What Is a Vegan?

A vegan is an individual who decides to follow a vegan lifestyle, whether it be for personal, cultural, or ethical motives or concerns. But unlike vegetarians that may enjoy a more liberal diet, going vegan is going without all animal products, even in the forms of leather and other materials produced from animals. Becoming vegan is suggested to not only benefit human health, but continue the natural lives of animals and reduce pollutants in the environment, ultimately nurturing a greener, vivacious ecosystem. And while it may seem absentminded to just simply cut out all animal products, there is additional, valuable information to lead a more successful vegan lifestyle.

10 Things You Should Know Before Going Vegan

1. It is okay to start small and slow.

Whatever the reasoning that sparked the lifestyle change, start small and slow. Making slight modifications can ease the transition and lessen the overwhelming task of eliminating such a large portion of a modernized diet. And though it very well may seem like a turtle’s pace, small changes can transcend into large, lifelong habits!

2. Going vegan does not translate to weight loss.

It is not too uncommon individuals resort to a vegan diet in hopes to lose weight. But “eating vegan” can still contain calorically-dense foods and may even lead to weight gain. Although a bag of chips may be vegan-friendly, continuously indulging on such products may not be the most appropriate method to lose weight.

3. …Although you could lose weight.

Like any sort of weight loss pattern, it is important to remain mindful of high-calorie foods that are essentially absent of valuable nutrients. But if incorporating fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, healthy fats, and plant-based proteins, weight loss may be naturally facilitated.

4. You may need a nutritional supplement.

The calcium content in milk and dairy products, the iron supply in beef, and the protein offered by all meats… Giving up animal products may negotiate valuable nutrients. These seven vitamins should certainly be considered if deciding to dabble into a vegan lifestyle.

5. Plant-based protein sources are essential.

While embracing nutritious fruits and veggies is encouraged, protein should not go unnoticed. Protein is a large concern when going vegan, as its properties are critical for maintaining muscle mass and other body functions. Valuable plant-based sources include tofu and tempeh, beans, nuts and seeds, quinoa, and lentils.

6. But stay cautious of soy.

Although the research remains inconclusive, soy continues to worry many, as high intakes of soy are insinuated to compromise hormone functions and instigate certain cancers. However, soy is a valuable plant-based protein and is encouraged in its whole form, rather than processed into “meatless” products that are high in sodium and other preservatives.

7. Food labels are your new best friend.

Food labels basically tell the story of a food, including the nutritional breakdown and ingredients of a product. While some foods may promote themselves as a vegan-friendly source, exploring the labels can help guide questionable items. And remember, just because a product may be “vegan,” does not mean it holds the highest nutritional value. Continue to navigate the food label as described here.

8. Anticipate experimenting with recipes.

While a plethora of food options ceases to exist following the elimination of animal products, you may anticipate cravings or even the desire to shake up flavorings. Have fun experimenting with different recipes, utilizing various plant-based protein sources, vibrant and nutrient-rich produces, and fiber-packed whole grains!

9. Veganism can still be cost-friendly.

It is not too uncommon people claim, “Eating healthy is more expensive.” While purchasing organic products from a local health food store may come with a higher price tag, going vegan absolutely does not have to break the bank. Continue to seek out weekly ads, take advantage of in-store specials and coupons, and purchase frozen or canned fruits and veggies (make sure there is no added sugars and drain and rinse canned products)!

10. You can still eat out.

With many food groups and ingredients withheld from the diet, eating out at restaurants may seem like a stressful task. And while it may initially feel overwhelming, start to feel comfortable sharing your diet requirements with restaurant staff for best assistance. Happy Cow and VegGuide are also a couple of resources to help guide your taste buds to vegan-friendly foods!