5 MISTAKES PEOPLE MAKE WHEN GOING VEGAN
Both vegan and plant-based diets have a lot in common, but the idea of veganism goes beyond just-food.
Plant-based diet primarily focuses on eating as clean as possible for the purpose of improving one’s health. Whole, minimally processed plant-based foods can do wonders for our bodies, as witnessed by people from all walks of life.
As for veganism, its main focus is to do no harm (or as little harm as possible) to animals and all living beings. Vegans don’t just exclude all animal products from their diet – they also aim to buy animal product-free clothing and accessories, use body care products that haven’t been tested on animals, reduce their carbon footprint by recycling, shopping local, etc. to protect our planet and thus the habitat of all living beings we share it with.Can a person following a plant-based diet also be vegan? Of course! Several people come to veganism through being plant-based first: Some wanted to improve their athletic performance while training for a specific goal and over the years eventually embraced the ethical and environmental benefits of ditching animal products.
However, it’s important to understand the difference between the terms “vegan” and “plant-based”, as it is wrong to use them interchangeably.
When you hear yet another celebrity announces that they went vegan to stay skinny or lose weight, please know that most likely they are talking about going plant-based, unless they full-on ditch all non-food related animal products from their life as well.Knowing the difference will prepare you for the time when that said celebrity announces later that they’re no longer vegan because being vegan is too hard, or it didn’t agree with their health, or they were only doing a “21-day vegan challenge”. If any of these reasons are brought up, that’s definitely because this person was plant-based, not vegan.
Fix this: Know the difference between “vegan” and “plant-based”, and decide how each of these terms apply to your life.
The number one thing you hear from the famous ex-vegan YouTubers or Instagrammers is that being vegan has ruined their health.
Whenever we come across yet another “I’m no longer vegan” announcement, we look at what that person’s diet looked like before they quit. And in the absolute majority of cases, we find that their diet was way too restrictive.
If we had a dollar for every picture of cucumber juice breakfasts and raw smoothie dinners on their Instagram feed, and talks of their 10-day water fast “cleanses” on YouTube – well, we’d probably have enough dollars to retire by now 🙂
Jokes aside, human bodies need quality sustenance that can provide us with plenty of both nutrients AND calories. No one can maintain an overly restrictive, all-raw, fat-free, etc. diet long-term. No wonder so many juice-sipping, cleanse-obsessed ex-vegans feel much better after they eat a burger or two - their bodies have been craving some calories, starches, and fats!Also, if you’ve read the #1 above, you can easily see that these people were in fact plant-based, not vegan. The moral reasoning of veganism makes it much harder to quit even when one’s health goes awry.
True vegans try to find a way to get better without resorting to eating animals again because it’s hard to look at a cow and say, “I used to care about your welfare, but I’ve been feeling lightheaded lately, so I’m going to eat you now.”
Fix this: Unless you have serious health-related reasons to avoid gluten, oil, starches, nuts, processed foods, occasional pints of vegan ice cream, etc. – don’t! As long as you eat a wide variety of plant-based and some processed foods with plenty of calories (and take vitamin B12 and D), you’ll be fine.
At the same time, we have to say that ultimately you do you. If you are truly convinced that a vegan/plant-based diet is ruining your health, or if you’ve developed a serious health condition, talk to your doctor if possible, and make an educated choice about what to do next.
Like everything in life, switching to a vegan lifestyle will be smoother if you map out a few important points before going all in.
Say, you’ve finally decided to go vegan. Think of the following:
– Where are you going to look for vegan recipes?
– What are you going to eat for dinner tonight, or for breakfast tomorrow morning?
– What are you going to pack for lunch at work?
– What do you eat for dinner when there’s not enough time to cook anything time-consuming?
– What are you going to do in social situations like going out to restaurants with friends, visiting family during the holidays, talking to skeptical people about your choice to go vegan, etc.?
– If you’re just now considering a switch to a vegan diet and lifestyle, see our post about taking the first steps when going vegan in which we share tips on where to start, what to expect, and how to stick with it.
– In case you’re wondering about getting enough protein as a vegan, check out our post in which we answer every vegan’s favorite question – where do vegans get their protein?
Fix this: Do your research before (or as soon as) you go vegan, and you’ll be way more likely to stick to it long-term.
#4. NOT BEING SURE ABOUT YOUR “WHY”.
No matter how much information and reasons for going vegan we can find these days, some of them will resonate with us more than others.
However, some of those reasons may have less ground under them, and when things get tough, that ground may disappear completely, leaving us wondering why we went vegan in the first place.
Case in point. More and more celebrities have been announcing that they’ve gone vegan lately. While it’s a great way to get the attention of the wider public to the subject of veganism, it can also backfire if and when said celebrities quit their vegan ways.
Those fans who went vegan after being inspired by their idols may find themselves lost. If this star is no longer vegan, why should they be?
Fix this: Look beyond fads and passing trends. Dig deeper to find true reasons for why being vegan resonates with you, and stick with them.
In a perfect world, everyone who commits to going vegan will do it instantly and for good, never again getting tempted by bacon, cheese or butter. They’ll always have their reasons (see #4 above) and a perfectly set up plan (#3) in front of them to get through any tempting moments.
Newsflash: we don’t live in a perfect world. We, real-life mortals, are creatures of habit, and forming new vegan habits takes time.
If we’ve eaten animal products all our lives, then it’s totally normal to get a craving for some of those a week after we go vegan. Especially if we’re at a dinner party surrounded by our very non-vegan friends and family who are egging us on to surrender to those bacon-wrapped dates or a juicy steak. Especially if we’re hungry, and vegan offerings don’t go beyond a pile of shredded lettuce. What’s important to keep in mind here is that giving in to temptations once or twice (or even a few times) after going vegan doesn’t mean that we’ve failed for good and that our vegan days are over.
We need to remember that nobody’s perfect and that a setback or two (especially early on in our vegan journey) doesn’t equate to failure. There’s always a tomorrow to give this vegan thing another try.
Fix this: Learn from your mistakes, and try to do better next time.Question for you: What other mistakes have you made (or almost made) when you first went vegan? Or, if you’re not vegan yet, – what are the reasons stopping you from making a switch?