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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi! I've been vegetarian since 2005, and I have been thinking about going vegan for a long time. I'm finally ready!


Any tips on how to help make the transition a little smoother? I have been having some stomach issues with dairy lately, so I think my first step will be to cut out the "obvious" dairy products. Then eggs...but what about all those little sneaky animal products that get in to food? I don't eat a lot of processed food, but everyone has some boxes and cans in their pantry. How do you guys weed through all the long lists of "sneaky" animal products?

I take a multi-vitamin, but I am a little concerned about nutrients, especially calcium. Several of my aunts have osteoporosis. What kind of supplements, if any, do you guys take? I know that I can get most of my nutrients from various non-animal foods, but I want to make sure my bones are taken care of, especially with the stresses of running that I add on!

As far as clothing/lifestyle stuff...that will probably be the last thing to switch over. I just can't justify getting rid of a pair of perfectly good shoes until they wear out. But from now on, I won't ADD anything non-vegan to my clothing. It will just be a slower removal process than I would like; I don't have the money to just donate everything and start from scratch.

One final question...how do you guys deal with eating out? Vacations? Luckily, we do have a vegan cafe in town, and two really good health food shops that have an abundance of vegan foods. Even our Kroger here has a large organic section, much of which is vegan. But let's face it: most restaurants just aren't accommodating. How do you do it? I just started a new job in July, and I already feel a little out of the loop when the other ladies order lunch. "But look, you can get french fries!" Well, just because they are potatoes, that still doesn't mean I want to eat them! I don't eat out a lot, but I any advice regarding restaurants would be appreciated!!

I'm so excited and ready to start this journey!
 

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Congrats on your awesome decision! i try to not buy anything with ingredients that i can't pronounce in it unless i'm absolutely positive it's vegan. that helps weed out the sneaky animal products. make sure you always read your labels. as for calcium, personally i don't take any supplements your can get plenty of calcium from leafy green vegetables like spinach and most plant based milks have more calcium in them than milk anyway. eating out can be a challenge. do your research on places that you commonly go and find out if they offer vegan options. if they have vegetarian options usually you can modify them to be vegan if you ask. if you do end up having to go a nothing but french fries place with your friends or co-workers you can always take a clif bar or something with you to snack on until you can get some real food.
good luck! and welcome
 

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Well, instead of thinking that you're plunging into something, consider instead that you're climbing out of something, where you've been stuck for a while. I take an over-the-counter multi-vitamin and a calcium supplement too. Sometimes I wonder if I really need them, tho.
 

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I think everyone learns more as they go - I know I did and most likely will continue to learn more even though I've been vegan for over eight years. Just do your best with what you know and learn as quickly as you are able to. Maybe having a list of non-vegan ingredients to look out for would help, but sticking to simple ingredient lists is easier most of the time, as well as usually being healthier.
 

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Originally Posted by GreenRunner View Post

Any tips on how to help make the transition a little smoother? I have been having some stomach issues with dairy lately, so I think my first step will be to cut out the "obvious" dairy products. Then eggs...but what about all those little sneaky animal products that get in to food? I don't eat a lot of processed food, but everyone has some boxes and cans in their pantry. How do you guys weed through all the long lists of "sneaky" animal products?
I went vegan overnight, it's not as intimidating as it seems at first, I promise! Memorizing the ingredient list was a little overwhelming in the beginning, but I just printed out a list and kept it with me when I went grocery shopping. Normally I'll just go through the ingredient list and then look up the few products I'm unsure about. Generally, the less processed it is, the better. Here's one of the lists you could use: http://www.veganpeace.com/ingredients/ingredients.htm

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I take a multi-vitamin, but I am a little concerned about nutrients, especially calcium. Several of my aunts have osteoporosis. What kind of supplements, if any, do you guys take? I know that I can get most of my nutrients from various non-animal foods, but I want to make sure my bones are taken care of, especially with the stresses of running that I add on!
You could definitely add a calcium supplement to your diet, if it's something you're concerned about. But calcium is otherwise pretty easy to find in a vegan diet. For example, one glass of almond milk has just as much calcium as a glass of milk. I imagine the numbers might vary depending on brand, but you could compare different vegan milks (soy, almond, rice, etc.) and see how much calcium there is per glass. As for me, I take a vitamin D supplement and a vitamin B12 supplement. A vegan multi-vitamin would be useful too, although I'm not taking one at the moment. I'd say the most important and essential supplement is vitamin B12 and maybe a multi-vitamin. You could also set up a FitDay journal and track your nutrition on a daily basis: http://www.fitday.com/

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As far as clothing/lifestyle stuff...that will probably be the last thing to switch over. I just can't justify getting rid of a pair of perfectly good shoes until they wear out. But from now on, I won't ADD anything non-vegan to my clothing. It will just be a slower removal process than I would like; I don't have the money to just donate everything and start from scratch.
That's fair and certainly common among vegans. If you've already decided to stop buying clothing that use animals, I think it's not the last but one of the first things you've decided to do.

