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The Vegetarian Myth Debunked

The Vegetarian Myth Debunked

A paleo friend suggested I read “The Vegetarian Myth: Food, Justice, and Sustainability” for an alternative perspective to the vegan/vegetarian diet. The book was written by someone who was vegan for 20 years, but decided to start eating animal products again for a variety of reasons.

Our friend was genuinely concerned about our health, and it never hurts to hear other experiences, but I must admit my skepticism prior to checking it out. Thankfully, the author provided the first chapter as a free sample download for my Kindle, so I was able to gauge the book’s veracity before buying it.

After reading just the first chapter, I cannot justify buying the book. The amount of false information and anecdotal evidence in just one chapter makes it impossible to take seriously.

Here’s the first chapter of The Vegetarian Myth debunked…

Degenerative Disc Disease Caused by Vegan Diet: False

The author attributes her Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD) to being vegan for 20 years, but cites no evidence supporting her claim. In fact, there is no scientific evidence suggesting that DDD is caused by diet.

After eating meat for 44 years, I was diagnosed with severe DDD and congenital spinal stenosis, which required two major back surgeries. This makes me more familiar than most with this condition. Here’s a picture of my back after 44 years of a meat-heavy diet, which I don’t blame for this condition because there’s no scientific evidence to justify it.

After speaking to my doctor and doing considerable research, I found that this condition is most often caused by injury, aging and/or bad genes. In my case, it was bad genes. In addition, DDD isn’t actually a disease. It “refers to a condition in which pain is caused from a disc that loses integrity.” [source]

Contrary to the author’s unfounded belief, a diet high in antioxidants (found only in fruits and vegetables) and low in inflammatory agents (mostly found in meat, dairy and eggs) can actually help treat the condition. “We’ve known for 14 years that a single meal of meat, dairy, and eggs triggers an inflammatory reaction inside the body within hours of consumption.” [source]

That means a vegan diet may benefit the condition, not harm it, and certainly not cause it. The author’s attribution of her DDD to her vegan diet is anecdotal with no science to support it.

A vegan diet may benefit Degenerative Disc Disease, not harm it, and certainly not cause it. #vegan Click To Tweet

Humans Can’t Eat Grass So That Makes Us Meat Eaters: False

Edible Types of Animals and PlantsThis one is hard to refute with a straight face because it’s so absurd. True, we can’t digest grass like cows and horses. We also can’t digest tree bark or other plants made predominantly of cellulose.

However, our digestive system is optimized to digest over 7,000 other plants while we eat only about 35 different types of animals. Lacking a four-chamber stomach doesn’t, by default, make us meat eaters. It simply means we can’t eat certain types of plants.

The term “herbivore” refers to an animal that survives primarily on a plant-based diet. It’s not specific about the type of plants. Some herbivores eat grass, others eat bark, others eat 7,000 different types of plants.

Some herbivores eat grass, others eat bark, others eat 7,000 different types of plants. #vegan Click To Tweet

Our inability to eat grass does not make us meat eaters. This is a logical fallacy.

The Human Digestive System is the Same as a Lion’s: False

The author states, “Lions and hyenas and humans don’t have a ruminant’s digestive system. Literally from our teeth to our rectums, we are designed for meat.”

This statement is false for a number of reasons. Here’s a short list of how our digestive systems are different from true carnivores and omnivores: [source]

  • Jaw Structure – Carnivores have a much wider mouth opening than humans allowing them to seize prey and bite through thick skin and muscle with enormous force.
  • Teeth – Carnivores have razor sharp, serrated molars for slicing through flesh. Humans have flat molars for grinding plants.
  • Saliva – Human saliva contains carbohydrate-digesting enzymes which begin breaking down food molecules while the food is still in the mouth. Carnivores lack these enzymes and typically swallow their food in large chunks.
  • Throat – Carnivores have large throats, allowing them to swallow large chunks of food without choking.
  • Stomach – Carnivores have a large stomach with high acidity, allowing them to gorge on food and digest it slowly. Humans have a much smaller stomach with less acidity than carnivores, and process food quickly into the small intestine.
  • Small Intestine – Carnivores have short small intestines, roughly 3 to 5 times their body length. Human small intestines are roughly 10 times body length. A shorter intestine allows carnivores to process the putrefying meat out of their systems quickly.
  • Large Intestine – Carnivores also have a short and narrow large intestine whose only purpose is to absorb salt and water. The large intestine in humans is very long and wider than the small intestine. It also absorbs important vitamins, electrolytes and water, as well as helps with the digestion of fibrous plant materials.
  • Cholesterol – Carnivores have a very efficient system for processing the cholesterol they consume from meat. Cholesterol doesn’t form plaque in their arteries like it does in humans.

Unlike humans, true omnivores like bears and raccoons have retained most of the carnivorous traits listed here, and have not developed herbivorous traits characteristic of humans.

