How To Go Vegan – Veganism For Beginners

My personal experience on how to get started and what we have to keep in mind.

How do you get your protein as a vegan? You can’t eat anything anymore? If you're vegan, you're bound to suffer from deficiencies at some point, aren't you?

Although veganism (in this post we will only focus on the nutritional part) is nothing new anymore, there are many assumptions that vegans have to listen to on a regular basis. And by "have to listen to" I mean getting involved in conversations for which one would rather refer to Google instead of racking one's brains over the low-value argumentation of one's counterpart.

I can probably count on one hand the number of times I've initiated the "why are you vegan" conversation on my own. Most of the time, at parties or family gatherings, I'm involuntarily thrust into a debate I didn't want to have. And the same questions come again and again.

Furthermore, statements like "what else can you eat?" and "isn't that way too complicated?" come up.

Let me say one thing in advance: I would never presume to claim that a vegan diet is the right way for everyone. Every person and every gut are different. Some people digest certain foods more poorly than others or are not able to utilise certain ingredients equally well.

Nutrition is an individual tightrope walk that everyone has to find for themselves. Nevertheless, it is important to get to grips with it. No matter how you eat, deficiencies can occur with any diet.

Furthermore, I am neither a doctor nor a trained nutritionist. I am merely providing information that I have acquired over time and that I have found helpful for me personally.

If you are interested in a vegan lifestyle, for whatever reason, you are often faced with a big question mark at the beginning. At first glance, the change seems almost impossible. I have summarised a few points for you that have made the transition easier for me.

1. Veganise your comfort foods

Not everyone wants to start their vegan career right away with a fancy kale superfood salad speckled with all sorts of crazy berries, nuts and other goodies you've never heard of before.

Thanks to the many (incredibly delicious) substitutes on the market today, it's super simple to maintain your current eating habits. Next time, try vegan mince instead of meat for your spaghetti bolognese (fun fact: my aunt has been secretly cooking vegan mince for my uncle for almost 30 years now and he has never noticed anything), drink your coffee with creamy oat milk instead of cow's milk or try scrambled tofu instead of scrambled eggs. A little courage to experiment is called for 😊.

Gradually, you'll notice that these little habits can be quickly adapted and you can still enjoy your mac 'n' cheese, which brings me to my next point.

2. Lower your expectations: It doesn't always taste the same

Don't get me wrong. There are indeed products (for example the Beyond Meat Burger) that are confusingly similar to their "original product". But a lentil burger will simply not taste the same as a beef patty. It doesn't have to, but that doesn't mean it can't be just as delicious, simply in its own way. While there are grated cheeses that I find really delicious, the vegan versions of hard cheese just don't come close to an original Gruyère - but honestly, you get used to it. I never thought I could live without the taste of cheese. However, the taste buds adapt over time and nowadays when I walk past the dairy section in the supermarket, I no longer find the taste irresistible and actually want to get out as soon as possible.

3. Sweets: Here you actually won't taste the difference

In my opinion, no course is as easy to veganise as dessert. When it comes to vegan baking, you can have high expectations. And believe me, they are often exceeded. In baking, ingredients such as chocolate, vanilla, caramel, cinnamon or, above all, sugar are often the decisive flavour carriers. The rest is just for consistency. Margarine or pure oil can easily be used instead of butter. Milk is also only used as a liquid component and can easily be replaced by a vegetable alternative. I personally also swear by my vegan egg substitute, which I have been using for several years. You can find a list of my favourite substitutes (available in Switzerland) - including those for baking - here.

4. Asian Food: Naturally vegan

Asian cuisine tends to use little dairy products in cooking. At the same time, tofu is widespread and is generally used in many non-vegan dishes. Sushi is also available filled with all kinds of vegetables.

So, if you avoid chicken and fish in your cooking or even in the restaurant, it is much easier put a fine vegan menu on your plate without having to make any major adjustments.

5. Get informed: no matter what your diet is

No matter what you eat on a daily basis, I think it's important to learn about nutrition. As the saying goes: "You are what you eat". And no, in case you didn’t know that already, you won’t turn into a head of lettuce. But from food fibres the body takes the energy and components it needs to live and grow. You wouldn't fill up an expensive car with low-grade petrol, let alone try to make a diesel engine run on it.

Like any other diet, the vegan lifestyle should be balanced to meet adequate macro- and micro-nutrient needs. There are a few points that can often be debated or criticised.


Proteins are macromolecules composed of amino acids. There are 23 different amino acids of which so-called are "essential amino acids" because the human body cannot produce them itself.

As Wikipedia sums it up so nicely: "Proteins perform a vast array of functions within organisms, including catalysing metabolic reactions, DNA replication, responding to stimuli, providing structure to cells and organisms, and transporting molecules from one location to another. "

In a report published in April 2011, the Swiss Federal Office Of Public Health recommends a daily protein intake of 0.8 to 1.0 grams per kilogram of body weight for adults. This also corresponds approximately to the WHO recommendation of 0.83 grams. At a body weight of 60 kilograms, about 50 grams of protein should be consumed daily.

Many people associate protein with juicy steaks, whey protein-based protein shakes or a large portion of eggs. However, there are also many plant-based foods such as soybeans, pulses or whole grains that are high in protein. You can find more information and a helpful table here.

Vitamin B12

The body needs vitamin B12, among other things, to renew cells, to form red blood cells and for the health of the nervous system. It also plays an important role in energy metabolism. A daily intake of 4 µg is recommended for adults.

Since the body cannot produce vitamin B12 itself, it must be taken in through food. Here comes the bad news: except in fortified foods such as cereals, B12 is not found in "natural" plant foods. In animal foods, however, vitamin B12 is present. It should be pointed out that B12 is not produced by the animal’s body's own cells, but by microorganisms. These bacteria can also be found in our digestive tract. According to a PETA article from last year, current scientific studies indicate that only ruminants such as cows can supply themselves with the B12 produced by intestinal bacteria. Other animals (including humans) have to take in B12 with their food.

Another problem here is industrial agriculture. B12-producing bacteria are also found in natural soil. "Studies from the 1950s show considerable amounts of B12 in roots and soil samples. However, nowadays unwashed vegetables are no longer a safe source of B12, because the natural soil flora of arable land has mostly been destroyed by industrial agriculture. In addition, pesticide residues on vegetables should definitely be washed off," the article continues. It is therefore recommended to inform oneself about vitamin B12 supplements.

Other possible deficiencies

In addition to vitamin B12, a vegan diet should include sufficient vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, zinc and iron. Zinc and iron can be found in whole-grain products, for example, and omega-3 fatty acids in linseed or hemp seeds.

To ensure a sufficient supplementation of vitamins, minerals and trace elements, I use an all-round multivitamin-multimineral basic preparation of the brand "Burgerstein" every day.

So, I hope this text has shown you that a plant-based diet is actually not that difficult after a little research and study of the subject. Of course, you can research and analyse the topic of nutrition in much more detail, but for me personally, these points were enough to get me started. Nevertheless, I can recommend everyone to seek professional advice if they are unclear about nutrition - regardless of whether they are herbivorous, carnivorous or omnivorous.