Questions Every New Vegan Asks

Making the transition to a vegan lifestyle is simpler than you might think, and with these handy tips and tricks, you’ll be wondering why it took you so long!

You asked us your newbie questions, and we’ve got answers:

What’s the difference between a vegetarian and a vegan?

A vegetarian doesn’t eat any meat but still consumes eggs and dairy, which animals still suffer for. Vegans, on the other hand, don’t eat any animal-derived foods at all. We also avoid wearing anything that comes from an animal (leather, fur, wool, etc.) and buy only cruelty-free products (ones that aren’t tested on animals).

So what can I eat?

Everything you already eat—just a vegan version of it! Seriously, you can still enjoy all the same foods. If you like the taste of meat, there are lots of delicious alternatives from brands like Gardein and Beyond Meat. You can find vegan fish, nuggets, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, and more right in your local grocery store.

What can I eat when I go out?

Most places have at least one vegan option, and it helps to check the online menu or call ahead if you’re going to a sit-down restaurant. Check out our ultimate guide to vegan options at fast-food and chain restaurants.

Is something OK to eat if it says “may contain milk” on the package?

Yes. If a product says that it “may contain milk,” it was processed in a facility that may use milk, but these “may contain” products usually contain no milk or just a tiny trace. Following a vegan lifestyle isn’t about purity—it’s about helping animals whenever possible. Don’t stress about micro ingredients unless you have an allergy.

Is it expensive to eat vegan?

There’s a weird misconception out there that vegan food is expensive. But the truth is that animal flesh such as steak, salmon, and even chicken is often way pricier than vegetables, beans, rice, and other plant-based foods. Even dollar stores and cheap restaurants like Taco Bell sell vegan food. Check out our guide to eating vegan on a budget.

Where will I get protein?

From your food, obvi. But really, you can easily meet your protein needs with plant foods. Lentils, beans, tofu, and peanut butter are all great sources. Check out our nutrition guide for more details.

And where will I get iron?

You can get iron from plant foods, too. Soybeans, chickpeas, and leafy greens like Swiss chard will do the trick. Vitamins and other supplements are another easy way to ensure that you’re getting enough nutrients.

Is eating vegan healthy?

Of course it is! Whole and minimally processed plant-based foods are the healthiest choices ever. You’re fueling your body with disease-fighting nutrients instead of the pus, artery-clogging animal fat, and cancer-causing compounds found in animal-derived foods.

How do I tell my parents I want to eat vegan? I don’t know how they’ll take it.

Be calm when telling your folks, and let them know about all the benefits of going vegan. It may also help to reassure them that your health is a priority and that you’ll be sure not to neglect it. If you’re not already helping with meals, check out PETA’s vegan shopping guide. Still having a tough time talking to your parents? E-mail us at [email protected] and we’ll give you some advice!

What am I going to eat during family get-togethers?!

It’s best to let your relatives know ahead of time that you’re eating vegan. You can offer to prepare a dish to share or ask to help in the kitchen so that you’ll have a main course to enjoy. For example, rather than leaving your relatives to think that you don’t like their homemade mashed potatoes, stuffing, and pies, you might offer to make vegan ones with them on Thanksgiving. It will likely be a nice bonding experience. BTW, PETA’s ThanksVegan guide is perfect for the holidays.

Do I have to get rid of the wool, leather, and other animal-derived items I already have?

That’s a personal choice, really. If you can, it’s nice to donate them to charitable organizations. But if you have nothing else to wear, it’s OK to keep them until they wear out, and you can just make sure you buy animal-free clothing in the future. It’s about progress, not perfection. ❤️

Need a little more help getting started? We’ve got you! Check out our “Guide to Going Vegan” for more info on living compassionately.

Text peta2 to 30933 for ways to help animals, tips on compassionate living, and more!

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