Life isn’t perfect. We all make mistakes.
I make mistakes every day.
While becoming vegan, I made a lot of mistakes. It was something completely foreign to me. I didn’t really know anybody who was vegan. I didn’t have anyone to bounce ideas off with.
I didn’t even have an online community to turn to. I went vegan back in 2007. It sounds terrible, but I really wasn’t a tech-savvy person back then. Smartphones had only been out for a few years, we didn’t have a great internet connection at my house and I was just starting at college.
I slowly learned how to use the internet to my advantage at school, but I never really thought about finding my online community or more information on veganism.
Eventually, I found some books at the bookstore. Seriously, I started my journey through a commercial and at the bookstore. I didn’t even know what vegan food to make when I started and ate a lot of meals that weren’t well rounded.
My mom gave me an old copy of a vegetarian cookbook that I cherished for years. It had a section I studied for hours trying to figure out where I would get my protein and what veggies were my best bet.
Along the way, I made some horrible choices. I ate the same foods every single night. It was a time in my life that I was so super joyous on this new path I had found, but also completely lost.
Fast forward 10 years and you can go on Pinterest, which didn’t exist back then, and find tons of vegan recipes, advice on starting a vegan diet, what to say when people ask about your diet, the results are endless.
I want to share with you some of the common mistakes new vegans make, how to avoid them, and the mistakes I think you should make. I know seriously, I want you to make mistakes. It is what makes this whole journey so meaningful. I wouldn’t trade my pitfalls because it has brought me to where I am today. Some of them, I would have loved to avoid.
Vegan Mistake 1: Not doing your research
If you are like me and decided overnight to go vegan, chances are you didn’t do your research.
I had a wakeup call when I went vegan and suddenly learned I knew nothing about nutrition. I was going through life making choices based on what I always ate in the past. I didn’t have a healthy diet before I went vegan and I didn’t have one right after I went vegan as well.
Since I didn’t do my research and figure out what I would need nutritionally on a vegan diet, I just ate what I normally did, but without meat. I ate sandwiches without meat: just bread, lettuce, tomato, and a vegan dressing. I was so not going to last on that diet alone.
My advice is to look at your diet pre-vegan and see where you were making good choices and what could be improved. You are going to have to figure out your protein sources, no meatless sandwiches please. Add some hummus and avocado instead.
Vegan Mistake 2: Not realizing its a lifestyle change
This was what I did. I jumped right in without ever thinking about what this lifestyle would have in store for me. I am naturally a planner so I am not sure how this one got by me. No pro and con list would have stopped me anyways and chances are if you are vegan or considering it, it won’t stop you either.
Veganism is a major lifestyle change. Not only are you deciding not to take part in animal cruelty, but you are eating a whole new diet.
If it was shut away only in your own home, you probably will do fine. It’s when you go out into the real world that you realize everything needs some adjusting. Take going out to dinner. If you are not aware of the best places for vegan meals, you might be stuck eating just a salad and French fries.
Check out this post on How to dine out while being vegan.
Vegan Mistake 3: Not learning to cook
Learning to cook isn’t absolutely necessary to being vegan, but it sure makes it a lot easier. A common vegan mistake is not taking that step to learn to cook.
New vegans that cook their own meals will be much more likely to stick with the lifestyle long term. If you cook your own meals, you won’t have to make last minute compromises on what you are going to eat.
If you aren’t a great cook or have never even tried to cook for yourself, start off small with easy to cook meals. Boiling pasta is super easy and there are tons of great already made sauces you can buy to top it with. Another staple of my diet that I make 1-2 times a week is bean tacos. There is hardly any cooking involved, but I still get to control what goes into my food.
Check out my Pinterest board of vegan recipes for inspiration.
Vegan Mistake 4: Going Carb Crazy
This is a way too common vegan mistake to leave out. A lot of vegans, especially when they first start out make the mistake of substituting meat products for carbs. Pasta, rice, bread, and cereals are familiar to vegans before they made the switch. It’s very easy to consume more of these carbs when you eliminate meat and dairy because you already know how to use them.
In order to avoid overdoing it with carbs, add in more vegetables in place of meat, especially leafy greens. You should also know what your best choices of protein are. Check out this post on getting enough protein on a vegan diet.
Vegan Mistake 5: Thinking it’s all or nothing
A common vegan mistake people make is thinking you have to be all in or you might as well give up.
You don’t need to be a perfect vegan to be vegan. If you ate some soup and later out found there was chicken stock in it, you don’t have to beat your self up or think you can’t be vegan anymore. Th intention of doing good and not eating animal products is what you are trying to do, not be perfect. I can guarantee every vegan has unknowingly eaten some animal product and may still not know it.
Set out to do your best and you will found that you will be successful, just don’t put that added burden of being the perfect vegan on your shoulders. No one is judging you but yourself.
Vegan Mistake 6: Wanting the whole world to go vegan
We have all been there. We find out about the truth behind the meat industry and we want the whole world to suddenly be vegan just like we are. A common vegan mistake is not understanding that not everyone is there yet.
We all come to areas of our lives at different times. For some, they come to veganism in their teens while others won’t find it until they are in their sixties.
The world won’t go vegan overnight or even in years. There is still too much debate over whether veganism is healthy if animals can even suffer, and the idea that what we eat is strictly our business. It will take time and generations to bring more of the world’s population to veganism.
The good news is that veganism is growing faster now than it ever has before. More and more people are willing to see the truth and make the change themselves.
Vegan Mistake 7: Not being aware of your health
A common vegan mistake and misconception is that veganism on its own is healthy.
Yes going vegan the right way is a healthy lifestyle choice, but not being aware what your body needs nutritionally is not healthy.
If you plan to just switch out meat products for meat substitutes, you are going to be left with a diet subsisting of mostly vegan junk food. These foods contain tons of salt, sugar, soy, and empty calories. Faux meat products are good for the indulgence, but not part of your daily routine.
Instead, reach for whole foods that are going to have the nutrition you need and the nourishing benefits of being unprocessed.
Heck out Vegan Nutrition Basics to learn where you need to make some changes.
And Are you getting the right nutrients on a vegan diet for advice on vitamins and minerals.
Mistakes you should make:
Fall completely in love with veganism. You can make it your life for the first couple months.
Try every vegan food you can find. Even if it is not super nutritious, try it anyways. We all need that comfort food we turn to when feeling down. Comfort food doesn’t need to be a superfood.
Try cooking a wildly new food and be okay with failing at it. At least you can get a good laugh out of the mistake.
Try nutritional yeast. You will either like it or can’t take the taste at all.
Be okay with telling people why you are vegan. Speak your truth and be okay if you are challenged.
Taking on a vegan diet will impact your life in positive ways. If you make sure to steer clear of these common vegan mistakes, then you will find being vegan is not only fulfilling, but an easy lifestyle to maintain.