I was thinking today about what I would write about and I thought back to the reason I started this blog in the first place: to help new vegans thrive.
So I thought, “What would a new vegan find useful?” How about a list of all the things I wish I had known when I went vegan!
I knew a lot less when I went vegan almost 3 years ago than I do today. And some of what I’ve learned since then would have been helpful to know when I was just starting out my vegan journey.
So here are 13 things I wish I knew before I went vegan.
I can’t copy someone else’s diet or meal plan
The way someone else eats may or may not work for everyone. I started out following the Raw Till 4 diet, eating about 2,500 calories a day. But I wasn’t as physically active as Freelee or the other Raw Till 4’ers so it wasn’t sustainable.
I eventually found a way of eating that fits my lifestyle and my needs.
There’s more than one way to be vegan
There are raw vegans, ethical vegans, healthy vegans, whole foods only vegans, junk food vegans, “plant based” vegans. Going vegan doesn’t mean you have to eat one specific way. You have a whole world of food available to you. Eat what you like.
I was setting myself apart from the norm. Expect looks, questions, jokes
However popular veganism is right now, it’s still not the norm in our society. People who are curious will ask a lot of questions. People who don’t understand may give you a funny look when you’re eating a whole watermelon. People who subconsciously feel guilty about eating meat will get defensive or make fun of you. Be prepared for anything and do your best to respond with love and kindness.
Being vegan is more than the food I eat
I went vegan for health reasons so I had no idea about the world of ethical veganism. I didn’t know that to truly not harm animals, I would have to pay attention to the clothes I wore, the makeup I bought, the body care items I used, and so much more. Companies use animals for more than I could ever imagine.
Detox is rough
You don’t realize all the nasty stuff that’s in your body until you start to flush it out. And when it’s being flushed out, the side effects can be tough to endure. Headaches, breakouts, stomach pain. It was not easy.
There are sneaky foods out there that aren’t vegan
Going vegan you think, “Ok I’ll cut out meat, dairy and eggs. Easy!” WRONG. Animal products are often given names that we wouldn’t necessarily associate with animals. Whey, gelatin, red 4, confectioner’s glaze. Your best bet is to stick with whole plant foods or processed foods made from plant foods. Stay away from all those questionable ingredients.
My tastebuds would change
Since going vegan and eating a diet heavier in plant foods, my tastebuds have grown to love food they didn’t used to. Avocados. I love avocados now. On top of enjoying foods I didn’t used to, I now have a more sensitive palate to junk foods that I used to love. I would eat large bowls of ice cream but now, if I have ice cream, it’s a healthier brand and I can only have a few bites.
I enjoy cooking for myself more than eating out
My husband and I used to eat out a lot. Several times a week even. But now, we find that we prefer to cook for ourselves because restaurants just don’t make food like we do. No, we’re not master chefs. But we make our food exactly how we like it and have fun spending time in the kitchen together. The Ninja Blender is my favorite kitchen gadget!
Nutritional yeast is not a scary ingredient — It’s delicious
Any time I saw a recipe with nutritional yeast I would run away as fast as I could. I had no idea what this foreign ingredient was, what it did or what it tasted like. Eventually, after seeing more and more recipes using it and hearing several YouTubers talk about it, I got up the courage to buy some of my own. Boy, had I been missing out!
Supplementing is important
Vitamins B12 and D are the two that vegans are more commonly deficient in. So consider a vegan supplement. I would also recommend getting your blood tested after being vegan for some time so you can have an idea of where you might need to adjust your diet or add a supplement. I use the Garden of Life vegan B12 spray.
I was going to want everyone to become vegan and the best way to do that is to not bring it up
When I first went vegan, I got super excited and couldn’t wait to tell everyone about this way of living that could save so many lives! I realized pretty quickly, though, that people don’t want to be preached to (I actually started to annoy myself). Instead, I found the best way for me to share my knowledge was to lead by example and if someone wants to know more, they will approach me.
I would become healthier
I mentioned that I went vegan for health reasons so it’s clear I had high hopes this new diet would solve my issues. Little did I know, it would in fact clear up my acne and improve my digestion, but it would also give me more energy and bring clarity to my mind.
It’s ok to make mistakes
Vegan or not, no one is perfect. There are going to be times when you accidentally eat animal products. And that’s ok.