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In the past few years, the vegan lifestyle has caught fire. As time goes by, it’s becoming increasingly clear that veganism isn’t just a trend bolstered by little-known celebrities. “Going vegan” is here to stay.
For those not in the known, veganism is the practice of not consuming animal byproducts. Veganism is often confused with vegetarianism, which is the practice of not consuming meat. In contrast, vegans also avoid consuming anything taken from animals, including milk, cheese, and eggs.
There are different levels of veganism. Some vegans limit their veganism to food consumption. Others choose to avoid all animal byproducts on the market, including clothes made from leather or wool.
Vegans have multiple reasons for going vegan. Many eliminate consumption of animal byproducts to protest animal cruelty in the food industry. Others go vegan for health reasons, such as wanting to maintain low sodium and cholesterol levels.
10 Things to Know Before Going Vegan
Regardless of your reason for wanting to go vegan, there are certain things you need to know before making the transition. We’ve listed the ten most important ones below.
1. You Don’t Have To Go Vegan Immediately
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to renounce your animal byproducts-consuming ways right away. In fact, it’s probably better if you don’t.
Think of the last time you did twenty push-ups. You didn’t wake up one day and decide to do those twenty push-ups. You had to build up your arm muscles one push-up at a time until you could do twenty at once.
The same technique holds true for veganism. Going vegan is a huge dietary change, especially if you’re currently consuming a lot of meat and dairy products. You need to start slow and work up to the full transition.
If you don’t, then you’ll get discouraged and quit. Just like you would have if you hadn’t built up your arm muscles for doing all those push-ups.
To start, introduce more fruits and vegetables into your diet. At the same time, cut out animal-based products. Evaluate how you feel physically and emotionally about the switch and adjust as necessary.
Slowly, use the fruits and vegetables to replace all of the animal byproducts you’ve been consuming. If you need to take weeks or even months to make the full transition, that’s okay!
2. Weight Loss Isn’t Guaranteed
Onr major draw of going vegan is the potential to lose weight. Many think that going on a plant-based diet will help you shed those stubborn pounds.
It’s true that eating plants over meat and other products containing fat will help you lose weight. But the thing is, becoming a vegan doesn’t necessarily mean cutting out foods containing fat.
Many would-be vegans forego eating fruits and vegetables in favor of eating pasta, bread, and other wrapped, grain-based foods. These foods contain their own helping of unhealthy products that cause weight gain.
Another substitute that hopeful vegans turn to when they tire of fruits and veggies is junk food. Many brands of chips and the like don’t contain animal byproducts, but that doesn’t mean they contain healthy ingredients.
3. You Should Read Every Food Label
To fully transition into being a vegan, you’ll need to read food labels on everything you buy. More than that, though, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with the ingredients listed. Some ingredients may look vegan-friendly but actually come from animal sources.
Let’s take whey for example. Whey is not a food you usually shop for. It typically never makes it onto the food pyramid charts that you see hanging in health classes.
You may be surprised to learn that whey is actually an animal byproduct. It is one of two ingredients in milk. We usually use whey when making butter and cheese, but it is known to appear in junk food and cereal bars.
Another example is Natural Red 4. Natural Red 4 is a food dye made using the heads of beetles.
4. Not Getting Bored Requires Creativity and Experimentation
The main reason why many people give up veganism is they get tired of eating fruits and vegetables all the time.
It’s true, eating the same thing gets tiresome after a while. You’ll start to crave new things, including the pizza and hamburgers you used to love pre-vegan transition.
Going vegan is a new chapter in your life. You should embrace the change and look at it as an opportunity to try new things.
Check out recipes for tasty vegan dishes. You can find a myriad of them online as well as in vegan cookbooks at your local bookstore. You can also view cooking tutorials for vegan meals on YouTube.
Many new vegans think that going vegan means giving up visiting their favorite restaurants. This is totally false.
