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What You Need to Know Before You Go Vegan

24 min read -

There are tons of reasons why someone might decide to go vegan, and they’re all admirable. Caring about animal welfare and prioritizing the environment are both worthy causes. Before you decide to make the big switch, you need to be as informed as possible. Going vegan is a worthwhile venture, but it’s a little more complicated than keeping meat off of your plate. Are you ready to make some big changes?


What Restrictions Are Involved in Vegan Diet?

Vegans don’t eat animals or anything that comes from animals. All meat and seafood are permanently off the menu, as are dairy products from cows and other animals and eggs laid by our feathered friends. Since honey is made by bees, it isn’t generally considered vegan. Many supplements, like fish oil and calcium, also come from animal origins. 


What Can’t You Buy on a Vegan Diet?

Many fabrics aren’t vegan. Leather, silk, suede, and wool all come from animals. Some adhesives are derived from animals, and many toiletries and grooming products also contain animal-derived ingredients. Lanolin, a skin moisturizer, is a byproduct of the wool industry. Beeswax is often incorporated into lotion formulas, and collagen in moisturizers usually comes from animal origins.


Looking Out for Sneaky Animal Derived Ingredients

Animal-derived ingredients have a tendency to hide in places where we don’t expect them. Almost all gummy candies and marshmallows are made with animal-derived gelatin. Cosmetics and food products made with red dyes often use a dye made from crushed carmine beetles. Isinglass, an ingredient made of fish bladders, is used to make beer. 

Even things that seem vegan due to their labeling are likely hiding animal products. Canned refried beans are unusually made with lard. Curry paste and curry sauce often contain fish or shellfish, and many condiments and dressings get their salty umami flavor from anchovy paste.

Anything that says “non-dairy” or “dairy-free” on the packaging usually aren’t vegan as dairy is just one of many animal by-products. Even non-organic white sugar isn’t vegan. It’s filtered with bone char, and remnants of animal bones may still be present in the finished product.

Animal products are very hard to avoid. When adopting a vegan lifestyle, it helps to establish a list of safe vegan varieties of everything you love and stick to your tried-and-true favorites. It might sound like a pain, but it’s worth the effort. You only need to do it once. Keep it on your phone and take it shopping with you, so you never forget what products you’ve vetted as safe. 


Is Going Vegan Healthier Than Other Diets?

You should never assume that one diet is automatically healthier than the other. It’s the choices you make, rather than the diet you adhere to, that promote your overall health. French fries and cake can easily be prepared within the parameters of a vegan diet, but if that’s all you’re eating, your body will lack the nutrients it requires to keep you strong and healthy.

A healthy diet is a balanced diet. It doesn’t matter what you include or omit. If you’re trying to lose weight, you need a calorie deficit. If you’re trying to improve your overall health, you need to incorporate whole, nutrient-rich foods and eliminate processed foods. Cutting back on added sugars and artificial ingredients never hurts. 

That being said, it’s very possible to achieve a healthy vegan diet. Whole foods, like beans, fruits, vegetables, and leafy greens, will do wonderful things for your body. Vegans need to make sure they’re getting enough calcium and B vitamins, and protein from plant sources to create a balanced diet that properly fuels their bodies. 


How to Prepare Foods as a Vegan

When you’re cooking all your own meals from scratch, it’s easy to assure that everything you eat is vegan. All you need to do is skip the animal-derived ingredients. Salads, sandwiches, stews, curries, casseroles, and even pies can be healthy, delicious, and free from animal ingredients when you make them yourself

As a new vegan, you might find that making swaps is kind of tricky. You can’t melt butter into a saute pan or crack an egg into your pancake batter. Ingredient substitutions, like coconut oil and flax eggs, will become second nature over time. 

Don’t be surprised if you run into a few obstacles. You’re learning a new lifestyle, and you might make some little mistakes on your way to becoming 100% vegan. What matters most is that you try and learn along the way. 

Dining Out as a Vegan

You probably have a local vegan cafe that your friends and neighbors love. Boutique places for vegans to get a latte or grab a quick brunch pop up all around major cities. Eateries that aren’t made with vegans in mind can be tricky to navigate. 

Remember that time Anthony Bourdain informed everyone that the average restaurant meal contains an entire stick of butter? He wasn’t lying. Dishes that seem like they should contain nothing more than vegetables are often loaded with dairy fats, animal fats, and hidden cheeses. If a restaurant doesn’t specifically state that it caters to vegans, it’s better to err on the side of caution and avoid them entirely. 


Finding Healthy Prepared Foods as a Vegan

Nobody can prepare every single meal from scratch all the time. We’ve all got places to be and stuff to do. Grab and go options and things you can pop in the microwave are a necessity, especially for busy days and late nights. Working students, busy parents, and athletic people understand what it’s like to need an immediate bite to eat. 

The frozen entree section can look kind of slim for vegans, but as more people switch to health-conscious choices, it’s beginning to bulk up. There are always tried, true, beloved brands like Amy’s Kitchen that have always made a wide variety of frozen and canned vegan meals. They have over 100 options, and many of them are reasonably healthy, so your grocery store is bound to have at least a few. 

While you’re in the freezer section, check out the desserts. Snow Monkey is the healthiest vegan ice cream you’ll ever find. The base is made from fruit, it’s free from all eight major allergens, and it packs at least 20 grams of plant-based protein per pint. It may be ice cream, but it’s as healthy as a smoothie. 


The Takeaway

Going vegan is a serious commitment. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you make mistakes while you’re still figuring things out. You have a lot of stuff to learn and relearn, and most of your habits will have to change. Give yourself some time to acclimate.

You’ll find that Google becomes your best companion. Before you buy or eat anything, do a quick Google search to determine whether or not it’s vegan. If all the top results agree, you’re probably in the clear. Keep asking questions until you develop shopping habits and routines that become second nature. 

While you’re still learning how to prepare your own vegan meals, let Snow Monkey feed you. Snow Monkey is an excellent grab-and-go solution for vegans (whether they’re new to veganism or decades in) who want a quick, easy, yummy meal or way to indulge. 



 

Sources:

Balanced Diet: What Is It and How to Achieve It | Healthline

60 Vegan Dinner Recipes That We Just Love | Bon Appetit

Anthony Bourdain's Best Tips for Dining Out | PEOPLE.com

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