9 Things I Wish I’d Known Before Going Vegan

When I first went vegan, I wasn’t sure what to expect. All I knew was that I didn’t want to contribute to the massive suffering animals endure every day. But going vegan is a process and even the most seasoned vegans have had to learn from experience.

Here’s what I wish someone had told me before I went vegan.

1. Veganism is actually pretty simple.

Before going vegan, I perceived veganism as hard. No meat? No eggs or cheese? It simply baffled me and like most, I thought all I would eat would be salad. That’s simply not true! Instead, I found a slew of vegan products, including fishless filetsvegan cheese and milk, and even vegan eggs. Rather than mindlessly throwing items into my shopping cart, I learned to read the ingredients and became more aware of what I ate.

I also spent time going through social media and blogs, finding vegan recipes and helpful tips. If you’re making the switch and don’t know any good resources, check out TheGreenPlate.com. The website has recipes, an informative blog, and even a meal planner. With so much information at our fingertips, going vegan has never been easier!

2. There is literally a vegan version of everything you ate before.

You name it, there is a vegan version. I’ve indulged in amazing artisanal cheeses and meatless meatballs, burgers, seafood, and sausages without missing a thing. If pizza is your jam, there are dozens of plant-based pizza products—and making your own is easy and fun! And if you haven’t had a vegan chickpea tuna melt yet, check out this recipe.

3. Tofu is more versatile than you think.

If you’ve just gone vegan, chances are you’ve had a bad experience with tofu. At first, I thought it was tasteless with a weird texture, but when prepared correctly, it is amazing! (I’ve even eaten marinated tofu cold. Don’t judge me.)

Tofu makes delicious sandwiches, cheeses, smoothies, omelets, breakfast scrambles, frittatas… The list goes on and on! If you season it well, tofu can be really tasty. It should be a staple in every vegan’s fridge!

4. You help the environment.

Animal agriculture is a major contributor to climate change. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, carbon dioxide emissions from raising farmed animals make up about 15 percent of global human-induced emissions, with beef and milk production as the leading culprits. In fact, raising animals for food produces more greenhouse gas emissions than all the cars, planes, and other forms of transportation combined.

When you consider that a pound of beef requires 13 percent more fossil fuel and 15 times more water to produce than a pound of soy, it becomes clear how going vegan can cut your carbon footprint in half. By ditching animal products for good, you help the environment substantially.

5. Vegans are actually normal.

A lot of people have a misconception that vegans are “extreme, but I’ve never met more compassionate people. Most of my co-workers at Mercy For Animals are not only animal activists but spend time advocating for other social justice issues. Being an activist and caring about what happens to others is not extreme at all. To the contrary, killing animals for mere moments of taste is extreme.

6. You feel healthier.

By going vegan, I’ve gained more energy and have been less dragged down. It’s seriously no surprise that more athletes than ever are eating plant-based! Granted, there is vegan junk food (and it’s amazing!), but even consuming that doesn’t make me feel as sick or tired as animal products did. My immune system is noticeably stronger. I have my fair share of the flu and colds (veganism is not a cure-all), but it’s nice to know I’m feeding my body the fuel it needs to recover faster.

7. You spare more than 30 farmed animals a year.

Each year, the average American consumes around 30 farmed animals. By choosing animal-free foods, you’re sparing these animals a lifetime of suffering. And that number doesn’t include the countless sea animals killed for human consumption. And let’s not even get started on the wild land animals you could spare.

8. You’ll inspire more people than you realize.

If you think you’re just going through your day without making an impact, you’re mistaken. While going vegan, my family and friends were genuinely interested in what I ate and why I chose to live without consuming, wearing, or otherwise using animal products in my daily life. So, like me, they took to Google and learned some vegan recipes (my dad makes the BEST zucchini burgers) and even saw some undercover investigative footage. My experience has led a couple of my friends to rethink their choices and cut out animal products, purchase more cruelty-free items, or include more plant-based meals in their weekly routine. I’ve even had friends protest fur with me!

Just remember that each time you talk about veganism, you plant seeds. People you interact with will be more open to veganism each time you speak about it and even think of you when they see plant-based products. This brings me to my last point…

9. You don’t have to know everything.

It’s OK not to know everything about veganism. It’s an ongoing learning process. My mom still asks questions about veganism that I can’t answer right away. Even the most experienced vegans get questions they have never thought about, like “What’s healthier, tofu, tempeh, or seitan? It’s perfectly acceptable to say you don’t know and Google it later.

Not yet vegan? We can help. Check out TheGreenPlate.com for tips, tricks, recipes, and much more.