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    17 Things You Should Know Before Going Vegan

    All the info you need to make the switch sustainable. (And delicious.)

    Amy Sefton / BuzzFeed

    Regardless of why you're going vegan — whether it's for health, environmental, ethical, or personal reasons — making the change can be challenging, even if you really want to make it happen. So, BuzzFeed Life spoke with a couple of experts — Ginny Messina, registered dietician, and Ryan Andrews, registered dietician and coach at Precision Nutrition — to get their best tips for making the switch to veganism as smooth and sustainable as possible. This isn't medical advice though, so be sure to talk to your doctor before making any dietary changes.

    1. Probably don't go vegan overnight. Instead plan to transition gradually.

    2. Make just one big dietary change at a time.

    Nickelodeon / Via

    Instead of making a bunch of huge dietary changes all at once, take it step by step and break it up into big changes (which you make every so often) and smaller changes (which you can do more regularly). Messina recommends that people continue veganifying their diets only once they feel comfortable with the changes they've already made.

    For instance, a big change might be something like cutting out all chicken or all eggs.

    3. Alternate big changes with smaller ones.

    4. If a particular change is proving super difficult, put it aside and try something different.

    For example, if you're finding it too tough to give up cheese, stop trying for now and focus on something that might be a little easier to part with, like eggs. "Otherwise people might get hung up on one change they are trying — unsuccessfully — to make, when there might be two or three other changes that they could make with ease," Messina told BuzzFeed Life.

    5. Know that going vegan doesn't mean you will automagically lose weight.

    anji barton CC BY-NC / Tweaked by BuzzFeed Life / Via Flickr: anjibarton

    Both Messina and Andrews say that while vegans as a population are on average slimmer than non-vegans, a vegan diet does not guarantee weight loss. It depends on what else about your diet is changing when you go vegan, says Andrews.

    For example, if you're transitioning from a diet high in processed grains, sugar, and alcohol to a whole-foods vegan diet, there's a good chance you'll lose some weight. On the other hand, if you already eat a minimally processed diet and transition to a whole foods vegan diet, or if you transition to a diet high in processed vegan foods, sugar, and alcohol, weight loss is less likely.

    6. Expect to slip up but don't let lapses derail your efforts.

    For lots of people, lapses here and there are to be expected — just get back to your routine when it happens. "I think it's important for people to keep moving forward and understand that they're probably going to make mistakes and have lapses. Don't let them stop you," Messina says.

    7. Eat more beans.

    8. Chill with arbitrary dietary restrictions.

    9. And don't be afraid to seek out processed foods that remind you of the animal-based products you really miss.

    10. Find some vegan buddies either online or IRL.

    11. Locate the vegan and vegan-friendly restaurants near where you live, work, and travel.

    BuzzFeed Life
    BuzzFeed Life

    Going out for delicious, celebratory meals is basically a national pastime, so just because some of your usual places might not be in rotation once you're vegan, it shouldn't mean you give up on eating out entirely. Vegetarian Resource Group, VegGuide, and the Happy Cow app have restaurant listings for vegan restaurants all over the world.

    12. In the event that you find yourself in a vegan restaurant desert, Chinese, Thai, Ethiopian, and Indian restaurants are great options.

    13. Nail a couple of recipes for delicious and celebratory dishes you can bring to potlucks and dinner parties.

    Courtesy Isa Chandra Moskowitz / Via

    That way you won't feel left out picking at your sad, dry potato while you're surrounded by people indulging in the most delicious party food.

    Messina's celebratory go-to recipes that non-vegans also love: Mac and Shews (vegan mac and cheese, pictured above) and vegan mushroom strudel.

    14. Get comfortable with ordering off menu.

    malloreigh CC BY-NC / Via Flickr: malloreigh

    If you find yourself at a restaurant with absolutely nothing vegan on the menu, you still have one more option: asking if the chef will prepare something that's not on the menu. It might feel a little awkward at first but chances are they'd be willing to whip you up a salad with beans and grilled vegetables. (In an emergency just order the fries.)

    15. Take Vitamin B12.

    Alaska Thunderfuck / Via

    Although some vegans may need vitamins and supplements that other's don't, vitamin B12 is non-negotiable and all vegans should take it, say Andrews and Messina. The only place it occurs naturally is in animal foods (or on the soil of vegetables but you'd have to eat a ton of soil-y crops to get what you need). Though you can get some B12 in fortified foods like plant milks and veggie meats, to get as much as you need, a supplement is essential. has lots more information on vitamin B12 recommendations and symptoms of deficiency.

    16. Make sure you're still getting enough protein.

    17. Learn the signs that your vegan diet might need some tweaking.

    Both Messina and Andrews say that eating well, being healthy, and feeling great are possible for almost anyone eating a healthy, varied, whole foods-based vegan diet. That said, everyone is different! If you notice that you're fatigued, not sleeping well, not performing well in workouts, or just feeling otherwise off, you might need to make some tweaks to your diet beyond adding in some supplements. Check with your doctor as soon as you notice anything feeling wonky so they can do some labwork and suggest possible dietary changes or supplementation.

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