So let’s pretend I’ve convinced you to go vegan. Great! Kudos to you for adopting a lifestyle of compassion! Maybe you had cereal with almond milk for breakfast, and a salad at lunch, and more veggies for dinner. And that’s great and all, I know I love my veggies, but veganism is not sometime to blindly jump into by cutting out every other food group. I know you’re excited, but before you get started be sure to read through this blog, and a few other credible sources like this or this website.
At the very list, read the top 10 things you need to know when going vegan! How convenient, they’re listed right here. Any other thoughts or suggestions? Leave them in the comments below!
Going Vegan? Top 10 Things to Know
- Be prepared for questions
Your friends and family love you, but they may not always understand you. And if they’re not vegan or vegetarian, they may not understand why you’re going vegan, or eat what veganism really entails. For tips on dealing with unwanted questions and comments, check out this post!
- Don’t replace animal products with junk food
French fries, white bread, Oreos, candy… it’s all vegan, so it must be healthy, right? Sorry, that’s not quite how it works. When you remove animal products from your diet, make sure you have nutrient-dense, whole foods to replace them. If you just turn to vegan treats (or even a diet consisting of only fruits & veggies!) you’re setting yourself up for failure. Not only will you feel shitty, you’re putting yourself at risk of nutrient deficiencies.
- You don’t have to go cold turkey (lol puns)
After reading my blog you’re now super passionate about veganism. (Yay!) But maybe you’ve spent your whole life eating burger and macaroni. Chances are, making a sudden switch by removing all your favorite foods will make you a pretty grumpy person! And no one wants to be around a grump. So start slow. Go vegetarian, maybe pescatarian. Then add in more plant-based foods as you remove more animal products. Maybe you won’t even notice!
- You don’t have to give up any of your favorite foods
Even if you rarely eat meat or dairy, you may still get cravings for certain non-vegan foods. Or maybe you don’t mind giving up burgers and eggs but you just LOVE cheese. No problem! You NEVER have to sacrifice ANYTHING as a vegan. You want cheese? Check out Daiya for your grilled cheese sandwich. Or Kite Hill for vegan wine & cheese night. Need ice cream? So Delicious (and so many more!) are always well stocked at the grocery store. There is literally everything. Just do some googling, or if you’re inspired, make your own!
- Check the allergy list on food packages
No one wants to spend ALL DAY reading the nutrition label. And you don’t have to! Once it becomes routine, it’s no longer necessary to check the ingredients on your staple foods. However, when you do need to check, look at the allergen list at the end of the ingredients. If it lists milk or egg, it’s not vegan. Simple!
- You’ll probably make mistakes, but that’s ok!
Even if you read the ingredients religiously, you’re bound to eat something that’s not vegan at some point. Maybe you’re out to dinner and order veggies that end up cooked in butter. Or maybe you’re at a party and get a little too tipsy, and before you know it a jar of Nutella is in front of you. There’s a spoon, and…. you get it. Whatever the circumstance, sometimes we just mess up. It’s important to realize that it’s ok, and never something you should beat yourself up about! You’re still vegan.
- You’ll feel happier
Like science? Good. This study shows that meat-eaters consume compounds that bring their mood down. The flip side? Eating more plants and less animal products can make you happier. Who doesn’t want that?
- You might look better, too
A month after I went vegan, I started getting all sorts of comments about how healthy my skin looked. “You’re glowing!” My aunt told me. A friend of mine stopped eating dairy and found her acne disappeared. My hair got thicker. I put on muscle mass, had more energy, and slept better. You may even become trimmer due to weight loss from a healthier diet or also simply less bloating. I’m not suggesting you go vegan for the aesthetic purposes, but it’s a pretty nice perk.
- It doesn’t have to cost more
Meat is expensive! Beans are cheap. If you’re relying on meat replacers alone, yet veganism might up your grocery bill. But if you adopt a plant-based diet with little processed foods, you’re bound to actually save some cash! Cash you can now spend on your fancy vegan ice cream or my preferred money-spending method, Starbucks.
- If you’re not sure, ask a dietician
Do you need supplements? Are you eating enough protein? What if you’re gluten free? If you’re ever unsure, the last thing you want to do is self-diagnose. You could be missing out (or overdoing it) on crucial nutrients, putting your health at risk. Schedule a half-hour consultation with a registered dietician, and you’ll come out of the meeting a lot more prepared to crush this new lifestyle! If you’re in the Boston area I’m happy to make some nutritionist recommendations. It is SO WORTH IT!
I could go on, but I believe these are the most important things to know before adopting a vegan lifestyle. Educate yourself. Take it slow. Be forgiving. Seek advice. I know you can do it, and can’t wait to hear how much you LOVE being vegan!
*That’s an exaggeration. If it does take that long, you probably shouldn’t buy it.