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I'm interested in becoming a vegan, and cutting all animal products out of my diet.

Should I go cold turkey (pun intended) and just stop eating animal products immediately, or should I try to be a vegetarian first?

What are the advantages and disadvantages of both?

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As someone who recently transitioned from omnivore to vegan (vegan since May, 2016) I'll be answering based on my own personal experience, not something backed up by research or facts.

Going Cold Turkey can be tough. There are a lot of items to keep an eye out for when shopping for food and other items.

I found that it was easier to cut out meat and seafood first. Then, as I felt more confident knowing what items to look for in ingredient lists (gelatin, albumen, casein, lactose, etc), I was able to continue to cut back on animal products until I ate an animal-free diet. During the no-meat phase, I started eating a lot of meat alternatives (black bean burgers, meatless meatballs, tofu, etc). Then, as I starting cutting out dairy, eggs, etc, I starting looking for alternatives to these ingredients. There is a vast wealth of knowledge on the Internet to "veganize" recipes.

In my opinion, cutting out any amount of animal products/by-products is better than not doing that, so even if you just stay vegetarian, or do a Meatless Monday, you're at least taking steps in the right direction.

  • I'd agree with this, for me, going vegan after being vegetarian for 6 years felt as hard as going vegetarian did initially in terms of what to look out for, it's not like there's a minimum cheese quota to be reached, I didn't drink milk when vegetarian for example, but if there was no choice it wasn't a sin to have milk (at a friend's or while on holiday...). – David S Jan 31 '17 at 19:26
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I'm an ovo-lacto vegetarian of 6 years. I go vegan occasionally for a month or so at a time. I experienced a learning curve the first time I went vegan in the thought process in what I eat and how I shopped. I had to pay much closer attention to ingredients, where I ate, and what products I used. That amount of detail might be off-putting to some. Going cold turkey could be a big motivator for a change in some people.

I think a transition might be a better experience for some people, and going cold turkey better for others.

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Do you know what you're going to eat tomorrow? Can you make a meal plan that you'll stick to for a week (or a month) right now?

If you can't from the top of your head, think about the time you need to find a recipe and cook (maybe that's super easy because you know how to cook and you have an awesome cookbook!). If you need lots of time, being vegetarian first isn't a bad step. Lots of common meals are vegetarian (like mac n cheese) and makes it easier to start.

If your goal is becoming vegan, starting with a small step is not so bad. If you need to do a lot of research to become vegetarian, going vegan right away might not be the best approach.

If you already know what you think you need to know, and just need to start doing it... Go for it! Be compassionate with yourself if you fail to live up to your goals. You don't need to be perfect today, the idea is to create a habit you won't break.

Pro: Might make it easier to stick to in the long run

Pro: being vegetarian for a while gives you a sense of accomplishment

Pro: Gives you time to get used to "being different" (if this is an issue in your social circle)

Pro: Lots of time to research vegan food while you enjoy a more cruelty-free life style than the one you had before

Pro: Easier to get into if you're unused to a vegan/vegetarian lifestyle

Con: Maybe you think "this was hard enough, how will being vegan feel like?" and give up on it.

Con: Your goal is being vegan, so you might feel bad about not being vegan yet.

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