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Making the Vegan or Vegetarian Transition

Going vegetarian is easy. Grocery stores are always stocked with colorful vegetables and plenty of other vegan foods. Almost all grocery stores now carry delicious faux meat products, too—from veggie burgers and veggie hot dogs to vegetarian chicken nuggets, ribs, steak strips, and more. With all these great products available, it’s easier than ever to whip up delicious meat-free meals at home. Going out to eat couldn’t be easier too! With more and more people becoming vegetarian these days, most restaurants now offer great-tasting, healthy vegetarian selections.

We’ve listed our top six tips for making your transition to a vegetarian diet easy and delicious. We have also provided some “everyday eating” ideas for each meal (and snack!) of the day. If you want more help making the transition, take our “Pledge To Be Vegan for 30 Days.”

Bon appétit!

Top Six Tips

1. Make vegetarian versions of your favorite meals.
2. Explore thousands of delicious vegetarian recipes.
3. Try some tasty faux meats and dairy alternatives.
4. Sample vegetarian microwaveable meals and convenience foods.
5. Search online for the best vegetarian-friendly restaurants in your area.
6. Explore the amazing variety of meat-free ethnic foods.

Ideas for Everyday Eating

We have thousands of delicious recipes searchable by meal category and type of cuisine. Here are some of our favorites! (Click on the links below to read more.)

•    Breakfast and Brunch
•    Lunch
•    Dinner
•    Side Dishes
•    Desserts
•    Appetizers
•    Sandwiches
•    Pizza Toppings
•    Quick-and-Easy Snacks
•    Barbecues and Picnics
•    Accidentally Vegan

More Ideas for Vegetarian Living
(Click on each tip below to read more.)

•    Dining With Friends and Family
•    Eating While On the Road
•    Raising Vegetarian Kids and Teenagers
•    Where to Find Vegan Groceries
•    Eating On a Budget
•    Going Vegetarian: All at Once or Gradually?
•    A Note About Tiny Amounts of Animal Products in Foods
•    How to Go Vegan

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  • ILoveMyArabian says:

    I am trying to make the transition to become a vegetarian. But, i have some questions. I don’t seem to find any vegetarian “meats” anywhere. I live in Minnesota, USA. Any clue on what stores sell the stuff? Plus, my parents are not to happy about my choice of going vegetarian, any tips? :)

  • Brittany says:

    I’m making the transition to vegetarianism, and it has been a good first week! I was just wondering, however, should I be more conscious to get protein in my diet? I did not eat meat like crazy, but definitely a few times every week. Thank you for any input.

  • Kristian Cantens says:

    Gina,
    I’ve been a vegetarian for 10 years and my parents still give me a hard time about it. But, whenever I’m home I make them food to prove to them how delicious and easy vegetarian eating is.
    As for you’re nutritional concerns: theoretically, the only things that you could lack in a vegetarian diet is vitamin b12 and zinc to a lesser extent. But since so many things are already fortified with b12 and zinc, the chance of you being deficient in these is slim.
    For instance, i’m a vegetarian and I don’t take any supplements and my bloodwork always shows that I have healthy levels of b12 and zinc.
    Watch “Forks Over Knives”. It’s a great documentary on the subject.

  • Gina says:

    Hi you guys! I want to become a vegetarian but I am 17 years old and my parents are always telling me that I need to eat meat to stay healthy and to keep growing. I was wondering if you could give me some advice on how to become a vegetarian and still consume the vitamins that I need to stay healthy. Maybe pills would be the solution, I don’t know. I would also like help with the daily meals, here you give some options but I live in Peru where the food is very greasy but also delicious. I am not sure that replacing all the meats of our typical meals with soy is the right answer, what about the flavour? Will it remain the same?

  • JustMe says:

    I have wanted to go vegan for a long time..Problem: cost and know-how. We rarely eat meat here, but our diet is very lacking (mostly whole wheat non-dairy pasta). Our diet is literally killing us because I don’t know where or what to start with, plus we have a limited budget per month for food.

    Any Help??????????