The biggest difference between carnivores, omnivores and humans is how we process cholesterol. You can feed a lion or a bear 4 pounds of butter a day for the rest of their lives and they will never form plaque in their arteries. Humans only need to consume small amounts of cholesterol to form plaque in our arteries.

In reality, our digestive systems are most similar to apes and chimpanzees who eat a mostly vegan diet. Apes sometimes eat termites and chimpanzees sometimes eat insects and smaller monkeys, but overall they eat predominantly plants. They certainly don’t eat animal products at every meal. So if the author wants to compare us to other animals, the animals should be those with similar digestive systems, not radically different systems.

It’s also important to note that heart disease is the leading cause of death in western societies that consume large amounts of animal products (meat, dairy and eggs). And we’ve known for over a hundred years that one of the leading causes of heart disease is consuming too much cholesterol (only found in meat, dairy and eggs).

From a purely biological perspective, the human digestive system is designed to eat plants, not animals. The fact that early hominids figured out how to eat meat is most likely a sign of environmental or cultural adaptation, not biological evolution.

Monocrops of Annual Grains to Feed Humans are Destroying the Environment: False

Monocrop Consumption by LivestockWhile it’s true that monocrops are contributing to environmental destruction, the majority of these crops aren’t being fed to humans.

In fact, “The 7 billion livestock animals in the United States consume five times as much grain as is consumed directly by the entire American population.” [source]

That means for every acre of grain that’s grown for human consumption, 5 acres are grown for animal feed. If we stopped eating animal products, we would reduce the need for monocrops considerably while making polyculture on the large scale more viable and feasible.

For every acre of grain that's grown for human consumption, 5 acres are grown for animal feed. #vegan Click To Tweet

Again, the author draws false conclusions from available evidence to justify her dietary choices.

Vegans Want to Build a Fence Down the Middle of the Serengeti: False

The author shares an experience she had on a vegan forum where a small group of misguided and uneducated vegans proposed building a wall down the middle of the Serengeti to prevent the carnivores from eating the herbivores.

It’s important to note that this exchange can’t be verified, and those involved may not have been serious. This may have been sarcasm that escaped the author.

Although some vegans do believe we should protect all life at any cost, the true vegan philosophy is to “do the least amount of harm.” If we prevent carnivores from eating in their natural habitat, that goes against the vegan values. It’s doing more harm than good. It would cause the carnivores to starve by depriving them of their food source. And by removing the natural predators from the environment, the herbivore population would explode, leading to disease and starvation.

The real issue here is that rational vegans believe humans were never meant to be part of the carnivorous food cycle. Our ancestors took us out of our place in the middle of the food chain and put us on top of it, which has thrown the whole system out of balance.

Returning to our rightful place in the food chain will restore a little balance to our ecosystem. Click To Tweet

I don’t think many vegans would advocate going back to our old spot in the food chain and allow carnivores to eat a few of us on a daily basis, but that doesn’t mean we need to continue eating animals on a daily basis, either. By returning to our rightful place in the food chain, we’ll be restoring at least a little balance to our ecosystem.

A Vegan Diet Is Not Sufficient Nutrition for the Human Body: False

The author writes, “A Vegetarian diet – especially a low-fat version, and most especially a vegan one – is not sufficient nutrition for long-term maintenance and repair of the human body.”

She doesn’t back this statement up with science, only anecdotal evidence from her own health issues, which she has misattributed to her past vegan diet. In fact, decades of science support a whole-foods plant-based diet (WFPB), which is another name for a healthy vegan diet.

In countries that consume a high animal, low unrefined plant diet, the rates of heart disease and cancer increase predictably and consistently. Regions of the world that have yet to adopt the western diet of affluence don’t experience the same levels of these preventable diseases. [source]

If you consume the junk food vegan diet of highly processed foods with lots of added sugars, you won’t get enough nutrition to maintain your body. But if you eat a healthy, balanced, WFPB vegan diet, you’ll not only get enough nutrients, your body will thrive and your chance of dying early from a number of diseases including heart disease and cancer goes down dramatically.

Veganism Causes Depression Due to a Lack of Tryptophan: False

Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that we must get from the food we eat; our bodies can’t produce it. It’s linked to the production of serotonin in the brain, and many people believe that low serotonin levels may lead to depression. However, “This is a myth because countless scientific studies have specifically examined this theory and have come back universally rejecting it.” [source] Low serotonin levels have not been proven to cause depression.

Furthermore, the author states, “there are no good plant sources of tryptophan.” This is patently untrue. Here is a short list of just some plants that contain tryptophan: spirulina, soybeans (tofu), sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, oats, chickpeas, wheat flower, chocolate, rice, quinoa, potatoes, tamarind and banana. [source]

While egg whites sit atop this list and meat does contain it, by no means can you say there are “no good plant sources of tryptophan.” This statement is completely false.

