Whether you’re here because you are planning on changing your diet, saving the world or just intrigued, here are my things you should know before going vegan.
ALWAYS do your research, this is my no.1 tip for anything in life, get the knowledge, know what, why and how so you can be prepared and it wont come as much of a shock. Take a look at other peoples accounts and experiences and ask as many questions as you like, watch some different documentaries from different angles and make an informed decision. This is muy importante!
Get in the mindset
For me the hardest part of my journey as getting rid of the preconceptions I had and training my brain. I had to think to myself that these neatly wrapped chunks where in fact the flesh of an animal that actually had to endure so much pain just so I could eat it an that it as unnecessary, because we don’t see that side of things we don’t think about it. If you do this then it will be much easier to deal with cravings if you have any.
Take it slow
Making a lifestyle change is a big thing and rushing it can make things harder on yourself. If like me, you are one of those people who cannot go cold turkey (pardon the pun) then transitioning is the best way and kudos to those who can! but in my experience my body couldn’t cope with it and I cheated and actually went back to eating meat (how very dare I , I know :/) so I went vegetarian and cut out certain things over time, for example I reduced the amount of these products I ate then eventually cut them out one by one. First I cut out red meat, because I didn’t eat much of that anyways, then fish and sea food, and finally white meat. Then when my I felt it was time to go vegan I cut out all the animal by-products and then things that had these products in the ingredients. If this is too rough on your body, you can always try just eliminating certain meals one at a time rather than a whole group.
This will become the bane of your life, believe me! this is one of the things you should research especially if you are going vegan. You must know what to look for because there are so many products that you would think are suitable but have that one small ingredient that you’ve never heard of that comes from animal products. one you get into the swing of things you will know which things are suitable for you and wont have to check every single label.
Here is a comprehensive list of things you should avoid: http://www.veganwolf.com/animal_ingredients.htm
Sometimes they will be labelled as vegitarian or vegan friendly and have these (or similar, depending on where you live) symbols.
While you can get most of what you need from fruit, veg and grains, as explained below, there are some things that you ill have to supplement, specifically vitamin B12 (only found naturally in meat) and iron (especially women during pregnancy, but you can usually get away with this one) synthetic supplements can be found in any pharmacy and most health shops.
I thought that it would be really expensive buying fresh produce all the time but in fact if you know where to look you can always save a few pennies. Go to the farmers market they have great deals on all the time (and you are supporting local businesses in doing so). buying in bulk is the best way to reduce spending, buy your pasta and beans and other staples that will last longer, in bulk perhaps a month at a time then there’s no need to pop to the shop every week because you’ve used it all.
Everyone’s body will react differently to change, I know mine did! At first you might get headaches and break outs and possibly digestive problems, but that is just your body reacting and flushing out all the chemicals, toxins and hormones that your used to getting, some people get cravings and become irritable and that is normal, it is the same as withdrawals from an addiction like coffee or sweets, all of this will stop after a few weeks.
THERE IS A BRIGHT SIDE! don’t be disheartened once you overcome that first hump you will notice you are feeling more energetic and your skin will look beautiful, you will be less tired and might even lose a little bit of weight too!
If your withdrawals don’t subside, take a look at what your are eating, is it the right things are you getting enough of what you need?
Doing it right
There are many ways you can do it wrong. Eating mainly meat and dairy substitutes, although good in small amounts, can prolong your withdrawals if you rely on them too much, eating only salads wont give you enough carbs, and eating mostly junk food wont help at all, you need to look at your diet and make the suitable changes, whole food and a varied diet is the best way! You can always find another way to get what you need.
Here is an awesome blog that really helped me with controlling my diet when I was worried about my withdrawals and explains it much better than I can: https://happyherbivore.com/2013/06/how-long-to-feel-great-plant-based/
This could be the second most difficult thing to deal with, depending on the people you surround yourself with. Many will support you and help you if they understand then that’s all well and good, but in most cases I find, when I tell people I’m vegan i either get bombarded with questions, hit with hostility or i have to deal with people who just don’t get it and refuse to learn, so there are ways to deal with it.
Here are some good ways od dealing with the problems that might arise:
Most restaurants are much more accepting of special dietary needs nowadays, if you are going for a meal out it is always best to read the menu or ask over the phone before you book. some places even have special vegan menus or are completely vegan, and if not call ahead and let them know they have a vegan coming (so they aren’t taken by surprise) and any good chef would rise to the challenge. If you cant book let the waiter/waitress know you are a vegan and they will let the chef know to cook yours separately or ask if the chef can cook anything for you with they ingredients the have in the kitchen.
there are apps that can help you find these restaurants like happy cow and you can always look online too!
I could go on and on so ill keep it short. There are many replacement products and substitutions on the market you can find them in most big supermarkets and veg shops. There is also a wide variety of things you can buy online if a certain product is not sold near you. Do your research!
How a vegan’s body is different: http://www.foodnetwork.co.uk/video/going-vegan-actually-healthier.html