Generally, when people ask how to become a vegan, they are looking for definite answers; as if there is a right or wrong way to do it.
Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts, no secrets to success, or universal approaches to this lifestyle change.
The journey is different for everyone. However, we have developed a guide to make your transition smoother.
These three phases will surely point you in the right direction, at least. If you still have questions, we are definitely here to help you.
You must let go. There's no getting around it, but we know (from experience) that this is easier said than done. Most of us are more attached to our nutritional lifestyles than we really know; and its usually not until we're ready to make some changes that we realize this.
We've likened this process to The Five Stages of Grief. It may sound silly, but you really do have to permanently detach from those habits that are no longer serving you.
There will be some mourning. Learning how to become a vegan can be an emotionally taxing process. So here's a taste of what you can expect. As we've mentioned, everyone's journey is not the same, but we would like you to be prepared for the possibilities. What are the five stages?
During this period most avoid acknowledging the need for change, even after being flooded with information to the contrary.
We may say things like, "Well, my eating habits can't be so bad. I'm still living." Or,"Even if I don't eat meat, the industry will still thrive. One less meat eater really won't make a difference."
This is the stage that most refuse to see the severity of the situation.
Often, in this stage, some will blame others for the way things are. I had a tendency to blame my parents, for allowing me to develop these unhealthy addictions. Some blame the industries (and not the consumers) for profiting off of the slaughter of innocent animals. We fail to assume responsibility for the role we have played in all of this.
When figuring out how to become a vegan, some may find themselves making empty promises or justifying the continuation of their poor eating habits.
Somehow pledging not eat meat again, after just one last cheeseburger makes people feel better about consuming garbage. When I found myself in this space, I remembered the old adage:
"Never put off for tomorrow, what you can do today. Tomorrow usually never comes."
It's not uncommon to experience a little sadness while making this transition. You may not even experience it all though. Some manage to skip this step. Lucky them!
If you should find yourself here though, don't feel bad. When we feel like we're being deprived of something, or something familiar is being stripped away, it is natural to be a sad.
Some even isolate themselves from the world during this stage. Do you know what it's like to sit at the table with your family for Thanksgiving dinner, and the only thing in this glorious spread you can eat is the PEAS? Well, it sucks! It is awful. I refused to socialize for a long time after that experience, because I would always think about what I could not have, as opposed to embracing the new wonderful foods that were available to me.
Here is where either a shift in mindset occurs, or people will just give up, and succumb to the desires of their bellies. Don't Give Up!
Not everyone will make it to this stage. Sad, but true. Sometimes people get caught in the depression, and can't muster up the strength to move past it.
When (not if) you make it here, consider it a gift. You have come to terms with the fact that your old lifestyle is dying (essentially). You're ready to move forward and explore the new world that awaits you. You're ready to permanently remove certain behaviors/habits from your life. Here's where the fun part of learning how to become a vegan begins!
Now that you've committed to your new lifestyle, explore it! Find out the best places to shop or the hottest restaurants in town that can accommodate your new eating habits.
This is the funnest step in learning how to become a vegan. The mystery that comes along with discovering new territory is amazing. Dig in! Often, people approach veganism with a mentality of lack, harping on all of the foods they will be denied when making the switch.
You'll soon discover that this lifestyle is not about deprivation...but abundance. Your dietary options are limitless. Right now, vegans have more choices than ever before.
Emerge from that cocoon, and be that beautiful butterfly.
Become the change. You've made the commitment, you've done the research' now be all of those things. You are no longer learning how to become a vegan; you are a vegan.
Does that mean that you will not slip every now & again? Absolutely not. What it does mean is you've made the conscious decision to incorporate all of the knowledge you've acquired into your lifestyle to the best of your ability. However, you do not know everything, so you're subject to fall short at times.
Implementing these changes will not be an overnight process. Be patient. Forgive yourself. It takes time, and you do not have to be the perfect vegan (if such a thing even exists). Allow yourself the time to get used to everything.
You can even start slow. Try something like a meatless Monday, or commit to eating 2 vegan meals per day.
Rome was not built in a day. You have to understand that you are undoing years of bad habits, so be patient with yourself. Celebrate the fact that you've found the courage to walk away from them.