The cause of depression in some vegans is the mental issues they bring to their diet. #vegan Click To Tweet

Finally, some research suggests that it’s not a vegan or vegetarian diet that causes depression. According to a German study, “The researchers concluded that being vegetarian did not cause people to be depressed. Rather depressed people—for whatever reason—were more likely to choose a vegetarian diet.” [source] In other words, the cause of depression in some vegetarians and vegans isn’t the food they eat, it’s the mental issues they bring to their diet.

The Vegetarian Myth Debunked Conclusion

While this is only a review of the first chapter, this chapter is a preview of the rest of the book so I think it’s safe to assume the rest of the book contains more of the same types of false information and anecdotal evidence. Therefore, I can’t justify purchasing it and I don’t want to give the author validation with my credit card.

I honestly feel sorry for the author. She most likely didn’t eat a healthy vegan diet and suffered the consequences with diminished health. However, I don’t accept that all of her physical ailments were caused by her vegan diet. Instead, they were more likely due to her heredity, environmental conditions, upbringing, depression and addictive personality.

As one Amazon reviewer wrote, “Keith is just oh so sure of it all. Utter certainty of her earlier food-religion. Utter certainty of her new food-religion. From one fanatical spiritual obsession with food to another.”

I’m sure the author believes she’s doing the right thing, but she is actually doing more harm than good. She believes she’s helping “save lives” when in reality, she’s helping people justify their poor dietary choices by ignoring decades of science and assisting them in a slow death by food.

She feels like she’s had an epiphany and discovered what she calls “adult knowledge,” but her condescension is just a cover allowing her to blame something other than herself for her poor food choices and the mental issues that afflict her. Rather than writing a book on this topic, she would be better served by working with a qualified psychotherapist.

How to Cut Acorn Squash

How to Cut Acorn Squash

Baked Acorn Squash Breakfast PinThis is How to Cut Acorn Squash the easiest way so they stand up for preparing, cooking and eating without falling over. All you’ll need is a sharp knife and a cutting board.

If you’ve ever cooked an acorn squash like our Baked Acorn Squash Breakfast, you’re familiar with the challenge of preparing and eating it. They’re hard to cut and they fall over, spilling your stuffing all over your plate.

Thanks to Amelia’s guidance, I figured out the easiest way to cut an acorn squash with the least amount of effort.

Save the seeds and use our Roasted Squash Seeds recipe to make a delicious snack or salad topping.

How to Cut Acorn Squash Cooking Video

Step 1: Get Prepared

Get a sharp knife and place your acorn squash on a cutting board.

How to Cut Acorn Squash Prep 1

Step 2: Cut Off the Stem of the Acorn Squash

The first step is to cut off the stem to form a flat base so the squash stands up for the remaining cuts.

How to Cut Acorn Squash Prep 2

Step 3: Cut Off One Side of the Acorn Squash

Stand the acorn squash up on the flat base you created in Step 2. Then cut a small section off of one side.

How to Cut Acorn Squash Prep 3

Step 4: Cut Off the Other Side of the Acorn Squash

Now cut off a small section from the opposite side from your previous cut.

How to Cut Acorn Squash Prep 4

Step 5: Cut the Acorn Squash in Half

The final step is to cut the acorn squash in half down the middle between your previous two slices.

How to Cut Acorn Squash

And that’s all it takes to perfectly cut your acorn squash so it stands up during preparation, cooking and eating.

P.S. You still need to scoop out the innards 😉

How To Go Vegan

How to Go Vegan

Learning how to go vegan is the first step into a whole new world of flavorful food and compassionate living. Going vegan has the single largest impact on your health, the environment and the well-being of animals of any life choice you can make. And it’s super easy to do!

This article is a primer. It’ll expose you to the nuts and bolts about how to go vegan, including the main reasons people decide to go vegan so you stay motivated, what things are and aren’t vegan, how to eat a healthy vegan diet, where to get protein, helpful resources and much more.

We want to make your journey as a new vegan so simple and easy that you have no reason to question your decision to be healthier, reduce your environmental impact and lead a more compassionate life.

What is Veganism?

VEGANISM IS: a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude—as far as is possible and practicable—all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals and the environment. In dietary terms, it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals. (1979 revised definition)

Why You Should Go Vegan

The three main benefits of going vegan are for your health, the environment and the animals. Each person places these in a different order of importance so don’t feel bad if animal welfare isn’t at the top of your list.

Health Benefits of Going Vegan

The health benefits of going vegan are profound. In fact, they’re so profound that vegans qualify for reduced rates on life insurance. When the insurance companies start handing out discounts for life choices, you know you’re doing something right.

No one understands risk better than insurance companies so when they give vegans a discount, that means the data supports what vegans have been saying for years: a plant-based diet is healthier and less likely to lead to your death.

Vegans have a 15% lower risk of all-cause mortality, 22% lower risk of colorectal cancer, and 34% lower risk of female-specific cancer.[1] But the benefits don’t stop there. Switching to a plant-based diet also helps prevent and reverse Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension and obesity.[2]

The list goes on and on. The truth is, our bodies are optimized to eat plants, not animals. Despite what we’ve been taught our entire lives, we are not omnivores. True omnivores like bears and raccoons have retained the carnivorous traits that allow them to eat meat without the negative health consequences.

