When I was a vegetarian, I spent a lot of time wondering “should I become a vegan?” I read up on the subject and talked to my vegan friends until I thought I knew all there was to know. Finally, I decided to go for it.
Turns out, you don’t know what you don’t know.
Lots of unexpected surprises come your way when you make any change in your life. Becoming a vegan is no exception. So if you’re trying to decide whether giving up animal products will work for you, here are 5 Secrets Only Vegans Know.
Vegan Secret 1: Becoming A Vegan Is Totally Easy
I was a vegetarian for almost 20 years before I went vegan. Partly because I didn’t really know the gruesome details about what happens to dairy cows and laying hens, but mostly because becoming a vegan seemed REALLY HARD.
I used to think my vegan friends were crazy. How can you not eat cheese? What is wrong with you? You never have eggs? What do you eat? You must be starving all the time.
Then I read Eating Animals (a life-changing kind of book that I wish everyone would read) and found out a lot more about egg and dairy farms.
Even with my newfound knowledge, the only way I could even bring myself to make the switch was to look at it like a short-term experiment. Full of doubt, I decided to try it for a month. Could I really keep myself away from cheese? Would I waste away to nothing? Would I become a ghostly pale version of my former self?
Looking back, all my excuses and worries seem ridiculous. Switching to a vegan diet was so easy: a few small adjustments in grocery shopping and a little more attention when ordering at restaurants and hey, presto, you’re a vegan.
My only regret is that I didn’t do it 20 years ago.
Vegan Secret 2: Other People Really Really Care About What You Eat
As a vegetarian, I found people were generally blasé about my diet. Oh yeah, you don’t eat meat, whatever. They knew enough veggies that they it didn’t really seem that extraordinary.
As soon as I became a vegan, I discovered a whole different side of people: the side they reserve for people who they see as TOTAL FREAKS. Some people just ask a lot of pointed questions – usually in the middle of dinner while they were slurping back pepperoni pizza. That situation is always awkward. It’s hard to answer their questions honestly without bringing up a whole lot of not-suitable-for-the-dinner-table topics.
A few people become hostile, defensive, or angry when they find out you don’t eat animal products, as though the personal choices I make are a direct attack on them.
After listening to countless arguments for eating animal products from a wide variety of meatan friends and acquaintances, I’ve become even more secure in the knowledge that being vegan is right, at least for me.
Vegan Secret 3: You Stop Eating All Kinds of Crap
If you work in an office, you know just how often plates full of cake, donuts, cookies, chocolates, and cupcakes make an appearance. Where I work, it’s almost every day. As a vegetarian, I would usually have a slice of whatever was on offer. After all, it looked so tasty and I never had a strong reason that I shouldn’t.
Once you decide to become a vegan, all of those casual, unnecessary, processed calories are off limits. If you’ve done your research, you’ll have so many inarguable reasons not to eat that stuff that it won’t even be tempting. There’s no will power involved. Eggs and butter do not seem like ingredients for yumminess to me any more.
Now, instead of eating store-bought processed baking that my co-workers choose, I eat treats that I made at home.
This means that along with eggs and butter, I have accidentally given up processed white flour and sugar, not to mention the countless additives that go into store baking. I’m pretty sure this has had a bigger impact on my health and my energy levels than anything else I’ve ever done.
Vegan Secret 4: You Can’t Go Out To Breakfast
I used to love going out for breakfast. The first time I hit my favorite breakfast spot after becoming vegan, it ended in a nasty argument with my husband and me storming back to the car, still hungry. I have since come to accept that the casual diner breakfast is a lacto-ovo only kind of party.
Almost everything on a normal diner breakfast menu contains eggs and milk. Even if you go somewhere with a vegan option, it’s likely to be a tofu scramble (not my favorite food by a long shot). Of course in LA there are several places for tasty vegan brunch, but that’s another story.
The upside is that I’ve been making lots of different breakfasts at home. The vegan pancakes I make are so much fluffier and tastier than any “regular” pancake that I don’t understand why everybody doesn’t make them this way.
Vegan Secret 5: Your Food World Expands Like Crazy
When you’re trying to decide if you should become a vegan, you end up thinking a lot about the foods you’re going to have to give up. No more meat, cheese, store-bought cookies, diner breakfasts…
I was actually worried that I might be undernourished. Where would I get my calcium and protein if I stopped eating dairy and eggs? Would I just be eating brown rice, beans, and tofu all the time?
(Related: Here are 9 Environmental Reasons to Go Vegan) →
It turns out, once you start looking up vegan recipes, for every food you gave up, there are 10 new ones you never would have thought about trying.
For a start, vegan baking is so much more varied. Instead of always using eggs you can use vegetable oil, flax seed, coconut, applesauce, or soy yogurt, to name a few. Instead of one kind of milk (cow), you can choose from almond, soy, coconut, rice, oat and more. With so many options for ingredients, I find that I always have the makings of some delicious cookie or cake at home, so I can bake anything I want on the spur of the moment.
Also, vegan cupcakes are the best.
On the savory side, I’ve discovered tons of new foods and cooking methods. I’ve been cooking Indian Chick Pea Crepes and Ukranian Stuffed Peppers for a start. I use ingredients like black salt, seitan, tempeh, nutritional yeast, pomegranate, collard greens, and so many more that were not on my radar before.
For me, become a vegan was a great way to shake things up and discover new foods. What surprises will you find should you become a vegan? There’s only one way to find out!
Are you wondering “Should I become a vegan”? What questions do you have that we vegans can answer? Vegans, what secrets do you wish you had known before you went vegan? Share below!