How to become vegan or why be vegan are the third and fourth most common questions I’m asked as a person who eats a plant-based diet. The first question that is usually asked of me is me why I want to eat this way. The second in frequency is the query, “How do you get protein?”

How to go about becoming vegan is something I think is best done in stages. I mean that it is helpful not to force oneself into a radical new way of preparing food unless one is already someone who is confident at cooking and who enjoys fixing meals. Becoming vegan can mean losing the convenience of eating fast foods, but those of us who follow this way of eating believe it has many benefits.

I encourage neophyte vegans to be prepared for a lot of uninvited input, generally from well-meaning friends and family. One thing that a new vegan can expect to hear is that the new diet will lack protein. This is a most common misunderstanding.

Most of us vegans who embrace veganism as a lifestyle have no problem at all getting all the protein we need. There is plenty of food value in brown rice, other grains, nuts, beans, and soy-based products like tofu and tempeh.

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Finding vegan recipes is extremely easy to do online. There are many websites with excellent recipes. I suggest beginning with simple things that require few ingredients. Otherwise one might become overwhelmed, feeling this is just too difficult an undertaking.

An important consideration in becoming vegan is that one must plan. Spontaneously grabbing food on the run is something most Americans often tend to do. This is very difficult on a vegan diet. On the other hand, conscious eating means healthy eating and feeling very well.

I like to start each week’s meal-planning by looking at the produce section of markets. I prefer organic vegetables and fruits when I can find them. Starting with the freshest of ingredients and preparing them without a lot of fuss is generally a winning strategy.

So I start thinking about the produce and simply add grains and/or beans. It isn’t necessary to be concerned with combining protein sources. It all works out in the course of eating plant-based foods. Because I want to avoid chemical additives, I read labels very carefully and thoroughly.

As I became a more experienced vegan cook, I took on more complicated recipes. I find non-vegan friends are able to enjoy these vegan foods also. What I do think is hard about being a vegan is the same thing that is challenging about following any eating plan. It is necessary to avoid falling back into is the kind of rut I was in before I became vegan. I would prepare the same recipes frequently. In boredom, I would then eat things that were unhealthy.

To me, it wasn’t just a matter of learning how to become vegan. I realized over forty years ago that this is also about discerning how to eat enough of a variety of foods prepared in interesting ways to avoid boredom. I haven’t found that difficult to do.

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Filed under: Meaning of Veganism

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