Getting Started

LV slideshow homepage GettingStarted NOTEXT

When first starting out on the vegan path, you may feel a little lost. Don’t worry; Live Vegan is here to help. In Getting Started you'll find answers to common questions. Then explore All About Food for tips on groceries, cooking, and dining out. And check out Social Settings where we offer tips for living vegan in a non-vegan world.

"Where do I start!?"  It's as easy as 1-2-3.

lv triwheel1. Commit.

Vegan is a state of mind. It’s up to you to decide not to participate in the cruelty and wastefulness of animal agribusiness.  It’s up to you to fill your life with vegan abundance.  Commit, overcome challenges, recommit, and make it stick.  You can do it!  

checkmarkTIP: Take the Pledge. Make the promise to yourself, and to the animals.  Pledge that you’ll start and promise that you’ll keep trying.  Commit or recommit by taking the Live Vegan Pledge.  Exploring vegan foods, even one day per week, can be the first step toward one of the most powerful, positive, far-reaching decisions of your life.

2. Learn How.

While choosing vegan becomes easy with time, those new to the lifestyle might be a little overwhelmed by all the information.  As with anything new, a new way of living and eating can take some adjustment. But just like riding a bike, it will get easier with time and experience.  Soon living vegan will become second nature.

Sticking with foods that are familiar to you is a great place to start, so get to know the foods you already eat. Which foods are plant-based and which contain animal products? Chances are a lot (maybe most) of what you eat is already vegan.

grocerycart
TIP: Make the Switch. Enjoy familiar tastes and textures simply by choosing cruelty-free, plant-based versions of animal-based foods. Most major grocery stores carry plant-based convenience foods like veggie meats, dairy-free milks, dairy-free ice creams, and more.  See Make the Switch for product ideas. Learn how to transform your recipes at All About Food/Veganize It.

3. Practice & Grow.

Living vegan can be fun!  You’ll find animal-free items all around you in grocery stores, in restaurants, and online. Share your favorites with friends and family.  It’s a big vegan world. Have fun exploring! 

Keep going!  None of us are perfect.  But each of us can strive to improve, to do better today than we did yesterday.  If you stumble, don’t be too hard on yourself.  Learn and keep moving along the vegan path.

teamgraphicTIP: Use the buddy system! For support and to make your transition more fun, explore vegan living with a friend. See Social Situations for tips on living vegan in a non-vegan world; and see our resources and links for ideas for finding and building community.

Common Questions

+ What will I eat?! The abundance of living vegan.

A lot of people who choose to live vegan are “foodies” – they live, cook, eat, and dream food.  There’s a big vegan world out there and some of us are out to eat it up!

Still, one of the biggest questions on the minds of those new to the idea of living vegan is, “What will I eat?!”  After all, even if you’re not a “foodie” who lives to eat, we all have to eat to live.  Let’s put those fears to rest.  Your food choices are about to be blown wide open.  You’ll find foods you didn’t know existed, flavors that will rock your world, and textures that will make you swoon. 

Vegan food is all around you with new products and menu items popping up all the time. Explore All About Food! for tips on “Making the Switch” with product suggestions, tips for dining out, and thousands upon thousands of recipes and food ideas.  You could try a different vegan recipe every single meal of every single day and never experience all the possibilities.  Eat up!

+ What if I don’t like vegetables?

You want health food?  You’re in luck.  You want junk food?  You got it!  There's an endless variety of vegan foods for all tastebuds!

For those who love convenience foods: Even junk food junkies can switch to vegan junk foods… and STILL improve their health dramatically.  Remember, there is NO cholesterol in ANY vegan food (cholesterol is only found in animal products).  While almost all vegan food options will be much healthier than their animal-based counterparts (often lower in fat, higher in fiber, etc.), not all vegan choices have to be “healthy” (vegan ice cream anyone?!). 

There is a plant-based “alternative” to almost any animal product you used to eat.  They can and do taste fantastic and familiar.  You may enjoy familiar convenience foods like veggie burgers, pizza with veggie meats and dairy-free cheese, brats/sausages and hotdogs, French toast, smothered burritos, deli slices for sandwiches, and desserts like ice cream, cookies, cakes, marshmallows, whipped cream and chocolate.  It’s a vast and growing list that keeps growing as more people purchase vegan foods and the demand for vegan food increases. 

So, while we want you to stay healthy and we’re not suggesting that you forget the veggies, we also want to point out that taste, variety, familiarity, and fun are important as well.  Many caring people are looking for the same convenience foods they are used to – they’re simply choosing healthier and compassionate plant-based versions. 

Our tips to help you Make the Switchrecipes, and resources and links can help the healthiest health food fan as well as the snackin’-est junk food fan make a smooth transition to living vegan.

For those who don’t like convenience foods: If you’re into your health, choosing vegan can take you to new heights.  Some of the most powerful and successful health advocates and athletes in the world choose vegan foods to step up their game.  Whether you’re a superstar athlete, someone who treats your body like a temple, or someone just looking to clean up your diet, put on some muscle, or take off some weight -- choosing vegan is the best way to go -– for your health, for the planet, and for the animals.  Check out our health section for other health-related questions.

+ How do I overcome cravings for animal products?

Cravings can feel overwhelming, but food urges can be overcome with willpower, with time, and by replacing animal-based foods with vegan fixes (see Make the Switch).  Don’t worry -- you may battle cravings for animal products for a while, but our experience and studies have shown that within a few weeks, many addictive animal substances will clear your system and cravings will lessen… and you’ll feel like a whole new (vegan) person.