  • mommyvet says:

    Perhaps you could also give advice on the cost factor, as well as the time to prepare these meals? I work at one nonprofit during they day, serve on the board of another, and also serve with several others. My husband does the same. We have a very busy lifestyle and don’t have time to prepare complicated recipes- that’s why it’s been so easy for us to throw some chicken on the grill with some veggies for dinner- quick and easy. Seems to me that my only friends who vegetarian have no children and/or less activities going on than we do and have ample time to make these elaborate recipes to make stuff like beans and rice taste good. If we were to switch, I think my kids would absolutely revolt because the stuff we have time to prepare would not be appealing to them.
    What options are there, also, for those of us who don’t live in a 30 mile radius of a Whole Foods OR a Trader Joe’s? The only option we have are typical supermarkets, and their produce departments are typically crap. We DO have a local farmer’s market, so we can get whatever’s in season, so that’s awesome, but in the winter months eating nothing but root vegetables gets really old. So if we don’t have a decent market, again, what are our options?

  • Alla says:

    Hello fellow Vegetarians/or considering becoming Vegetarian:)

    I been a Vegetarian for 2 and a half years. I want to become Vegan but I dont know if I can. I love chocolote! I’m not a very good cook so I would like some tips from you guys how to become Vegan! ANy help would be appreciated:) Thank you

  • val says:

    well there r so many reason i am going vegatarianism. Its not soley on the animal killing thing. Yes a few years ago i was raised on a farm and we raised animals for our food and a few friends. We also grew our own veggies.But with more people n the world and the laziness and unwillingness of not getting off the couch. The world of mass raising and killing of animals with all these hormones to fatten and stretch the meat is crazy. Also i adore veggies. I love to cook them in different ways.grilling is the best. Also with my diet i find i eat more whole wheat. And i dont loose weight and i feel bloated. So i figured i needed less gluten. Which is working out. My body is responding to my changes. But its all about prepare. I find in my busy lifestyle that i need to fix several dishes and us them as a go to when im hungry. I havent totaly given up everything. On the weekends i eat fish. And of course havent given up cheese and nonfat yogurt. I only eat wild fish not farmed and yogurt and cheese doesnt involve killing. You just got to find what works for you. Every body is different. So hang in on your own way. And what works for you. Everything isnt set in stone. Good luck.

  • Sunthroughrain says:

    Sadly the only major stores here where I can get grociries are Target and Walmart, and ours have very little veggie options! There is hardly any tofu and there is only one shelf in the freezer section of veggie foods! I wish they would sell more. My daughter was a born vegetarian. (I’m not kidding she refused to eat meat from the very beginning. My husband and I decided we were not going to force her so instead we joined her.)

  • Veganmomof2 says:

    I became a Vegan 3 years ago, the benefits have been amazing, to live peacefully with my choices has, no doubt, made me a better human.

  • Mama Sue says:

    What I don’t understand here is some recipes call for the use of bread. Are eggs not used in making bread and also milk?

  • Kristi says:

    I am so torn about returning to vegetarianism- in my heart I can’t reconcile harming an animal for food because I know all the facts about how well we can sustain ourselves on a meat-free diet. My issue is two- fold: each time I cut out meat, I feel like I am “missing” something, so I wind up eating more food, thus gaining weight with the carb surplus in my new diet. Secondly, after about a week I wind up with the “shakes” despite eating what I would consider a well- balanced vegetarian diet- beans, brown rice, all manner of salads and vegetables, eggs, tofu, tempeh, etc. I can’t figure if my body is resisting the meatless diet, because I’ll be honest, instead of feeling better, I feel awful! My conscious is clear, but I’m fat and miserable! Based on my experience, my husband and kids wont even consider embracing vegetarianism. Its an awful moral dilemma-Any suggestions?

  • Pamela says:

    This pdf from “Vegetarian” Magazine is good for anyone making the transition and explains that, if, like Olep, you think you need all sorts of meat-derived protein, not only are you seriously mistaken, but you are contributing to your own decay. Meat eaters are far more likely to get cancer as well as osteoporosis, as well as kidney problems. Meat-derived products cause us to pass a lot of calcium through urine which is a big concern for American women who are more and more getting osteoporosis. And EVERYONE seems to be getting cancer, because of the staggering amount of meat we consume. Vegetarian nations, particularly India, have the lowest cancer rate on earth, even though they are poverty stricken. Take a look at the article!

