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No matter what your reason for eating vegan, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that just because you’re vegan means you’re now eating super-healthily.
But have you really studied your food intake, the vitamins you’re getting, and everything else about your diet?
If you answered a big “NO” to that question, you’re not alone!
Let this list be your guide to avoiding some common eating mistakes made by many vegans.
1. Eating Junk Food and Calling It Healthy
Have you ever thought to yourself “I’m making a good food choice because this is an organic whatever”?
I always used to joke with my friends and tell them I’m such a good mom because I feed my kids organic pizza rolls.
Let’s be real… They’re still PIZZA ROLLS.
It doesn’t matter whether they’re organic or not. Just because something is organic doesn’t mean that food magically gets a seal of approval on health.
The same thing can be said for so many vegan foods.
Beer, fries, and dark chocolate are all vegan.
Guess what… They’re still terrible for you.
That doesn’t mean you can’t have a cheat day every once in a while. It just means that you still need to eat healthy even though you are vegan.
There are still plenty of ways to screw up your diet.
Remember to keep your diet consisting mainly of fruits and veggies. Add in a few whole grains and you should be on the right track.
2. Spending Too Much on Vegan Alternatives
It’s so fun to check out all of the new vegan products when you first become a vegan, but you learn pretty quick that it adds up so fast!
Vegan alternatives are yummy, fun, and quick to whip up for dinner on a busy night. But the problem with eating them all the time is that they really can add a ton to your grocery spending.
There are plenty of naturally vegan foods out there that are dirt cheap.
For example: all fruits, veggies, beans, legumes, and grains are naturally vegan. If you’re finding it difficult to pick good vegan protein options, check out our article on 16 plant-based vegan protein sources. It will point you in the right direction without breaking the bank.
In general, you’ll find that natural vegan foods are the most convenient, nutritious, and delicious.
3. Not Taking Supplements
As with any diet where you eliminate a major food group you are most likely going to need to supplement. Veganism is no different. There are a few vitamins that are just easier to ingest when you are eating meat.
B12 is a great example. It’s found in the gut of animals so vegans tend to not get enough through normal eating.
(Because most people get B12 from animals and we don’t eat animals anymore… You get it…)
Don’t think that not eating meat immediately causes a B12 deficiency though. It’s estimated that 1 in 6 meat eaters also have a B12 deficiency. Vitamin B12 Is necessary for proper red blood cell production, DNA formation, nerve function and metabolism. It also plays a role in energy production.
Since your body doesn’t easily absorb vitamin B12 (studies have shown you only absorb about 10 micro grams (mcg) of a 500-mcg B12 supplement) experts tend to recommend a higher dose of vitamin B12 supplements, especially to older clients.
A typical supplement dose is 2.4 mcg. But for people who are B12 deficient or are vegans, a good recommendation for a daily dose is around 125 mcg per day.
Vitamin B12 is a water soluble vitamin so it is excreted in the urine if you take too much. Because of that, it’s relatively safe to take high doses. it’s not recommended to take over 1000 mcg a day though, since studies have shown people can contract rashes and acne with that high of a dose.
And no one wants that.
Another important supplement for vegans is iron. It’s actually possible to get adequate iron on a vegan diet but it’s the most common nutritional deficiency in the world.
Iron is needed to make new blood cells and to carry oxygen to the cells. It’s recommended that most adults take around 10 (milligrams) per day. However, menstruating women should aim for a higher intake of 15 mg per day.
Some indications that you’re low on iron include feeling more tired than usual, weakness, pale skin, and headache/dizziness, among others.
Thanks to heavy marketing by the dairy industry most people think milk is the only way to get calcium. Well my vegan friends, nothing could be further from the truth.
In fact, America has the highest consumption of milk and also the highest incidence of osteoporosis.
This might lead someone to consider that milk doesn’t actually prevent osteoporosis as the dairy industry would lead you to believe.
A vegan diet has tons of sources of well absorbed calcium including: calcium-fortified soy milk and juice, tofu, soybeans, bok choy, broccoli, collards, cabbage, kale, mustard greens, okra, grains, beans (other than soybeans), fruits, and vegetables.
Even though the vegan diet is rich in calcium it’s always a great idea to supplement in addition given the benefits of adequate calcium intake.
As you probably know calcium is vital to build strong bones. Experts recommend 1200 mg per day for supplementation. This should be divided up into two doses of 600 mg as your body is only able to absorb 600 mg at one time.
Vitamin D is another supplement that’s not just needed for vegans but for everyone. It’s largely deficient in our population due to the difficulty of getting vitamin D through food intake.
Back in the day, people received plenty of vitamin D through sunlight exposure to their skin. Unfortunately (or fortunately) with the application of sunscreen our bodies aren’t able to absorb vitamin D through sunlight as they used to so there’s an increase of vitamin D deficiency today.
Vitamin D is necessary for calcium absorption so it’s also needed to build strong bones.
Thankfully you don’t need to buy a pill to ensure you have enough vitamin D…
Just go out into the sun (without sunscreen on) for about 15 minutes per day. This should be enough vitamin D exposure to keep your bones healthy.
It’s best to go out sometime between 11 am and 3 pm for the best exposure to vitamin D. But don’t stay out so long you get sunburned!
