If you’ve been a carnivore all your life and have just decided to become a vegan, congratulations and good for you! Most likely, you’ve realized that the animals and this world, in general, should be exploited less and treated with much more kindness, or it may be that you want to improve your overall health. For whatever reason you want to go vegan, there are some things you have to know and fully understand before you make the complete transition. Here are the most important ones.

Vegan Mindset

Vegan diet and a vegan mind

Being vegan doesn’t simply mean that you stop eating meat and animal by-products, although this is one of the main requirements. Before you adjust your diet, you should probably adjust your mind. Being vegan means showing the utmost respect for all life, the planet, and your own well-being. So, not only should you be mindful of what you put on your plate, but you should also stop to think what other products contain animal by-products and avoid using them. For instance, if one of the reasons for you becoming vegan is to stop animal suffering, it won’t make much sense for you to buy leather accessories or cosmetics which were tested on animals. So, aside from changing your meal plan, you’re actually changing your entire lifestyle and most likely become a better and kinder person.

Figure out your reasons

Why are you becoming vegan? There are so many great reasons to choose from. As mentioned above, you’ve probably developed more compassion and empathy for the living creatures around you and you want them to live as nature intended them to. Furthermore, the effect of factory farming on the environment is devastating, so you’re also doing your fair share of conserving nature’s valuable resources. If this isn’t enough, you should also consider your own health. A well-balanced vegan diet can help you lose weight and improve your overall fitness, which can lead to a longer and more fulfilled life once you reach a certain age. And let’s not forget that, by eating vegan, you’re giving your heart a better chance of staying healthy and fully functioning for longer. The reasons are all there, and if you can’t pick one, just stick to all of them.

Know your substitutes

Vegan Substitute

Although it’s true that meat, eggs, and dairy products were excellent sources of all sorts of nutrients, it doesn’t mean that you have to lack in any of those nutrients once you go totally vegan. In fact, there are some great plant-based foods you can rely on. For instance, you can get your protein from beans, whole grains or nuts, while you can find vegan omega 3 in algae. As far as B12 is concerned, you can get it from fortified dairy substitutes or breakfast cereal, or you can look for some supplements. Plus, you should always try to base your diet on fresh foods, such as fruit and vegetables, since those can boost your immune function and help you maintain your wellness. Even though you can now buy substitutes for anything, meaning that you can easily get some vegan sausages, vegan cheese or vegan ice cream, you should be careful with how you dose these products. Yes, they are vegan, but not everything vegan is good for you. Some of these substitutes are heavily processed and loaded with chemicals which can mess up your metabolism, and that’s something you can avoid by simply eating as many fresh foods as you can.

Read the labels

Read the vegan labels

Let’s face it, when you change your diet, you also start buying a whole new range of products at the supermarkets, instead of the ones you’ve been buying so far. However, before you go shopping, make sure you can read the labels properly. What does this mean? It means that you should first educate yourself about what is and isn’t vegan and then carefully examine each product you reach for. If it’s labeled ‘vegan’, great. If not, look for products labeled ‘vegetarian’ and then read through the entire label. If it says that the product contains eggs or milk, you’ll know immediately that it isn’t vegan, but you should also be familiar with other non-vegan ingredients’ names. For instance, you should know that casein is a milk protein, that pepsin comes from pigs’ stomachs, or that gelatin is made from boiled skin, ligaments or bones of animals such as cows or pigs. However, if the label states that the product may contain traces of something like milk or eggs, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t vegan. It’s simply a legal requirement and it shouldn’t stop you from buying or using the product.

If you had to pick the perfect time to become vegan, now would be it, since there are so many vegan alternatives for nearly anything you can think of. Being vegan is now easier than ever, so go for it and enjoy the benefits to the fullest.