How to start a vegan diet for beginners

Hi guys, today we’ll talk about how to start a vegan diet for beginners. You’ve decided you want to go vegan. Great stuff. But now, you need to actually start eating vegan.

To make things as easy as possible, I’ll share how I plan my vegan diet. 
I have 10 tips that will make it easier, no matter of your lifestyle. 

But before we dive in, let’s get real;

I know when we scroll down the Instagram there are absolutely gorgeous looking Buddha bowls and mouth-watering vegan desserts.

However, when reality kicks in and we come home from work later than expected, the cooking doesn’t look darn beautiful no matter which filter you put through.

My goal today isn’t to present you with amazingly easy and delicious vegan recipes (you can check my recipe section for that or social media). 

My goal is to make your vegan start as easy as possible, to save you time, money and nerves..put down 10 tips that will hopefully keep you organised, well fed and happy.

The 10 tips to start a vegan diet for beginners are:

1. plan your weeks menu

2. have two interchangeable meals

3. leftover save the day

4. grain on the go

5. legume on the go

6. fresh veggies and fruits

7. smoothie jars

8. sauce it up

9. grocery list

10. jam it up

Tip #1: plan what you are going to eat over the week and stick to it.

Stick to it. It’ll make your life so much easier if you stick to your weekend diet plan. Changing your diet is also changing yourself and change takes discipline. That’s why, stick to it. 


I recently read a quote: “Discipline is remembering what you want.”

Do some meal planning and some grocery shopping and some meal prep. This will save you time and money no matter what diet you eat.

I don’t know what your schedule is like, but I make my week’s meal planning on Saturday morning. I have a quiet cup of coffee and simply write down what I want to eat the coming week. I also do shopping on Saturday. 


So pick a day that works best for you. It can be Saturday or Sunday or if you have a really flexible schedule, maybe a couple days a week that you can work on stuff and then stick to it and work on that for a while.

It’ll start to become a routine and then you’ll have to have made for the week and you’ll feel good to go so stick to the weeks menu plan. 

vegan diet planning

Tip #2: decide on two interchangeable meals or recipes that you’d like to have an available for lunch and dinner.

What do I mean by that?

So, usually, I’ll have some mixed lettuce in a fridge for salad ready to make, as well as something more proper like a risotto or a curry and some burrito stuffing or something like that.

This way, I only have three or four foods but I can shift between them as I wish.

If I want one for dinner one day and one for lunch the next day I can swap, throw some salad with it and it’s done.

I can have the risotto with the salad. I can then put risotto leftover in a burrito with some veggies and it’s so easy. 


Just by having at least two things made and ready to heat up, can make a huge difference. If you’re feeling really overwhelmed and can’t do divided, separate meals for each day and breakfast lunch dinner and all that, just pick two kinds of interchangeable lunch and dinner recipes and stick with that and that will be really helpful. 

Tip #3: make enough food when you make a food to have a good amount of leftovers for the week.

Don’t just make one bowl meal for one particular meal. Instead, make it for 2 or 3 times and refrigerate it,  freeze it, or have it available as leftovers. This can save you so much time.

Leftover are underrated guys.

When I make barley minestrone, I’ll just make it as much as I can, usually a whole pot and then have it for the week.

There’s always the evening situation of “What am I going to eat at work tomorrow?”. Leftovers will save you. Whatever you cook for dinner today, make some extra so you can lunchbox it for tomorrow. 

leftovers

Tip #4: make a large batch of some sort of grain.

Grains a super important part of any diet and since we threw out meat and dairy, there’s more space on the plate for grains.

What type of grain depends completely on your taste and preferences.

For me, it’s usually brown rice or barley (I love barley). Having some sort of large batch of grain on hand helps heaps.

This way you can quickly add some veggies and legumes to it and have a quick meal if you’re in a hurry or don’t feel like cooking much. 

Tip #5: have a large batch of some sort of legume as well.

Black beans, Kidney beans, Pinto beans..beans in general. Then lentils, peas and chickpeas.

I cook mine in my instant pot – if you want a recipe for one pot veggie barley soup, then definitely check out Vegan for beginners Facebook group. I have instant pot recipes other vegan recipes all that useful stuff so check it out. 


