If you have been vegan for two or three years then you can probably remember clearly all the mistakes you made when you went vegan. The biggest mistakes vegans make when starting their vegan lifestyle are easy to correct when you plan for them.
I want to tell you something before we begin that may change your life as you go vegan. It is true that it is so much easier to go vegan with a lot of help. Online resources, recipes, Facebook groups and more can help. In fact I run This Facebook Group that helps new and seasoned vegans with questions they have.
You must know that you will have to find your own path. I have been vegan for three years now and I have only recently become comfortable with it. You have to try everything. You need to experiment with all kinds of different foods and recipes. Learn what you love and what you don't like.
Think about it. You spent your entire learning what kinds of food, recipes, and snacks you really love. So don't' expect to go vegan and know what suits you in a week or two. It will take time. Knowing this will keep your frustration level down. Don't worry. It will happen. One day eating vegan will be as natural to you as anything else.
In addition to learning what vegan foods and recipes you like, knowing where to eat out and everything else is just part of it. Dealing with family and friends is another part. So we have tips to make that easier too. Avoid these common mistakes and your transition to veganism will go so much easier.
1. Try New Things
We talked about this a little bit already. You need to sample everything. Eat everything. If there is a vegan food or recipe you see, try it. You will need to learn a new base of foods. If you were a meat and potatoes person, the good news is that you can still enjoy potatoes. But learning what will be your favorite thing to replace the meat will take time.
Eating a vegan diet that works for you is a process. The more vegan foods you eat the more you will narrow down the foods you love. Soon you will have a new list of favorites. Just because the most popular vegan blog says everyone loves a particular vegan food or recipe doesn't mean that you will. Try it. But if you don't like it don't think you are weird. It's just not your food.
A great example of this for me personally is quinoa. It's all the rage in vegan circles but I hate it. Does that make me a bad vegan? No. It just makes me….me. Try more things. Soon you will have a large list of vegan staples that you love to eat all of the time.
2. Don't talk about being vegan too much
Yes, you are excited about your new vegan lifestyle and you should be. But most of the people in your life will not be. In fact most of them with think you are weird at best, stupid at worst. You don't need all that negativity. So just don't talk about it to everyone. One day when you are comfortable in your own skin, have all of the answers to common criticism memorized, and are very confident, tell the entire world! But just give it some time.
3. Don't be rude to your friends and family about food
Your parents, family and friends have been offering you fried chicken your entire life and you ate it. It will take some time for them to adjust to your new vegan diet. It's not their fault they don't understand veganism or forget you stopped eating meat. Be patient with them. Instead of saying “OH MY GOD guys, you know I don't eat chicken. Do you know what they do to chickens in slaughter houses?” just return the meat to the serving plate.
This may seem like you are copping out on your vegan principles but you are not. You are just allowing everyone time to adjust. Maybe after the meal you can remind your friend or family member that you aren't eating meat right now. Be polite about it. Be understanding. It will go a long way to making sure you keep a great relationship with those you love.
4. Eat A Lot
This applies to most new vegans, especially whole food vegans. When you stop eating calories dense food like meat, cheese and butter, you will be amazed how much food you will need to eat to get your calories. In fact this is why most people fail on a vegan diet. They don't eat enough delicious vegan food. A healthy happy vegan is one that eats a wide variety of food, and lots of it.
Meat has 500 to 800 calories per pound. Vegetables have around 100 to 200 calories per pound. It's easy t see why preparing to eat twice as much food will be necessary. A lot of new vegans eat things like fake meats and vegan butter products. For them the transition is easier because the calorie amounts are similar. But if you are trying to eat a whole food based vegan diet, you will not make it on salad and steamed squash. You need to eat a lot. So plan ahead and be ready for it.
5. Learn How To Cook
I lived my entire life eating out of fast food windows. I never cooked. I hated washing dishes. I had lived in my house I bought for nine years and never turned on the stove once. Not long after going vegan I realized I would need to learn how to cook.
It is very hard to be vegan and eat and restaurants much. This is especially true if you live in a small town or if you live in the south like I do. We just recently had our first vegan eatery open in my small town. It was an exciting day!
If you love to cook now, great! You will enjoy learning all the new vegan recipes. If you don't like cooking now, learn to like it. And you really can. I do enjoy learning new recipes now. It's fun and healthy. And it makes being vegan so much easier!
If you have any great tips for new vegans, please comment them below. I know everyone learned things in their transition that could help others make the switch to a vegan diet and lifestyle.