  • NaturesBounty says:

    Olep – I understand its hard to break free from centuries of cultural conditioning that says meat is the best source of protein, but you only need to research on the large number of athletes and sports people adopting the vegan diet for enhanced performance and stamina. There is more than adequate protein in foods like beans, lentils, grains, vegetables, nuts and seeds. Soya products are also a great substitute. although you should not need to rely on them, once you get used to the natural wholesome foods i listed above. Its just as though Mother Nature provides us, in great abundance, what we need to be fit and healthy. Meat being a quality protein is just a myth, that needs to be dispelled, and growing numbers of people are finally waking up to it. In fact most of us consume far too much animal protein in our diets attributing to a very acidic diet which actually is the cause of many of the chronic diseases of our modern age. Consuming more alkaline foods is the key to a a healthy body, and as chance would have it becoming vegan provides the body with what nature intended plus all the health benefits in one go.
    Going vegan for the animals is the noblest cause anyone can undertake. Spiritually we cannot escape the mass suffering that we inflict on our fellow beings by confining and exploiting them, for what we do unto others, we do unto ourselves. When we consume the pain, misery and suffering of innocent creatures we in turn create the same conditions for ourselves. The World Peace Diet by Will Tuttle is one of the best books written on this subject.

  • becs says:

    I have just ordered the veggie starter pack an I am really excited in making the change but as I am a big meat eater I know it will be hard am hoping to lose some unwanted pounds in the proccess just looking for any good advice in starting out really :s

  • Olep says:

    I want to become a vegetarian, I really want. I admit I haven’t tried too hard, but every day I am more convinced to make the transition. One problem I have is that my diet is high on protein as well as on carbs. If you are wondering, yes I am very active, I exercise a lot and I go to the gym regularly. I hit weights a lot and I run quite intensively. My biggest concern is about getting the amount of proteins on a vegetarian/vegan diet and I share the same concerns as Jazi. Any advice would be great!

  • ReikiFor RealLife says:

    @Jennifer – There are processed, ready-made foods out there for vegans that are gluten-free. I suggest shopping at Whole Foods, Trader Joes and similar markets that cater to health-conscious consumers. That being said, processed foods are never as healthy at whole food alternatives. When I first became vegan, I went to vegetarian/vegan friendly restaurants, and raw food restaurants, for ideas on how to cook foods that I could eat, and it helped a lot. I would also suggest getting the book “30 minute vegan” for quick, healthful recipes – including comfort foods – that are vegan and GF.

  • jennifer says:

    Your site is very useful and informative but I’m wondering if you can help me become vegan. Since I’m gluten intolerant i find that most prepared vegetarian foods, especially the faux ranges, contain gluten. Any advice/ideas – other than do all my own cooking???

  • G.Valkrie says:

    I’m vegan and it IS the best decision I’ve made yet. <3

  • Jazi says:

    I am really wanting to become a vegan. About 5 years ago I was a vegetarian for 3 years but I started losing wayyyy to much weight and it started to make me sick from the lack of protien and vitamins I was getting. I really want to do this again but I dont want the same health problems to be a problem. I have heard that their are vitamin supplements that you can take to help prevent this but I am not sure on what to take, different sites say different things. If any one has any ideas it would be greatly appriciated!!! :)

  • sholloway96 says:

    Thank you Keegan-b. I’ll definitely check out the favorites list & those you mentioned.

  • keegan-b says:

    Re: sholloway96 There are many different non-dairy cheese options out there but, ultimately, everyone’s tastes are different so you’ll just have to try a few until you figure out which ones you like! PETA has a list of ‘Favorite Products’–> http://www.peta.org/living/vegetarian-living/Our-Favorite-Products.aspx < – and many people love Daiya cheese. Personally, my favorite cheese is homemade cashew ricotta cheese. I put it on my pizzas, in calzones, on crackers, anywhere! The recipe that I use is from a cookbook called Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. If you search for a cashew ricotta cheese recipe on Google, I”m sure many will come up. :)

  • sholloway96 says:

    I’m trying so hard to be vegan but I can’t break away from my cheese addiction. The one substitute I tried tasted horrible. Is there a delicious vegan cheese anyone can suggest? I’m desparate to break through to the vegan side.

  • Beth says:

    @laina there are soy products that make milk and cheeses even ice cream and yogurt

  • Jessica says:

    I have the same problem as biance. I really dont like veggies but I feel like this is something I rea;lly need to do, not only for myslef but for all those animals ot there, but I have heard of faux meats and I think I might be able to do it with those, does anyone have any tuips or advice??

