Going vegan: 5 Simple Steps Towards a Vegan Diet

Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Unsplash by Edgar Castrejon

It’s clear to most ethically conscious consumers why we should eat less meat. But the production of milk, eggs, and leather also contributes to the suffering of millions of animals. For this reason, going vegan means rejecting all products and ingredients derived from animal sources. Your decision doesn’t have to be all or nothing, however – every step counts.

Going vegan isn’t a choice everyone feels comfortable with. But every choice that brings us a little bit closer to a vegan lifestyle is an important contribution to decreasing both animal suffering and our environmental impact. It all adds up. Here’s five simple steps everyone can take.

Vegan Chocolate: Dark, Not Milk

Going vegan with dark chocolate instead of milk
Going vegan: Dark chocolate is nutritious and packed full of antioxidants. (Photo: © Utopia / Binford)

Milk chocolate, as its name suggests, has a relatively high milk content and is therefore naturally not vegan. If it’s not organic chocolate, consumers must assume that the milk is produced via factory farming. Dark or bitter chocolates, however, typically include no or only very little milk. There is also milk-free chocolate, often but not always marked as vegan. Also consider purchasing fair trade chocolate whenever possible.

Fresh Food Means Fewer Additives

Before a food additive is introduced, it undergoes safety and toxicology testing. These tests are performed primarily on animals. Organic production allows the introduction of fewer additives than conventionally-produced food, but even tests of organic additives are not exclusively cruelty-free.

Those attempting to reduce the impact of their consumption on animals should try to avoid preservatives, flavor enhancers, thickening agents, and other food additives by reading labels carefully – whether going vegan or not. Just another argument for cooking for yourself!

Going Vegan: Drink Natural Juices

Natural Juice fruits smoothie
Enjoy going vegan: Make your own fresh-squeezed juices and smoothies right at home. (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Pixabay - balt)

Juice and wine are naturally cloudy drinks, though most of us are used to drinking filtered or clarified varieties. Filtration typically requires gelatin, a food product sourced from animal skin and bones – and one that you’ll probably want to avoid when trying to go vegan. Because gelatin is “only” used as a production aid, it normally isn’t listed on the ingredients label.

Natural juices are cloudy and do not generally contain gelatin. Even organic producers rarely use gelatin to clarify juice; most clearly label their vegan products as such.

No Bones About Eating Candy

Gummy bears and other chewy candies almost always include gelatin sourced from animal skin and bones. Reducing your consumption of animal products requires looking a bit more closely at your candy’s ingredients list – luckily there are now lots of entirely plant-based alternatives on the market.

Gummy bears circle
Unfortunately not vegan: Products such as gummy bears often contain gelatin, a substance produced from the byproducts of the meat and leather industries. (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Pixabay - 422737 )

Another ingredient to keep an eye out for is carmine – a pigment red in color made from the crushed female cochineal insect. Alternatively, dark chocolate contains virtually no milk or other animal products. You can check PETA’s website for a full list of vegan sweets.

Margarine, Not Butter

Even if there’s no replacement for hot buttered popcorn or rum, buy yourself a tub of the yellow stuff and get your “I can’t believe it’s not butter!” expression ready. It’s easy enough to smear plant-based spreads on your breakfast toast or your sandwiches without missing the flavor much, but do pay attention that whatever margarine you buy contains no or palm oil.

Alternatively, consider any number of other vegan spreads. Check out our simple vegan spread recipes here and here!

Going Vegan: Homemade Helps

One simple way to reduce the hassle in buying vegan is to simply make it by hand. This may take longer in the end, but it lets you decide exactly what ingredients come into your recipes and makes going vegan just a bit more exciting. We’ve gathered a number of starter recipes to get you busy in the kitchen in no time.

Going vegan cook for yourself
Cooking for yourself makes going vegan easier, it’s rewarding and lets you decide exactly what you eat. (Photo: © Utopia / Binford)

Have a look at our guide to reusing vegetable scraps and put wilted greens and veggie peels back on your plate in a variety of creative ways. These make a great base for a homemade vegetable broth, smoothies and even vegetable chips. If you’re looking for a quick seasonal thanksgiving treat, have a go at the pumpkin potato fry found here: Tired of Soup? 3 Easy Outside-the-Box Pumpkin Recipes.

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This article was translated by Hilary. You can view the original here: 10 Tipps, um ein bisschen veganer zu werden.

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