Things to Know Before You Go Vegan
There are a lot of different reasons why someone might consider going vegan, but there are also a lot of considerations to keep in mind before leaping into such a structured eating style. Here are some things to know.
One of the things that happens when you skip animal products is that you miss out on vitamins that only occur there…such as B-12. Not getting enough B-12 can lead to weakness, depression, tiredness, weight loss, constipation, and poor blood cell function. Some foods are fortified with B-12, but if you’re not getting enough a supplement might be the way to go.
You also might need an iron supplement. While there is iron in vegetable sources, it is absorbed differently in the body that iron from animal sources, which means you might not be getting enough. Also, be sure you are getting plenty of vitamin C from food sources which will help your body absorb the iron.
Many of us get the majority of our protein from animal sources, so when you cut those out you have to make a specific effort to get it elsewhere. Protein is essential for keeping us energized and keeping our cells in a state of growing and repairing. Without enough protein your energy levels can drop dramatically, especially if you’re active. Places to look for protein include soy, beans, lentils, and quinoa.
Don’t see vegan on a package and automatically assume that it’s healthy. Plenty of empty calories like white bread and pastas are vegan. What they don’t give you is all the nutrients and protein that you do need. Empty calories and refined sugars will just cause your blood sugar to crash and reduce your energy levels and mood dramatically. Plus, you might gain weight in the form of fat which is probably not your ideal plan. Focus on clean, unprocessed food that is as close to it’s natural state as possible to get the most health benefits from it.
While soy is one of the top protein sources for non meat eaters, eating too much soy can be really terrible for you. Plus, many packaged soy foods are full of excess salt and preservatives that you just don’t need in a healthy diet. Some research has linked excess soy to cancers and heart issues, so aim to get your soy in it’s purist forms like edamame, tofu, and miso. But keep it in moderation.
When you turn fully vegan you are going to have to do a lot of label reading, because there are surprising animal products in a lot of unassuming foods. Some food coloring agents come from beetles, whey comes from milk, and of course gelatin comes from meat. That right there cuts out a lot of cereals, candy, and bread.
In fact, many people find that they benefit from a mostly vegan diet or some sort of balance between the vegan world and the fully carnivorous one. Of course, what works for you can only be decided by you. Oh, and be prepared to answer a lot of questions from your friends who want to know why exactly you would give up on burgers.
About Kate Ferguson Kate Fergus is a Los Angeles local and freelance writer for a variety of blogs and online magazines. When she's not writing, the UC Davis graduate is focused on pursuits of the entertainment industry, spin class, and hot sauce.