  • James King says:

    @ Blanca: I survived my first four weeks of the transition by eating apples and pizza. Apples make the metabolic adjustment easier, and pizza is good hearty food. Pizza made it easier to make the adjustment feel natural–although it isn’t vegan. Try to pick things you’d eat anyways that don’t contain meat and then experiment with different fruits and vegetables. You can still eat french fries and latkes, and falafel sandwhiches on pita taste just like gyros. Chick’N Nuggets are a wholesome way to trick your body into vegetarianism. I always had trouble finishing my green veggies too, but the switch to vegetarianism improved my health a lot.

  • Tiffany101 says:

    I made the decision to follow a vegetarian lifestyle. I am now a vegan, but today I unknowingly ate a veggie burger containing dairy. :( I am still on the right track, I must say.

  • strawberrycanyon says:

    slylavageek, I am in the same boat. I don’t tolerate soy too well (tho I can still have a bit). I am a celiac, and also have allergies to dairy, eggs, rice, buckwheat, sorghum, quinoa, peanuts, cashews, ginger and sweet potato. So that leaves me with more or less only corn and potato as far as starches go. I am trying to give it a go as a vegan. I’m getting my protein from beans, corn, potato and nuts for the most part, and of course eating a lot of greens. My recommendation to you would be to research the amino acid profiles of the stuff you’re not allergic to and figure out what complements what. Focus on what you can eat and not what you can’t. Who cares if most vegans build a diet based on x and y and z? I am finding these days that there are a diverse range of vegetable protein sources you can combine to come up with a healthy diet. I hope it works out for you. I myself have to see what happens when I keep being vegan up for the next six months. I also really want to make it work out. And I would love to hear more from people who have multiple allergies like us.

  • Laina says:

    I had a very hard time giving up years of preconceived ideas on what I should be eating. My health has made it quite easy, come to find out that I CAN’T DIGEST MEAT. For years I thought I was a freak and continued, though it caused me pain, to eat meat. Now I eat a vegetarian diet, since I can’t take supplements to round out my diet and some things I can only find come from things like eggs. Does anyone have ideas on how to get everything I need dietary wise without the eggs and dairy?

  • Jessie says:

    I love SOY-YO the yogurt tastes really good, it has the soy flavoring to is but it’s not bad. Not real yogurt flavor but I like it. Galaxy Nutritional Foods has a great Chedder ‘Cheese’ i love it. I use Almond Milk and Soy Milk. I prefer regular Almond Milk and Chocolate Soy Milk. As for eggs, nothing yet for me…

  • idkhalid says:

    For the youngsters whose parents have told them God put animals on this world to eaten…Prior to the flood man walked friendly along side of animals. We didn’t eat them and they didn’t eat us. God provided fruits, veggies, grains, etc for man and animals to eat. It wasn’t until the flood that God punished us and destroyed the lands. This is when the change took place and man began eating animals to survive and vice versa. So I believe we should be eating what God originally provided for us and be loving to the animals he created.

  • Blanca says:

    What do you do in the case like mine that I dont like veggies and have a hard time eating them. But I feel so strongly about this cause. Does anyone have any ways of easing into the veggie world for a person who doesnt like veggies?

  • Renae31 says:

    To Cindy :)

    I have not found many cheese substitutes (I am not vegan yet…)

    But the brand ‘Vitasoy’ has a really good soy milk!

    If you don’t like the normal Vitasoy soy milk, try the Vitasoy soy milk for kids! :) ahaha. it tastes really good and is a good first step to going onto normal soy milk!

  • Cindy says:

    I stopped eating meat but haven’t found any milk or cheese substitutes that taste good. What are some brands that taste similar to the real thing? I really want to go vegan but need a little help. Thanks!

  • slylavageek says:

    I am truly looking forward to eliminating animal-products from my diet. I have always had serious food allergies, which is why I’ve never tried very hard to stop eating meat and dairy-products. Most of the “alternatives” that vegetarians and vegans rely on for nutrition and protein make me very ill. Is there anyone out there in a similar situation, with advice to give? PETA, will you work on a section on the website for those of us seriously allergic to soy and other commonly used vegetarian foodstuffs? Thanks!!

  • Drake Danaviir Cataluna says:

    Thank you for this post. Transitioning to a vegetarian lifestyle has never been this good, feels good. Feels lighter and healthier than ever before.

  • christie says:

    I was vegetarian as a child and want to return to that diet. I used to snack all day on veg treats instead of cramming down 2-3 large meat heavy meals each day. I’ve become sick, fat, tired, out-of-shape and my skin is bad. My hair has become dry and frizzy and I don’t even sleep as well anymore. I’ve been eating meat regularly for about 7 years and I’m going back! Good luck everyone! Trust me, it’s worth it!

