Two years ago, I couldnt imagine being vegan. I lived for string cheese, couldnt get enough steak when the opportunity presented itself, and thought grilled chicken could only be made better if made en masse.
Then I started watching the documentaries on NetflixForks Over Knives, Food Choices, Cowspiracy.. too much evidence was presented on the importance of going vegannot just for us, but for the planet. So just before Thanksgiving last year, my boyfriend and I made a pact: after the holiday, it was all plant-based, all the time. Over the last few months, weve hit a few speedbumps, but not once have either of us felt deprived. Its easy to make mistakes when changing your diet or lifestyle, but with some simple research, we were able to remedy them all. Here are the top ten mistakes youre most likely to make when going vegan.
1. Not eating enough variety.
When you first stop eating animal products, its easy to get stuck on whats easy. We ate pizza four times in a week once, and pasta five times. Both are extremely easy to make with various sauces and toppings, and while carbs are good for you (your brain runs on them!) and pasta does contain some protein, you need other nutrients, too. Add in more vegetablesfrozen are fine and have all the same nutrients as fresh!
2. Being obsessed with protein.
You dont need as much protein as you may think you need, and if youre eating enough variety, you shouldnt have a problem getting enough of it, or any nutrient for that matter. No Meat Athletes website states that the total number of calories from protein that you need is between 10 to 15 percent of your total calories.
3. Eating too many meat and cheese substitutes.
People say going vegan is too expensive for a reasontheyre thinking of all of the substitutes theyll have to buy when they go vegan but you dont have to buy them! There are plenty of products out there from companies that make fantastic meat and cheese substitutes, but they arent necessarily healthy, and you can make plenty of substitutes at home for a fraction of the price. Looking to cut it out? Try making veggie burgers with beans, vegetables, and spices, baked in the oven to cut out oil, or make your own cashew cream sauce for pasta to make mac and cheese.
4. Eating junk food and calling it healthy.
Theres plenty of vegan junk food, but if you think youre going to eat rows of Oreos and bags of Fritos and clear out your arteries, youre kidding yourself. I could eat Fritos all day every day, but empty calories are empty calories. Youll still gain the weight, still feel bloated, and still feel awful after eating if youre eating only junk food.
5. Thinking you cant eat junk food or baked goods.
Ive been told that vegans cant eat cake, cookies, pie, doughnuts, or ice cream. Ive also made and eaten all of those. Over Christmas this past year, I made a chocolate cake to rival all chocolate cakes, and my family finished it in a day with rave reviews. I then made dozens of chocolate chip cookies at my boyfriends parents house, and while they were met with some skepticism at first, they were gone by the time we left three days later. Last weekend, we
made French toast for the first time since going vegan, and it was awesome. Almost everything can be made vegan and taste amazing.
6. Assuming you dont have to go to the doctor because youre invincible now.
Being vegan doesnt mean that you dont have to go to the doctor. Everyone needs an annual check-up to make sure everythings working as it should. Also, youll still get sick, and youll still get colds, though your immune system is boosted since youre consuming more overall nutrients.
7. Not eating enough calories.
Eating more vegetablesand therefore more fiber than you may be used tocan trick your brain into thinking youve eaten enough calories. The thing is, though, that youre going to need to eat moreyour body is digesting everything so much more easily now that its not having to work so hard to process the meat, so lunch may just go right through you. Also, think about it: youre cutting out a whole food group from your plate, so youre going to have to compensate for those calories. To maintain your weight, youll need to eat more food than you normally would have before.
8. Thinking the clock is reset every time you slip up.
Its okay to slip up and accidentally buy or eat something that isnt vegan; it doesnt make you a horrible person, just a human being. We once forgot that not everyone buys vegan mayo, and assumed that the mayo in a sauce on a veggie dog was vegan, just because the rest of the veggie dog was. nope! But you keep on
living, and try harder next time to be more aware of what youre consuming. 9. Not trying new things.
Just because something is different, that doesnt make it bad. My boyfriend and I went to an almost fully raw vegan restaurant for lunch once, but had I known that nothing there was cooked, I might not have gone. I ended up getting a collard wrap that I wouldnt have otherwise tried, and it was awesome. Trying new things is integral not just as a vegan or vegetarian, but as a human being.
10. Not having more than one reason to go vegan.
For some, one reason may be enough, but studies show that for most people, they need two or more reasons to go
vegan, whether for health, ethical, or environmental reasons. Do your research, and find out whats important to you. Animal agriculture is the number one cause of global warming; do you want to contribute to that, or fight against it? Have you read that eating a plant-based diet can help fight heart disease and high blood pressure or even prevent seemingly genetically predisposed diseases? Do you want to save the cows from their untimely death at two years old, when they should be living 20 or more years when not farmed? Find your reasoning, and do your research.