You’ve probably saved those mouthwatering gourmet vegan recipes on Pinterest and began to frequent the produce section of your grocery store more often, but going vegan takes a deeper level of commitment that will have drastic changes in all areas of life Whether you're doing it for health reasons or personal ethics, there are several things you need to learn about how to go vegan. Read on to know how to prepare for this exciting new lifestyle journey.
1. Make a gradual shift
When you go vegan, you might think you've got to take a huge plunge overnight and eliminate every non-vegan food item from your diet. While some people feel prepared to take a sudden plunge, other might find such a drastic change difficult to adjust to when it comes to grocery shopping, eating out, and preparing meals. However, making a gradual transition to veganism will mean that you are more likely to stick to the diet. If you're already a vegetarian or don't consume a lot of animal products, your transition will probably be much more quicker and easier. However, if you have a diet that is quite heavy in meat, eggs, cheese, dairy and so on, start by eliminating one product at a time (such as meat) for a few weeks or months until you feel comfortable and are ready to eliminate the next item. Keep doing this until you're comfortably animal-product free!
2. Vegan doesn't necessarily mean healthy
So many items are considered vegan (yes, including french fries) that will make you want to go "YAAASSS!" It can be easy to gorge on a multitude of unhealthy vegan foods that don't provide much nutrition as you might think. This is a common pitfall that many get into when turning vegan. As a result, you can actually become unhealthy and gain weight if you snack on processed soy products, white pastas, breads, vegan desserts and so on. Carefully select nutritious recipes that include a lot of greens, veggies and fruits to ensure you're getting adequate nutrition – and then treat yourself every now and then.
3. You'll have tons of energy
When you eliminate animal products and transition to a vegan diet, you are likely to have much more energy. Meat takes much more time to digest and thus takes up a lot of energy from your body. Without all the meat, dairy and processed ingredients in your system, you'll feel much more centred and abundant in energy levels, almost like a clean, natural "high". However, if you notice that you're feeling much more fatigued or otherwise quite off, your diet might need a few tweaks. Consult with your doctor if you notice any weird changes so they can run tests and suggest and possible supplements or dietary changes.
4. You'll have to read food labels and restaurant menus carefully
Get used to carefully scanning food labels and checking ingredients on restaurant menu items. While a food item may not appear obviously non-vegan, it might not be best for a vegan diet. No doubt, this may be frustrating at first. Fortunately, vegan restaurants and vegan issues are becoming popularity all around the globe. If you find yourself stuck in a restaurant with virtually no vegan options (no, even french fries!) then you can always order off-menu and request a salad or so on.
5. Your grocery bill might get a bit more expensive
Veganism has generally been associated with higher food expenditure. While vegan food can raise dig a deeper hole in the wallet compared to your normal food expenditure, it certainly doesn't need to be exorbitantly expensive. Usually, most people who turn vegan also simultaneously eat organic food which further increases grocery bills. If you can't afford to purchase organic vegan produce, that's perfectly fine; you can even opt for a mix of organic and regular produce if you desire. Certain vegetables such as onions, cabbage, cauliflower and other fruits and vegetables do not need to be organic at all.
6. Take B12 supplements
Some vegans do require certain vitamins and supplements, while others do not. However, vitamin B12 is mandatory for all vegans. That is because vitamin B12 occurs naturally only in animal foods. While you can obtain some level of b12 via certain soil vegetables and plant milks, this is not sufficient enough, and you'll need a supplement to get the levels of B12 you need.
7. Ensure you're eating enough protein
It's a myth that you can't get enough protein without animal products. To sustain a healthy vegan diet, make sure you're eating enough calories and be sure to consume a variety of vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts, seeds and legumes. This will ensure that you meet your protein requirements. Vegan foods such edamame, tofu, chickpeas, peanut butter, soy milk and quinoa are rich in protein.
8. Expect slip-ups to happen and move forward
As with anything in life, whenever you set a goal, lapses and mistakes are bound to happen. Expect them to happen but don't let them derail you. Simply get back on track to your normal routine and keep moving forward no matter what slip-up occurs.
One small error doesn't equate complete failure on your vegan journey.
9. Seek out fellow vegans
We all need camaraderie and friendship in our life journey. In human culture, food is a way of life and is a means for us to connect and bond with our family, friends and society. When you change your diet and go vegan, admittedly, this can change many of your relationships. Being a vegan can feel lonely, especially when your social life takes a turn and others don't gel with your new change. Maybe your foodie pal will feel disappointed that they aren't going to be your partner-in-crime when it comes to attacking every new hamburger joint in town, or your mom will suffer a heart attack from learning that you aren't going to be indulging in her cooking as much (unless it's vegan of course). You don't need to give up a social life simply because you don't know any vegans. Join a vegan community and seek out fellow vegans in natural and holistic circles. A little support can go a long way in feeling like you aren't alone
on your path!