By making sure you have a large batch of a grain and a large batch of legumes, you’re 2/3 done with meal prepping. 

Tip #6: stock up on fresh veggies and fruits.

You’ll need them for snacking, for salads, for bowls, etc.

One of the biggest hindrances is when you’re hangry you just want something! to eat and having healthy snacks ready is a big relief.

You can cut carrots into stick and have them with hummus, or celery. 


Sure, junk food Friday is all good and much deserved treat but in between, try to snack on the healthy veggies, fruits, dry fruits, etc..

Tip #7: make smoothie jars.

Are you a smoothie lover that’s always running late in the mornings?

Prepare a smoothie jar a day before, or a zip lock bag. Whatever works best for you and your schedule.

Simply put your smoothie ingredients in a jar or zip lock and in the morning, put it in a blender, add some water and blend. Done.

Doing this, will probably save you 10 minutes at least. 10 minutes to sleep longer. 

overnight oats and smoothies

Tip #8: sauce it up, dress it up.

Before I went vegan I put sour cream on everything, or butter or cheese. I love creamy dishes.

When I started my vegan diet I missed that creaminess and I didn’t take a lot of effort to properly research what’s the vegan substitute for sour cream.

I think this lack of creaminess can be a deal breaker for people starting a vegan diet.

So what I suggest is to pick one sauce, for the week and learn how to use it. I’m currently a big fan of vegan substitute for sour cream – made of cashews. 

Having a sauce or dressing or something creamy on the hand is super super helpful to have, specially in transition stage.

There’re tons a different kinds of recipes. You can do it yourself as long as you have a powerful food processor or blender, and it’s not expensive to do it. Do a little Pinterest search and see what out there. People have different tastes and we come from different cuisine regions, so find something that sounds good to you and make or buy that. 

Tip #9: keep a grocery list on your fridge and feel it our as you go.

Having a grocery list on your fridge is super convenient. When you’re cooking and notice you are completely out of pasta or beans or whatever ingredient, you can write it down right away.

That way you keep track what’s in your kitchen and what you need. And when you make a list to go to the store you already know most of what you need. Use the fridge grocery list for you grocery shopping.

You can also have a little separate section where you put down other things you want to add based on what you want to make that week. 
You can call them “Need” and “Want” grocery list. 

vegan grocery list

Tip #10: don’t take it too seriously, you’re doing great.

Don’t overwhelm yourself with difficult recipes and fancy ingredients. Choose the dishes you would usually eat and tweak them into vegan. Pasta, risotto, salads, soups, etc. are easily veganised. You probably already eat some vegan dishes and on’t even notice it. 

Conclusion

Starting a vegan diet for beginners isn’t difficult. Like with any other diet, large batches, freezing, leftovers, some basic prepping and grocery lists will make it easy to stick with starting the diet.

Planning a diet and meal prep doesn’t have to be boring.

Put on some music, dance and have a quality me time. That’s what I do: lately, I’ve been listening to Elderbrook pretty much all the time and I have such a jam prepping food for the week. It sort of became “my day” and I love it.


What I’m trying to say is, make it enjoyable. Whatever vibes with you is good.

Maybe you have children that you can include and involve them in food. Kids tend to eat better and try more new foods if they’re involved in decision-making when cooking and such.

Maybe you have an audio book that you don’t get a chance to listen to. Or you don’t get enough of You time and can do something similar as I do. 


Again everyone’s different and you have to find what works for you. Food is an important part of our lives that we kind of pushed aside and started to think of it as a chore. It’s not. It’s a part of who we are, what you eat becomes you – literally you. So it is important to feed yourself well and enjoy it.

Don’t overwhelm yourself and do it at your pace. 
Also remember that meal doesn’t have to look instaworthy. What you see on social media, cookbooks, magazines and blogs are professionally styled foods. Yes, people have carriers making food look you just want to devour. 

I hope this was a helpful post. I hope that you found inspiration for how to save some time in the kitchen and make meal planning easy.

If you liked what you’ve read, please leave a comment bellow so we can chat some more. Your comment help to push this post so more people can read it and find the info they were looking for.   