Some think, “I crave animal products, so I must NEED animal products,” or, “I must NEED more protein, calcium, (fill in the blank) because I crave animal products.”  But the truth is, people can get plenty of protein, calcium, and every other nutrient needed for optimal health in plant-based sources without the dangerous side effects and inherent suffering caused by consuming animal products. 

These cravings have little or nothing to do with your body’s needs.  Cravings for cigarettes, candy, and coffee don’t occur because nicotine, sugar, and caffeine are healthy or because your body needs any of these things. Your brain simply wants them. The same cravings occur for animal products – the fat, flavor, textures, and even the emotions we relate to foods “call” and tempt us.

In some cases, you might actually be addicted to animal products as explained in this interesting synopsis from the book Breaking the Food Seduction by Neal Barnard, MD. 

"Cheese is an especially interesting case. In our own research studies at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, we’ve noticed that participants moving to a vegetarian diet have a harder time giving up cheese than almost any other food. In fact, cheese’s popularity may have less to do with its meltability and mouth-feel and more to do with its addictive qualities.  Several scientific teams have shown that the principal protein in cheese, casein, breaks apart during digestion to produce abundant amounts of morphine-like compounds called casomorphins. Biologically, these opiates appear to be responsible for part of the mother-infant bond that occurs during nursing." PCRM.org


+ What if I don’t cook or I’m too busy to cook?

Really busy?  Check out Make the Switch for some great no-cook veggie meats, cheeses, etc. Or pour some yummy vegan milk on your breakfast cereal for an easy meal any time of day. Look at our Dining Out page for tips on eating on the run. If you’re really rushed and want to throw something in the microwave -- browse some of recipes and links and tips especially for busy people.

+ Is living vegan more affordable?

Living vegan does not have to be more expensive than consuming animal products.  In fact, living vegan can be more affordable in the short-term and much, MUCH more affordable in the long-term. 

Some of the so-called “replacement” or “alternative” prepackaged vegan products like vegan ice cream, veggie meats, and dairy-free cheeses might currently be more expensive than their animal-based counterparts, but these are the exception.  Fresh veggies and fruits, rice, beans, pastas and other whole foods are more versatile and significantly less expensive than processed foods or animal products.  You can also make your own veggie meats, ice creams, and cheeses and save a bundle.

It’s possible to save even more money by being a smart vegan shopper.  Consider buying in bulk -- buy even more with friends and split orders for case discounts.  Shop when sales are running (vegan products are often on sale because growing companies are eager to promote them).  Coupon shop and store-hop to find the best sales.

In the long term, you’ll likely save money on healthcare and you may even save your life.  Overcoming illness is expensive and your health is priceless.  A minimal investment in healthier vegan eating can improve and maintain your health so you may live a longer, happier life.  Vegan food choices reduce your risk of the common diseases associated with consuming animal products including heart disease, cancer, obesity, and diabetes.

True Costs.  It’s important to note that animal products have unnaturally low price tags because the animal agribusiness industries use your tax dollars to stay afloat and to increase their profits.  Tax subsidies of land, water, and grain, and direct payouts to animal agribusiness lead to an artificial affordability and, therefore, increased consumption of animal products.  This has resulted in disastrous health consequences in the U.S., especially amongst poorer populations.   See Why Vegan for more details.

Economy of Scale. It’s also important to note that specialty vegan foods still hold a relatively small share of the market. While some specialty products from smaller companies may currently seem expensive, as more people purchase these products, their prices will continue to drop.  Purchasing vegan products will ultimately allow more of these products to be produced and will increase their affordability and availability.

+ What about living vegan among non-vegan family and friends, at work, etc.?

LiveVegan.org is dedicated to helping you overcome these and other concerns about social situations.  We’ve created a detailed resource full of insights, tips, and suggestions in Social Situations

You might feel resistant to fully living vegan because you’re concerned about becoming an “outsider.” This may be particularly worrisome if those you love and those who love you are not yet on the vegan path.  Living vegan in a group that is not vegan can lead to questions (and even resentment) about your food choices.  This is not unusual -- people in groups tend to feel protective of the patterns to which they have grown accustomed.  Change, even good change, can be scary.

The good news is there is no reason you have to leave behind your beloved family, friends, or community.  Be patient, live by example, stay positive, answer questions, and share delicious vegan food.  You’ll grow more comfortable with time and you may just inspire others. 

There is a large and growing vegan community ready to welcome with open arms everyone interested in exploring vegan choices.  For communities online and right in your home town, or to start your own vegan community, explore our resources and links.

+ What if I have health questions?

If you have questions about staying strong and healthy on a vegan diet, first know that it’s not difficult. You don’t have to become a nutrition expert. You won’t have to keep a food journal or “plan” your meals. Remember the bottom line: Every single nutrient needed for a happy and healthy body is available in a plant-based form.  Check out our health section for more common questions, tips, and links.

+ Why are so many people choosing to live vegan?

The reasons so many people are choosing to live vegan are wide and varied. Some want to be kind to animals and refuse to take part in hurting or killing them.  Some are environmentally conscious.  Some care about human rights, food justice, and world hunger.  Some want to better their own health.  And for a growing number of people, ALL of these things matter.  See Why Vegan to learn more.