Five things you should know before going vegan

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When I first went vegan, all I knew was “I’m not supposed to eat animals anymore,” and I thought that was all I needed to know. I’ve been a vegan for almost a year now, and I have learned so many things that have made my life a better journey to live. Here I am going to tell you five things I would like to have known before my transition, which I have since come to understand. Let’s get started.

1.) You don’t have to give up food variety

Usually when people hear the word “vegan,” they almost immediately relate you to a bunny. People think that all you eat is lettuce and carrots (and you might think the same at the beginning), but no, that is not the truth. People should understand that probably 60 to 80 percent of their meals are already composed of vegan ingredients or foods. For example: if you like Mexican food, take out the ground beef and cheese and the rest of it is vegan. If you like Indian food, then you’ll still get tons of spices and beans with rice if you subtract the meat. There’s also pasta, soups, and of course fruits in all their presentations, along with vegetables. After all, who does not eat salad?

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2.) You’ve got to learn how to cook

When I went vegan, pretty much the only meals I knew how to cook with non-animal products were smoothies and salads, so I had to get creative and start experimenting in the kitchen. If you are not a cooking person you had better learn, because it’s going to get expensive just eating out as a vegan.

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3.) Vegan does not mean healthy

People often sell the idea that a vegan diet is super healthy, and it is in most cases. But let’s be real, if you stuff your face with simple sugars in the form of refined sugars, flours, or processed foods, or if you deep fry all of your foods instead of baking them, or even if you eat too much of anything, you can still develop health issues. An imbalanced diet can lead to diabetes, colon problems, and high cholesterol due to the saturated fats found in most oils (canola, vegetable, olive, etc.). Of course it’s not as easy to develop such complications on a vegan diet as on one based on animal products, but still, veganism practiced without care is not automatically healthy.

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4.) Even other vegans will give you trouble for being vegan

Yes, that happens, and more often than you would think. Some people in the vegan community can be really harsh to newcomers, judging you for the way you are living your journey. Of course not everyone or even the majority are like this, but there are some really negative people out there who can discourage you very easily. Do not worry, however. Most of us respect and truly value that you are trying really hard to change your lifestyle. Do not listen to mean opinions on social media (especially YouTube or Facebook comments). Take the good and throw the bad to the trash.

5.) Palm oil is not vegan

Is palm oil really vegan? Yes in concept, but not in practice. This is much the same as makeup products tested on animals, for example, which may not contain any animal products themselves but were produced by causing pain to living beings. Palm oil too causes animal pain, and by pain I don’t mean they are just hurt. Wild animals are being killed and burned alive to clear space for palm oil all over Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and other countries in Asia, Africa, and South America. Orangutans are running out of food and space, and are in danger of extinction. It can be hard to avoid palm oil because pretty much everything that is sold in a supermarket contains it, but there are alternatives, and once you get used to reading ingredients or not buying processed foods you will be fine. Try it for the sake of orangutans and other wild animals!

Rehabilitated female orangutan at Samboja Lestari Project in Borneo. Image courtesy Wolf Gordon Clifton – Animal People, Inc.

These are the five facts that I think you would like to know, and I wish I had known before going vegan! I hope they are helpful for you in your own vegan journey.


Featured image credit Mike Procario, CC BY-ND 2.0

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I am Maria Chandler. I am a Vegan and I try to educate people about how the agriculture industry affects the environment and our animals. Click to see author's profile.

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