10 Things You Need To Know Before Going Vegan

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10 Things You NEED to know BEFORE Going (1)

We travel often and are always trying new vegan restaurants in different cities.
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These 10 things will make it a lot easier to follow a vegan diet.

1. Honey is NOT vegan. You might know that, but non-vegans will not. You will be correcting people forever on this and it will spark many debates.

2. Most table sugars are not vegan. This is a shock to many people because sugar is not an animal product. The reason it is not considered vegan is that it is often processed with bone char. This makes the sugar white. You will need to check labels and buy the ones that are labeled vegan. That is the only way to know for sure if it really is. 

3. Everyone will assume that you love ALL vegetables and every salad known to man. Once you spread the word that you now follow a vegan lifestyle, be prepared to eat plain vegetables and salads at every dinner party. 

4. You will need to make time to plan your meals. This really isn’t a big deal once you get used to it… but you will not always have time to read labels or shop at specialty restaurants for every meal so you will need to get creative and plan ahead.

5. A vegan diet doesn’t necessarily mean that you will only be eating healthy foods… and in the beginning, you will eat lots of french fries. This is one of those hidden shame things. So many restaurants haven’t gotten the memo about people not eating animal products and often the french fries are the only safe thing on the menu {although even the french fries can have beef fat in them so always double check}.

6. People will judge you and voice their concerns as if you have chosen to join a cult. Remember that it comes from a lack of knowledge and it is not a personal attack. Consider it an educational opportunity.

7. You do need to worry about vitamin deficiencies, especially B 12. You will feel like you are eating enough veggies to get all the nutrients you need but, at least in the beginning, it is a good idea to find a health care practitioner that understands the special needs of a vegan and get your levels checked.

8. You will make mistakes. Don’t let it worry you too much. You will realize after you eat something that it had egg whites in it or dairy products. Move on and remember it for next time.

9. Identify what vegan milk you like right away. You will want milk in your coffee or cereal and you will want it soon. Pick out what non-dairy milk you like the most right away and stockpile it. There are so many types now… from almond to rice to even hemp milk. I love coconut, but my daughter likes soy better. Find the one that you like.

10. Vegan meat alternatives will save you. When you get a craving for a ham sandwich have one made with fake meat. This will make the transition so much easier and it will open up your meal possibilities. So many traditional recipes can be veganized using meat alternatives. 

What else should someone know before going vegan? 

Here are some of our favorite vegan recipes:

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Heather Reese
the authorHeather Reese
Heather Delaney Reese is the storyteller and photographer behind the lifestyle and family travel blog, It's a Lovely Life®! For the past decade, she has vacationed over 150 days a year with her family. She is a vegan, and loves being by the water, spending time with her children, husband, 2 Shih Tzus and Cat.


  • Great tips! I have been vegetarian for 15+ years and friends and family still don’t get it

    • So true Tammilee! I could {and might} write one just with all the crazy things I hear when people find out I’m a veggie!

  • Heather, i hope this doesn’t come off rude, as I certainly don’t mean it that way. I am just curious to know why a vegan would want to eat a “ham” sandwich. I am not a vegetarian, but it seems to me that if I decided to stop eating meat on my sandwiches, or elsewhere in my diet, that i wouldn’t want a fake version of it. Do you just miss the taste of it? Like a craving for good chocolate or a hot espresso? I know you can only speak for yourself, but any ideas?

    • Hi Karen! Totally not offended at all… I like questions! I think this is a very valid point you bring up… why would someone who doesn’t want to eat meat still want the taste of what they don’t want to eat? For me personally it’s not about the meat taste itself. I haven’t had real meat in over 25 years so it’s not the taste that I’m craving per se since I don’t even remember what it really tastes like. It’s the experience of eating a comfort food, in this case a sandwich itself that I want. For people just starting out I think it’s even more important because they will be craving their traditional diet and this helps to transition. It’s also a texture thing. I might not remember the taste of meat in my chili, but I remember the texture of it and that is why I add veggie ground rounds to my chili… again not for the taste necessarily but for the experience.

      I do see nothing wrong if someone does crave the taste of meat when they give it up. Everyone has completely different reasons for following a vegan diet.

      • Heather,

        We use A LOT of meat substitutions. My daughter is vegetarian, my husband is omni & Im vegan. We only cook vegan in the house so meat substitutions are a great way to keep everyone happy.

        Also I’ve yet to meet a vegan who is vegan because meat tastes BAD. I love the taste of meat & chicken. But I went vegan because despite my enjoyment of these flavors I couldnt look the other way after knowing the horrors of factory farming & learning about the mental capabilities of these gentle animals. I chose to not rob beings of their life to make mine more convenient but of course I crave burgers…theyre good!!

        Ps. Once you learn to make your own vegan substitutes or buy the ones that agree with you most you wont even be craving the meat itself just the goodness of comfort food.

        • Hi there! -waves gently- Nice to meet you! The reason I became vegan was because I don’t like the taste of meat.
          I wouldn’t say it tastes /bad/ per se, but it’s just kinda meh.
          I got pulled back into omni-eating a while ago, for convenience… but it just isn’t working for me, so I’m on the shift back to vegan. I just really don’t much like meat.

