5 Things You MUST KNOW Before Going Vegan
Are you thinking about going vegan or plant-based? Maybe you’re not sure where to start or you’re struggling to make the first steps. Every ‘experienced’ vegan wishes they had a guidebook to show them how to begin their plant-based journey and where to go for advice. In saying that, no vegan is the same. Living a plant-based lifestyle is a choice you should be making for YOU.
It might feel overwhelming to label yourself as vegan or vegetarian if you’re afraid of making mistakes. However, try not to let the judgement of others deter you from living a life that is aligned with your values. But if you’re dying to know exactly what you should be doing, we’re here to help. Here are 5 things you should know before going vegan.
1. Why are you going plant-based?
This is a question you should ask yourself frequently. Is it for health reasons? Ethical reasons? Maybe both? Whatever it is, that’s okay! This isn’t so you can justify your choice to others, but this will be the driving force that will keep you going when times get tough. Your values are the strongest aspect of your personality. If your choices don’t align with your values, they probably won’t stick.
If you truly believe being plant-based is the right choice for you, then your habits and choices will show that! We won’t lie, it can get tough when you’re out and about with friends and you’re the only one not eating the mainstream diet. But this is when you go back to your core reason. You won’t be tempted by the KFC your friends are eating and you’ll be just as happy searching just a little bit harder for a delicious plant-based option.
2. You might need to use supplements.
If you’re generally eating a healthy and balanced diet, you should be feeling pretty good. However, there is one vitamin that you might not be getting if you’re completely cutting out all animal products. B12 is found in meats, poultry, eggs and dairy and is considered essential in the production of red blood cells. If someone is B12 deficient, they can experience fatigue, breathlessness and memory trouble. It’s best to stay on top of it before it becomes an issue, which is why many vegans and vegetarians take a B12 supplement.
3. It’s easier than you think to get your protein!
Don’t be turned off a plant-based lifestyle if you’re worried you might not get enough protein. There are many ways you can make sure you’re hitting your protein goals, without having to eat a rump steak. Here are just a few examples of plant foods that contain high amounts of protein:
- Nutritional Yeast (great for making ‘cheese’ sauces)
- Soy Milk
- Protein Powders
It’s a good thing that you’re concerned about your protein intake because it shows you are conscious and careful about what you’re putting into your body. If you’re looking for inspiration on some high-protein meals, we've got you covered: https://www.braw.com.au/blogs/recipes
If you feel like you’re struggling to cook high-protein meals or you’re wanting to increase your intake, invest in a good quality protein powder. These delicious alternatives can be used as a shake or can be incorporated into yummy recipes (https://www.braw.com.au/blogs/recipes/vegan-protein-pancakes)
4. It doesn’t have to cost more!
A common misconception is that eating vegan costs a lot of money. This doesn’t have to be the case! If you’re constantly replacing ‘meat’ with the expensive fake meats that are on the market, then yes, you’ll probably be breaking the bank a little bit. But if you’re keen on cooking, then you’ll actually be saving money in the long run. Things like curries, black bean patties, protein pancakes and corn fritters are just a few examples of vegan meals that freeze well. A lot of these ingredients are relatively cheap: beans, lentils, vegetables. You’ll probably just have to gradually build up your spice rack.
Making your meals in bulk or meal prepping is a great way to save money and be prepared. This way, you’ll have all your meals ready for the week, so you won’t be finding unhealthy alternatives at the last minute AND you’ll be saving yourself some extra cash.
5. You will make ‘mistakes’.
In reality, nobody should be the judge of your ‘mistakes’ other than you. Don’t be so hard on yourself or be embarrassed if you accidentally eat something non-vegan. The fact that you’re giving it your best shot is enough. But it’s not unlikely that a piece of bacon might slip into your pasta during a family dinner and if it does, don’t freak out! A mistake is exactly that, a mistake. Learn to laugh at the things that are out of your control and fuss over the things that are in your control. Living a plant-based lifestyle is a journey. You might fall off a couple of times, change your mind or figure out that it’s actually not the right diet for you. Either way, it’s all good! Take a bit of pressure off yourself and focus on making some delicious food.
Don’t put the pressure on yourself to ‘go vegan’ all at once. Dip your toes in the water and try out some vegan recipes or opt for the vegan option when you’re out and about. If you’re happy, healthy and living a life that is in alignment with your values and beliefs, then you’ve made the right choice.