Things to Know Before Going Vegan

Health

Going vegan might seem easy, but it can require some serious sacrifices. If you don’t eat much meat or tend to opt for cotton belts, you may find being vegan a fairly simple choice. But veganism is about much more than dietary restrictions. Here’s a few things to understand about being vegan before you throw out your butter.

A vegan diet nixes anything that came from an animal in any way.

If you don’t understand what a vegan is, you can’t very well be one. Being vegan means excluding any animal or animal byproducts from your life. Period. Not only do you not eat meat, fish, fowl, or eggs, you don’t have any dairy, gelatin, honey, beeswax candles, leather belts, silk shirts, or any of the other myriad products we rely on animals to produce. Some cosmetics and soaps even contain animal byproducts.

Veganism is a lifestyle.

Vegans become vegans for a variety of different reasons. It might be religious, or dietary–and certainly some studies suggest veganism can help your heart, prevent Alzheimer’s disease, and avoid antibiotics or hormones farmers throw at your meat before it hits the store. But for many people, being vegan is much, much more than a healthier diet.

Many people choose veganism because they want to make the world a better place. This might mean they are concerned about the toll animal agriculture takes on the planet (greenhouse gases, deforestation, and excessive water usage), or by the liberties taken with animals who produce involuntarily for humans. Whatever the reason, veganism can be hard to stick to, so make sure your reasons are strong.

There can be some serious drawbacks to veganism.

Being a vegan can negatively affect your wallet, social life, and health. In the first place, finding vegan alternatives isn’t always easy. While you might be getting cheaper shoes and belts, you may have to pay more for a lot of other things. It may also become more difficult for you to engage in social gatherings centered around food. While many restaurants offer vegetarian alternatives, a vegan diet is much harder to follow.

If you aren’t careful, being a vegan may not be good for your health.

While being a vegan can have some health benefits, it can have some risks associated with it, too. Cutting out meat means you are cutting out your main source of protein. No dairy means your calcium is gone too. That’s not to mention all the other vitamins and nutrients from animal (by)product.

Living off french fries and oreos (a “junk food vegan”) is the opposite of getting healthy. Be prepared to eat a huge variety of produce to get everything you need. Otherwise, you may be looking at an iron deficiency or other forms of malnutrition.

Depending on your reasons, you may have a better alternative.

Being vegan isn’t for everyone, and that is okay. If you’re searching for something that’s going to keep you personally healthier, being vegan might not be your best option. If you don’t care if bees are offended by your honey yogurt, but the thought of killing pigs makes you shudder, being a vegetarian might be more your style.

Conversely, If you aren’t that excited about the prospect of never having real ice cream again, but are worried about the affect meat is having on your heart, you might consider becoming a lacto-vegetarian.  This means you can have your dairy products and eat them too — you just stay away from meat, fish, and fowl. There are several different kinds of animal-restrictive diets, and if you are having trouble sticking to your decision to be a vegan, you might look into the other types of vegetarianism on the market. C

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