5 Things You Need To Know Before Going Vegan
Most people become vegan due to one or a few reasons that usually have to do with bettering themselves or the world around us. Personally, I made the change for health reasons. Along my journey, I’ve met people who changed to reduce their carbon footprint, animal cruelty/rights, or wanting to switch it up.
When something is considered vegan, it means it did not use or contain any animal products. This means that foods such as meat, eggs, dairy, and cheese are considered off-limits.
I often relate transitioning to Vegan to learning how to swim.
There are two ways you learn how to swim:
You get lessons and tips from someone who has done it. Or
Your uncle tells you to kick and swing your arms, then throws you in.
I got a combination of both since some of my family members already switched to the “dark side” a few months before me.
So in order to save you some time and money, I’m providing you with some tips I wish I had known before I became a vegan.
1. Plan Ahead
You go to the grocery store needing a couple of things and come out with everything but what you intended to get in the first place. Vegan or not, the grocery store is no easy task without planning and organizing. You need to have some system to get you through the chaos at the store.
For those of you who are like me and make some cheap list of random meals then you're in luck. Planning ahead is just that. Start off with turning your favorite meals into vegan meals. Then, take those ingredients and add them to your shopping list.
Not only will planning ahead eliminate the need to read the labels to make sure it’s vegan friendly, but it will also help prevent you from buying unnecessary junk food.
2. Stay Away From Cheese (For Now)
I can say a million and one things about the dairy industry but this is not the time nor the place. However, cheese was a love of mine. The obsession with this moldy cattle secretion is not just because we enjoy the taste or the smell. It is a result of being addicted to cheese.
In a USAToday article, Dr. Barnard calls it “dairy crack.” This is supported by the fact that “each bite of cheese produces a tiny hit of dopamine.” That being said, in order to properly and unbiasedly judge vegan cheese, I recommend during your first 30-45 days of being a vegan that you abstain from all cheese.
You will need to detox and wean yourself off this drug (dairy cheese) before trying V-cheese. A little dramatic but you get the point.
3. Soy Isn’t Bad
A Harvard Public Health article states, “Soy is exalted as a health food by some, with claims of taming hot flashes, warding off osteoporosis, and protecting against hormonal cancers like breast and prostate.”
On top of that, this legume is a complete protein. Which means it contains all of the essential amino acids necessary to build muscle. That being said, try not to include soy in every meal. Let it make subtle appearances in your weekly diet.
4. It's A Lifestyle Change
After years of diets and exercise challenges, I always ended up right where I started.
Inconsistent results and still feeling as though something wasn’t right. So if you’re thinking that being a vegan is the next wave of Herbalife... you are sadly mistaken.
Yes, it’s hard at first, but like any journey, you adapt and get better. With a lifestyle change, you develop habits that will be with you regardless of whether or not you remain a vegan.
5. Processed Foods Can Be Pricey
The 21st century has brought forth a lot of innovation in the food industry. The highlight being plant-based “meats.” These meat alternatives are great for beginners or people who want a pre-vegan life.
However, these “meats” do add up. Four veggie burgers might be cheaper than four beef burgers, but the nutritional value that could have come from the produce, frozen, or canned sections could have been a whole meal.
No matter how much information you get, becoming a vegan takes trial and error. With patience and a little help from a health professional, being vegan could be sustainable for you and the earth.
About the Author
Oshay Smith is an ISSA Elite Trainer, Nutritionist, and former D-I Athlete. Along the way, he found it harder to reach the same milestones. Then he founded Wimpy Vegan, to help everyone achieve their fitness goals. Check him out on Facebook and Instagram.