Going vegan is one of the most admirable things an individual can ever do, and it is certainly not something that just anybody can do. Turning vegan is literally about changing the way you live your life and never looking back. Not only do your eating habits change drastically, but so too does your outlook on life. In the past, vegans were sneered at and were considered as nothing more than hemp-wearing brainwashed hippies. Nowadays however, veganism is becoming a great deal more mainstream and commercialised. On high streets up and down the globe, more and more vegan cafes, bars, and restaurants are popping up, and are enjoying great success in the process. We won’t pretend that turning vegan is not hard – because it is. Turning vegan will come as quite a shock to the system and it is something that even many vegetarians would not be able to manage. If you are committed to your ethical beliefs and reasonings however, once you turn vegan you will never look back. Before turning vegan however, there are some things you need to know.
Going vegan is hard
If you decide to go vegan, first and foremost you must accept the fact that doing so is going to be very hard. If you are used to consuming meat and animal-based products, cutting them out of your diet entirely will come as quite a shock to the system. In the early stages you will struggle, and you may even find yourself craving the foods that you are choosing not to consume for ethical reasons. Like anything however, it will get easier with time and the longer you stick with it, the easier it will become.
Vegans can be overweight
In their heads, people often picture vegans as lean, even malnourished, stick thin individuals with body fat percentages in the single digit ranges. Whilst veganism is generally a great way of dropping weight and keeping your body fat percentages under control, there are vegans out there that are overweight. Not all vegans are actually that healthy as there are some that actually do not enjoy eating vegetables. Instead, they may consume foods such as potato chips and fries, fried in vegetable oils, which are not healthy.
You will need to take vitamin B supplements
Like it or not, but there are some vitamins out there that are essential for health and wellbeing, that are only available in animal-based food sources. Vitamin B12 for example, is very important as it maintains the metabolism, it assists with DNA production, and it keeps the blood cells healthy. Unfortunately it is mainly found in animal-derived products so a supplement will be required. Vegans and vegetarians are often deficient in vitamin B12, leaving them feeling tired, irritable, and weak. To ensure this does not affect you, you will need to supplement with various B complex vitamins each day.
People will act differently around you
Like it or not, but when you decide to turn vegan, you will be treated differently by people, including those who know you. You may even be mocked in some cases, so just be prepared for that. Remember, people are often very ignorant in regards to things they don’t understand themselves, so you can either explain your reasoning and your choices to them, or you can simply keep quiet and leave them to stew in their own ignorance.
You should also supplement with iron
There are actually two separate forms of iron which are known as non-heme, and heme. Animal products are often packed full of heme, especially red meat, and as heme is the most easily absorbed of the two, you may not get enough heme iron in your diet through whole foods alone. Non-heme iron is absorbed in smaller quantities, plus it is harder for the body to absorb it, so iron deficiencies are also possible. An iron supplement each day however, will easily put things right.
Protein should be a priority
Whilst it is important that you get a healthy balance of all three macronutrients, protein is especially important because it is essential for cellular health, regeneration, and function, along with muscular function, growth, and repair. Put simply, without enough protein, we would lose muscle mass and experience muscular problems, and our cells would also not function as they should. As we are essential one big cluster of billions upon billions of cells, this is very important. Unfortunately, most common sources of dietary protein come from animal-products such as eggs, meat, fish, seafood, and dairy, so vegans often struggle to find enough protein. There are however, plenty of choices out there including quinoa, tofu, lentils, pulses, nuts, spirulina, and seeds. What’s more, vegan protein powders such as pea protein, hemp protein, soy protein, and brown rice protein are also very useful in regards to getting enough protein and amino acids each day. You do not need to go mad, but aim for around 1g of protein per pound of bodyweight.
Don’t forget your healthy fats
Healthy fats are also very important for health and well-being, especially when it comes to nutrient uptakes. You see, vitamins are very important for our bodies, and there are generally two types. You have water soluble vitamins, and fat soluble vitamins. Water soluble vitamins are broken down and absorbed by the body because we have naturally high levels of water in our bodies. Fat soluble vitamins however, can only be broken down and absorbed if we have fat in our systems. Vitamin A, for example, is fat soluble, so it can only be absorbed if there is fat present. Healthy fats also boost your metabolism, they improve brain health and function, and they improve organ health and function as well.
Try making gradual changes
One reason why people often struggle with the transition over into a vegan diet is because they try doing everything at once. To make life easier, why not make gradual changes? Start by cutting out meat, then fish, then diary, then eggs, and so on. Doing things gradually will be much easier than doing everything all at once.