You can also find me on social platforms, under the “Vegan for beginners”..just click that FB icon below and I’ll talk to you soon.

I love hearing from you guys.


Till next time,
Katya

26 thoughts on “How to start a vegan diet for beginners”

  1. I have been thinking about turning vegan for a while now but I didn’t have the time to look into the whole process… I can say that I got a pen and paper and I wrote all your tips down as I think they’ll make my journey easier.

    Do you happen to know of any good books for vegan recipes? I have no idea where and how to get started…

    Reply
    • Hi Harry, vegan cookbooks area another great way to get you into vegan diet but just be careful you don’t overwhelm yourself. Because every recipe sound like you have to do it like right now and you end up buying all the ingredients, spending bunch of money on ingredients you don’t really know how to use. So just take it easy, look for inspiration in cookbooks, decide on 2 or 3 meals from the book and go for it 🙂 This way you’ll progress more slowly but steady, you’ll try new food and ingredients but you won’t feel like you got into something that’s to difficult to handle. Because going vegan is hard to do, one day you just don’t buy meat when you go grocery shopping. The other day you don’t buy milk and butter and eggs..and you slowly build a vegan pantry.

      Here and my fav vegan cookbooks for beginners

      Reply
  2. I went Vegan for a while a few years ago, my wife is still vegan after 5 years, I also used to always buy in and stock up with lot’s of vegetables and fruit, etc to make sure that I had no excuses to eat whatever other food was on offer.    I love the idea you talked about by preparing your ready-made smoothie jars. I didn’t know about this before, but I think I did see it very recently on another online blog or website. 

    Thank you for putting together this post I am 1000% sure it will be a great help to anyone starting off on their new Vegan diet. 

    Reply
    • Hi Sotiris, I’m glad you found it useful and that you do similarly when it comes to planning a diet. Knowing what I have in my pantry, freezer and fridge keeps me from getting a take-away on my late from work day 🙂

      Yes, smoothie jars are really convenient. What I like to do is for expamle, buy mango when it’s in season cut it and put it in zip lock bags, freeze it and so I can have it for later month, when it’s pretty much impossible to get a mango.

      Say hi to your wife for me,

      Katya

      Reply
  3. My partner is finally taking the step to turn vegan, and after she has set into it I am (reluctantly) going to follow her in a few months. 

    This article is an excellent starting point for us as we’ve only managed to gather information so far that relates to more experienced vegans. 

    You mention smoothie jars for the morning – are smoothies the norm for a vegan breakfast?

    Reply
    • Hi Chris, I’m so sooo happy to hear both of you’re going vegan. You’ll love it!

      Not at all, smoothies are a great way to get those “5 a day” fruits in one go or just to have a vitamin, fiber packed drink in your day – for anyone, not just vegans.

      I’m just working on an article for vegan breakfasts and will link it once done. But you can have whatever you want for breakfast, you can even make a tofu or tempeh scramble instead of your egg scramble. Toasts with different toppings, oatmeal and burritos, if you have time in the morning or for the weekend, you can bake different muffins and have them with vegan butter – really, so much deliciousness and options. 

      If you have any questions let me know,

      Katya

      Reply
  4. Thank you for a most informative and helpful article. This will not only help vegans but also anybody who is trying to change their eating habits for the better.

    I agree that in order to stick to any sort of diet, it is best to be able to plan and prepare ahead of time. Know exactly what you are going to eat for the next week and have all the ingredients on hand.

    I love having some frozen soup available, then I am not tempted to order junk food. Your lunch box for tomorrow is also a great idea and you will also save a lot of money this way.

    For a Vegan starting out, it is so much more difficult, as there are so many hidden foods that you cannot eat, so preparing vegan food will be challenging until you have found some recipes that you really enjoy.

    I love your idea of the sour cream made of cashew nuts. I have tried the cashew nut cheese, but not the sour cream yet, so I will have a lookout for that.