4. Not Knowing Why You’re Going Vegan
Did you know the main reason people fail on diets is because they lose sight of why they started the diet in the first place?
While it wouldn’t apply to any of the readers here (right?), the same can be said for people going vegan too.
When you’re face to face with a chocolate brownie with ice cream you’re going to lose all will power unless you have it ingrained in your head why you’re vegan!
I’m vegan because I want to feel better and treat my body better.
What’s YOUR reason for going vegan?
Train yourself to think of FOOD as FUEL for your body instead of a comfort mechanism. This is tough, but so worth it.
Think of your body as a luxury foreign car. You wouldn’t put regular unleaded fuel in your Ferrari right? No way! Power that beautiful body of yours with nutrient rich, healthy, foods!
It also helps to envision yourself feeling great, sleeping well, having clearer skin and a clearer mind.
Is living that image worth sticking to your new diet?
I think so.
Would that version of you (that stronger, healthier, more powerful version of you) go back on her diet?
5. Getting Stuck in a Food Rut
When you go vegan it’s easy to stick to the same. Exact. Foods.
You’ve found your sweet spot and you aren’t going to move. But with a vegan diet you need VARIETY in order to get all of the nutrients and vitamins you need.
When I first went vegan I ate the same thing everyday and it was sooo bland. Oatmeal, peanut butter toast, and a salad.
Let me tell you, I didn’t feel like the best version of myself. I actually felt bloated and sluggish!!!
Don’t let this be you! And don’t worry about spending lots of time and energy meal planning!
Check out the free 2-week trial with the Forks Over Knives meal planner. It includes breakfast, snacks, meal prep, and grocery lists. Best of all, it saves TIME and MONEY while keeping you on track with your veganism.
6. Not Having a Support System
You’ve probably heard the staggering statistics on how much more likely you are to follow an exercise routine if you’re doing it with a buddy. The same thing can be said for switching over to veganism.
When I first became vegan I did it with a friend and it was SO fun to talk with her about it everyday.
We would discuss our goals for the week, new recipes, struggles we were having, and so much more.
I also knew that if I screwed up and ate something I shouldn’t have I would have to eventually tell her and that accountability is priceless when you are going through this journey.
If you can’t find a buddy to go along with you then join a facebook group! It might not be exactly the same but you will still get a sense of comradery and you can grab some great ideas on struggles and possibly new recipes as well.
7. Not Increasing Your Water Intake
Most people don’t drink enough water these days.
This is ESPECIALLY true for vegans.
The main reason vegans need more water is that they tend to eat more fiber rich foods.
Fiber needs water to do its job.
Insoluble fiber actually absorbs water and forms a gel-like substance which slows down the rate at which food leaves your stomach and intestine which is great for aiding in regulation of blood sugar (as well as many other benefits that are too boring to include here).
Insoluble fiber also draws water into your colon to make your bowel movements softer and easier to pass.
So becoming vegan means eating more fiber, which is good, and fiber means you need more water. But how much water should a vegan drink per day?
For women you should aim for 12 eight ounce glasses of water. Men should have around 15 eight ounce glasses of water per day.
That’s a total of 96 ounces for women or 120 ounces for men, which is almost a GALLON of water for an adult vegan man per day.
If you’re thinking “holy cow I’ll just be full all day on water” you’re probably partially right. This is actually one of the weight loss secrets of a vegan diet.
8. Not Having a Meal Plan
They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. That’s because it’s SO easy to go back to your old ways.
You’ve eaten meat all of your life and it’s comfy! It’s “normal”.
You already have the recipe box from your mom.
You know exactly what you like and how you like it, so it can lead to some setbacks if you aren’t careful to plan out your vegan meals.
“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail” – Benjamin Franklin
It may sound nerdy, but meal planning is a vegan’s (or any dieter’s) secret weapon.
Meal planning is awesome because you don’t have to worry about what you’re making for dinner, lunches, breakfast, or even snacks. It helps to remove the temptation that could set you back on your eating (and life changing) goals.
Hungry in the afternoon?
Without a plan: vending machine, fast food, probably not vegan or healthy.
With a plan: a healthy, pre-packed snack that keeps you on track.
A good meal planner will even give you a grocery shopping list and meal preparation tips so you don’t have to think when you get to the store. And in today’s crazy world it’s nice to have one easy errand.
If meal planning sounds daunting then check out our Pinterest page to find a new set of vegan go-to options. Or use a meal planning service like Forks Over Knives. It’s super affordable (around $2 a week!), it’ll keep you on track eating vegan and can actually save you money in the long run by helping you avoid more expensive foods and unplanned shopping trips.
I mentioned the meal planner earlier, but it really saves me a ton of time; and who couldn’t use more of that!?
If you want to get really advanced, you could even have your groceries delivered for the ultimate in convenience.
So there you have it, our list of 8 Common Mistakes Vegans Make.
Being a vegan is one of the most awesome things you can do for your body but it does some oversight to make sure you’re doing it the best way possible.
If you’re just getting started on your vegan journey don’t forget to check out these 7 Easy Steps for Going Vegan to make your journey even easier.
If this helped you out, click the link below to share it with your friends and followers! Who knows!? Your vegan eating partner could be out there right now.