10 Things You Should Know Before You Start A Vegan Diet

Lucas TorresFebruary 24, 2023

Here are 10 things you should know before you start a vegan diet

1. Vegans and vegetarians are two distinct dietary lifestyles.

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While both vegans and vegetarians choose to avoid consuming meat, vegans also abstain from any animal byproducts such as eggs, dairy, and honey, while vegetarians may still include these in their diets.

Vegans and vegetarians differ not only in what they choose to eat, but also in the reasons behind their dietary choices, with vegans often abstaining from all animal products for ethical reasons, while vegetarians may choose their diet for health or environmental concerns.

Although both vegans and vegetarians may consume a plant-based diet, vegans take their lifestyle a step further by avoiding all animal products and often also avoid using animal-derived products in other areas of their lives, such as clothing and personal care products.

2. There is no need to become vegan immediately.

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Transitioning to a vegan diet doesn't have to be immediate, as it's often believed. In fact, taking a gradual approach can be more effective. Just as you wouldn't be able to do twenty push-ups overnight, building up to a vegan diet takes time, especially if you're used to consuming a lot of meat and dairy. Start by increasing your intake of fruits and vegetables while cutting back on animal products, and pay attention to how you feel. Over several weeks or months, gradually replace all animal products with plant-based options. This slow and steady approach can help you avoid feeling discouraged and giving up.

3. You may receive negative responses from meat-loving family and friends.

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When faced with negative reactions from meat-loving family and friends after deciding to go vegan, there are a few strategies you can use. Stay confident in your personal choice, educate yourself on the benefits of a vegan lifestyle to respond to criticism, clearly communicate your reasons for going vegan without being confrontational, cook a vegan meal for loved ones, and seek support from like-minded individuals such as online communities or local meetups. It may take time for others to understand and accept your decision, but patience and compassion can make a positive impact.

4. Going vegan doesn't necessarily lead to weight loss.

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While a vegan diet can aid in weight loss, it's not a surefire solution. Consuming more processed and refined foods, such as pasta and bread, is a common mistake that some people make when transitioning to a plant-based diet. These foods can lead to weight gain if overconsumed. Vegan junk foods, like chips and sweets, may also contain unhealthy ingredients that can hinder weight loss efforts. Thus, a balanced diet emphasizing whole, unprocessed plant-based foods is crucial for achieving sustainable weight loss goals.

5. Making sure to get enough nutrients.

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As a vegan, it's vital to ensure adequate nutrient intake for overall health. Some essential nutrients like vitamin B12, iron, calcium, and omega-3s may be harder to get from a vegan diet. Adjustments to your diet or supplements may be necessary. For instance, fortified cereals or plant-based milk can provide vitamin B12, while beans, lentils, tofu, and dark leafy greens are good sources of iron. Plant-based sources like leafy greens, nuts, and fortified plant milks can provide calcium, and flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts are rich in omega-3s. Mindful nutrient intake and diet adjustments can ensure sufficient essential nutrient intake as a vegan.

6. You should learn and prepare vegan meals

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Preparing vegan meals can be easy and delicious with a few tips. Start with simple recipes like stir-fries, pasta with tomato sauce, or roasted vegetables. Plan your meals ahead and experiment with spices and herbs to add flavor. Incorporate protein-rich foods like tofu, tempeh, legumes, nuts, and seeds, and don't forget about healthy fats from sources like avocado and nuts. Substitute dairy and meat with vegan alternatives like plant-based milk and tofu or tempeh. Finally, get creative and try new ingredients to discover new favorite recipes.

7. Reading every food label is important.

Reading every food label is important for vegan beginners as it helps them ensure that the food they are consuming is free from animal products and by-products. By checking the ingredients and nutritional information, they can make informed choices about their diet and avoid any ingredients that are not vegan-friendly. It is also essential for those with food allergies or intolerances to carefully read labels to avoid potential health risks.

8. Strategies for eating out as a new vegan.

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Eating out as a new vegan should research vegan-friendly restaurants or menus ahead of time, communicating with the server about dietary restrictions and modifications, being flexible with menu options, choosing simple dishes that are naturally vegan or easily modified, bringing vegan condiments to add flavor, asking questions about ingredients and preparation, and planning ahead to avoid overindulging on less healthy vegan options.

9. Vegan diet would be more expensive.

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Although red meat is expensive, non-vegan options such as milk and cheese can also be costly. Even eating fresh greens can add up in price. While canned vegetables may be cheaper, they are often processed and less nutritious than fresh, unprocessed ones, which can be more expensive. It's important to consider your local options and budget accordingly for your dietary needs when transitioning to a vegan diet.

10. You may be happier.

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By going vegan, you may find that you feel more energetic and less weighed down by heavy, processed foods. Additionally, you may experience a sense of fulfillment and purpose by aligning your diet with your values and taking a stand against animal cruelty and environmental destruction. Some research even suggests that a plant-based diet may have mental health benefits, such as reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression. So if you're looking for a way to improve your physical health, align your actions with your values, and potentially even boost your mood, going vegan may be worth considering.