    Reply
    • Hi Michel, shopping for a vegan diet, specially beginners, takes a bit more time because you’re reading every ingredient label to see if it’s ok or not. With time, you do learn and remember every single ingredient by heart and you just quickly scan the back of the label and know if it’s vegan or not. And I think this is why vegans are so aware of what’s going in a “food” – because we do all that research behind the ingredient label and the whole new, hidden world starts rushing in. 

      So, I feel every shopper and consumer should put more time in researching his or her’s food. Just to be aware that the pretty packaging doesn’t mean a healthy product, vegan or not vegan.

      Oh yes, try a cashew sour cream, it’s yumm!

      Best,

      Katya  

      Reply
  5. A very interesting and informative article Katya, to start with I have to be honest, I am overweight, quite a bit overweight actually, I feel absolutely certain that if I went on a vegan diet that I would lose weight, in fact, a vegan diet may even help me get to my ideal weight and I must say the meals in this post do look very appetizing, however, I have always been of the opinion that if I went on a vegan diet, I would be missing out on certain vitamins and minerals, could you let me know please if I would need to take vitamin supplements while on a vegan diet ?

    Russ 

      

    Reply
    • Hi Russ, eating wholefood balanced vegan diet does help you lose weight. I keep repeating this “wholefood and balanced” diet because vegan does not mean healthy – you can find a lot of junk food that is vegan and junk or processed foods don’t help with weight loss.

      The nutrients you should pay attention to when on vegan diet, and if you eat a healthy vegan diet are the same as if you’re a meat eater – vitamin D and vitamin B12. Both, D and B12 are very hard or impossible to find in food so taking supplements or fortified foods is a good idea. You get enough protein, calcium and iron eating vegan. Sure, if you’re physically active or want to build muscles, you can take a protein powder.   

      You can read more about vegan supplements recommendations, where I went more in depth on the topic.

      Hope this helps,

      Katya

      Reply
  6. I love how you organize how Vegans should start their Vegan Diet. I am a Muslim, so I don’t eat pork. So this will be a great vegan diet to try out.

    I always find it difficult to continue with a balanced diet, but I never stop trying. I like trying different diets to see what works for me, but I haven’t got that one I am able to stick to just yet. Maybe this will be it, you never know.

    Thank you for covering this post. I’ll definitely be trying this out, so I’ll save this post to guide me.

    All the best to you.

    Reply
    • Hi Aabidah, thank you for leaving you comment. You’re doing the right thing by trying out different diets because you never know which one works for you. We’re all different and yeah, I think if you try and stink with a vegan diet (when and if) and month worth of vegan eating should give you a pretty good idea whether this feels good for you or not.

      Best,

      Katya

      Reply
  7. Hi! Starting a vegan diet has always been difficult for me. But I’m glad I found your post. I really like your perspective and it’s encouraging. I have liked this post very much. I have bookmarked your 10 tips and I specially liked the number 7: smoothie jars!

    I know this post will also be super useful for some friends. This post is definitely worth sharing. Thank you!

    Reply
    • Hi Henry, thank you for leaving your comment. I’m glad you found the information useful and hope you and your friends will enjoy smoothies!

      Katya

      Reply
  8. Thank you for sharing vegan tip! I am glad that I already practice what you suggest. I used to be a vegan for about 2 years back in 2000. But like you said, coming home tired, the money, the time, it was just impossible for me to put together a really nice vegan dish. Let alone it was harder back then when I cared too much about partying.

    Anyways, I still enjoy eating vegan from time to time. Almost everyday when I eat at home actually. I feel energized and have better gut health. 

    I now pre-prep my meals for the weekdays (I cut some slack on the weekends, I still love to enjoy my social life.) so I have no excuse to eat junk. My favorite is my zucchini noodles with mushroom sauce that I always go to. I always make Thai papaya salad and have it with grilled portabella mushroom. Or I even make soy cheese grilled cheese sandwich with some tomato soup, it is so good you should try it. For dessert, I tried this tofu chocolate pie, it is so good you can find the recipe on youtube. I always prepare my meals on Sunday night and it has become my ritual.

    Reply
    • Nuttanee, your food sounds delicious! I’ll definitely look up the recipes and make some…well, everything 🙂

      I know what you mean by feeling energized, before going vegan I nearly always wanted to lay down after a meal and have a little nap. Now, I never feel like it and I never have that “rock in my belly” feeling.

