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From Here to Vegan – at Your Own Pace, Adapted from Main Street Vegan, © 2012 Victoria Moran

Sometimes, the thought of going vegan just plain scares people. It can seem complicated. Impractical. Exotic, but not in a good way. In reality, however, you’ve eaten vegan food every day of your life (unless you were ever on Atkins and consumed only roast beef and hard-boiled eggs until your best friend told you, in confidence, that you were starting to smell funny).

In the current, ever enlightening era, going vegan on the spot is a kind of positive epidemic. Somebody will see a video about the conditions on factory farms or in slaughterhouses, or catch a documentary about the near-miraculous health benefits of a whole-foods, plant-based diet, and voilà! Instant vegan. This is great if you can do it – and stay with it, but you don’t help anybody by being an overnight sensation and burning out in a month. For you there is:

The One-Day-at-a-Time Plan

Alcoholics put down the bottle one day at a time, and you can dispense with animal foods (and most processed foods, too, if you’re willing) the same way. All you have to do is eat foods from the plant kingdom for this day’s meals and snacks, and you’re good. You don’t have to worry about your sister’s wedding next June, your company’s Labor Day barbecue, or what you’ll eat if you ever go to Argentina. Today, you’re enjoying a plant-based diet. And this is the only day there is.

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The One-Thing-at-a-Time Plan

A lot of people feel comfortable in cutting out red meat first, then other meat, then fish, then eggs, and finally dairy products. I can’t fault the system: it was, with some trips and starts, the one I used. If I were making the change today and opted for this plan, however, I’d eliminate chicken first, red meat later, simply because it means fewer deaths. Cattle are large, and one death makes a lot of meals; chickens are small and one death doesn’t make many nuggets.

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The Vegan-at-Home Plan

This means that you’ll learn the basics, get some recipes, stock up on plant-based convenience foods, and in your very own home, the one place where nobody can tell you how to be you, you’re plant-based. And you can decide what animal products you’ll want to keep as fallbacks for when you’re out.

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The Vegetarian-for-Now Plan

Vegetarians have pulled away from 90 percent of their peers in taking the stand of not eating anybody who had a mama. To help you be the healthiest vegetarian you can be – and move on to vegan smoothly and efficiently:

  • Don’t overcompensate with cheese and eggs. Choose vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, and nuts and seeds as the bulk of your diet.
  • Move away from eggs as soon as you can. In the ethical sense, it’s hard to find a good egg. More than 97 percent of laying hens are, at this time, kept crowded in tiny cages and denied any vestige of a normal life until they’re killed – and then they’re left out of the Humane Slaughter Act simply because they’re birds.
  • Experiment with totally plant-based foods and recipes. Keep moving veganward by buying plant-based cookbooks, surfing vegan Web sites, checking out vegan restaurants, and getting the vegan option of your vegetarian dish when possible (i.e., hold the cheese on the veggie burger).

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And however you make the change, have fun with it. It really is a grand adventure.

victoria moranAdapted from Main Street Vegan: Everything You Need to Eat Healthfully and Live Compassionately in the Real World, ©Victoria Moran, TarcherPenguin 2012. Victoria is the author of eleven books, a vegan lifestyle coach in private practice, and the director of Main Street Vegan Academy, training and certifying vegan lifestyle coaches.