Yay! You’re ready to start transitioning to veganism, and you want to do it slowly and sustainably, which is great. This article will give you an exact guide on how to become vegan slowly, with action items you can follow. 

Although this change may feel new and scary, there are so many benefits, from your health to environmental concerns to the welfare of animals. So let’s get started.

white letters on the grass forming veggie word
Photo by Michaela St on Pexels.com

What is Vegan?

Veganism is a way of eating and living that aims to do as little harm as possible. Vegans avoid foods that come from animals and products that are animal-derived. Vegans also avoid animal products like leather and wool. It is not only reflected in dietary choices but also lifestyle choices as well. Vegan is defined as;

“A philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude—as far as is possible and practicable—all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of animals, humans, and the environment.

In dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals.” by The Vegan Society 

While there are multiple facets of veganism, this article will focus on the dietary aspects of vegan eating and highlight how to become vegan slowly.

This is great for you if you are curious about going vegan but unsure how to do it and want guidance on what to do so you don’t feel like you’re running in a wheel and getting nowhere on your own.  

What Do Vegans Eat?

A vegan diet is very varied. There are so many foods on the list that it could go on for ages. This list below highlights foods in each category and doesn’t include every single food from each group, but it’s a starting point!

100% vegan neon sign on window


Vegetables are a staple in vegan eating. Fresh, frozen, canned, and steamed vegetables are all great vegan options. Look out for battered vegetables, as they may contain milk and eggs. If the vegetables are preseasoned, check the ingredient list for any non-vegan items listed below. 


Fruits are sweet and refreshing, perfect for snacks or as an addition to meals. Fresh and frozen are the best options, and canned fruit in its own juice (not syrup) is another option.

The only ingredient on frozen fruit and vegetable packaging should be the fruit or vegetable(s). 


Beans are full of fiber and plant-based protein. They are a fantastic addition to your diet. Following the half-cup habit, or eating at least a half cup per day can provide health benefits. Here are some examples of beans to add;

  • Black beans
  • Chickpeas
  • Kidney beans
  • Great Northern 
  • Fava 
  • Pinto beans
  • Navy beans
  • Lima beans 
  • Black-eyed peas
  • Mung beans


Lentils, like beans, have protein and fiber and are great for adding plant-based protein to your diet.

  • Red
  • Green
  • Black 


Soy foods are a staple in plant-based eating and provide protein, fiber, and micronutrients. Many studies have shown that soy foods benefit heart health, diabetes, and weight.

  • Tofu
  • Tempeh 
  • Soy curls 
  • Edamame 
  • Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP)

Whole Grains

A general recommendation is that half our daily grains should be whole grains. That’s because whole grains keep us full longer and have more micronutrients.

  • Brown rice
  • Wild rice
  • Oatmeal
  • Bread (check ingredients for egg, butter, milk)
  • Whole wheat pasta
  • Quinoa 
  • Sorghum 
  • Millet
  • Buckwheat
  • Farro
  • Buckwheat


A variety of nuts provide healthy fats, protein, and fiber to a plant-based diet. Use them as snacks or add them to a meal to enhance the umami flavor.

  • Peanuts
  • Pistachios
  • Walnuts
  • Almonds
  • Cashews
  • Brazil nuts
  • Pecans


Seeds like nuts provide healthy fats, protein, and fiber. Small but mighty, these seeds add high nutrient value.

  • Chia seeds
  • Flaxseeds
  • Hemp seeds 
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Sesame seeds

Vegan Spices and Seasonings

Not only do spices and seasonings add flavor, but they add health benefits, too. Many seasonings have anti-inflammatory properties and various health benefits.

  • Tumeric 
  • Cumin
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Oregano 
  • Parsely
  • Cilantro 
  • Cinnamon 
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Chili powder
  • Basil
  • Dill
  • Nutmeg 
  • Paprika
  • Crushed red pepper

Nondairy Products

Many nondairy products are on the market now, so it’s easy to find an alternative for all dairy products.

  • Milk (soy, pea, almond, cashew, hemp, etc)
  • Yogurt (soy, coconut, almond, cashew, etc)
  • Margarine / Vegan butters
  • Vegan sour cream
  • Vegan cream cheese
  • Vegan cheese
  • Non-dairy ice cream

What Don’t Vegans Eat?

There are a handful of food products that vegans don’t eat, including any animal products or byproducts such as; 


  • Fish (salmon, trout, herring, catfish, cod, mackerel, sardines, tuna, etc)
  • Shellfish (crab, imitation crab, shrimp, oysters, clams, scallops, etc)
  • Beef (ground beef, steak, brisket, etc) 
  • Pork (ham, bacon, sausage, hot dogs, tenderloin, etc)
  • Poultry (chicken, turkey, duck, etc)
  • Wild meats (veal, mutton, venison)
  • Insects (crickets, grasshoppers, etc)

Egg and Egg Products

  • All eggs (chicken, quail, ostrich, fish, etc)
  • Mayonnaise


  • Milk (1%, 2%, whole, lactose free) 
  • Cheese
  • Sour cream
  • Yogurt
  • Cream cheese
  • Whey
  • Casein
  • Butter
  • Heavy cream
  • Ice cream 

Bee Products

  • Honey
  • Honeycomb
  • Royal jelly 
  • Bee pollen

Animal By-Products 

  • Gelatin 
  • Lard
  • Tallow

How To Start Being Vegan 

So you’re new to veganism. It’s fun and exciting but can also feel scary and uncomfortable. Now, it’s easier than ever to eat vegan. Some people go vegan overnight, some over a few weeks, some months, and some have been in the process for a year. 

