Having been largely vegan for quite a few months now, there are a number of things that we have discovered that we hadn’t really expected.
1. You will poop. A lot. Like, way WAY more than you did before becoming vegan. Sometimes you will be very fearful that you’re about to plug the toilet. I often did a somewhat anxiety-filled “cross my fingers” when I flushed a toilet. Especially the low-flow type, which were my mortal enemies for a time. I am pretty sure it was all the new dietary fiber we got from eating such large quantities of fruits and vegetables. The good news is, this doesn’t last forever, and your gut will adjust and get really good at digesting plant foods in a reasonable manner. The gas gets better too.
2. People will make your veganism about themselves. And by that I mean they will act like you’ve become vegan purely to make their lives difficult. While this is annoying, try not to take it personally. Many people really don’t understand vegan dietary requirements, and are fearful that you won’t be able to attend dinner parties or eat out with them anymore. Just assure them it’s no biggie, and then make sure it isn’t (don’t make a huge deal about your dietary “weirdness” when you’re eating with other people outside of your own home).
3. You will get a lot of unexpected questions. I wasn’t really prepared for the fact that 99% of the time the first question I get is “Are you guys going to quit hunting then?” I guess I didn’t really know how deeply most of our family and friends associate Mike and I with hunting, although in hindsight it makes sense.
4. You will probably be surprised at how many things at the grocery store contain dairy or egg ingredients. And you will be equally surprised at how many things are unintentionally vegan. Although it seems super overwhelming at first to read all labels, you will get good at it really quickly. Currently, if an item has a bunch of ingredients that I can’t easily recognize, I just don’t buy it (which is probably way better for us in the long run anyway) and that way I know for sure I am not accidentally eating dairy or eggs.
5. You will slip, and that’s ok. Sometimes you will eat something and then find out it had animal products in it. Sometimes you will be invited to an event where there are few to no vegan options and you will just do the best you can. Don’t focus or fret about these small mishaps. Unless you live in the wilderness, grow your own food, and never drive a car, you pretty much CANNOT avoid animal products 100% and I don’t care what anyone on the Vegan Police Squad says. Learn, make a mental note, forgive yourself, and get on with it. The point of being a vegan is to consciously reduce your impact on the environment, animals, your health, etc. to the BEST of your ability. You don’t get a medal or a free toaster for being “more vegan” than the next guy. There are no achievements awarded, you don’t level up.
6. On that note, other vegans will probably make you feel like you are “not vegan enough” because you did (or didn’t do) _______________ (fill in the blank). Do NOT listen to them, they are assholes, and the worst kind of vegans. This isn’t a cult or a religion, despite the fact that some treat it that way. So long as you aren’t crying and eating fried chicken in a grocery store parking lot, under cover of darkness, while still claiming to be a hardcore vegan, you’re doing just fine. There is no such thing as a “true vegan” and there is no set of rules that every vegan has to comply with in order to qualify for the title. If you don’t eat animal products, you’re a vegan. Some will say you’re not a vegan unless you bury all your leather belts and shoes in the backyard. Some will say you’re not a vegan unless you tell everyone you meet that you’re a vegan. Some will say you’re not a vegan unless you meet their PERSONAL arbitrary criteria. Just tell all those people to go f*ck themselves and move on. Nobody likes the Vegan Police, not even other vegans.
7. You will eat out less and you will cook more at home. Fortunately there are so many amazing vegan and vegetarian recipes available online now that you could cook a different thing every day and never run out of options. There are also more vegan-friendly products and meat substitutes hitting grocery and health food stores all the time, so that it’s easier than ever to eat this way without being nutritionally deficient. Get comfortable in your kitchen, because eating out is costly, unless you just want to have salad all the time, and even then it’s way cheaper to make amazing salads at home.
8. Unfortunately you’re going to have to get used to being “left out” of things, because it’s not cool to be expected to be catered to. Someone brings cake or donuts or pizza to work, and it’s going to suck, but try not to take it as a personal slight when the people around you don’t always accommodate your life choices, or give it much thought.
9. It’s surprisingly easy to just eat a lot of junk as a vegan, which is tempting, but ultimately a bad choice. It’s difficult at first, not being able to eat the things you used to. The first week I ate a lot of french fries from the drive-thru, but then we just stopped going to fast food places, and cut our eating out to almost nothing, and I cooked more at home and properly planned for road trips and travel. When we flew to Ontario, I packed a lot of vegan snacks for us, so that we wouldn’t be hungry at the airport or on the plane. Bags of raw nuts and seeds, crackers, veggies, trail mix, and that sort of thing will make your life easier. Road trips can be a challenge, but we have packed a cooler full of homemade wraps, sandwiches, fruits, and other foods that don’t have to be heated up. Take water and juice, and you will actually save a lot of money because you aren’t buying overpriced gas station water and week-old subs. Yes it takes more planning than just mindlessly hitting McDonalds, but even omnivores shouldn’t eat that garbage.
10. Despite what you may have heard or read, you don’t need to take a pile of vitamins or supplements if you are eating a proper, variety-filled vegan diet. The only supplement we take is B12 because we don’t eat animals (which are basically “fortified” with it because they don’t get to eat grass anymore) and because our food is pretty sterile now so we don’t eat enough dirt indirectly. We take B12 methylcobalamin that you dissolve under your tongue. You can read more about the importance of B12 for EVERYONE over here.
These are just our personal experiences and observations, and by no means a definitive list of things that everyone will be able to relate to. Overall it hasn’t been a terrible experience, and being vegan is definitely worth it. Sometimes dealing with people gets tiresome or annoying, particularly at family gatherings or other social functions where most of the crowd doesn’t understand or respect our choices. However, if you feel passionately about something all the sideways looks and irritating commentary will eventually stop bothering you. Feel good about your choices, and don’t let anyone get you down!