How to Become a Vegan, in 11 Easy Steps

So, you’d like to become vegan. First, forget every food you’ve ever loved, burn all your clothes, and get a bunch of enormous glass jars so that you can immediately begin fermenting your own kombucha. Wasn’t that easy? And (insert rabid, crazy eyes here) fun?

In reality, going vegan is super easy, and a plant-based existence is not at all the barren wasteland of a lifestyle that people who haven’t given it a shot might assume. Even if you don’t want to sprout your own mung beans, even if you aren’t technically sure about how to pronounce quinoa (just for the record, it’s KEEN-wah), and even if you don’t ever want to call yourself a vegan, incorporating more plants into your diet and eliminating animal products can be a snap. Here are 11 simple steps to becoming a bona fide vegan.

1. Get coffee.

Nothing good starts without coffee. If you’re the type who enjoys creamer, try the So Delicious Coconut version. Once properly caffeinated, proceed to step 2.

2. Buy some vegetables.

You know where you can buy vegetables these days? Walgreens. Also Target. The point here is you can buy vegetables anywhere.

3. Do your nails.

You might know that some beauty-products are tested on animals. So if the first thing that pops to your mind when thinking about veganism is, “I’d love to help reduce cruelty to animals, but how can I ever rock a needlessly intricate nail art mani again?!” Good news, trendy friends. Check out Pacifica, LVX, Butter London, or ELF (for cheapies like me).

4. Don’t eat spirulina.

Or do eat it, if that works for you. But just because you’re going vegan you don’t necessarily have to eat every single algae product in the bulk bins at your health food store. Do try new things, but don’t feel obligated to suddenly develop a penchant for psyllium husk smoothies.

5. Do eat avocados.

All of them. All the time. On everything. Because, why not? (No, you don’t have to be vegan to do this, but you might as well make your plant-eating time as enjoyable as possible, right?)

6. Test out all the vegan chocolate.

It’s true, not all chocolate is vegan (you guessed it—milk chocolate tends to actually contain milk or at least milk derivatives). But! The good news is that there is more vegan chocolate in the world than one person could ever hope to eat. Check out the Food Empowerment Project for a list of child-slavery-free, vegan chocolate. (Pro tip: order all the Obsessive Confection Disorder you can possibly afford. Very, very worth it.)

7. Replace your meats.

Adding plant-based meats to your weekly grocery list can provide variety and approximate some of the meat-based dishes that you love most dearly. A few tried-and-true meat replacements come from Field Roast Grain Meat Co., Gardein, Tofurky, and Beyond Meat. And, if you find that none of these options suit your tastes, see #5.

8. Treat yo’ self.

You’re basically saving the world, and you should be rewarded! Check out the amazing designs of cruelty-free fashion powerhouses Vaute Couture, Cri de Coeur, Love is Mighty, or Herbivore Clothing Company. Immerse yourself in the luxurious world of skin-, fur-, and wool-free threads.

9. Do your taxes.

And brush your teeth. And pay your bills and vacuum. And do all the other things that humans do. Because even though you’re saving the world, you don’t get special compensation from the IRS for your do-goodery, so it’s a good idea to remain a nice, decent human.

10. Take a B12 supplement.

Your actual doctor (who might know your nutritional needs better than some writer on the internet) will have other recommendations, but it’s a pretty safe bet that vegans should supplement B12.

11. Don’t worry, be happy!

When embarking on a new project/challenge/lifestyle, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and freak out. But, don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Celebrate your enjoyment of this new-found lifestyle with a spoon, a tub of Eat Pastry cookie dough, and a bottle of champagne. Bravo to you!

Elizabeth Castoria is the author of How to Be Vegan: Tips, Tricks, and Strategies for Cruelty-Free Eating, Living, Dating, Travel, Decorating, and More (Artisan Books), released April 22, 2014.

Images: Fotolia, Obsessive Confection Disorder, Cri de Coeur, EatPastry, Artisan Books