Going vegan can be a big shift if you're eating the standard meat-heavy American diet. When you consider the sheer overwhelming number of things that contain dairy, well, it's enough to daunt even the most dedicated diet changer. Even things like spending time with family and friends, or going out to eat, may need to change. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But there are some other things to think about beyond where to find the best vegan ice cream. We've got you covered.
Once you decide on a vegan diet, it’s important to check labels if you want to stick to it. This is because even though an item might seem vegan, it might still contain animal-derived preservatives, dyes, fillers, and more. In the beginning, writing down the ingredients and researching them, later on, may be helpful. Keeping a list in your phone of the most common tricky additives can be a lifesaver when trying to shop on the fly. Consider: L.cysteine, an ingredient in many breads, might be either plant-derived or it may also be derived from bird feathers or even human hair. And there are other tricky ingredients so keeping a handy list is a big help. Before you know it, you’ll become a pro at knowing what is and is not vegan on those ingredient lists.
Plant-based foods are a fast-growing trend, as people are actively searching for greener and healthier options. But while all vegan foods are going to be plant-based, the reverse isn’t necessarily true. A food item can be plant-based (meaning the main part is made from plants) but also contain animal byproducts, ultimately making it vegetarian, not vegan. Check for the certified vegan seal, and be sure to read the ingredients label, too. Note that it won't necessarily be present on every vegan product so here's where knowing what additives are made form really comes in handy. But just remember not to automatically trust something that says it's "plant-based."
Although vegan options, and even all-vegan restaurants, are growing in popularity, they aren’t yet available on every street corner, and not all of them have experience with different diets. So it’s always a good idea to call ahead and find out what’s available before visiting. This is especially important if you aren’t going to an all-vegan restaurant. It can help to ask if they have a vegan-specific menu because some places do. Also, remember that you can bring your own salad dressing in a small container.
Know other vegans? Consider checking with them for recommendations, too. Review sites such as Happy Cow, which offers reviews of vegan options, also provide a wealth of information that can empower you to find the right place to eat.
Diet changes can sometimes affect get-togethers with family and friends, especially if the differences require completely different foods. If your family doesn’t share your vegan diet choice, talk with them beforehand to discuss how best to handle meal-planning. Some people choose to bring their own food to make events easier for everyone involved. Remember not to say that anyone else should be vegan; there's something about veganism that puts a lot of people on the defensive and they're bound to feel sensitive to anything that even resembles that possibility. But many families are also open to leaving non-vegan ingredients out of certain dishes if it's easy enough to do and they have guidance.
Because eating vegan involves eliminating all animal products, this commitment can drift into other aspects of life, impacting choices in areas as diverse as clothing, furniture and more.
This is especially true for people who become vegan for ethical reasons. It may not make much sense to stop using animals in one way, but not in others. If this sounds relatable, consider reading up on which household or clothing items may contain animal byproducts. This can be anything from silk garments to that comfy pair of boots or even a leather sofa and cosmetics that aren't tested on animals.As with any diet or lifestyle change, it is important to consult a physician to be sure you are doing things as safely as you can, but for most people, a vegan diet is a perfectly safe and even healthy choice. Looking for vegan friends might be a great first step. It may seem daunting at first, but with a little care and commitment, this lifestyle change can bring about good changes in any of a number of ways.
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