          I like meat substitutes because it is often easier when eating with others to use them. If they are having burgers, I want one too! But I want mine to taste good, too 😛
          Chicken wings are another big one with a social impact.

          But not only that, sometimes a recipe sounds mouth-watering, but they are making it with (meat of choice). Sometimes it helps to have a meat substitute there to make it come together properly.

          Just thought I’d chime in that even those (few) of us here because meat kinda tastes weird will use meat substitutes 🙂


          • Hi Dylan,

            That is awesome that you are working back to veganism. I too never liked the taste of meat, so giving that up was never an issue. I totally agree about the meat substitutes being great in social situations too!

      • You are absolutely correct Heather! I am going to try to go vegan for my health. Already I miss my pork chops and I’m craving a thick juicy steak !
        Wish me luck, I’m going to need it!

    • I am vegetarian and to me most people choose vegetarian or vegan for health reasons. Eating fake meat is a processed food nightmare in my opinion. But everyone does do it for different reasons

  • Great post, and I think you have some great points for sure. I am not vegan and probably won’t do it, but it is good to know!

  • I have always wondered exactly what going vegan entailed, this is some great information, thanks

  • I just learned more about the vegan lifestyle than I have ever even thought about. Thanks for the primer!

  • My hat is off to anyone going vegan. I don’t know if I could give up meat!

    • Hi Jennifer, going vegan really isn’t as hard as you might think… I do however encourage people who want to go vegan to be a vegetarian first, so you don’t have to go all the way all at once, it’s way easier like that.
      Also, not all vegans are stuck up finger-pointers, most of us get REALLY happy if we hear things like “I eat vegan once a week” or even “I eat meat but am strongly against fur and animal testing”. Baby steps, right? Even the smallest change makes a difference.

  • Very interesting… I have always wondered about Vegans…my nephew is a vegetarian and I didn’t know the differences… thanks so much

  • There’s so much to consider, know I know what my niece has been through!

  • A great post! I think it’s important to remember that it’s okay if you want to take it slow and remember that every little bit helps. My husband and I went vegan within a couple days. That’s what worked for us, but it won’t work for everyone. Also, I think it’s important as vegan to spread the word. That way you’re REALLY doing everything you can to help more people stop eating animals.

  • Wow, I actually thought going vegan was easy. I guess I should stick to my diet 🙂 Thanks for the post!

  • This was really quite enlightening. I know I could never go vegan. but my husband’s cousins have recently gone vegan and it’s interesting to see what they have to deal with.

  • I don’t eat a lot of meat, but don’t know if I could go all in for Vegan. I learned so much from this post!

  • Great tips and wonderful post. I would love to go vegan but had nooo idea that I had to worry about soo many things first.. glad i found your post…

    • FYI – the sugar thing doesn’t really apply in the UK / Europe. We tend to have beet-based sugar here which is processed in a different way to cane-based – no bone char filtering here. We do chocolate better here too 😉

  • You are so right. I tried strict vegan for 30 days. Never felt better but it was SO HARD!!! So many things are just OUT and it’s difficult to find replacements that taste good.

  • Wow! I did not know that honey wasn’t vegan. It’s so natural and doesn’t really come from an animal (unless an insect is considered an animal – lol). Hmmm. I don’t eat meat so I’m always trying to snack on nuts & beans to make up for any vitamin deficiencies.

  • These are awesome things. I don’t think I could ever go vegan but, I respect that. 🙂

  • My daughter was vegan for two years, but ultimately she couldn’t support her active lifestyle and high level of fitness workouts with the diet, so she went back to vegetarian.

  • We have a large, active vegan community here where I live. I enjoy visiting their cafes and restaurants – but I do love meat so I don’t think I could go that route full time. It’s interesting reading all that goes into it! Definitely a lifestyle of dedication.

  • I’m interesting to learn that honey isn’t vegan. Lots of great tips and thinking points here for people thinking about vegan lifestyle.

  • I knew about the vitamin deficiencies, but had no clue about Honey. This is definitely a great place to start for those seeking this type of eating regimen.

  • Great post Heather! I’m dairy free and egg free (and gluten free) due to severe allergies and I’ve felt for years the need to give up the rest of the animal products. I’ve been slowly having more and more meat free meals to make the transition. Great tips! I did know about the honey though.

  • I know a lot of teen girls who are making this decision right now. This is a great article to give to help them understand the decision they are making.

  • If anyone here is worried about missing honey, I like soaking dates (without pits) in water overnight then blending them in the water you soaked them in. It’s a great healthy alternative and the bees will thank you. 🙂
    Some might find meat to smell like sweat and not crave it at all. My sweat doesn’t stink after eating vegan. Sorry if this was gross lol.

    • LOL! That was funny Carmen! Great tip on the honey… I’ll have to try that. We just bought “vegan honey” at Sprouts that is apple based. It’s not bad, but the dates sound good too!

  • I had a good chuckle at the french fry part, I have actually been craving them a lot because I have been trying to stick to a raw diet or at least avoiding sugar and salt as much as possible. So, I have been craving salty fries like crazy!