      Keep up the good food work,

      Katya

      Reply
  9. Hi Thanks for your article on how to start a vegan diet.

    I found cutting out meat was difficult. I started by cutting out mammels, then birds, then everything else.  I am yet to eliminate dairy.  Do you have any suggestions.  My diet is mainly grains, legums and veges of which I prepare well in advance of a meal

    Reply
    • Hi Aaron, fake meat like Beyond burger, Quorn and other brands that make vegan friendly “meats” make the transition much easier. You can try this or find couple of plant based dishes you find really satisfying and enjoying. Prepare some vegan creamy sauces, I found this worked for me very well. I made a cashew sour cream, hummus and guacamole. This way I didn’t miss cheese. Also, try different plant based milks, and find the one that you like. I prefer soy or cashew milk. Almond milk is popular as well.

      At the end of the day, be proud of yourself. You’re doing your best and being vegan isn’t about being perfect or 100% hardcore vegan..it’s about doing your best.

      Hope this helps,

      Katya

      Reply
  10. These are excellent tips for starting any type of new diet. Eating a new diet is often a lifestyle change, and there are probably many cases in which people failed to adapt to the diet because they were too used to the.old diet. I especially like the ideas of cooking in bulk, and planning the meals. It also sounds like a good idea to have a grocery list on the refrigerator. Every time I do grocery shopping, I always forget something.

    Reply
  11. Thanks so much for these excellent suggestions for beginning vegans!  Doing it and sticking to it is the most difficult part of creating a habit (or diet!).  Any possible way to make this easier for someone increases the chance they will actually do it.  Or put another way, the fewer obstacles in the way, the more likely it will happen.  Such as if you leave your gym gear out the night before so you can put it on first thing in the morning and go do yoga!  So thanks for the suggestions!

    Reply
  12. I ma already a vegeterian but switching to vegan is what ti have been considering lately. this will require proper and conscious effort to reorganize my menu table and get the best nutritional items and ingredients. this article has been of great help to me. thank you very much for this post. it is awesome.

    Reply
    • Hi Kirkman, to things easier, here’s a vegan grocery list so you can easily navigate what items to buy (they’re mostly whole food item, so healthy), then some further read on supplements you want to consider, and if you click on a “lists” tag you’ll find lists of vegan food rich in specific vitamins, mineral and fiber.

      Let me know if you need anything else!

      Katya

      Reply
  13. The number of people opting to switch to a vegan diet has been on the risen of late due to the desire to lose weight, lower blood sugar levels, improve kidney functioning, lower the risk of breast and colorectal cancer, lower risk of heart disease as well as reduce arthritis pain among many other benefits. I too would want to associate with this class of people.

    I have not been consistent with the diet but your article inspires me to resume, and the 10 tips you have shared are quite easy to adopt and apply regularly. I really don’t have to make the meal instaworthy – thanks for the tip!

    Reply
  14. Katya,

    This post is a wonderful guideline for saving time. I know you outlined it more for beginners into the vegan lifestyle, but I think it works for every lifestyle.

    You outlined the 10 tips perfectly and I know I am going to work on tip #1 and #2 myself. Planning is key with everything you do.

    I am not vegan, but I do enjoy a fair amount of fresh veggies and fruits. Do you have any tips on how to store them and make them last longer? I seem to throw away more than I can eat sometimes. My husband and I tend to go in spurts of consumption.

    I also love the smoothie jar idea. I am definitely going to try that.

    Thank you for sharing such great information.

    Reply
    • Hi love, yes, I know, some fruits and veggies spoil sooner than others. What I started doing and it works great is that I would buy let’s say you love blueberries and you know they spoil in a blink of an eye..buy load of blueberries when they’re in season and just freeze them for later. Same with veggies that you may not be able to eat while still fresh. 

      Now, some produce isn’t freezable like lettuce, zucchini freeze terrible as well – with that types of veggies, I guess buy them in moderation so that you can use it along with you freezed ones.

      Or, you can stuff them in the jars and pickle them!

      Hope this helps,

      Katya

      Reply

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