Lifestyle

10 Things I wish I knew before I become Vegan.

Well I’m still a newby (I’ve only been vegan for about four months now), but since then, I’ve done a TON of research on the vegan lifestyle and all of its dietary and ethical viewpoints. I’ve compiled a list of 10 things that might perhaps interest anyone who is on the fence about trying out this lifestyle. I wish I would have known this information a lot earlier on in my life!

1. Your food options actually increase!

I thought taking away animal products would really limit me to a super strict diet. But instead, it’s allowed to me experiment with other new foods that I can replace meat and dairy with. Which brings me to numero dos.

 2. You can’t just take the meat, dairy, and eggs off of your plate and not replace them with something else.

This was one of my biggest mistakes during my first couple weeks. I thought I could simply cut out eating animal based products and still eat the same amount of fruits, vegetables, and grains that I was eating before. Hence why I was basically hangry for 99.9% of the day. Replace meat with potatoes, legumes, eggplant, or tempeh and triple the amount of fruits and vegetables on your plate. It may seem like a lot of food, but trust me it won’t last long! The body digests plant-based foods so much faster than what you were probably eating before.

3. It is possible to quit eating cheese!!!

I think cheese is probably the number one reason why people think they could never become vegan. It was definitely my reason and biggest struggle during the first month. This is because cheese is actually addicting (I mean we all know it is, but it actually is!). Cheese products are the most concentrated form of dairy and therefore contain the most amounts of hormones and proteins that are contained in, or derived from the animal’s milk.

Casein is a protein that makes up 80% of an animal’s milk, and fragments of this protein (Casomorphins) actually trigger the brain’s opioid receptors, which are responsible for addictions. It can take our body about 2-3 weeks to rid itself of dairy products, so the best way to quit cheese is to quit cold turkey! And don’t cheat. I promise, after 21 days of eating zero dairy, the cravings will stop.

4. Yes, you can get enough protein from a plant-based diet.

“Where do you get your protein from?” is definitely the most common question I get when I tell people I’m vegan. I think this is because humans have relied on meat as their main source of protein and perhaps are unaware that the same amount of protein can be derived from plants. I certainly was worried about not getting enough protein myself and even looked into different supplements and shakes.

There is such a big hype about getting enough protein in your diet and the recommended daily value makes it almost impossible to reach without supplementing. But researchers and nutritionists have found that the human body really only needs about half of what is currently recommended. If you are eating a balanced plant-based, whole food diet that includes leafy green vegetables, nuts and seeds, legumes and beans, and grains, your body will be getting enough protein and plenty of fiber too!

5. It’s still possible to remain in your social circle. 

At first, I was nervous about going out with my friends to restaurants or get-togethers in fear that there would be no food options for me and that my ‘dietary restrictions’ we be a burden on my friends. But what I didn’t realize (because I was never looking before) is that there are almost always vegan options for you. Get a salad, get a veggie pasta dish, or if you’re at an Asian restaurant, get almost anything and ask for the vegan alternative. If you’re going to a house party, bring an awesome vegan dish to share with your friends.

It can be easy, and very necessary, to still attend social events even if they aren’t necessarily ‘vegan friendly’. I’ve also realized how accepting and supportive my friends and family have been to my vegan lifestyle. Most likely, the people you surround yourself with want to see you happy even if they don’t understand your reasons behind doing something.

6. Animals deserve to live. 

My initial motive for becoming vegan was actually not to save the animals, but let me tell you, after watching various documentaries and doing more and more research, I have learned so many horrifying truths about factory farming and slaughter houses. You may not think that you as one person can make a difference, but every vegan saves the lives of more than 100 animals a year.

7. You’re not the only one.

If you think you’re going to be alone in this journey to veganism, think again! Being vegan is no longer a lifestyle for just the crunchy hippies of the world. So many people are realizing how bad animal products are for their health and for the environment. More and more I’m meeting people and finding out that they’re vegan, or one of my friends will say, ‘Hey, I’m trying a 30 day vegan challenge.

Just because you are ‘a vegan’ does not make you a different species from the rest of the world. You are simply choosing to not consume or use animal products and that’s it. People may judge you for your decision, but most likely, they’re judging you because they don’t fully understand your reasoning. But these days, it’s never been so easy to live the lifestyle that you want to live.

8. The vegan diet can save you money.

It is way more economical to center your diet around seasonal fruits and veggies, beans and legumes, nuts, and grains. Many of the items on your grocery list can be bought in bulk and stored for a long period of time; and fresh produce is always inexpensive especially when in season. I live in Florida, so we are lucky to always have so much fresh produce to choose from all year round. In states where this is not the case, perhaps it’s possible to plan your meals around what is available to you in order to reduce costs. Money can also be saved in the long run because a balanced vegan diet can reduce medical bills and the cost of prescription medications.

9. Solution for healthy digestion and clearer skin

OK, I know I’m not the only girl out there who’s constantly struggled with both of these things. I’ve tried countless products to help my skin and various diets to help with my digestive system. If someone would had just told me to cut out animal products and eat more fruits and veggies, I would have done it years ago! Instead we are encouraged to use harsh chemicals and unnatural methods to solve these issues. We were not meant to eat the fat and meat of animals and it comes out in our pores, but the nutrients and water our bodies get from eating fruits and vegetables is so healthy.

Additionally, an imbalanced digestive system is probably one of the most uncomfortable feelings ever! A plant-based diet (AKA lots of fiber!) has completely resolved any issues I’ve had with this in the past.

10. The environment will thank you.

Livestock production makes a HUGE impact on the environment from the excessive use of land needed, to water pollution and depletion, to of course, greenhouse gas emissions. Climate Change has many years been a popular topic of debate because we are starting to realize how our lifestyle as consumers is starting to effect our planet in a negative way. It takes an excessive amount of energy to raise livestock by giving them massive amounts of grain, water, and antibiotics, to then send them off to a slaughter house to be killed, to then store, transport, and finally sell the meat to a consumer. Not to mention the greenhouse gases that are emitted by the spread of manure and feces.

The more people who realize the effects that livestock production is having on our planet, the more realistic it becomes to do something about it. It might be unimaginable to think that you as one person can have an impact on our world’s environment. But if everyone had that mindset, we would never see the positive change that we want to see in the world today.

 

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