It’s true, you may need to stick to salads at steakhouses and other meat-heavy restaurants. But thanks to veganism’s newfound popularity, vegan options at restaurants are on the rise. Many places now offer a vegan- and vegetarian-friendly menu if you request one.
Additionally, vegan-based restaurants are popping up like weeds. If you can’t find a vegan restaurant near you, though, Asian restaurants are a great alternative. Sushi and other Asian dishes nearly always come in vegan-friendly options.
5. You Should Take B12 and Iron Supplements
The B12 vitamin is found only in animal-based foods. B12 is in charge of maintaining your blood and nerve cells as well as DNA. B12 deficiency leads to a variety of unpleasant side effects, including feeling weak, constant sleepiness, and depression.
As such, you should stock up on B12 supplements when you go vegan. You can find them in herbal treatment stores and the health aisle of major department stores.
Red meat is a major source of iron. Your body needs iron in order to maintain a high count of red blood cells. High red blood cell levels are necessary because they deliver oxygen to all parts of your body.
Iron deficiency, called “anemia,” entails many of the same symptoms as a B12 deficiency. Additionally, those who suffer from anemia experience pallid complexions, cold extremities, and dizziness.
Thankfully, iron can be found in some plant sources such as apples and green peppers. All the same, it’s smart to keep an iron supplement handy in case you find yourself looking a bit pale.
That goes double for women. During menstruation, women’s iron levels plummet due to the loss of blood and fluid.
6. You Need To Find New Ways To Get Protein
Red meat is also rich in protein. Your body needs protein to break down and form amino acids. Amino acids ensure proper cell repair and growth.
Luckily, there are numerous vegan-friendly food options for obtaining protein.
Popular choices include soybeans, quinoa, seitan, and lentils. You can also find protein in cooked greens such as spinach, broccoli, artichokes, and asparagus. Beans, sweet potatoes, and regular potatoes also make great protein-heavy choices.
7. You Don’t Need To Alter Your Exercise Routine
The popular image of successful athletes entails a lot of meat-eating that promotes high energy and muscle-building. Perhaps thanks to this image, many people assume vegans can’t achieve athletic success. In fact, a lot believe vegans have to stick to a light-exercise regimen.
This is totally false. Athletic ability is determined by the vitamins, not the foods, you consume.
Additionally, you need to consume the recommended amount of calories for your exercise routine.
8. Veganism Can Be Expensive
At three to eight dollars per pound, red meat is an expensive commodity. Milk, cheese, and other non-vegan options can get pricey as well.
Eating fresh greens and the like can also get pricey.
True, you can buy cans of corn, beans, and other vegetables for the price of one slab of meat. But at the same time, those vegetables are processed and often lack the nutrition they used to have. Fresh-cut, unprocessed vegetables are a bit more costly than canned vegetables.
It’s a good idea to look at your local options and develop a budget plan for your dietary needs.
9. Friends and Family May Not Understand Your Decision
It seems like every time you log on to Facebook, there is a new vegan joke floating around. Vegans also frequently get lumped in with political sneers and comments.
Veganism is a lifestyle choice that not everyone is going to understand. Many will laugh at your choice. Many more will question it and “how long you’ll last.”
Going to social events can be a pain as well. Many include pizza and barbecue, which are no-nos for vegans. Additionally, the hosts may not know or forget about your dietary restrictions.
For this reason, it’s a good idea to inform hosts of your needs before you show up. If need be, pack an apple or banana to take with you.
10. Your Decision Is Inspiring To Others
Going vegan is a massive undertaking. Not everyone can do it, and most people recognize that.
As such, prepare for some hero worship. Prepare for people saying, “I don’t know how you do it, but I think it’s great.” Prepare for hopeful vegans asking you about your journey to going vegan.
As a vegan, others tend to hold you to a higher moral standard. At first, it will likely intimidate you. But after you adjust to life as a vegan, you’ll simply shake your head and smile.
Do you know of something else new vegans should be aware of while going vegan? Let us know in the comments below!