that those same ingredients have never been tested on an animal. Things like beeswax are substituted for ingredients that are usually plant based or synthetic instead.

Is Peanut Butter vegan? ›

But of course! Most peanut butter is a simple mixture of ground peanuts and salt. Others might also contain oil or added sugar. Once in a blue moon, you may find a kind that contains honey, but nearly all peanut butter is 100 percent vegan.

Does your body detox when you go vegan? ›

Does Your Body Detox When You Go Vegan? It's not so much that your body detoxes when you go vegan, more that you stop putting foods into your body that can throw it out of balance, cause inflammation, oxidative stress and ultimately disease. The vegan diet is not a special 'detox' diet.

Why do I feel tired after switching to vegan diet? ›

You feel tired

Due to the absence of red meat in a plant-based diet, vegans (and vegetarians) are typically deficient in vitamin B12 and iron. This can lead to fatigue, headaches, dizziness and if left untreated, anaemia.

Do you feel different after going vegan? ›

By removing animal-based products from your diet, especially dairy, you'll soon experience a boost in the tastes of fresh foods, and your cravings can start to change too, provided that you are eating plenty of meals and dishes that are satisfying to you, and that can easily be swapped in for the foods and dishes you ...

What happens when a vegan starts eating meat? ›

Very few people are allergic to meat, but many vegans do report symptoms of food sensitivity when meat is accidentally introduced into their diets. Sensitivity can include symptoms as mild as headaches and irritability and as inconvenient as bloating, gassiness, or heartburn.

Why do people quit veganism? ›

One of the primary reasons people quit veganism is health concerns. While veganism can be a healthy and sustainable diet when done correctly. Some individuals may experience inadequate nutrition and deficiencies due to a lack of knowledge about plant-based sources of essential nutrients.

What is the failure rate of the vegan diet? ›

It's a series of choices that form part of your subconscious. It's an identity, not a temporary experience. Yet, 84% of vegetarians/vegans abandon their diet. That's a mere 16% success rate.

What are 2 cons of the vegan diet? ›

13 Undeniable Cons of a Vegan Diet (and How to Avoid Them)
  • You could gain weight. ...
  • It lacks nutrients. ...
  • You lose your most prominent source of Vitamin B12. ...
  • You lose your primary source of Omega-3s. ...
  • It can set unrealistic expectations. ...
  • It can cause gas and bloating. ...
  • It could interfere with medications.

Why do people lose weight after going vegan? ›

“Vegan diets likely lead to weight loss because they are associated with a reduced calorie intake due to a lower content of fat and higher content of dietary fibre.”

Where do vegans get protein? ›

Vegans can get protein from nuts, peanut butter, seeds, grains, and legumes. Non-animal products like tofu and soymilk also provide protein. Vegans have to consider getting enough “complete proteins.” A complete protein contains all the amino acids your body needs to help maintain your metabolism.

What are the 5 most important rules of a vegan diet? ›

5 diet rules vegans get right
  • Eat foods that are in season. This isn't a steadfast vegan "rule," but many people who consciously choose to eat vegan are also making other conscious (or even unconscious) decisions. ...
  • Fill up with fiber. ...
  • Plant your protein. ...
  • Eat those good-for-you fats. ...
  • You may need to supplement.
Aug 24, 2017

What not to do when going vegan? ›

A vegan diet is based on plants (such as vegetables, grains, nuts and fruits) and foods made from plants. Vegans do not eat foods that come from animals, including dairy products and eggs.

Can you have cheese on a vegan diet? ›

Foods from plants are OK, but foods from animals are off limits, including common ingredients like eggs, cheese, milk, and honey. About 3% of Americans follow a vegan diet. Their reasons for eating this way vary.

What are 4 side effects of being on a plant-based diet? ›

Going vegan side effects sometimes include anemia, disruptions in hormone production, vitamin B12 deficiencies, and depression from a lack of omega-3 fatty acids. That's why it's crucial to include plenty of proteins, vitamin B12, vitamin D, iron, calcium, iodine, zinc, and omega-3s in your diet.

Do vegans get leaky gut syndrome? ›

03/8​​Leaky gut issues

The vegan diet excludes all source of animal protein and turns to plant-based protein sources such as legumes. While legumes are rich in protein, they contain many antinutrients like phytates and lectin that can increase intestinal permeability and cause a condition known as 'leaky gut'.

What are the signs of a leaky gut? ›

What are the symptoms of a leaky gut?
  • A burning feeling of ulceration in your gut.
  • Painful indigestion from the loss of intestinal mucosa.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Gas and bloating from fermentation by overgrown bacteria in your gut.
  • Low energy from the reduced ability to draw energy from your food.
Apr 6, 2022

Why do vegans look younger? ›

Over time, your skin loses its volume and its youthfulness. A vegan diet tends to be higher in antioxidants and other nutrients that have anti-inflammatory properties. These are linked to better health and brighter, more glowing skin. So yes, in many cases, vegans do have better skin!

