Considering a transition towards a vegan or plant-based lifestyle? Excellent. You’ve come to the right place.
#1: Vegan does not equal healthy. Did you know that Oreos are vegan? And Ritz crackers… and some brands of potato chips… and lots of processed crap food. Yes, you can be vegan and still eat food that is bad for you. If you are not eating veggies, fruits, whole grains, and beans, chances are, your diet is not going to be healthy. You can choose to be a healthy vegan, or just eat frozen vegan entrees. You are what you eat, no matter what you label yourself! On that same note…
#2: Not everyone loses weight. If your only goal is to lose weight on a vegan diet, you may become discouraged when you don’t notice results. Veganism is not a fad diet designed to shed lbs – it’s a lifestyle overhaul that goes beyond vanity. Yes, some people lose weight… especially if their diets were high in fat, processed foods, etc. Personally, I was always pretty mindful of what I was putting in my body. At first, I lost some weight… but gained it back, and then some. And I promise you: I am eating better than I have in my whole life. It’s different for everyone, but this is just one thing to realize before diving in!
#3: You’ll need to consider your B12 intake. Everyone makes a big fuss about B12… and I guess it is worth fussing about if you are not aware of how to get it. This vitamin is generally found in animal-derived foods, but plenty of foods ave been fortified with B12 – including grains, cereal, etc. However, it is worth taking a supplement if you are not 100% sure you are getting enough. To learn more about B12 and it’s importance, check out this awesome resource from Vegan Coach.
#4: Protein is not lost on us. Despite what every person in the world says, you will not suffer a lack of protein unless you are literally eating a bunch of junk. There are plenty of places to get your protein, including: tempeh, lentils, legumes, tofu, soy milk, nuts, seeds, quinoa, peas, chia seeds, peanut butter, and a plethora of others.
#5: You’ll need to read the labels. Give it a month and you’ll be a label-reading Jedi in no time. You’ll be really surprised by how many products will have some hidden animal ingredient. Become familiar with the most popular animal-derived ingredients. This list from PETA was really helpful for me, and I’m sure it will be for you!
#6: There’s no reason to say goodbye to your favorite restaurants. In fact, most restaurants will almost always have a vegetarian option that can be easily veganized. If you are nervous, call ahead and ask. If they don’t have any for you… well then, screw them! It’s 2015 – every damn restaurant should have a veggie option.
#7: Not all french fries are vegan. Unfortunately for us, this is the sad truth. Some restaurants will fry in the same oil as meat, or worse, fry in lard. Woof. The same goes for some veggie soups, which may be made with chicken or fish stock. How about vegan burgers? Sure, the burger may be vegan but the damn bun may have egg in it. But sautéed veggies are fine for sure… right? Well, no. There may have butter hidden in there. The point is, not all items that seem vegan are vegan. It’s important to always ask for a full list of ingredients if you are unsure.
#8: It doesn’t cost more to eat vegan. It just doesn’t. Unless you are vowing to buy only organic products, your shopping budget is not going to go soaring through the roof. I don’t care what anyone says. A LB OF DRIED BEANS ARE ALWAYS GOING TO BE CHEAPER THAN A LB OF MEAT. The end.
#9: You need to have a sense of humor. If you want to remain close with your grandparents and cousins and every other non-vegan, you’re going to need to learn to laugh it off. I cannot tell you how many vegan jokes I get at family parties – from the “Bianca will have the bacon” to “I guess all you can eat is air!” Just smile and laugh… because it ain’t going to stop anytime soon. You may want to work on some witty and harmless comebacks, in the meantime.
#10: It will get easier. As with most things in life, it gets easier. You may fumble and screw up a bit in the beginning, but that’s okay, because no one is perfect. Once your body has had a chance to adjust, your cravings will be few and far between. Your taste buds will change and you will enjoy foods you never thought you could before. You won’t miss cheese, either. If you don’t believe me, then that’s fine… but, I was in your shoes once. I never thought I could give up cheese, but I am still alive and well. And happier than ever.
Anything else to add to this working list of “things to know?” We’re all ears! xx bianca