Quote:
One final question...how do you guys deal with eating out? Vacations? Luckily, we do have a vegan cafe in town, and two really good health food shops that have an abundance of vegan foods. Even our Kroger here has a large organic section, much of which is vegan. But let's face it: most restaurants just aren't accommodating. How do you do it? I just started a new job in July, and I already feel a little out of the loop when the other ladies order lunch. "But look, you can get french fries!" Well, just because they are potatoes, that still doesn't mean I want to eat them! I don't eat out a lot, but I any advice regarding restaurants would be appreciated!!
I think it's really great to support vegan restaurants if you're able to. For vacations, you could find out where you're traveling to and then see what options are available around that area. Even if there are only vegetarian-friendly restaurants, sometimes they'll have a vegan option or two (and you could always phone ahead of time). Even restaurants without any vegan options whatsoever might be able to prepare some kind of dish if you call ahead. This is the best source for finding what vegan options are available IMO http://www.happycow.net/. But then there's also http://www.veganeatingout.com/

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I'm so excited and ready to start this journey!
Congratulations
 

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Calcium shouldn't be a problem. I get more than enough from my green veggies and almond milk.

I've been tracking my nutrition for a couple weeks, and find that I'm usually low in Zinc and vitamin D. Though I spend alot of time out in the son on my job and walking, so I suspect my D is fine.
Still debating whether to take a Zinc supplement...
 

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I think you have a good attitude in cutting out the obvious things first. As far as sneaky things, I just read labels and look for things like milk, milk fat, butter, whey, buttermilk, eggs, albumin, gelatin, etc. There aren't too many chemical sounding ingredients that are really non-vegan, although there is always speculation. The Vegetarian Resource Group has a good ingredient list if you want to double check something, but for the most part things with names you can't pronounce will end up in the "typically vegan" category.

As far as micronutrients and calcium, I'd recommend finding some good resources and assessing your needs. Vegan for Life is a good book, and Vegan Health has good info as well. Read labels and add up what you eat in a day -- if you drink 3 or more servings of fortified non-dairy milk a day, you'll pretty much be set. B12 is something you should be concerned about as well, but again if you eat fortified foods you likely won't have to worry. People who don't eat fortified foods should take a B12 supplement, regularly and in sufficient amounts. I'm guessing you are female, and since you are an athlete, iron may be a concern as well. Soy and other nondairy milks may be fortified with iron, but your needs may be more than the average person so be sure to do your homework.

As far as eating out and vacations, I just do the best I can. I know I can always go to a pizza place and get a veggie pizza without cheese. Some restaurants are better than others -- I like to check out restaurants ahead of time if possible. If there's nothing on the menu or you need clarification, you can always call ahead. They might be willing to make something special for you. But, generally I've been able to make something work on the menu. If you end up only being able to order fries and a plain salad, just remember it's only one meal. Things haven't gotten that bad for me yet, but I have definitely lowered my standards -- most places just don't know how to make a meal delicious and filling without meat, dairy, and eggs. Pretty much the same goes for traveling -- if we're going to a big city the options are usually better than at home, but if we're going to a rural area that requires a little more planning (stopping at grocery stores, bringing more snacks with, etc). Certain chain restaurants have really great vegan options (Noodles, Red Robin, Panera, etc), so it can be helpful to keep those in mind if you're on the road a lot.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for the help, guys! And yes, I am female :) Capstan, I really like the idea of "climbing out" as opposed to "jumping in."

I went to the grocery today... it was only a quick run, but I did look at all the labels and was very happy that lots of my "normal" foods are already vegan!
 

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Read labels on everything you like to eat normally. Some things came as a huge and pleasant surprise to me, which made it a very exciting journey rather than the 'gloom and doom' I'd anticipated.

See if your local area are holding any vegan fayres/events; these things are great for making new friends and discovering new products and learning more about veganism in general. I went to several as a lacto-ovo veg, and the information I gained from them was so valuable during the transition.

Don't beat yourself up if you make a mistake or have a slip. It just makes it more difficult. I've been vegan about 10 months now, and I made a mistake just last week with a stupid hidden ingredient. Just learn from the experience and put it behind you.

Lastly, stick around here at VB. It's been such a massive help to have other veg*ns to talk to and vent at and chat with.

Good luck, and congratulations!
 

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Congratulations! Good to hear it's been so far so good for you.
I just take a b12 supplement. I track my nutrition on sparkpeople.com and have been doing well as long as I think about the nutrient value of foods as I add them to my grocery list. I'm still learning too as I've only been living this way for 4 months.
Good luck!
 

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just eat whole foods. the amounts of different ingredients in processed foods is just ridiculous. I Was vegetarian for 8 years and had been somewhat avoiding dairy/eggs for years, hadn't bought a jug of milk or carton of eggs for the longest time. It wasn't really all the difficult for me, sounds like you are in the same boat as you've been working towards it for a while. Like you said though, it can be more difficult to eat out sometimes. People at my work know I'm vegan but I never ask them to get food just for me. I had to work thanksgiving and they had ordered a full thanksgiving meal w/ pies and everything which I had to avoid. I'm used to it so I don't really care, but it's frustrating cuz all the veggies and rolls and pies could have been made w/o milk products, but that's just the way society is right now. On the other hand though, sometimes they will get things they know I can eat also which is very kind of them.

Can be more difficult at restaurants, just depends. The american restaurants are actually the toughest to order at imo, especially the chain restaurants since they have their protocols, used more prepackaged items and the employees aren't paid enough to care. Last time I was at an applebee's (granted this was years ago, I learned my lesson), I wasn't vegan then, they didn't even have a single vegetarian option on the menu and offered to make me cheese quesadillas. I can melt cheese between tortillas at home thank you. But at mexican asian and some italian restaurants there seems to always be vegan things that I can eat. I think that was the biggest change for me tho, that's it's not always easy to find a healthy meal that's vegan. When I was on a road trip through the midwest that was pretty brutal...they don't see many vegans in rural nebraska etc. I was a little naive and I should have probably brought some food or stopped at a grocery store somewhere along the way for that trip.
 
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