11 months ago, I decided to make a life-changing decision: I went vegan. At the moment, my little sister was already a few months into a plant-based diet. Every day, she would encourage me to try being vegan for a day or to at least watch a few of the documentaries about veganism that are on Netflix. After a lot of convincing, I watched one of them, which ended up with me binge-watching all of them in one night. With tears in my eyes, a heavy heart full of guilt and a lot of determination to make a change, I decided to go vegan.
Despite having watched all those films, listening to the tips and advice my sister gave me, and even doing a little research on my own, there are few things I was definitely not expecting before embarking on this vegan journey.
If you're planning on joining the "dark side," here's seven things you should know beforehand:
1. The jokes will never stop.
Seriously, they won't. Your dad's jokes just get worse and your friends will be constantly accusing you of eating cows' food. Some jokes will actually be funny and you'll find yourself laughing along; others will make you feel like you're being made fun of. Just breathe in and breathe out. You'll learn to ignore them.
2. You will be constantly questioned.
As soon as someone new learns you're vegan, buckle up my friend, you're about to be interrogated for a while. At times you will feel under attack; at others, you will feel like you're actually inspiring others. But one thing is for sure, you'll develop a lot of patience.
3. Vegan junk food is a thing; beware.
Contrary to popular belief, you can gain weight being vegan. You can have yourself some frozen pizza or a burger with fries, maybe take on an entire pint of ice cream while you watch a movie and even go for a late-night Taco Bell run just as you would being a carnivore. Nowadays, there's as much vegan junk food out there as there is "regular" junk food. Remember, just because it's vegan doesn't mean it's healthy.
4. Your taste-buds will change.
This continues to surprise me every day. Within this plant-based diet, you're gonna start trying a lot of new foods. You'll even start liking some you used to hate. For example, I hated mushrooms and tomatoes. But these two are prevalent in vegan dishes, so I learned to eat them and now, I crave them. I'm telling you, going vegan is the beginning of a whole new life.
5. Suddenly, everyone cares about your protein intake.
In my 22 years on this planet, no one had ever expressed their concern about the amount of protein I had on the daily. Now, as soon as I tell people I'm vegan, everyone cares and some even act as your own personal nutritionist. The "but, where do you get your protein" conversation will be an everyday thing. Just tell them you get your protein where their "protein" gets theirs.
6. You're gonna have to learn how to cook.
It depends on where you live, but in my case, there aren't that many vegan options on the street or at least there's not a variety, so I would get bored of eating the same cheat meals over and over again. Sometimes, you'll just crave certain dishes that you won't easily find out there, like vegan mac and cheese or vegan wings. You'll find yourself looking up recipes online and learning how to make them yourself.
7. It's actually pretty simple.
As a food lover, I thought it would be impossible for me to cut out eggs, meat, and dairy. An average plate of food in my Latin household consisted of chicken, rice, beans, veggies, and fried plantains. Now, I only get to eat rice, beans, veggies, and fried plantains. Not much, huh? You'll realize how easy it is to have a complete and fulfilling meal without including a piece of meat. Also, nowadays, there is a vegan version of everything you're used to eating and the difference is barely noticeable. So don't worry about never eating certain things again, you will.