Like many things in life, making the decision to go vegan is not always easy but it can be made easier if you’re a little bit prepared. In this post, I’ve listed a few things I wish I knew before going vegan. Hopefully, these things will help you be a little bit more prepared for the transition into veganism or just if you’re someone who wants to reduce your consumption of meat and other animal products.
It doesn’t have to be all or nothing
Now, I am fully vegan since 2017 but before then, I ended up going back and forth between vegetarianism and pescatarianism while toying with the idea of becoming vegan. I had some prejudices against vegans and thought that I’d have to life my life as a saint if I were vegan and I was afraid I’d still want to eat some animal products and would be branded “a bad vegan”.
First of all, it’s always better to do a little than to do nothing. If a little means just cutting down on your meat consumption, you’re already on your way. If you try to do everything perfectly from the beginning, you might end up getting sick of it and then overcompensating by reverting to an even worse diet than before.
Experiment, have fun, and think about your impact on the planet and on animals but don’t overdo it. I’d rather that people transition slowly than go vegan completely unprepared just to have it backfire a couple of weeks later because they’re at home eating nothing but Ramen with ketchup or something similarly stupid.
There are so many great vegan alternatives nowadays
People make fun of vegan alternatives to animal products so much that I think there’s a general idea that everything vegan tastes bland or straight out disgusting.
This is not the case and even if it were; doesn’t a good conscience taste better? Joke aside, there are so many alternatives to milk, butter, cheese, meat that if you end up missing some kind of food, chances are you’ll be able to make it anyway with a few exceptions. Try it and I promise you’ll be amazed at what is possible!
But the thing is that we don’t choose to become vegan because it’s tons of fun or more convenient. We choose it despite being neither of those things because it’s better for the animals, the planet and our health. You brush your teeth, care for others and yourself – not because these activities are great fun but because they will help you live a healthy life with compassion for others and the planet.
Why wouldn’t you do the same with the food you eat?
There’s no way around it… there will be gas
Yep. There will be. And bloating. Maybe for a long time. But it becomes better as your guts get used to taking care of the increased amount of fiber that is suddenly passing through them.
But to be honest, I don’t know if there’s such a big difference between meat eaters and vegans. We. All. Fart.
Deal with it.
Dealing with people can be hard – but sometimes also surprisingly easy
People will make comments. Maybe out of concern for your health or out of guilt. Either way, you need to know why you’re vegan. Remember, you don’t owe other people an explanation to going vegan as long as you can justify to yourself why. That’s how it sticks with you. People can say what they want but if you’re not sure yourself, being persuaded by people is easier.
But – just because somebody says something that has been held true for a long time doesn’t mean it is right and doesn’t deserve to be questioned. Do your research and know why you make the choices you do. Then, if somebody asks you about it, you can calmly let them know your reasons behind it. I’ve find that most of the time, people are more than willing to listen. They will not (just like you won’t) reevaluate their situation just because you tell them to but you have contributed to starting a process toward questioning something that should have been questioned a long time ago.
You need your facts
I know. But facts are helpful to know why you’re choosing to do something. If there’s no purpose to it, you’ll drop it just as quick.
I’d like to share some book tips with you. There are some books that can be useful for different reasons both before and after going vegan or reducing your meat consumption.
- Eating Animals by Jonathan Safron Foer. This is an easy-to-read book which takes on a sort of documentary-narrative as Safron Foer explores what it means to eat animals and what is hid behind our dietary choices. If you want to know more about this book, check out No Makeup Mama’s post on it and get some tips on documentaries to watch!
- The China Study by Colin T. Campbell and Thomas M. Campbell. This is a book about the comprehensive study on diet done in China which studied different dietary patterns and their effects. It is sort of a heavy book to read but I would still recommend it if you’re interested in these things.
- How Not to Die by Michael Greger and Gene Stone. In this book, Dr. Greger gives an account of a lot of research done on a vegan/vegetarian diet vs. omnivore diet and their effects on the fifteen most deathly diseases in the United States. The book is varied and since it is divided into chapters corresponding to the different diseases, you can pick and choose what you’re most interested in.
- Also, just google. You’ll find plenty of interesting things online. But – as always – check your sources and make sure they seem reasonable and objective. A lot of the time, people and corporations have their own agendas.
Don’t expect wonders
Going into something with huge expectations can sometimes lead to disappointment and while there are many, many people out there who have had their lives change for the better by going vegan, there are also many people that do not notice a difference.
I, for instance, haven’t experienced any differences in my health or well-being since I went vegan. I’m lucky to have never struggled much with weight or other issues and that remains unchanged. I also haven’t noticed my skin changing (a lot of people say their acne cleared up right away after going vegan) or any other notable differences.
But, waking up every day and looking at my cat and knowing that I can finally call myself a true animal-lover has made a difference in the way I view myself. I have, through going vegan, started a journey toward a different identity. One that makes me feel better about myself and I hope you do too.