So, you want to become a vegan? Deciding to cut all animal products out of your diet can be a challenge. Here's how to get started:

First, make the commitment to abstain from consuming animal products. It is much easier to keep yourself from cheating if you have made a promise to yourself.Finish all the animal products in your home, or give them away. It may be helpful to have a “Last Supper” with all the foods that you will be giving up. 

What exactly are animal products? Animal products are anything that comes from an animal, such as meat, milk, and eggs. Some vegans include honey in this category. Veganism can extend beyond a person's diet. Some vegans do not purchase or use products, such as leather or certain lotions, that contain animal products.

Now, you have to find things to eat. Look for stores in your area that have vegan-friendly food, such as meat replacements. Find vegan versions of your favorite meals. A vegan or vegetarian cookbook is often useful here, and there are plenty of resources online. Find vegan substitutes for ingredients you frequently use, such as soymilk in place of cow’s milk. For tips on how to do this, visit

Be wary of hidden animal products in the food that you eat. Ingredients like "gelatin" and "whey" are not vegan, but many people do not realize this. Also, it is easy to assume something is vegan because you can't imagine why there would be animal products in it. However, a lot of food, especially processed food, has ingredients that you don't want to eat.

Ensure that you are eating nutritiously. People often equate a vegan diet with a healthy diet, but there is a lot of vegan junk food. After all, sugar is vegan! Get adequate protein by incorporating tofu, tempeh, soymilk, quinoa, vegan meats, beans, and whole grains into your diet. Nutrients like calcium can be obtained from leafy vegatables, fortified soymilk, and vitamins. Be sure to eat plenty of  fruits and vegetables-it is very easy for vegans to base their diet off of bread.

In restaurants, be suspicious of animal products in the food, and be sure to inquire about the ingredients. Many foods can become vegan by request. For instance, you can make a pizza vegan by asking for it without cheese. Some restaurants will not have many vegan options, but you can usually find a vegan side dish like steamed broccoli if you have to eat there. In a pinch, most restaurants will be able to give you bread and vegetables. 

 Tell your friends and family that you are now a vegan. When you are a guest and food is being served, you may have to politely explain why you don’t eat certain things. You should prepare a response for the often-asked question, “Why are you vegan?” Your friends will likely be accommodating, but be prepared for some backlash. 

Learn to keep vegan snacks (such as peanut butter and jelly sandwiches) with you, because you may find yourself in places without vegan options when you need to eat. Airports are particularly tricky. If you are going on a long flight, be sure to bring some food (you might have to purchase it on the gate), because the in-flight meal is seldom vegan.

Remember that veganism can be difficult to maintain. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you cheat. You needn’t give up just because you couldn’t resist that piece of cake. Some vegans make exceptions for one or two dishes that cannot be easily made vegan, such as egg salad sandwiches. Do what is comfortable for you while still being true to whatever goals you have as a vegan.

Enjoy your new healthy, ethical, and environmentally friendly lifestyle!