    • That’s funny Meghan. I’ve gone raw a few times. It’s really hard unless you plan ahead and that is what gets me each time. But, there are so many new restaurants popping up offering options that I think it will get easier. Hope your french fry craving passes quickly!

  • Great post. I’ve been vegan for 3 years and everything on this list has happened to me lol.

  • This is a fantastic list! I worked in restaurants for years and every time someone who was vegan came in, everyone looked at me- being the only vegan in the kitchen. I’m happy to say that I have yet to experience a time where I really could only eat fries, but I have had to cook a vegan dish on the fly more than once, and it’s hard for a restaurant to accommodate it in the middle of service if they’re not aware of it ahead of time.

    Maybe I should give some suggestions on how to help restaurants help vegans…..hmmm……Thanks for the idea Heather!

  • Hi! I’m thinking about being vegan, altough I’m a meat lover. I’ve seen research about it being better for your health, and since I’m an animal lover, I would feel better about myself this way. I want to make this step by step though, I don’t want to waste what I already have in my freezer.

    Okay, my question is: since i’ve always been eating meat and dairy, I have no idea where to start, how to have all my nutrient by that diet, do you have tips for me? 🙂

    And also, I’m a cheese fan. I NEED cheese in order to live (okay not that much but you get the point), do you know any “fake” vegan cheese that taste good?

    Thank you very much!!!

    • Hi Taina,

      Good questions! Most vegans I know all came to this lifestyle in different ways. Some stopped eating all animal products at one time and others transitioned a little at a time. I think you might find a slower transition easier… start by going vegetarian and try different cheese and dairy alternatives until you find ones you like. There are so many options available to you that finding one you love will be easy, and that will help you transition.

      Best of luck!

  • Just wanted to say hi! Found you on Twitter, came to your site and, low and behold, you’re vegan too! Love to find other vegans. Especially vegan Moms. Love your list, so true. I also would add that if you’re going to make the transition, go slow. I went cold turkey and was starving for two months. It takes a while to learn to cook and eat vegan. It’s been three years now and I love every minute of it.

  • I went vegan five months ago after watching vegucated. I sobbed at thr cruelty. I pretty much watched it four times and I took the challenge. I was pretty Paleo so all I ate was meat, veggies, and some fruits. I even got my 20 year old to take a vegetarian challenge so it would be easier for me. The transition was overnight, I thought this was simple but boy I was in for a surprise. This was a mental challenge at the beginning more than anything. My biggest help was google. I googled everything to see if it was vegan and I started with all my products, from food to skincare. Then when I went shopping I stuck to what I knew, slowly I began to venture. But I was completely lost and sometimes overwhelmed at simple recipes, I am still learning. But I’d say google has been my best friend. Even for restaurant menus.
    Great article for a starter.

  • Thank you for posting this! (I found this on Pinterest) I am wanting to go vegan. Not just vegetarian. Full on vegan. I’m extremely new at this and extremely nervous and anxious. I have tried going vegetarian before for health reasons but my health wasn’t as important to me as I thought it would be. It was when I accidentally stumbled upon the animal cruelty videos that got me.
    I can’t eat this anymore. Immediately came into my brain.
    I watched the mistreatment and cruelty used on dairy cows and I cried. I cry thinking about it. I can’t be apart of it anymore…
    Personally, I’ve always enjoyed meats and cheeses but, it just isn’t worth it. I really like this list you put together.
    So far it’s been a bit hard. The french fry thing made me laugh.(I ate so many fries today)
    Looking at all these super tasty vegan foods are letting me know, in the end, it won’t be as hard as it is now. (Plus, the thoughts of what innocent animals are forced to go through for profit make me want to throw up)
    This was a long comment and probably not necessary :p
    But thank you. 🙂

    • Hi Lindsey! I’m so happy you enjoyed the article 🙂 It definitely can be a challenge in the beginning… but it gets easier! LOL on the fries… we’ve all been there!

  • I would like to chime in on #3. My sister in law is a vegan. I’ve only known her for a couple of years, so I am still learning a lot about the vegan lifestyle. However, one of the things that brings me the most joy is inviting people into my home to share a meal. It’s how I express love to the people I cherish most. When I learned my sister in law is vegan, I asked her for some ideas of what I could make so that our families could still enjoy this special mealtime together. She just told me, anything is fine. But each time I’ve invited her over she ends up not eating what I make. The first couple of times it was because I accidentally made a mistake on some non-vegan ingredients. But after that, I learned that she didn’t really like certain things I had prepared. Now she absolutely will not come to my house to eat. If we want to hang out, we have to go to her house or out to eat. It makes me sad, because I want to be able to include her in the way I show that I care. So I guess what I would like to put out there is this: if you don’t like salads or a particular vegetable, speak up! If someone asks for ideas because they are really trying to make an effort, give them some real ideas! Not every omnivore is anti-vegan. We just don’t have the experience you do of preparing all food vegan or knowing the labels as well. We want to love you and enjoy the camaraderie of a shared meal.

    • Hi Liz,

      I think it’s wonderful that you are being so accommodating of her diet! I am sure one day she will appreciate this!

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