Is it better to give up meat or dairy? ›

Considering how similar milk and meat are nutritional if you are going to consider cutting out one of the two in the new year. Milk, cheese, yogurt, and all dairy products should be the ones to go. Eliminating dairy will improve your health and make you lose weight.

Do vegans lack collagen? ›

Most collagen is naturally found in bones and the connective tissue of fish and animals, which means that vegans and vegetarians can struggle to add it to their diets and supplements.

Do vegans eat oatmeal? ›

Can you eat oatmeal as a vegan? Absolutely. Not only can you eat it, but you can pile on allllll the amazing toppings and make it one of the best breakfasts ever. Oats themselves are vegan, so it's all in the ingredients you use to make it.

Are bananas vegan? ›

Bananas have always been a quick and healthy go-to snack for those on a vegan diet. Enjoyed on their own, and in desserts, they are considered as one of the most versatile fruits.

Is pasta considered vegan? ›

Is pasta vegan? Most packaged pasta—including spaghetti, rotini, and any other type—is 100 percent vegan. To know for sure, simply check the ingredients on your package! Sometimes, you might see “egg” listed as an ingredient in “fresh” pastas, so avoid those—but generally, pasta contains no animal-derived ingredients.

What happens when you stop being vegetarian? ›

Cramps, undignified journeys to the bathroom, a very confused colon, the works. The reality is a bit different. While the body definitely adjusts to a vegetarian diet over time, experts tell Bustle that eating meat after being a vegetarian won't necessarily cause a lot of discomfort — and if it does, it's temporary.

What are the stages to become vegan? ›

The 5 Step Process in Greater Detail
  • Understand Nutrition, Assess Your Current Diet & Plan the Transition to a Plant-Based Diet. ...
  • Reduce Then Eliminate Meat & Meat Products. ...
  • Eliminate Fish, Seafood & Related Products. ...
  • Replace Dairy Products & Eggs with Vegan Alternatives. ...
  • Avoid Other Animal Products – Set Your Own Boundaries.

How do I stop being vegetarian after years? ›

8 Tips to Reintroduce Meat
  1. Re-introduce animal foods slowly, and one at a time. ...
  2. Support your digestion by taking enzymes. ...
  3. Choose higher-fat cuts of meat for more flavor. ...
  4. Consider the source of your meats. ...
  5. Lose the fear of eating meat. ...
  6. Get help with disordered eating patterns. ...
  7. Choose a variety of red meats and animal proteins.
Apr 11, 2023

Can your body reject meat after being vegetarian? ›

Yes, your body does not lose the ability to digest meat.

No matter how long you've been a vegetarian, you can always go back to eating meat. You may feel a little “heavy” after your first meal with meat, especially if you have a large portion. But, you won't actually be unable to digest and metabolize the meat.

Do vegetarians lose enzymes to digest meat? ›

The enzymes that are involved in breaking down meat are the same as those that help with digesting tofu or chickpeas. ' Nor can you lose these enzymes at any point, as does happen in cases of lactose intolerance, for example, when a person doesn't drink milk for a long time.

Do vegetarians age slower? ›

A vegan diet won't necessarily make you age slower – but it may help you look younger and get around many of the aches, pains, and degenerative diseases that affect us as we get older instead.

What are the 4 types of vegans? ›

The four main types of vegans are ethical vegans, environmental vegans, health vegans, and religious vegans.

What to expect first month being a vegan? ›

What Happens to Your Body If You Go Vegan for a Month?
  • Reduced body weight.
  • Improved heart and vascular health.
  • Improved blood sugar control.
  • Reduced joint pain.
  • Improved bowel health and regularity.
  • Reduced cancer risk.
Nov 20, 2020

What meat is the healthiest? ›

5 of the Healthiest Meats
  1. Sirloin Steak. Sirloin steak is both lean and flavorful – just 3 ounces packs about 25 grams of filling protein! ...
  2. Rotisserie Chicken & Turkey. The rotisserie cooking method helps maximize flavor without relying on unhealthy additives. ...
  3. Chicken Thigh. ...
  4. Pork Chop. ...
  5. Canned Fish.
Jan 6, 2020

Why do so many vegans quit? ›

One of the primary reasons people quit veganism is health concerns. While veganism can be a healthy and sustainable diet when done correctly. Some individuals may experience inadequate nutrition and deficiencies due to a lack of knowledge about plant-based sources of essential nutrients.

How long do most vegetarians last? ›

A team of researchers at Loma Linda University in the United States has shown vegetarian men live for an average of 10 years longer than non-vegetarian men — 83 years compared to 73 years. For women, being vegetarian added an extra 6 years to their lives, helping them reach 85 years on average.

Why do I feel better eating vegan? ›

Gut bacteria depend on fiber, which is naturally found in whole plant foods only. This results in a plant-based vegan diet improving mental clarity and mood quickly as the body is able to produce mood-enhancing hormones more efficiently,” she elaborates.


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