10 Things You Should Know Before Going Vegan
You may have heard of Veganism before–or maybe you haven’t–either way there is a good chance you have not heard about all of the amazing benefits. However, in order to reap some of the benefits, you have to make sure you’re doing the right things. Below I have listed some of the mentioned benefits I have noticed since going Vegan three months ago, as well as some tips I wish I knew beforehand.
1. Living a vegan lifestyle is much more than just eating vegan food.
Following a vegan diet means you do not eat any form of meat, fish, dairy, eggs, honey, or gelatin. However, the entire vegan lifestyle goes beyond just refraining from eating animal products–it also means you do not buy or use any products which use animal by-products or undergo animal testing. This means you will need to only purchase items–whether it is beauty products, clothing, medicines, etc.–that are both vegan (meaning they do not contain animal products in their ingredients) and cruelty free (meaning they do not undergo animal testing).
2. You may need to transition slowly.
Giving up all of the foods Vegans refrain from can be really hard. In fact, quitting everything “cold turkey” could potentially be setting yourself up for failure and disappointment. Many people prefer to give up one thing at a time and transition to a fully vegan lifestyle over time. The goal of veganism is to reduce the suffering of animals, so even small changes will accomplish that.
The average human needs 46-56 grams of protein per day, depending on gender and body weight. The main source of protein in a normal diet is meat, so as a vegan, it is extremely important to make sure you know your protein sources and are eating enough of those sources. BONUS: many people do not know this, but fruits and vegetables have a small amount of protein. Click the link below for a chart of possible sources of protein on a vegan diet.
3. You will need to take a vitamin.
Vitamin B12 is an important supplement vegans need to make sure they take daily. The reason for this, is foods produced by animals are infused with vitamin B12 in order for humans to receive the vitamin. B12 is good for the brain, nervous system, and red blood cells.
The picture above shows where we get our vitamin B12 on a normal diet. B12 is very easy to find and can be purchased anywhere that sells vitamins!
4. It is possible to be an unhealthy vegan.
Just like with a non-vegan lifestyle, there is vegan junk food! Many people get excited to find out that some of their favorite unhealthy snacks are vegan, then over consume those foods. In order to reap the benefits of veganism, you need to maintained a balanced diet. But it is okay to splurge every once in a while!
5. You will make mistakes, and that’s okay.
I cannot even tell you the amount of times I have eaten something I thought was vegan, then found out later it contained an animal product in its ingredients. It happens, so don’t beat yourself up over it. Learn from that mistake and move on, you’re only human!
6. Be prepared to do research!
Veganism takes a lot of preparation and research at first. You will spend a lot of time reading labels, googling vegan options at your favorite restaurants, and asking questions. You will be stepping into a new world, where you are not quite sure what is right and what is wrong when it comes to things you can eat. But once you figure it out and get the hang of everything, you do not even have to think twice about what you are eating!
7. You can veganize anything!
Being vegan does not mean that you have to completely give up your favorite foods and it certainly does not mean you do not get to eat good food. There are vegan versions of pretty much any meal! You can evan modify foods at your favorite restaurants and fast food places and make them vegan! So if your friends are going somewhere like Taco Bell–yes even Taco Bell can be vegan–you don’t have to sit out. Googling “vegan options at *insert popular restaurant here*” will give you a complete rundown on the things you can eat at different places. However, this only works if the place you are going to eat is a chain restaurant. If you are wanting to eat at a small, family owned restaurant in your town, it would be better to just call ahead of time and speak to an employee.
8. Your skin may improve!
Many people have noticed their overall complexion improving after going vegan. This is one of the very first things I noticed after going vegan! The reason for this, according to HuffingtonPost, is meat and dairy can be full of saturated fat and hormones, which both take a toll on your health and shows through your skin.
9. You might notice a difference in your moods–for the better!
Something else people who have gone vegan notice, is that they feel happier. This is another one that I can attest to. I noticed my moods improving after only being vegan for a couple of weeks–and as someone who occasionally suffers from anxiety, this is an amazing benefit. This quote from BigThink.com explains the science behind how animal products affect mood:
Omnivorous diets are high in arachidonic acid (AA) which changes the brain in a way that affects mood. Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), fats prevalent in fish, are suppose to combat the negative effects of AA. However, the study reported significantly worse moods in fish eaters than vegetarians despite higher intakes of EPA and DHA. This is the first study to examine the impact of a meat and fish diet on an omnivore’s mood.
10. You will be saving more than animals!
Veganism is a lifestyle that not only helps save the lives of animals in factory farms, but it also conserves a variety of different resources as well. By eating vegan food, you are indirectly protecting our Earth’s soil because research has shown that raising animals for consumption contributes to erosion and nutritional depletion of soil. The vegan lifestyle also conserves water. Over 70 percent of the Earth’s fresh water is used in agriculture of plants and animals. According to VegNews.com, it takes 100 to 200 times more water to produce a pound of beef than it does to grow a pound of plant foods. Another thing the vegan lifestyle saves is energy. Studies have shown that producing animal-based protein requires eight times more fossil-fuel energy than creating plant-based protein. A report from the UN showed that animal agriculture is a larger contributor to greenhouse gas than all forms of transportation. Therefore, by limiting the amount of animal agriculture, we can produce cleaner air for our world. Lastly, veganism has the potential to combat world hunger. I know what you are thinking, that is an extremely bold claim. However, 70 percent of the gain produced in the US is fed to livestock on factory farms. All in all, more than 700 million tons of human-grade food goes into animal agriculture each year, which could instead be used to eradicate hunger.
Whether you are vegan, are thinking about going vegan, or are completely against it, I hope that you learned more about the world of Veganism! It truly is a great way to better yourself and help make small changes that impact the world.