Updated: Jan 20
The idea of being vegan sounds great...but do you really know all there is to a vegan diet & lifestyle?
1. You will feel hungrier & (possibly) unsatisfied at first
For someone who is used to eating filling things such as meat, steak, or eggs, going vegan will leave you hungrier than your usual self. Especially during this lockdown you will find yourself wondering into the kitchen at least 10x a day. You might find that even after eating a substantial vegan meal, you don't feel full or satisfied with your food. This is OK and expected, as if you really think about the foods that make up a vegan diet, they're mainly lighter foods e.g. tofu, which won't hold you as much as or initially replace that desire for a large piece of steak. To combat this...drink more water & look at point no.2!
2. You will eat bigger portions of food
This is almost an obvious notion... if you are feeling hungrier, eat more. But my point here for those who decided to embark on a vegan lifestyle for health purposes is don't worry about "Oh, I'm eating more so I'm going to put on weight". What you have to remember is the food you are consuming as a, mainly, plant-based vegan is all a lot healthier than a carnivore/regular diet: fruit, vegetables, beans and pulses don't contain anywhere near as much saturated or trans fats, additives or unnatural sugars that processed and animal products do. Therefore eating bigger portions, or eating more regularly is perfectly OK and expected to not constantly feel hungry.
3. A lot of places don't cater for vegans...so be prepared!
Although we are living in a time where food companies and restaurants are rapidly adjusting to the growing vegan community, remember that a lot of places still don't have a menu for us in their restaurants...or even a single meal on the menu in some cases. Some cuisines aren't based or accustomed to a vegan diet; e.g. even though I do love Italian food, I find it really hard to go to an Italian restaurant because everything is meat or dairy based. Even going to a friends house can be difficult in terms of eating but you can't expect them to have vegan friendly food lying around if that's not their lifestyle. SO... always bring snacks out with you, whether that's an apple or a granola bar, just something to keep you going. And in times where you know you will be out for a long time, eat before leaving the house so you don't find yourself starving on a day out. And lastly, when going to a restaurant...ALWAYS check the menu before you go out, just to know what you're working with. It's all about being prepared.
4. Your stomach's going to react to your food erm...differently!
Without getting too nitty and gritty into it, a lot of vegan food you will be relying on for sources of protein are beans and pulses, which have a lot more fibre than meat. This will initially lead to 2 things: bloating and gas. You can look at it like a new chemical reaction...your bodies not used to this new set up and so bloats up, simply put. And the sudden addition of fibre to your diet will quite frankly leave your belly...active, for a few days until you get used to the changes. But it's OK, this isn't a long term change of a vegan diet, but merely a bodily adjustment; nevertheless it's good to be warned in advanced so you understand why these changes are happening so, your welcome!
5. Take your time to discover your foods
A lot of first time vegans tell me they don't know what to eat or they feel as though they are continuously eating the same thing. This doesn't have to be the case; vegan food goes way beyond lettuce and sweet potato. Take the time to research vegan foods, what acts as a replacement for meat and dairy products, and find out what you like because let's face it, just because something is vegan doesn't mean you need to pretend to like it. I hate aubergine, I always have and I always will, I'm not going to suddenly start cooking it just because it's a very versatile vegan food. My advice is take a look into different cuisines, you'll find a lot of foods that you might not have been aware of before. E.g. I never used to eat ackee or callaloo (typically Jamaican foods) before I went vegan, but they work well in a vegan diet and now they're big parts of my meals. Be open minded and creative because otherwise your foods will become repetitive and monotonous.
I hope this advice helps if this is a journey you are deciding to embark on! Good luck.