Are you considering a vegan diet but have no idea what to expect? For some, it will be a complete lifestyle change and most people don’t know what to expect. I am here to share with you what your first week as a vegan will be like.
My first week vegan was eye opening and life changing. I had no idea how to cook at the time, I was used to making quick dinners that were already mostly prepared. My veggie of choice was steamed broccoli and I would eat it every day. So, during my first week as a vegan, I realized that I wasn’t so open to foods as I thought I was. Luckily, I was always willing to try new things.
Expect to try new foods
During your first week as a vegan, trying new things is going to be exciting, a little scary, and frustrating. It’s also what is going to get you through the week and onto many more to come.
Most people will have a set diet by the time they reach adulthood. We all get so comfortable in what we already know, and it can be difficult to step out of the box and try something new. Unless you grew up eating close to a vegan diet, this is going to be new territory for you.
I grew up in a meat and potatoes kind of household. I was used to canned vegetables and every once in a while, a fresh veggie would make it onto our plates.
There are so many delicious vegan meals that you have yet to try and I am so excited for you. Just be adventurous and try everything. Who knows, maybe you are going to find a new favorite food. I had no idea how much I was going to love black beans.
Related: How to survive going vegan
Expect to spend time at the grocery store
The first time you go grocery shopping, you are going to be a little lost. The best advice I have to give to you is to make a plan. Not only will it make it easier to shop, having a plan will keep you from backsliding into foods you are trying to avoid.
You are going to be reading a lot of food labels. Some foods will surprise you that they have meat or dairy ingredients, and some will surprise you that they have been secretly vegan this whole time. The classic example is Oreos. They are chocolate cookies but have no dairy or eggs. Pretty awesome.
You may not have thought of grocery shopping as fun before but go into that store like you are going to find hidden treasures. You are going to discover new areas of the store you may have quickly glanced over on your way to your normal destination.
Expect to do some food planning
Your first week as a vegan, you are going to need to come up with some meals that you can prepare. If you pick these out ahead of time and make a meal plan for the week, you are going to do so much better at sticking to your new lifestyle.
Don’t overwhelm yourself by picking super complicated recipes. You don’t need to impress anyone with your culinary skills and you will be more likely to make it through the week if your meals turn out well and you don’t get frustrated cooking extravagant meals.
Even after being vegan for over a decade, I still eat very simple meals. They are easy, time manageable, and really you don’t need a lot of bells and whistles to enjoy your meals. One of my favorite cookbooks right now for super simple meals is Deliciously Ella Every Day. These are easy, everyday meals that are going to make your life a whole lot easier.
Once you get through trying to figure out what it is that you now eat, you are going to have to deal with social situations as a vegan.
People are going to have a lot of questions. It’s just how we are wired as people. If they are totally unfamiliar with what a vegan lifestyle is like, people are going to want you to be able to answer their questions.
Don’t be afraid to say you don’t know and that this lifestyle is new to you. It’s okay not to have the answers right away and people will respect that.
There are a few answers you may want to have ready to go because no matter how long you are a vegan, you are going to get the same 5 questions.
- Where do you get your protein?
- What about B12?
- So what exactly do you eat?
- Do you still eat…fill in the blank?
- Why did you decide to be vegan?
While you don’t need to be an expert on these topics, it is a good idea to have something to say to them. You don’t want to alienate your friends and family. They want to be part of your life and if you are vegan, share that with them.
Check out How to answer commonly asked vegan questions for help answering all those questions you are going to hear.
Expect people to have an opinion
Even when they are well-meaning, people will have an opinion. You are doing something different from them and they may admire you or they may judge you.
Either way, their opinion has nothing to do with you embracing veganism. Being vegan is a very personal choice that we make and until someone else tries it, they may not understand why you have chosen to be vegan.
For me, I did get a few negative comments. People will feel like they need to defend their diet choices to you even if you don’t bring it up. Its what people do when they feel at all threatened.
For the most part though, people have been amazingly receptive to my vegan lifestyle and those close to me have adopted a lot of the same habits I have even if they haven’t fully embraced veganism.
Expect changes in your energy levels
Your energy levels may skyrocket, or they may dip. For each person, this is completely different. Some people will be able to switch to a vegan diet and feel absolutely fine while others it may take a few days to recover. Either way, you will notice an increase in energy.
This is due to the fact that our bodies can more easily digest plants than it can animal protein. Digesting animal protein takes energy from our bodies and that is why people will feel run down after a meal full of animal protein and need a rest.
Less energy wasted on food digestion means more excess energy for you to use. Yay.
Expect you may get bloated
There may be some not so fun side effects your first week as well. Many people experience bloating when they first switch to a vegan diet.
The major cause of this bloating is the switch from a low fiber diet to a much higher fiber diet. Our intestinal tract is actually designed to digest foods high in fiber and is well suited for plant-based foods. Unfortunately, years of eating a diet high in animal protein have disrupted out microbiome and it will take some time to get used to digesting the proper foods.
My advice for this bloating is to not overdo it with nuts, beans, and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower. Slowly introduce them into your diet.
And know that when you are feeling a little bloated during your first week as a vegan, that we all went through it as well. It’s like a right of passage into being vegan.
Expected higher levels of joy
I thought this may have just been me, but there have been studies done determining if vegans are happier.
There are three reasons you may experience greater joy in life once you become vegan. The first is that you are not consuming animal protein from animals that in their last moments were fearful and stressed. Those stress hormones are passed onto the person eating that animal protein.
The second is that you feel lighter in your choices of food. You know that you didn’t cause suffering to obtain that plate of veggies. The psychological aspect of being vegan can have a lot to do with our moods.
The third reason is that fruits and veggies contain tons of great phytochemicals that can uplift our spirits. If we are nourishing our bodies in a healthy way, that, in turn, will cause our moods to be elevated.
Switching to a vegan diet is an amazing choice for you. The only thing you will regret is not doing it sooner. I always say it’s the best choice I have ever made, and I never looked back. If you go into being vegan with the right mindset, your first week as a vegan will be awesome.