The new year is right around the corner. With the New Year comes new ideas, challenges and, of course, resolutions.
Many people use the New Year as inspiration to get healthier, which is fantastic. One of the healthiest decision you could make for yourself is to lead a plant-based diet, also known as a vegan diet.
This is different from a vegetarian who gives up meat. Vegans give up meat and all animal products. No more dairy, eggs, meat, gelatin, honey, seafood, and anything else that comes from an animal.
While this is a noble lifestyle, it isn't something that someone should just jump into. Take it from me, a person who spontaneously decided to try being vegan for a month and started the next day. That was over a year ago and I loved how I felt so much that after my 30-day challenge, I decided to stick with it.
However, there are so many things I wish someone would have told me before I went vegan.
1. You will probably detox.
I encourage you to not go cold turkey or else you will detox, which doesn't feel very good.
2. You won't reap the benefits right away.
It takes time for your body to adjust. I was a vegan for a month before I began to feel and see the benefits.
3. It is really hard at first, but you will get the hang of it.
At first, I still craved meat and cheese. But over time, my taste buds began to change.
4. You will probably feel like crap until you figure out how to balance your diet.
I did not understand how to have a balanced plant-based diet. I wasn't eating enough beans and lentils and was eating too much fruit.
5. Fruit and vegetables are great but don't forget about legumes and grains.
A rounded diet makes all the difference. It is difficult at first, but eventually, it will become a habit and you won't even have to think about it anymore.
6. People will ask you where you get your protein almost every day.
Come up with a witty response, otherwise it will drive you mad.
7. Don't replace everything with soy.
Mass consumption of soy is not good for you! Chill out with the soy milk lattes, tofu, and edamame.
8. You can't just eat junk food.
Sure, Oreos and Pepsi are vegan, but you would probably be better off eating a well-rounded non-vegan diet at that point.
9. You need an outside source of B12 and Vitamin D.
Vitamin B12 comes from animal products. Taking these supplements prevents anemia and nervous system damage. It is difficult for anyone to get Vitamin D from food, but it is especially hard for vegans. But be warned, not all supplements are vegan, so do your research.
10. If you do it right, you will get all your protein and vitamins from your food.
11. You will eventually become lactose intolerant.
I found out in my Biology 101 class that if you don't consume dairy for three months, your body will eventually stop making lactase which breaks down lactose. Basically, it is too late to turn back for me.
12. Research the benefits of a plant-based diet regularly.
This is such a great way to stay motivated. Plus, when people ask why you have such a strict diet, you can hit them with the facts.
13. Instead of trying to replace animal products, try new things.
I'm going to be real with you, vegan cheese sucks. But not all vegan products do!
14. Eventually, you will stop craving animal products.
This will happen so gradually you probably won't even notice.
15. You probably even get grossed out by animal products.
I now throw up at the smell of cooking red meat. My stomach is a drama queen.
16. Do not preach about a vegan diet to all of your friends.
They don't care.
17. Don't make people cater to your diet needs.
This is so rude!!!! The world does not revolve you and your plant-based diet needs. If you are going to dinner at someone's house, plan accordingly. This means bring your own food.
18. Check out menus online before you go out to eat.
Sometimes it can be difficult and timely to make a meal vegan, so plan ahead.
19. Buy fresh produce that is on sale.
This will save you so much money. Plus you get to experiment on what foods taste best paired together.
20. Buy grains in bulk.
Stick them in a mason jar and now you're officially a hipster vegan.
21. Don't eat pasta for every meal.
While this sounds delicious, there is no way you can have a well-balanced diet this way.
22. "Breaking" every once in a while is OK.
If you eat a non-vegan meal once every two weeks, your diet is still 98% plant-based. Don't just give up on a vegan diet because you goofed up.
23. Applesauce is a great substitute for baking.
Fair warning, it will turn out a little dense.
24. Sometimes the vegan food you try will SUCK.
That is OK. Just don't ever make it again. You tried something new and it didn't work out. Don't give up because one meal tasted like dirt.
25. Trader Joe's is probably the best place for vegans to shop.
Go in willing to read labels and with a willingness to try new things.
26. Find a friend who will try making new vegan foods with you.
This can be a fun way to try brave new foods.
27. A plant-based diet is not just for hipsters.
This is a big misconception. It is for everyone.
28. This will monumentally impact your health.
We are talking disease prevention, weight loss, and 52 other reasons.
29. You are directly contributing to helping the planet.
You greatly reduce your carbon footprint. And more.
30. Think of the animals you are saving.
I am not an animal lover at all. But it is nice to know that you aren't contributing an industry that relies on murder.
31. Memorize those three major reasons to stay a vegan.
This will keep you going on the difficult days.
32. People will make fun of you. Don't take it to heart.
It's OK to laugh at vegan memes.
33. Ultimately, this is the best decision you can make for yourself.
Try being vegan for a month and then take the time to reflect on how you feel. I promise that you will feel better.
34. The first week will be challenging.
For some reason, a cheeseburger never sounded so good as the day after you start a vegan diet.
35. You will get the hang of things by week two.
It takes some time, but it will all make sense by week two,
36. Do not get burnt out by week three.
Sure, you have a hang of things, but it might start to get boring. Stick with it!!!!
37. Nut milks take a lot of water.
It's really ironic if you became a vegan to save water but drink almond milk.
38. It is totally possible to have a healthy, vegan pregnancy.
I don't plan on having kids for a long time, but this is something that didn't even cross my mind when I became vegan. But someone asked me the other day if I would stay vegan while pregnant so I did some digging and it is totally possible. Do your research and talk to your doctor! I would even go to a vegan nutritionist for extra help.
39. It is also possible to raise a healthy vegan child.
Naturally, after thinking about a vegan pregnancy, I thought about raising vegan kids. Totally possible, but vegan formula seems to be a big challenge if you can't breastfeed. Definitely do some digging and talk to your doctor about options.
40. Vegan documentaries are a great place to go when you aren't feeling motivated.
Instead of binge-watching "Scandal," I will turn on a vegan documentary if I catch myself daydreaming about cheese.
41. Grocery shopping at first will take a long time.
The struggle of not knowing if the granola bars you love are vegan or not is real. Prepare to spend a long amount of time in the grocery store and plan accordingly.
42. Read labels!!!
This is so important. I cannot tell you how many times I thought what I was eating was vegan and it wasn't. Learn from my mistakes.
43. Being a vegan is empowering.
You have so much control over what is going into your body. There are so many health benefits and it feels empowering to know that you are being responsible and taking care of your health.