  • Becky says:

    I started reading this book called “Skinny Bitch” because I was looking to lose weight. They are vegan and after reading what they have to say about eating meat, I am completely disgusted. I have always been an animal lover and I will never go back to eating meat. There are so many substitutes out there that are guilt-free!

  • Grace says:

    There are also many recipes that are healthy and vegan related on Four Green Steps Website, don’t forget to check those out if you want to try out more new things like the Frozen Tofu blueberry sorbet!!!!!!!!

  • Sandra says:

    Just wanted to add that I think it is very important that ex-meat eaters/lovers stop feeling ashamed about the fact that they used to eat and enjoy eating meat. Most of us were brought up like that and thinking it was the natural thing to do (just like our parents did). I was and I know my parents love me more than anything else in this world and that they did what they thought was good/best for me. They worked hard to bring food on the table and for that I will always be grateful to them. Life is a learning journey… Just feel happy that today you know better than yesterday!

  • Sandra says:

    Hi All! Starting my new lifestyle as a vegan today. For as far as I can remember, I have always wondered whether we (humans) should eat animals. Having been brought up eating meat, I never really went beyond the wondering stage though… The question, however, has always stayed with me, floating at the back of my mind and popping up every once in a while, especially when meeting with my vegetarian/vegan friends or hearing/reading about animal cruelty. As I started to become more aware about cruelty to animals raised for food, I would always make sure to only buy and eat organic meat coming from local farms where I knew animals were treated with respect and kindness. Well, I have always truly believed that all forms of life (including plants), should be treated with respect and kindness because we all are interdependent. That belief became stronger since giving birth to my son. But that’s another story… The link with my decision to become a vegan is that, in addition to learning about the proven health benefits and human anatomy, I started to really look at animals in the same way as I look at me, my son, my husband, and all my loved ones (and humans in general). It would kill me if anyone would hurt my son or take him away from me. How would that be different for say a cow? Don’t animals have a brain, a heart, a nervous system, etc? Can’t they reason? Don’t they have feelings/emotions? Just looking at my mom’s dog hopping with happiness everytime he sees me or getting upset at anyone who hurts us answers that question…

  • kjoarcik says:

    @Jai – Good Luck! I’m just starting my journey to Vegan and it is rough! I don’t know how many people tell me to make sure I get enough protein. People just don’t understand it. But you should never feel bad about saving animals lives.

  • Jai says:

    I’ve tried the vegetarian life style before, in high school. But everyone from my parents to my friends made me feel bad about it. I dont know why I let them get to me, but I’m trying again. Wish me luck.

  • Mary says:

    I am in the process of converting my diet to vegan by adding more plant proteins into my diet such as quinoa, soy based faux meat products. PB&J and banana is one of my favorite vegan lunch. I do notice the difference in my energy and cognitive function.

  • jonesy101 says:

    day one vegan, wish me luck. :]

  • Kizzi says:

    Hi, I have been vegan/vegetarian for about two years, and then 7 months ago my sister passed and I started eating meat again. I am on a quest to find my health again, because I know she won’t want me to be unhealthy. So its my first day. Wish me luck!

  • Traci says:

    I’m on board but need a good book or link to help with how to make the transition easier with a husband and children who aren’t ready! My hope is they will follow later! Any Suggestions….

  • Spence says:

    @Rhiannon, eat tofu! It’s the perfect food, pretty much. Tons of protein, vitamins, and it’s relatively cheap (or about the same as ground beef) and easy to prepare. I don’t really like the idea of imitation meat products; they’re kind of a mockery to animal suffering. Just look into the many different ways to prepare tofu.

  • Meranda says:

    I haven’t made the transition yet because my family is so hard on me and make me eat meat when they find out i am trying to go veg. but that won’t stop me from trying!

  • Rhiannon Scrivener says:

    I’ve been transitioning from carnivor to vegan, after reading a book on healthly eating. And I’m finding it fairly difficult. I love all the fresh fruits and vegetables, but I can’t seem to give up fish just yet. I’ve done quite well with removing dairy, red meat and poultry from my diet (with one or two slip ups). But fish is something that I still find myself craving once or twice a week. I can’t eat meat replacements, they make me sick. And I hate the idea of processed foods. Can anyone give me some advice? I’m in a bit of a snapper-rutt.

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