When insurance companies hand out discounts for life choices, you’re doing something right. #govegan Click To Tweet

Our ancestors were never carnivores and biologically speaking, we haven’t evolved the necessary traits to make us healthy omnivores.[3] Just because our ancestors used their intelligence to figure out how to eat meat, doesn’t mean our bodies are designed to eat meat.


The most common misconception about eating a vegan diet relates to protein. “Where do you get your protein?” is the most common question you’ll hear from non-vegans. This question is a sign of just how effective the animal agriculture marketing campaign has been.

All plants contain protein and you don’t need to eat animals to get enough protein for a healthy, balanced diet. Where do you think cows, horses, gorillas and other plant eating animals get the protein for their enormous muscles? Protein is a building block of life and all life has it. Even plants.

Our fixation on protein is one of the major causes of health problems in western society. Too much protein can cause cancer, kidney disease, kidney stones, osteoporosis and other diseases.[4]

Too much protein can cause cancer, kidney disease, kidney stones and osteoporosis. #govegan Click To Tweet

According to the World Health Organization recommendations, only 5% of an adult’s calories should come from protein compared to the 16% consumed in the average western diet. This means you should only be eating 30 to 50 grams of protein per day compared to the 100 to 400 grams consumed by the average American.[5] Athletes need more protein, but the average American isn’t an athlete.

Eating a healthy, balanced, plant-based diet is part of learning how to go vegan, but it’s far easier than you’ve been led to believe. With one exception, your body is designed to get all the nutrients it needs from plants and the sun, making a vegan diet highly beneficial to your health.

Vitamin B12 (the one exception)

Vitamin B12 is an essential vitamin to your health, but one that your body doesn’t create on its own and one that isn’t readily available in plants.

B12 comes from bacteria that is most easily obtained from eating meat products, but meat isn’t the only source. Many vegan foods are fortified with B12, such as non-dairy yogurts and nutritional yeast. You can also take a weekly B12 supplement.

However, you don’t need to worry too much about getting enough B12 because our bodies have evolved to extract it and store it very efficiently. In fact, you have enough B12 stored in your body right now to last 3 years assuming you stop consuming it today. If you eat B12 fortified foods on a semi-regular basis, you’ll probably be fine.[6]

As you can see, the health benefits of going vegan are numerous and supported by science, at least the science not funded by the animal ag industry. Your body is optimized for a plant-based diet and it will thank you for making the switch to one as you learn how to go vegan.

Environmental Impact of Going Vegan

If you’re concerned about the environment, deforestation, clean air, clean water, species endangerment, etc., then learning how to go vegan is the best thing you can do to make a positive impact.

The animal agriculture industry generates more greenhouse gases (GHGs) than the entire transportation industry, including cars, planes, trains and boats. Conservative estimates place it at 18% of GHGs, but a study conducted by WorldWatch Institute places it at 51% of total human generated GHGs.[7]

Animal agriculture is the leading cause of deforestation. It’s estimated that 91% of deforestation is done to either raise farm animals or to grow the food that’s fed to farm animals.[8]

Animal agriculture is the leading cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution, and habitat destruction.[9]

Since animal agriculture is the worst culprit in everything that’s wrong with our treatment of the environment, that means making even a small change to your eating habits can have an enormous impact.

Each day, a person who eats a vegan diet saves 1,100 gallons of water.[9] That means in one year of eating a vegan diet, you will save over 400,000 gallons of water.

To put this in perspective, a typical leaky faucet loses about 34 gallons of water per year.[10] That means one year of being vegan is like fixing nearly 12,000 leaky faucets!

Why do vegans save so much water? Because it takes a lot of water to raise animals and the crops they eat. The most widely accepted estimate of the water required to produce one pound of beef is 2,500 gallons.[11] The animal ag industry came out with their own number of 441 gallons, but anyone not associated with raising animals for food agrees this number is ridiculously low. Some scientists calculate the number to be closer to 8,000 gallons for one pound of beef.

The negative environmental impact of our meat-heavy diets is indisputable. We are quite simply destroying our planet with the food we have chosen to eat. Learning how to go vegan and switching to a plant-based diet is the only viable solution if we want to leave a place for our grandchildren to live.

Ethical Benefits of Going Vegan

At the core of being vegan is the ethical and compassionate treatment of animals. The animal agriculture industry has circulated a term that has been widely adopted by those who like to eat meat: humane slaughter. This is the quintessential example of an oxymoron like jumbo shrimp or clean coal. There is no way to humanely slaughter a sentient animal that doesn’t want to be killed.

Thousands of studies have been conducted on animal sentience and the overwhelming conclusion is that animals are sentient.[12] That means they can feel pain and fear, and they demonstrate compassion, love and sorrow.

Animals do not have the same level of intelligence as humans so they struggle with rational thought, logic and understanding, but so do 3-year-old human children (and many adults). We have misattributed animals’ lack of intelligence with lack of sentience, and that’s terribly wrong.

95% of our meat comes from animals raised on factory farms, the worst culprits of animal abuse. Animals are treated like non-living things in factory farms. From birth to death, they’re subjected to the worst possible living conditions, pumped full of growth hormones and antibiotics, treated like a cog in a machine, and then slaughtered in horrific ways. The slaughter occurs in sight of other animals who know the one being killed and who also know what’s about to happen to them. Imagine how terrified they must be.

Dairy Cows Aren’t Killed…Why Isn’t Dairy Vegan?

This is a common argument made in defense of dairy. People think that because dairy cows aren’t killed, there’s no harm done. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Dairy cows may have a worse life than cows raised for meat.

To produce milk, cows must have babies. This means they must be constantly impregnated, give birth and then have their babies taken away from them so the milk can be fed to humans, instead. The mom and baby cry and scream for each other for days after they’re ripped apart.

If you love animals, you won’t eat them or drink their fluids. It’s that simple. #govegan Click To Tweet

The babies are kept in small cages and are often sold for veal, while the moms are perpetually milked. This puts an enormous strain on the moms’ bodies leading to early death, infections and other health issues. Once they stop producing milk, they’re slaughtered just like any cow.

If you truly love animals, you won’t eat them or drink the fluids they excrete. It’s that simple.

How to Go Vegan: Switching to a Plant-Based Diet

Once you’ve made the decision to learn how to go vegan, the biggest challenge is swapping out the meat on your plate with plant-based alternatives. It takes a little time to figure things out, but it’s easier than you think.

We’ve created a handy Vegan Substitutes Guide to help you with the basics, like milk, eggs, cheese and meatless meats. We’ve also assembled a long list of vegan recipes, including soy free vegan recipes and gluten free vegan recipes.

Going vegan is not a sacrifice. In fact, after a couple weeks of eating only plant-based foods, you’ll start to notice an increase in your taste bud sensitivity. You’ll be able to detect more flavors in foods and things will just taste better.

Cooking vegan meals is no different than cooking non-vegan meals. Just follow the recipe. #govegan Click To Tweet

You’ll also start to eat a larger variety of foods. Most people make the same three to five dishes every week before going vegan. They eat some form of chicken, fish, pork or beef. How boring! Once you go vegan, you’ll start to eat many different types of veggies and cuisines. It’s an amazing experience and your taste buds will thank you.

The easiest way to get started is to buy a vegan cookbook or bookmark some vegan recipe websites (see recommendations below). Cooking vegan meals is no different than cooking non-vegan meals. Just follow the recipe.

Vegan Gluten Free LasagnaAs you learn how to go vegan, you may find it easier to cook veganized versions of your favorite comfort foods during the transition period so it’s not such a large shock to your system. To get you started, here’s an easy Vegan Lasagna recipe. Several family members told us this is the best lasagna they’ve ever eaten. And they made fun of it right up until they tasted it.

Cold Turkey or Gradual Transition

A lot of people ask if they should go cold turkey or gradually transition to a vegan diet. Some people opt to make a stopover in vegetarian-ville by cutting out meat but continuing to eat dairy and eggs.

How you make the transition is up to you, but the more quickly you eliminate meat, dairy and eggs from your diet, the sooner you’ll see the health, environmental and ethical benefits of going vegan.

Most experts argue that going cold turkey is the best approach. By removing the temptation completely, you’ll more easily and quickly make the transition. Plus, it fast tracks the changes your body and taste buds will experience, which will make you want to stick with it. Once you start seeing the health benefits, you’ll wonder why you didn’t make the switch sooner.

There’s no wrong way to make the transition unless you have a preexisting health condition like diabetes. If that’s the case, you should consult a doctor or registered dietician who is supportive of switching to a plant-based diet. Most doctors have zero training in nutrition and still believe the animal ag propaganda that we must eat meat to survive. If your doctor isn’t supportive, find one who is.

Meal Plans and Grocery Shopping

The best way to make a successful and easy switch to a vegan diet is by planning your meals for the week before you go to the grocery store. Then make a list of all the ingredients you need so you don’t forget anything and need to make another trip or settle for something that’s not as healthy or delicious.

We provide a Free Vegan Meal Plan and a low calorie Weight Loss Vegan Meal Plan using the recipes we’ve made and improved, as well as a Weekly Vegan Meal Plan service. This is designed to make your life easier as you learn how to go vegan and save you hours of time each month planning your meals. You can even customize your meal plan to match your needs and automatically create a grocery list from your recipes.

Here are a few other free meal plans to choose from, depending on your dietary preferences:

The important thing is to make your transition as easy as possible so you won’t be tempted to return to your old, harmful ways. Planning ahead is the best way to do that.

Eating Vegan on a Budget

When you first learn how to go vegan, you may see an increase in your food budget over the short-term. This is especially true if you buy the processed meat substitutes found in the frozen food section, or if you decide to go organic at the same time. Meat substitutes and organic veggies are more expensive than non-vegan, conventional alternatives so that can increase your budget.

In addition, you may find that your kitchen is lacking some common vegan ingredients like nutritional yeast, spices, agave, maple syrup and vegan mayo. These all tend to be more expensive, but you won’t need to buy them very often. This does make your startup costs higher, though.

You could decrease your food costs by $750 or more per year over a lean meat-based diet. #govegan Click To Tweet

However, after you’ve gone full vegan and start eating less of the processed foods and more fresh veggies prepared in a delicious recipe, your costs will decrease. In fact, you could decrease your food costs by $750 or more per year over a lean meat-based diet.[13] You can reduce your costs even further by purchasing frozen fruits and veggies, going to farmers markets or buying in bulk.

You can find lots of affordable recipes on websites like PlantBasedOnABudget.com, Pinterest and this 10-day budget friendly plan from Forks Over Knives.

The Vegan Junk Food Diet

It’s possible to go full vegan eating only potato chips and Diet Coke, but that’s not a very healthy diet. A vegan diet that’s high in processed foods is what we call the Vegan Junk Food Diet and it’s the quickest route to being either an overweight, unhealthy vegan or an underweight, unhealthy vegan.

There are a lot of veganized comfort food recipes that are much healthier than the heavily processed foods characteristic of the Standard American Diet (SAD). Don’t just cut out the animal products. Make your vegan journey fun and exciting by trying new and interesting foods as you learn how to go vegan.

Dining Out

Perhaps the hardest part of sticking to a 100% vegan diet is the challenge of eating out. Restaurants like to sneak meat and animal products into just about everything, especially butter and eggs. They do this because they’re flavor enhancers and they want you to eat more and keep coming back.

Some restaurants will prepare a vegan meal for you that will make your friends envious. #govegan Click To Tweet

When you eat out, don’t be afraid to tell your server that you’re vegan and ask them to leave off the butter that they use to coat everything. You’ll find that a lot of servers are vegetarian or vegan and will be eager to help you. If you call ahead, some restaurants will prepare a special vegan meal for you that will make your non-vegan friends envious. That has happened to us more than once.

Eating out as a vegan is getting easier because more and more restaurants are adding vegan or vegan friendly options to their menus. And there are a lot more vegan restaurants opening, too.

Common Foods that Aren’t Vegan

In addition to meat, dairy and eggs, there are a few other foods that aren’t vegan, such as honey, palm oil, gelatin, crackers, sugar, chocolate, beer and wine.

Honey isn’t vegan because of how the bees are treated. The queen’s wings are often removed to prevent her from leaving the hive. That’s not very compassionate, which is at the core of veganism. In addition, the honey created by the bees is meant to feed their babies. If you take the honey for your food, that means the bees must work twice as hard to produce enough honey to feed both you and their offspring. You’re essentially forcing them into slave labor to keep their children from starving to death.

Palm oil, unless it’s sustainably harvested, is at the heart of Indonesian deforestation and species extinction. Orangutans live in the Indonesian jungles that are being burned and chopped to grow palm oil trees. In the process, they’re burned alive, shot or captured and sold into captivity. Countless other species are suffering the same fate at the hands of the palm oil industry.

Agar PowderGelatin is an animal by-product made from boiled skin, tendons, ligaments, bones and hooves. Sorry to break it to you like that, but we’ve been eating this gross stuff our entire lives. Agar powder is a plant-based substitute so there’s no need to eat animal goo.

Most crackers have egg and/or milk in them, but there are several that don’t. Read the labels to see which ones are vegan.

You might think sugar is vegan by default since it comes from a plant, but only organic sugar is vegan. That’s because most white granulate sugar is processed with animal bone char. Organic sugar is a little more expensive, but it tastes better and doesn’t contain animal ingredients.

Milk chocolate is obviously not vegan, but neither is non-organic chocolate because it’s made with non-organic sugar that contains bone char. Vegan chocolate chips and chocolate bars are easy to find in higher-end grocery stores like Whole Foods or Natural Grocers.

It’s true. Some beer and most wines aren’t vegan. Many vegans aren’t sticklers for this one because…well, it’s beer and wine. But just so you’re informed, some beers such as Guinness are filtered through isinglass, which is made from fish bladder. Guinness says they’re going to stop using isinglass in 2017. Also, most cream stouts or cream beers have dairy derivatives. Most wine is filtered through egg whites to remove sediments. You can use Barnivore.com to check your beer and wine for vegan friendliness.

Gelatin is an animal by-product made from boiled skin, tendons, ligaments, bones and hooves. #govegan Click To Tweet

As you learn how to go vegan, you’ll have this list memorized and you’ll get super speedy at reading the ingredients on labels.

Life as a Vegan

There’s more to being vegan than your dietary choices. Here are a few other things to consider as you learn how to go vegan.

What About My Non-Vegan Stuff?

You may be wondering what to do with your non-vegan items, such as leather clothes and car seats, wool coats, cashmere sweaters, etc. And you probably have health and beauty products that were tested on animals. Once you go vegan, you realize we use animals like toilet paper! It’s shameful!

Part of being vegan is environmental so throwing perfectly good non-vegan things out and replacing them with vegan things not only creates trash, but also requires more resources to create the replacements.

Once you go vegan, you realize we use animals like toilet paper. #govegan Click To Tweet

Another part of being vegan is to do the least amount of harm possible. The damage has already been done for the things you already own so it’s better to take care of them so they last as long as possible to honor the animals who gave their lives for them and minimize your environmental impact.

Most sensible vegans recommend using what you already have, but don’t buy any more of it. That seems like reasonable, environmentally friendly and financially sound advice.

Family, Friends and Holidays

Your non-vegan family and friends will not be supportive. They’ll be judgmental. They’ll worry about your protein intake. They’ll tell you we’re meant to eat meat. They’ll try to get you to eat animal products “for your own good.”

What they’re really doing is trying to convince themselves that they’re right to continue eating a diet that’s killing them, the planet and countless animals. It’s a subconscious defense mechanism that was triggered by you doing the right thing when they’re too scared or selfish to do it themselves.

Don’t take their criticisms personally. Take their criticisms as justification for your own health conscious, environmental and ethical life choices.

Holidays are the hardest time to be around your non-vegan family. You can bring your own dishes to meals so you have something to eat, but that won’t prevent you from derogatory comments.

Some family members derive joy from sneaking meat to their vegan relatives and then gloating about it. They don’t understand that your decision to learn how to go vegan isn’t about how animal products taste. It’s not like trying to trick a child into eating carrots or broccoli. Veganism is an ideology; not a food preference. Plus, once you internalize where meat comes from, it makes you physically ill to think about eating it.

You might find it easier to skip the holiday meals and enjoy your own delicious vegan holiday recipes. Then hang out with the fam after everyone has eaten.

The Unsupportive Spouse/Partner

If you want to learn how to go vegan but your spouse refuses, you in for an uphill battle. It’s much like a smoker or drinker who decides to give up the bad habit, but their spouse refuses. Having the vice in the house all the time makes it difficult to stick to the new way of life.

With food, it’s more challenging because women are typically the first to go vegan while their macho husbands think they can’t survive without meat, or at least won’t be as much of a man without it.

In many cases, that means the wife must cook two separate meals and continue handling a food product that makes them sick to touch and smell. Not a good situation.

You have a few options for handling this. First, you can gradually expose him to the materials that made you want to learn how to go vegan. Show him the documentaries you watched. Share the health and environmental statistics with him. Sometimes you need to plant the seed and let it germinate for a while before people are ready to open their minds.

Second, you can gradually reduce the amount of animal products in the meals you prepare. Start by making veganized versions of his favorite foods, but don’t tell him they’re vegan. Many of the recipes we share are veganized versions of popular comfort foods and no one can tell they’re vegan. What he doesn’t know won’t hurt him.

Third, you can make delicious vegan meals and cook some sort of animal product for him separately. Once you master the art of vegan cooking, he may start to prefer your vegan recipes over his bland animal products.

To take it one step further, skip the plant-based seasonings on his meats so he starts to realize the only reason animal products taste good is because of the plants we put on them. It’s a little passive aggressive, but the ends justify the means, at least in this case.

Finally, you can tell him that you just won’t cook animal products anymore and if he wants them, he can cook them himself. It’s a bit of tough love, but once you explain to him that it makes you physically ill to handle it, he should be understanding if he loves you.

Veganism is an ideology of awakening. Once you wake up and realize the harm an animal-based diet does to your health and the environment, and how horrific animals are treated, it can be difficult to continue a relationship with someone who is still asleep and refuses to wake up. That’s a tough way for both of you to live and it will strain your relationship. Keep the lines of communication open and hope for the best.

Vegan Pets/Companions

A lot of vegans have pets, but we usually call them companions or children. The love between a dog or cat and their human companions is real and healthy for both. Vegans absolutely do not patronize puppy mills or breeders. Instead, we choose to adopt animals who might be euthanized if they don’t find a loving family.

Feeding your companions vegan food is a challenge. Unlike humans, cats and dogs are carnivores/omnivores. They’re designed to eat other animals, even though they can process some plant-based foods.

There are a lot of vegan pet food options available, but your dog or cat may not take to them or may even be allergic to them. If you feel bad buying animal-based pet food, talk to your vet about vegan options before making the switch.

Vegan Activism

If you want to join the animal rights activism movement, go for it. However, you don’t have to protest to be vegan. Changing your diet and the products you buy, and leading by example are just as powerful.

New Vegan Resources

Learning how to go vegan can be challenging for new vegans, so here are some more resources to help you on your journey.

