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Are you thinking of “Going Vegan”?  Here’s some great information just you. Veganism has come a long way: once reserved for peace-loving hippies, interest in a totally animal-free diet is at an all-time high. Here’s a few things you can expect when you begin your Vegan Journey.

Your Need B12

B12 keeps the body’s nerve and blood cells healthy and helps make DNA, so deficiencies can lead to tiredness, weakness, constipation, loss of appetite, weight loss (the bad kind), nerve problems, and depression.

Your friends and family will ask a lot of questions

“People are very sensitive about their diets, especially when you challenge what they have always believed. Let them know your reasons if you feel you should, but also stay true to your mission.

You’ll have to find new protein sources

Every meal should contain protein. Proteins are the building blocks of life: they break down into amino acids that promote cell growth and repair. The Institute of Medicine recommends that adults get at least 0.8 grams of protein daily for every kilogram of body mass—that’s about 54 grams for a 150-pound woman. The best sources of vegan protein include natural soy, lentils, beans, quinoa, and seitan.

You shouldn’t replace animal products with junk

Swapping out meat for white bread, pasta, and other packaged foods sets you up for failure on the vegan diet. It’s not a good idea to trade in animal products, which contain protein, vitamins, and minerals, for processed foods that provide little nutritional value other than calories. The result: hunger, weight gain, and a grumpier mood.

You don’t have to make the switch at once

You won’t just wake up one morning magically vegan. It takes work, so it should also take time. Start by adding more plant-based foods to your diet, while at the same time cutting back on animal products, especially those that are non-organic, and more importantly processed, refined foods. Making gradual changes and assessing how you are feeling along the way is key.

Take it slow

Keep your end goal in mind, but go at your own pace. Some people manage to go vegan overnight and if that’s the right approach for you, fantastic. But don’t be concerned if you feel you need more time. Like any other lifestyle change, going vegan not only takes getting used to, but it takes time to determine what will work best for you. It’s not a one size fits all experience and there are numerous approaches you can take.

Making small changes to your everyday meals is one of the easiest ways to increase the amount of plant-based foods in your diet. You could start by removing meat or dairy one day a week and go from there. Or you could try changing one meal at a time, having vegan breakfasts during your first week, adding a vegan lunch during week two and so on. You could even try changing one product at a time by swapping cow’s milk for almond or soya milk or butter for coconut oil or margarine. There’s a plant-based alternative for almost every type of food you can think of, so you don’t have to miss out on any of your favorite foods. For more inspiration, check out our recipe section as well as Food and drink and our sandwich and wrap filling ideas. On a budget? Our blog featuring the cheapest vegan meals may be able to help.

Be prepared to read food labels

If you’re serious about being vegan, checking food labels and verifying ingredients is a must. “Just because a food product is not glaringly non-vegan doesn’t mean that it’s suitable for a vegan diet. Casein and whey, which come from milk, are present in many cereal bars, breads, and granolas, while gelatin and tallow (also known as suet) are derived from meat. Then there’s Natural Red 4 (also known as carmine, cochineal, or cochineal extract), which is a food coloring derived from the dried bodies of female beetles. Head spinning yet? The Vegetarian Resource Group’s list of common food ingredients can help.

You won’t have to ditch your favorite restaurants

Just as veganism is becoming more popular, so are vegan options on just about every restaurant’s menu. Word to the wise: Even if your item of choice looks vegan, tell your waiter about your dietary restriction to ensure that no animal products are used to make your meal

It doesn’t have to cost more

At $3 or more per pound, meat is one of the most expensive items in the grocery store, so saving big can be easy—even if you are buying more produce than ever.

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