10 Things to Know Before Becoming a Vegan
An estimated 39% of Americans are incorporating vegan options and meals into their regular diet. For some, the goal is simply to cut down on the consumption of animal products. For others, the goal is to take baby steps toward becoming a vegan.
Going vegan requires preparation and awareness. There are a ton of statistics floating around online about the number of people who give up on veganism after the first year, and while they may not be entirely accurate, they do reflect the difficulty of the transition.
What should you know about becoming a vegan? What changes in your lifestyle and health practices do you need to prepare for?
Read on for the 10 most important things to know about going vegan before you make the change.
Vegans Cut Out More Than Just Meat
Before you commit to veganism, make sure you understand what it entails. Vegans don’t eat any animal products whatsoever, which makes it more restrictive than vegetarianism.
Animal products include eggs and dairy as well as anything that is considered an animal by-product. That means that foods that contain gelatin, like some gummy snacks and even some pastry treats, are out. Some vegans also omit honey, although that is considered a personal choice.
Vegan Vitamins and Supplements Are a Must
There are some vitamins and minerals that we can source most reliably from animal products. Going vegan means that you’ll need to find a new source for these vitamins and minerals, and even your vitamins and supplements should forgo animal products.
A big one that vegans need to pay attention to is B-12. Find out now what you can do to make sure that your B-12 levels remain healthy.
You’ll Need to Read Every Label
There are a surprising number of products that aren’t vegan. At least for the first few months, adjust to reading every label when you go grocery shopping to make sure that you’re not accidentally consuming non-vegan foods.
For example, some pasta sauces may contain cream. Some soups may contain pasta that is made with eggs. This is only a small selection of the foods that seem vegan-friendly but, in reality, may contain animal products.
It’s Easy to Eat a Lot of Junk Food as a Vegan–But You Shouldn’t
There’s such thing as the “junk food vegan.” The junk food vegan doesn’t eat animal products but doesn’t eat a whole lot of vegetables, either. Don’t replace your meat intake with pure carbs and sugar if you want to become a vegan for your health or weight.
People Will Have Questions
You’ve probably heard the joke that you’ll know you’re talking to a vegan because they’ll volunteer that information immediately. The reality is that food is an integral part of our social lives, and it’s difficult to dine with others without letting them know what your diet consists of.
Plus, a lot of non-vegans won’t accept that information and move on. Friends and family may ask questions about your reasoning, your sources of protein and other nutritional needs, and what you miss about your non-vegan days. Prepare to either answer these questions or firmly set boundaries.
Eating Out Will Require Preparation
Eating out as a vegan isn’t impossible, but it is different. Get into the habit of looking up menus beforehand to make sure that there are a few options you can eat. In some cases, this may require you to ask for alterations to an existing menu item.
You may also need to ask your server about certain ingredients. For example, a lot of soups that appear vegan are made with beef or chicken stock, which goes against your restrictions and can cause stomach issues.
There Are Plenty of Non-Meat Sources of Protein
People tend to assume that vegans are lacking in protein. The truth is that eating a diet that is rich in beans, quinoa, and even vegetables can keep your protein levels stable.
There are also more and more options in the way of meat substitutes. Products like tempeh and tofu are packed with protein and vegan-friendly.
Soy Isn’t Always the Best Option
Soy is a good source of protein, but consume it in moderation. The jury is still out, but some scientists believe that too much soy can increase your chances of heart problems and certain kinds of cancer. Plus, a lot of soy-based products like plant-based “chicken nuggets” are packed with unhealthy preservatives.
Becoming a Vegan Doesn’t Have to Drain Your Bank Account
Veganism can cost a lot of money but it doesn’t have to. Products like tofu are often less expensive than packaged meat. Products like beans and frozen vegetables are some of the most affordable things you can buy at the market.
Don’t go way over budget to eat a vegan diet. Find ways that you can meet your nutritional needs without draining your bank account.
There Are Tons of Benefits of Being Vegan
No matter why you decide to make the change, there are tons of benefits of being vegan. You can improve your health and your mood, lower your intake of harmful preservatives and hormones, and even lower your carbon footprint. Ultimately, whatever your reason for going vegan, know that it’s a positive decision!
Make a Plan to Stick to Your Vegan Diet
If you’re thinking of becoming a vegan, make sure you know what to expect and how it will affect your life. Make a plan for grocery shopping, eating out, and even answering the questions of your friends and family. The better you prepare, the more likely it is that you’ll stick it out for the long haul!
Do you have more questions about your health? Take a look at our health section and find new and innovative ways to live a happier, healthier life.