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Things I wish I knew Before Becoming Vegan

1. Be Confident

No matter how hard you try, when people find out you’re vegan, you’ll be pegged the “vegan”. Most people won’t understand and won’t hesitate in in telling you. If I saved a nickel for how many times I heard, “I could never give up meat!”, I’d have a lot of nickels. But get used to it and don’t be discouraged. Never, ever be embarrassed.

2. Be prepared mentally

Because people don’t understand, they will ask you why you are vegan. Be ready to answer. This answer will vary for everyone, but be ready to tell people why you choose the lifestyle you choose. And don’t back down.

3. Plan ahead

Unfortunately, the world isn’t vegan, so you must adjust to the standard american lifestyle. That doesn’t mean you have to be a part of it, but you must be aware that just because you have decided to become vegan, the rest of the world hasn’t changed. When you go to restaurants, look at the menu beforehand. Call ahead. Many nice restaurants will prepare something for you if you give them advance notice. Traveling? Pack something! Fresh fruit, such as apples, oranges, or bananas, hold very well. Depending on the type of vegan you are, crackers, nuts, or pretzels have the potential to sustain you as well. When there are work lunches or any type of free food is available, assume that nothing will be vegan, ever. Fortunately, even though most people aren’t lucky enough to have vegan restaurants in their cities, every town has a grocery store. And every grocery store has fresh fruits, vegetables, and vegan products galore.

4. Be nice.

It will get frustrating when you hear the same questions. It will be tiring when you have to give your vegan elevator speech each time you have a meal with a new person. It may be hurtful when close friends or family will try to lecture you. But never, ever be mean, rude, or arrogant. It will only make the lack of understanding worse.

5. Be open.

I have exactly one friend that has implemented any dietary restrictions, and she is only vegetarian. Everyone else that I have met naturally is an omnivore. It might feel like I am the only one sometimes, which can get lonely. How do I cope best? Meet ups. I love going to gatherings that I find on meetup.com, where I can find people with similar beliefs. Potlucks are great opportunities to discover new vegan dishes and try some damn tasty food. I have been introduced to tons of green or veggie festivals that I would never have heard of had I not done a bit of research and been open to exploring on my own. When I went couch surfing to Europe, I sought out a vegan host, who showed me amazing vegan restaurants, ice cream shops, and grocery stores in Vienna. Be willing to try new things, even if it means going solo. Had I waited for someone to accompany me to any of the things I have gone to, I doubt I would have had 1/10th of the vegan experiences or friends.

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