Updated: Mar 15
When you first go vegan you might be a little nervous, is this going to work? Am I going to starve? Will I like the food? But, after a week or so, you realise that being vegan is great, you feel amazing and you want to tell the world, you want everyone to be vegan with you. You could join hands and sing vegan songs, do vegan dances, cuddle cows, it'd be brilliant. So you tell people, but it doesn't go to plan, they don't throw their burger away and cuddle a cow, no they look at you as if you're crazy and carry on eating. Also, when you go vegan you'll want to go 100% vegan power with everything, but this isn't a good idea, some things take time. Here are 5 things that you shouldn't do when you first go vegan.
1) Tell everyone that what they eat is wrong. When you first go vegan you’ll feel amazing, you’ll have more energy, your body will feel lighter, you’ll be happier and you’ll want to tell everybody about it. The problem is, most of the time, they’re not interested. It’s not that they don’t want to be healthy, it’s not that they don’t want to feel great. I’m sure that they’re really happy for you, but they don’t believe that eating meat and drinking animal milk is bad for you. They think that meat makes them strong and dairy gives them healthy bones and they think that you’re crazy because you don’t agree with them. When you go vegan, and even when you’re been vegan for a while, try not to make it a topic of conversation. If someone makes a comment about how much energy you have you could tell them that it’s because you’re vegan. But, if someone offers you something that you can’t eat don’t tell them that you can’t eat it because you’re vegan, just say no thank you. In those situations people often become offended if you refuse something that they think is good, they may start to think that you think that you’re better than them. You may not feel that way at all, but they’ll still be upset. Oh, if someone asks about veganism you can tell them, but if they start looking bored stop talking. It’s really easy to get carried away when you’re talking about something that you care about, but not everyone cares as much as you do.
2) Eat the same amount of food as before. Plant based foods have a lot less fat in them and so have fewer calories, this can mean that, even though you’re eating the same amount and your plate is still full, the amount of calories that you’re eating will be less. If you keep doing this for a long time you’ll lose weight, too much weight. Increasing portion sizes will make sure that you keep a healthy weight.
3) Go straight from a meat based diet to high fibre foods. Meat and other animal products, like cheese, don't contain any fibre, but plant foods contain a lot of fibre. It can be hard for your body to adjust when you change your diet so use some meat substitutes and lower fibre foods to help your body transition. Meat and other animal products have no fibre in them, not even one little it and because of this a lot of people aren’t getting enough fibre each day. When you change to a plant based diet the amount of fibre you eat will go up and this is something that you need to do slowly. If you increase the amount of fibre you eat too quickly your body won’t be able to process it, it hasn’t learned how to yet. The fibre will kind of get stuck, passing through really slowly making you uncomfortable and farty. No one enjoys that, especially the people around you. Tinned vegetables and peeled vegetables are lower in fibre and these can be eaten to give your body time to get used to the change in foods and nutrients and help you to keep your friends.
4) Not getting your nutrients. When going vegan it is easy to forget to eat a wide variety of foods to make sure that you’re getting all of the nutrients that you need. Minerals, like calcium, are really important, but easy to forget. Vegetables like spinach and broccoli have calcium in them, they also have iron, another important minerals. Vitamin B12 is something that vegans cannot get from their diet though. Most people get the B12 from meat, but with vegans this isn’t possible. Thousands of years ago people got their B12 from water or food they had grown, this is because it is made by a bacteria that lives in water and soil. But now everything is so clean that there is no bacteria in drinking water or the soil that fruits and vegetables are grown in. Some food products have vitamins added to them, breakfast cereals and plant milks often have added vitamins, but this isn’t enough. To be safe it’s a good idea to supplement with vitamin B12 as having low levels can make you very ill. Omega oils are important too, lot of people get these from eating fish or taking a fish oil capsule, but this is not vegan. An animal friendly way to get your omega oils is from seeds. Hemp seeds, chia seeds and flaxseed (linseed) have a lot of ALA, which your body turns into the omegas you need. Not everyone can do this well though, so, if you’re not sure or you’re not getting enough of the right seeds, you’ll need to take a vegan supplement.
5) Thinking that because something is vegan it’s healthy. This is a myth. There are loads of really unhealthy vegan foods available now, Oreos, Party Rings, Doughnuts, then there are the over processed meat substitutes that contain a lot of salt. There are vegan cakes and puddings that are full of sugar and fat. Generally speaking the less processed a food is the more healthy it is. Think of a potato. If you boil it you will lose some of the goodness in it, but it still has the fibre, it is low in salt, sugar and fat. If you peel the potato, chop it up, cover it in oil and put it in the oven you get chips, but the fibre is gone and the amount of fat has gone up. What about taking the potato, peeling it, slicing it, frying it in a load of oil then covering it in salt? Crisps, right? Vegan? Yes. Tasty? Yes. Good? No. Healthy? Definitely not.
Can you think of any advice that you would give to new vegans? Let me know.