Q:I made the decision to go vegan for the animals in 2014. I have been vegetarian for a few months, but I just am not sure where to start when it comes to all this vegan stuff and eating right. Help!

First, thank you for choosing compassion in the New Year. Any lifestyle change can initially be daunting, so let me give you some suggestions to help keep you on Team Vegan.

  • Buy a vitamin B12 supplement. It is the one nutrient all vegans must supplement. Read more about it on the FAQs.
  • Stock up on pantry basics. There are foods that you should just always have on hand – including rice and beans, which are super easy, inexpensive and delicious.
  • Get to know the substitutes. Giving up dairy products and eggs has never been easier. Non-dairy beverages is a very easy substitute you can make. Vegan cheese, yogurt, sour cream and cream cheese can all be used just like the non-vegan version. Substituting for eggs depends on how you plan on using it – tofu, pureed fruit, and ground flax are just some of the ways you can make the substitution. In addition, the Vegg (vegan egg yolk) is also available.
  • Join a Meet Up group or other vegan-friendly organizations. Surrounding yourself with other vegans will give you a support system and built-in social network.
  • Experiment with food and recipes. No one expects you to be Isa Moskowitz on your first vegan foray in the kitchen, but give it a try dammit. There is certainly no shortage on vegan cookbooks.  Check out the recipes on YDV as well!
  • Read my stuff.  Between YDV and my own website,, there are answers to some of the most common questions vegans have.
  • Read food labels. You will be surprised how many things you assumed were vegan have some weird animal-derived ingredient. On the flip side, there are plenty of random things that just happen to be vegan.
  • Eat! Way too often I hear people quit veganism because they didn’t feel well. Further probing reveals they weren’t eating enough to sustain their daily needs. Fruit, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts and seeds – with all these choices, you should not be hungry and lacking energy.
  • Visit an animal sanctuary. Nothing can beat giving belly rubs to a pig, cuddling with a cow, or holding a hen. These are the beings you are giving a voice to buy choosing a compassion life – it is important to connect with them and support the organizations giving the animals care.  Find a sanctuary close to you by visiting the YDV Sanctuary Database.

Thank you for writing!

Ask Anya is a weekly column written by dietitian Anya Todd on vegan health to help educate others on how to live healthier and more fulfilling lives. Anya covers hot topics and commonly asked questions about vegan nutrition. Do you have questions or concerns you would like to see addressed? Simply send Anya an email to [email protected].

Disclaimer: Anya cannot answer any specific questions related to medical conditions or recommend medications and/or supplement brands, questions must be about diseases, nutrition, or healthy vegan diets only.

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