While there are many ways to do it, this article highlights how to become vegan slowly, giving you a guide to finally eat all vegan meals. Listen, you probably will make mistakes, and that’s all part of the learning process. 

For extra advice, read my other article, Advice for New Vegans, From Seasoned Vegans.

Month by Month Guide to Going Vegan 

This guide explains exactly how to become vegan slowly. Each week, you will have a new goal to work on. As you go, the goals build on each other, and by the end, you’ll be eating all vegan. 

For example, in week 3, you will accomplish the week 3 goal and continue the goals from weeks 1 and 2. 

The weeks are categorized into 30-day vegan challenges to make going vegan even easier to accomplish. You can do anything for thirty days! Look at each week before it starts so you know what to expect and what you’ll need to change in your routine and get from the grocery store.

30 days Vegan Challenge: Month One

The first four weeks focus on eating more plant-based foods and reducing animal product consumption. 

Week 1

Start with one meatless day per week.  Have one day where you eat no meat. This could be Meatless Monday or any day that suits your schedule.

Week 2

At lunch and dinner, make half your plate vegetables, such as leafy greens, broccoli, asparagus, or any other veggies you like(🥦). Don’t be afraid to add more veggies anytime—the more, the better.

Week 3

Make at least half your protein intake plant-based (mixing in lentils with ground meat, adding beans or lentils, trying tofu, add in those plant proteins!)

Week 4

Completely eliminate all red meat from your diet (beef, lamb/mutton, pork, veal, venison, and goat). Instead, try using proteins like black beans or green lentils. 

Like these calendars? Download and print them!

going vegan calendar month 1 of  5 with weeks 1-4 highlighted

After month one, you’ve already eliminated red meat and are eating more plant-based meals. How do you feel?

30 days Vegan Challenge: Month Two

In month two, the focus is on introducing more vegan meals and learning to cook with plant-based proteins. You started experimenting with plant proteins last month; now, we take it up a notch. This monthly animal meat will also begin to phase out slowly.

Week 5

Make four vegan recipes using beans or lentils as the main ingredient (🫘). 

Week 6

Eliminate white meats like chicken, turkey, rabbit, and other poultry from your diet. Instead, try using proteins like chickpeas, tofu, tempeh, etc.

Week 7

Try a new vegan recipe for breakfast three times per week, such as overnight oatmeal or tofu scramble.

Week 8

Eliminate fish and shellfish from your diet. At this point, all meat should be eliminated, yay! 

Calendar of how to go vegan month two on a visual calendar.

You’re well on your way to veganism, including the progress you’ve made since month one. You are now totally meat-free! 

At any point during this process, if you want more one-on-one support because you’re tired of looking things up and Googling, schedule a nutrition session with me, a vegan registered dietitian, to get guidance and ask all the questions you have.

30 days Vegan Challenge: Month Three 

Month three continues your progress and helps you work on becoming vegan slowly. You’ll continue to add more vegan options to your diet, and by the end of this month, you’ll be vegetarian!

Week 9

Make all your lunch and dinner meals vegetarian. Vegetarians allow dairy and eggs. 

Week 10

Make all your breakfasts vegan.

Week 11

Ditch the dairy! Use a milk alternative like soy, almond, oat, or cashew milk. If you like milk in your coffee, these alternatives will work well. Dairy includes cheese and butter, too!

Week 12

Make one recipe using tofu or tempeh. You might have already started playing with tofu, but if you’re on the fence because you think tofu tastes bad, check out one of my other posts about the taste of tofu, including tofu recipes.

Calendar of how to go vegan month three on a visual calendar.

How does it feel to be meat-free? Next step: two more months until you’re fully vegan!

PS: You’re over halfway there; if you’re finding trouble or running into roadblocks, reach out! Utilize groups online and around you for recipe ideas and encouragement.

30 days Vegan Challenge: Month Four

In month four, you’ll explore some more vegan options and start working on making lunch and snacks vegan. While, of course, keeping all the goals you’ve already accomplished.  

Week 13

Find a vegan alternative for something you’ll miss most. Maybe cheese, yogurt, or ice cream. You could buy store-bought or experiment with a homemade option.

Week 14

Make all your lunch meals vegan. 

Week 15

Completely remove eggs from your diet. Try making a chickpea scramble for breakfast or flax “egg” for baking.  

Week 16

Swap out your snacks for vegan snacks. 

Calendar of how to go vegan month four on a visual calendar.

You’ve successfully made it to the end of month four, getting even closer to your goal of going vegan. There is only one month left to go!

30 days Vegan Challenge: Month Five

Your last month is the last little push to go vegan. You’re almost there; with just a few more modifications, you’ll accomplish going vegan. From here, it’s only smaller things, like sweeteners, byproducts, and making those last couple of meals vegan. 

Week 17

Eliminate honey. Try maple syrup or a honey alternative instead.    

Week 18

Make dinner meals vegan (psst; all your meals are vegan now!)

Week 19

Check all products for animal byproducts, such as gelatin, and make necessary swaps. 

Week 20

Make the rest of your meals vegan. There are only a few meals left, so use recipes you’ve played around with or try these vegan meal plans to save time and get meal ideas.

Calendar of how to go vegan month five on a visual calendar.

YAY, you did it. Throw a vegan party to celebrate! Slowly becoming vegan is perfectly fine; if it’s sustainable and doable for you, that’s all that matters.

You may encounter challenges along the way, so remember why you chose this path and stick to it.

What To Do Next?

Let’s take it a step further and customize your vegan diet. Learn from a registered dietitian how to make the right vegan choices for your health.

You’ve learned the basics of eating vegan, but let’s step it up to ensure you’re getting the nutrients you need to thrive! 

You may also like

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *