If you want to transition from the carnivore diet of most “civilized” cultures and become a happy healthy herbivore you could attempt to go cold turkey. However, there is a chance that the cold turkey approach might not work for you and that you need to have a more structured approach to reinventing yourself and your diet.
When I decided to become a vegan I had an urge to change drastically, but it did not work in my favor. I realize that there might be the same potential for drastic changes in you, therefore I am warning you now that there is a chance that you will fail while you transit from your usual diet and suddenly give up everything at once. Personally, it took me about a year to fully transition from a standard American diet to a vegan diet. To me, some things were easy to let go while some were really difficult. The purpose of this text is to help you define your diet transition so that things are easier for you in the long run. The plan I am outlining here should be considered a recommendation to gradually transit from carnivore to herbivore. It is not the only way to do it, you can change this outline to make it work better for you.
Phase one: become a vegetarian
Quitting meat is a no-brainer in my opinion. Meat is the most likely reason why you are considering to become a vegan and meat is also at the center of most of the controversy surrounding vegans (where’s your proteins). Subjectively, meat was the easiest to quit for me, but this also seems to be the case for the population as a whole. If we consider the broad population, there are significantly more vegetarians than vegans so that it appears that many more people have no problem to forgo meat, while having more difficulties forgoing all animal products. During my own transition quitting meat took me exactly one day. I just consciously decided to stop eating meat and stopped buying it from that day. The combination of my anecdotal claim corroborated by population statistics indicates that my anecdote seems right and if you are able to quit meat for at least three months you have effectively graduated to vegetarianism.
Why giving up meat is easy
I believe there are many reasons why not eating meat is so easy for us. The main reason is that we are just not made to eat meat. There are many indicators that show this. For example, the acid in the human stomach is weak compared to that of carnivores. At the same time, the lengths of our colons suggest we are herbivores, just like our teeth do. Additionally, population studies consistently show that populations who eat a vegan diet are the healthiest and live the longest. Adopting a vegan diet can cure many degenerative conditions of the body and people who change to a vegan diet often cannot cease to tell you about how awesome they feel since they have changed their diets. All of this suggests that we aren’t meat eaters.
Lastly, to illustrate why humans aren’t meat eaters imagine raw meat. Are you salivating? If no, you are like everyone else. No human being in their right mind ever gets a watery mouth from the raw meat of a dead carcass. Most meats that are considered “uncooked” still go through many preparation processes before they are consumed by humans. We know that dead carcasses are not attractive to humans because no human will ever spur an apatite when they see roadkill (unlike actual carnivores). Most humans only eat meat if it is cooked and seasoned to hide its actual taste.
Why is that, one might wonder? It is because of meat – is quite literally – the ingestion of death. Meat from a dead carcass has ceased living when you consume it. Additionally, meat is infested with bacteria that start to break down the dead matter immediately after death because the immune system no longer keeps the bacteria from taking over the organism. When you eat the organic matter of the deceased you are also ingesting all the germs that they carried and introduce them to your gut.
In comparison to meat, plants continue to be alive after you harvest parts of them for food. Apples, for example, contain enzymes that still function and go through metabolic processes after they fall from the tree. These enzymes help to keep the apple seed alive through the year so that it can grow into a tree next spring. Though a cooked apple loses the metabolic function of the enzymes an apple can be eaten raw so that you have the option to consume living organic matter as opposed to dead organic matter. Eating foods that are still alive also gives you another benefit. Living foods go bad when they are infected by bacteria or fungi. You can when an apple is going bad when it develops brown spots (from bacteria and fungi). The Apple still has a functioning immune system that shows you what is wrong with it. You can now cut out the bad parts of toss away the Apple to avoid being infected with bacteria, fungi or other parasites. You do not have the option with meat. You can only cook it and hope that all the bacteria has died.
Phase two: unlock full vegan powers
After you have completed three months without meat you now only have to eliminate milk, cheese, eggs, and honey from your diet. In my opinion, the best way to achieve full Veganism quickly is to eliminate one of these foods each month. However, you should attempt to eat fully vegan every single day with the remaining foods as your fallback options in case you get a craving. Eventually, you’ll have to learn to resist these craving entirely, but it is hard to get it right from the get go. Therefore, if you have a really strong craving for vegetarian food that you cannot satisfy or ignore otherwise, the remainder of your elimination options is there to rescue you. However, every passing month reduces the options to cheat reduce, while you get more accustomed to eating a fully vegan diet. Every passing month will make living your vegan lifestyle easier and tastier. I believe that this is a good system to have in place if you attempt to become a vegan because it allows you to progress towards Veganism and protects you from falling back to square one if you encounter a food emergency.
There is no right or wrong way to eliminate the following items from your diet, but here are my thoughts on the way you should progress through the items. The order is milk, cheese, eggs, honey.
If you consider becoming a vegan for health reasons you should attempt to eliminate milk first. However, milk was hard for me to give up. The best alternative for milk is tea and water, perhaps coffee. Though coffee is not exactly healthy coffee can help you suppress appetite. It is also likely that milk that you may consume is consumed with coffee. To replace milk, just buy the vegan alternatives like soy or rice milk. However, if you want to become a vegan for health reasons you should limit your beverage consumption to water and tea only.
Learn more about why milk is bad here.
If you like milk and cereal you’ll have to change your morning routine slightly to become a vegan. Start eating oatmeal with fresh fruits, some cacao, cinnamon, and water in the morning. It is what I do and it is delicious. However, during my own transition phase, I skipped a formal breakfast and fasted until noon every day. I usually broke my fast with apples and bananas. I never was a big breakfast person, therefore this was easy for me.
In the following month, you should give up cheese. Giving up cheese is really difficult because cheese contains molecules that are like morphine. So-called casomorphins are very addictive and attach to the opiate receptors of the brain (the one’s heroine also attaches too). Therefore, it can be difficult to walk by cheese in the grocery store while you are hungry. I often felt tempted to get cheese while changing to a vegan diet and I often did. Personally, the cheese was the last thing I gave up because I did not have an adequate replacement that I liked in place. Milk is fairly easy to replace because the soy alternative is usually right next to real milk in most grocery stores. However, this is not the case with cheese.
I recommend buying nuts, instead of cheese, because of the (somewhat) similar fat and protein content. The healthier crunch of nuts can make up for the cheese.
In my experience eggs should be fairly easy to give up. They are similar to meat meaning that you will never crave them. If you have managed phase one of the transition then giving up eggs will feel like nothing to you. If you follow my recommendations then eggs will be your last possible cheat option next to honey. For some weird reason, I developed a strong craving for eggs during the last phase of my own transition. Sometimes, I had strong cravings for eggs, but every single time I was on verge of buying them I was haunted by vivid imaginations about the spirit of the animals.
My consciousness expressed strong compassion for these eggs because these eggs represent nothing but children that were taken away from a mother and are sold for food. Furthermore, these eggs still can produce viable offspring (actually I am not sure on that, but I assume that if the eggs are fresh and you put them in a breeding box they should still hatch; assuming the manufacturer does nothing to ensure the contrary which they might). I just did not want to crack, fry and kill them. I could not do it. I never ate eggs after I decided to become a vegan, but if you have a strong urge to consume non-vegan foods at this point you should relapse on eggs because it will make you feel terrible that you failed and you will probably not do it again.
Learn more about the chicken industry here
Lastly, you should give up honey. If you are like me you were not a big honey consumer before you changed to veganism and there is the potential that this changes during your transition. Since honey is technically still on your white list you may feel compelled to compromise your vegan diet and buy it compulsively. This was the case for me and since I was not willing to cave in on meat, milk, cheese or eggs I got honey. Even though you have been eating vegan for the most part of the past six months you will find the occasional craving for animal foods creeping up on you.
That is okay. If you were serious about the transition you have changed your shopping and cooking habits considerably already. You should not be upset if there is still some residual splurging habit that remains inside you at this point. You can satisfy that with honey or one if its many replacements. I do not find honey particularly appealing and I like the alternatives even less personally. Agave nectar is a possible alternative for you if you struggle to abstain from honey. However, I cannot understand why one would eat it, it is too sweet.
Actually, it can be okay to buy honey too since you will probably just buy it and never eat it. When I bought honey shortly before becoming a full vegan, I bought honey impulsively because of a craving, not because something was missing in my diet in particular. It was just a stupid urge to splurge on something for no reason whatsoever, but it is better to satisfy this urge by buying something and than realizing it is stupid at home then trying to suppress it for days before going on a food rampage. You can give the honey away to your neighbor if you want to (that is what I did).
Additionally, honey for your sweet tooth is easily replaced by any fruit. I think it is unlikely that honey is something that you will miss on a vegan diet because the sheer variety of sweet fruits that will become a part of your vegan lifestyle are actually more than enough for any sweet tooth.
If you are able to complete the final month of becoming a vegan then you are now officially a vegan. Congratulations. You have a better diet than most people in the world.