How to Be a Part-Time Vegan (If Full Time Feels Like Too Much)

Let's be really honest: Being vegan once you already are vegan is easy, but the prospect of going vegan, especially if you've been a meat eater your whole life, can seem intimidating. This is especially true since (again, being really honest) vegans can be pretty militant, adhering to the idea that if you're not going to commit to the lifestyle 100%, why bother? "Some vegans believe it must be an all-or-nothing decision, but I like to focus on progress, not perfection," says Newport Beach–based registered dietitian Dahlia Marin. "Progressing to a flexitarian, possibly pescatarian, lacto-ovo vegetarian, or weekend vegan is still going to make a wonderful impact on health, the planet and its resources, and undue animal suffering."

"Flexitarian," "weekend vegan"—these aren't terms you normally hear. But according to Marin, becoming a "part-time vegan" is a completely legitimate and admirable move. "It's absolutely realistic for someone who hasn't wrapped their head around being fully plant-based," she says. And you can still reap many of the vegan benefits without going all the way; we're talking increased energy, faster recovery from exercise, a clearer complexion, improved digestion, better bone and heart health, lower cancer risk, and protection against preventable chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure (not to mention the satisfaction of knowing you're doing something good for the animals and the planet).

Don't be discouraged by the prospect of fully committing to veganism, because research shows that even going 50% plant-based could have enormous benefits. "According to Oxford academic Dr. Marco Springmann, if the world transitioned to a vegan diet by 2050, the global economy would save $1.1 trillion dollars, considering decreased healthcare costs, greenhouse emissions, and environmental savings. Even if everyone became a 50% vegan by then, we would gain 50% of that economic benefit and make a significant impact on health and wellness," Marin explains.

If you're curious about transitioning to a more plant-based diet but don't want to go all the way, we're here for you. Keep scrolling for five easy starter tips for going part-time vegan.