Vegan and Plant-Based Documentaries

Watch these five documentaries and you’ll be more educated about diet and the treatment of animals than 95% of the population:

  • Forks Over Knives and Food Choices – both discuss the health benefits of eating a plant-based diet.
  • Cowspriacy – discusses the environmental impact of eating meat vs. going vegetarian or vegan.
  • Earthlings – this covers the ethical aspect of veganism and our horrific treatment of animals.
  • Vegucated – follows three people switching to a plant-based diet showcasing their trials and tribulations.

Plant-based Diet Books

These are the best two books you can read on the health benefits of eating a plant-based diet:

  • The China Study – the most comprehensive study of nutrition ever conducted.
  • The Starch Solution – your beliefs about diet and nutrition are completely upside down thanks to clever marketing campaigns from the animal ag industry.

Vegan Cookbooks

These are two great starter cookbooks for new vegans:

  • Nom Yourself – easy and delicious vegan recipes.
  • Big Vegan – loaded with over 350 delicious vegan recipes.

Vegan Recipe Websites

Here are some of our favorites vegan recipe websites:

  • LottaVeg.com – this is our recipe index loaded with lots of comfort food, dessert, soy free, oil free, gluten free and a variety of other recipes.
  • MinimalistBaker.com – delicious recipes that require 10 ingredients or less, one bowl, or 30 minutes or less to prepare.
  • AllRecipes.com – lots of recipes in their vegan recipes section.
  • OhSheGlows.com – lots of vegan recipes and most are free of gluten, soy, and processed foods.
  • BrandNewVegan.com – lots of vegan comfort food ideas for new vegans.
  • VeganInTheFreezer.com – lots of recipes that you can freeze for later to save you time.

Facebook Groups

Day or night, someone is online to help you solve a cooking problem, deal with a confrontational friend or family member, provide emotional support, or just listen. Here are some good private groups on Facebook to join:

You should also checkout Meetup.com for local vegan groups and vegan cooking classes in your city. Your city may also have a local Facebook group like our Denver Vegans group.

You don’t have to go it alone. There are lots of people both online and offline who are eager to help you make the most of your vegan journey.

If you have any questions or suggestions about how to go vegan, please leave them in the comments section below. We would love to hear from you and will respond to everyone.

If you found this “How to Go Vegan” guide useful, please share it with your friends and Follow Us on Facebook for more vegan information and recipes.


[1] Orlich et al. JAMA Int Med. (2013)

[2] American Diabetes Association. “Preparing to Prescribe Plant-Based Diets for Diabetes Prevention and Treatment”

[3] VegSource. “The Comparative Anatomy Of Eating”

[4] The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. “The Protein Myth”

[5] McDougall Newsletter. “When Friends Ask: Where Do You Get Your Protein?”

[6] McDougall Newsletter. “Vitamin B12 Deficiency—the Meat-eaters’ Last Stand”

[7] WorldWatch Institute. “Livestock and Climate Change”

[8] World Bank. “Causes of Deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon”

[9] Cowspiracy. “The Facts”

[10] U.S. Geological Survey. “Water Science Activities Drip Calculator: How much water does a leaking faucet waste?”

[11] EarthSave. “2,500 Gallons All Wet?”

[12] Psychology Today. “A Universal Declaration on Animal Sentience: No Pretending”

[13] Journal of Hunger & Environmental Nutrition . “Economical Healthy Diets (2012): Including Lean Animal Protein Costs More Than Using Extra Virgin Olive Oil”

Vegan Diet and Erectile Disfunction

Back in 2015, I started having issues in the ED department. That’s not something any man (or the woman he’s with) ever wants to experience.

In my case, it was caused by a shattered disc in my neck and three ruptured discs in my lower back, but for many men who suffer from erectile disfunction, instead of taking a pill, switching to a vegan diet may be all you need.

According to the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine, ED affects between 15 and 30 million men in America so if the lack of wind in your sail is keeping your ship in the harbor, you’re not alone.

The good news is, doctors know what causes ED and they also know how to fix it the right way without pills. Big pharmaceutical companies make billions selling little pills to provide a quick fix, but they may be camouflaging a bigger problem: cardiovascular disease.

You may think this disease only affects your heart, but vascular health affects blood flow throughout your body, and a healthy blood flow is the key to a healthy erection. Most doctors and researchers agree that the best way to improve your vascular health is with diet and exercise.

In fact, “a study looked specifically at impotence and healthful dietary changes and found that normal sexual function returned in almost one-third of the men who ate less saturated fat and cholesterol (both of which are abundant in animal products) and more fiber (only found in plant foods)….” In addition, “emerging research notes that processed meat products, such as hot dogs and bacon, lower sperm quantity and quality.” [source]

This means that curing your ED may be as simple as switching to a vegan diet that’s high in fiber without cholesterol! And if your little swimmers are drowning in the pool, it may help them, too!

Of course, you need to talk to your doctor about your vascular health and changing your diet before making the switch, but this could be a viable option for curing your ED and fertility issues, as well as improving your overall cardiovascular health.

Check out our Plant-based Recipes for some high fiber, NO cholesterol cooking ideas.