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15 Life Lessons For Young Vegans

Posted by  Lily Trahan

So you’re interested in going vegan? Well, hey‚ÄĒgive yourself a pat on the back because you’re about to do the BEST thing possible to help the planet, your health, and, of course, animals! ūüėÄ Now, contrary to popular belief, going vegan DOESN’T mean¬†that you have¬†to starve to death, become nutritionally deficient, or sacrifice anything, really. However, there ARE a few things that¬†I wish I’d known before going vegan, and they’ll probably make your life way easier:

1) You’re not going to die of a protein deficiency.

Ever heard of kwashiorkor? Probs not! Well, that’s the proper term for protein deficiency. There isn’t any necessary nutrient found in animal products that you can’t get from a plant source, including protein. And the average American consumes twice the amount of protein that he or she needs, which can lead to other health issues. Quinoa, peanut butter, nuts, beans, avocados, tofu, soy, tempeh, faux meats, etc., are all great sources of protein!

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2) Yes, you’ll probably always be teased.

Let’s be real, you’re probably always going to have at least¬†one or¬†two friends who will tease you about your animal-friendly lifestyle. We’ve been culturally conditioned to believe that it’s totally weird to care about animals who are killed¬†for food, experiments, etc.‚ÄĒbut that doesn’t mean that¬†your choices are wrong, and¬†these awkward confrontations can be an opportunity¬†to educate your friends. Don’t fight fire with fire‚ÄĒinstead, show them the benefits¬†of being vegan¬†and kill them with kindness!

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3) There’s life after cheese.

Dairy cheese, that is. Yes, I’ll admit that vegan cheese tasted like chalk back in the day, but this is 2014, and we now have endless amounts of delicious options for all kinds of dishes. So that cheese excuse just doesn’t cut it anymore.

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4) It helps to have vegan friends.

No, I’m not telling you to ditch your current friends, but I am saying that it helps to have a community of vegans for support. You can do this by joining a school club (or creating one!), using online vegan forums, and¬†following vegans on Instagram and, of course, here on peta2! ūüėÄ

peta2 how to vegan hug

5) There’s such a thing as an unhealthy vegan.

While removing meat, dairy products, and¬†eggs is beneficial to our health, it’s easy to fill up on vegan junk food. I love brownies and dairy-free ice cream as much as the next girl, but it’s important not to live on that stuff. If you intend on staying vegan for the long haul, make sure to get your greens and whole foods in, too!

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6) You’ll get enough¬†calcium.

Unlike what most people assume, calcium is a mineral, not an animal ingredient. Plus, did you know that dairy products actually suck iron from your bones? That’s why people who live¬†in countries that consume the most dairy have the highest rate of osteoporosis.¬†You can easily get¬†the calcium your body¬†needs¬†from leafy greens and fortified dairy-free milks‚ÄĒeasy peasy, lemon squeezy!

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7) You don’t have to change who you are.

For one reason or another, there’s a stereotype when it comes to us vegans: We’re all a bunch of granola-lovin’ hippies. Don’t get me wrong:¬†Hippies are great¬†and granola is delish, but vegans comes in all shapes and¬†sizes. What matters most is the desire in your heart to help animals, not what you look like. As a vegan, you can be earthy,¬†sport cruelty-free heels, run marathons, shoot hoops, or¬†do anything else¬†that you’d normally do.

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8) Plan ahead whenever possible.

There are more vegan options now than there have ever been, and it’s awesome. But of course, there will still be moments when you’re at practice after school, traveling with your family, spending the day with friends, etc. when you find yourself in a not-so-vegan predicament. Keep your backpack, purse, locker‚ÄĒwhatevs‚ÄĒfilled with snack bars, nuts, fruit, chips, etc. It’s always good to be prepared! Call ahead to restaurants and use HappyCow.net when searching for places to eat. USE YOUR RESOURCES.

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9) You won’t suffer from a loss of iron.

Did you know that kale actually has more iron in it¬†than beef? Not a fan of kale? White beans, spirulina, spinach, lentils, and quinoa are all great sources of iron. You could also take a vitamin … just sayin’.

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10) You won’t go broke.

It’s funny how people identify veganism with being rich, because that’s definitely NOT the case. Veggies, fruits, rice, beans, etc., are all some of the cheapest foods that you can buy, and they’re definitely cheaper than steak. Look for more easy vegan finds at your local grocery store.

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11) B12 isn’t an animal ingredient.

B12 is famous for being the key nutrient¬†that you supposedly can only get from an animal. However, B12 is actually a BACTERIA‚ÄĒnot an animal ingredient‚ÄĒwhich is why it can be found in soil, algae, and the gut of an animal. Herbivores used to get their B12 easily from the soil that plants grew from, but thanks to modern farming and agriculture, our soil has been depleted of most nutrients, including B12. You still don’t have to resort to consuming bacteria from animal tummies, though‚ÄĒjust take a supplement.

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12) Labels like “cage-free” and “free-range” don’t mean a thing.

There’s a lot that goes into marketing to make products seem better than they are, because then people will be more likely to buy them. The same goes for food: Birds who¬†are “free-range” and “cage-free” may not live in cages, but they’re stuffed into cramped warehouses and live in filthy¬†conditions‚ÄĒand they’re all slaughtered the same way in the end. These labels are simply designed to make products look more appealing, plain and simple.

This is Your Free Range peta2© Jo-Anne McArthur | We Animals

13) The “Vegan Police” don’t exist.

No matter what anyone tries to make you believe, there are¬†NO¬†VEGAN POLICE. Veganism isn’t a religion, and it’s not about perfection anyway‚ÄĒit’s about doing your best to minimize suffering. Accidentally ate some pasta that was made with eggs? Or maybe¬†that soy cheese you bought actually¬†contains¬†casein? It’s no big deal.¬†Just try again the next time.

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14) It’s seriously not that hard.

As long as you take your new lifestyle choice day by day, you’ll be fine. Every time you find yourself running into a question about what to eat while you’re out with friends, how to shop for cruelty-free makeup, or how to approach your family about your choices, just take a deep breath and use peta2.com as your resource for all the answers!

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15) It’s not all or nothing.

The most important thing I like to keep in mind is that there’s no such thing as a perfect vegan activist. If you make a mistake, it doesn’t change the overall picture of things‚ÄĒand it’s better to do 90 percent¬†good for animals than nothing at all!

Dancing-StaffNow share this wisdom with other new vegans!

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  • Profile photo of sarahpensacola

    214 days ago

    VN:F [1.9.22_1171]

    2

    LENTILS HAVE IRON WOT YAY

  • Profile photo of rygirl2002

    315 days ago

    VN:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    Ya same here

  • Profile photo of Aria Skyler

    321 days ago

    VN:F [1.9.22_1171]

    6

    Thanks for this! It helped so much! I need all the advice I can get, being the one and only vegan in my family.