5 Things That Happen When You Become Vegan

You will become a savvy shopper.

Changing one’s lifestyle is never easy. Whether it is the choice to quit smoking, lose weight, stop drinking or eat healthier, there are trickle-down effects that occur because of that choice. And I have to admit, I have made some choices in my life that may have raised an eyebrow and have certainly trickled down. But, since becoming vegan more than two years ago, I was surprised at just how different my life became after simply choosing to eat plants over animals.

If you are already vegan, then you can relate. And, if you are thinking of becoming vegan, get ready for these 5 things to happen:

1) You become extremely conscious of labels and menus

Prior to becoming vegan, I ate a mostly organic diet so I was somewhat familiar with reading labels. I was used to finding GMOs in everything but, I was not prepared to see just how many products contain milk and eggs. Products that I always thought were vegan and fully plant-based were actually vegetarian. It’s pretty easy to tell when a product doesn’t have meat, but, when an ingredient listed is ‘whey protein’, ‘casein’ or ‘gelatin’, the new vegan might not realize these are animal-based products. Milk and eggs may be listed under the allergens, but many by-products are not.

Labels reading is important

On the ingredient label for Tandoori bread (left), it is easy to spot the non-vegan ingredients. The brand in the middle and on the right is one often associated with tofu so the new vegan might not realize this has fish ingredients and is not OK. TBH, even the tenured vegan might not realize if they weren’t paying attention…🤷‍♀️🙄

When transitioning to veganism, I also noticed that eating out was nearly impossible (and not worth it) unless we went to vegan specific eateries which were few and far between in my area two years ago. When family or friends would invite us out to mainstream restaurants, I found it challenging to find menus free from milk and cheese. Dressings were full of dairy and salads sprinkled with bleu cheese, goat cheese, feta cheese or parmesan cheese. I was always asking for menu items to be altered in some way.

Menus that have vegan identifiers

Identifying vegan options on this menu from The Coronado PHX is easy (left). And even easier is the menu to the right from Pizza Patio in Flagstaff, where they have an entire menu that is plant-based, in addition to their ‘regular’ menu. Kudos to these eateries!

In the past year, there has been a huge evolution in vegan labeling both on store-bought food and on restaurant menus. Brands, companies, restaurants and small businesses are realizing that labeling something as “vegan” is no longer a bad thing. Quite the opposite, given the substantial rise in plant-based profits the past two years.  Finding vegan products is becoming easier and easier, and the number of vegan eateries is expanding exponentially, which takes the guesswork out of reading a menu altogether.

Transitioning vegans should be label-vigilant when grocery shopping and when eating at non-vegan restaurants until you become familiar with all the options available to you. Keep your chin up…things are much easier now than just a few years ago and clear labeling continues to move in the right direction.

2) You’re constantly defending your choices and dealing with social stigmas

I initially chose a vegan diet for the health benefits. As someone who was vegetarian for about two years, I chose my new lifestyle, like so many others, after watching the documentary What the Health. Compelled by the statistics regarding dairy products, I immediately saw the direct correlation between the cheeses I was sampling at work and the 10 lbs. I put on since starting that job the year before.

What I did not see at the time was how misled the general public is about diet. Nor did I not expect the ignorance and apathy from the mainstream public about the industrialized meat production process, how animal products affect our health, and what our planet was facing because of what we choose to put on our plates. Preventable ramifications our planet was facing because of industrialized farming and our poor western diet choices.

I also didn’t realize at the time that defining yourself as vegan comes with certain stigmas, by other vegans and non-vegans alike. Criticism from extreme vegans who believe that if you are not in it for the sole purpose of eliminating animal exploitation and cruelty, then you are not really vegan. Even these people scare me sometimes. And, then there is the omnivore’s judgment who implies that being “a vegan” is the same as being un-American.

I live my passion

I have learned to care less about social stigmas and embrace my veganism. I find wearing vegan and plant-based clothing is a good way to initiate conversation. I always get comments and questions when I wear these shirts and that to me is a chance to inform.

You might experience fewer invites to dinner by family and friends who don’t understand your choices. In my case, instead of taking an interest, inquiring what I had learned and embracing my diversity and search for better health, I was mocked and ostracized and basically, just not invited. When I did attend parties and gatherings I learned to either eat beforehand or bring a plant-based dish for all to try.

I once overheard a friend tell someone she was vegetarian when I knew she was vegan. I later asked her about it and she said “It’s just easier to say I’m vegetarian. I don’t have to explain myself.” That blew my mind and I thought, yeah, we do explain ourselves a lot! I am proud of my lifestyle choice and after two years of trying to explain my reasoning I’ve learned to choose my battles wisely and I have learned to navigate the treacherous waters of ignorance and apathy.

For the transitioning vegan, just remember, it’s your one life to live not theirs and I for one think you should feel confident and totally awesome about your choice. Do you want to spend time living or explaining? When you feel you must say something to their incessant questions, remember this…yes, vegans do get enough protein and vegans can, in fact, survive on pita on hummus. And speaking of the questions…

3) People suddenly become interested in your health and wellness

Not kidding here! I haven’t met one vegan who hasn’t received an increase in concern from family and strangers over their health and wellness. Do people really care how much protein I am getting? I can’t remember a single instance of someone asking “Are you getting enough protein?” before I chose to become vegan.

The answer is, yes, of course, we do. For those strangers focused so much on your protein intake, let it be known that America’s obsession with protein sadly has them eating way too much, not way too little. Thus the country’s obesity crisis and heart disease epidemic.

While people will become concerned with your protein intake (among so many other things), what they don’t realize is that plant-based protein is way more beneficial than animal protein because it comes without the saturated fat and cholesterol. Tell them not to worry because lucky vegans get tons of protein, fiber, iron, potassium, carbs, vitamins and countless other crucial nutrients needed for a healthy body. We do it all through fruits, veggies, beans, legumes, seeds, nuts, tofu, whole grains and nutritional yeast, which also contains vitamin B-12, and, all without clogging our arteries and heart.

I love sharing diagrams like these with non-vegans. I am not sure when we started believing animal protein was the best…?

The Standard American Diet, or SAD as it’s known, is becoming unsustainable and antiquated as the cost for prescription drugs rise and preventable diseases skyrocket. And yet, people want to know if my health is OK because I eat plants! It was our elders who said over and over, “Eat your vegetables” and now we want to eat only vegetables suddenly that’s a problem?

You’ll find that people take an interest in your choices because 1) they are curious and have considered a lifestyle change themselves, or 2) they are seriously misinformed and are set in old ideas, myths and beliefs about food and they basically just want to argue with you.

For the new vegan, be sure to know facts about veganism and be confident in your decisions. When you do encounter those #2 people above, who are a tad ignorant and wondering how much protein you get, ask them where the cow they eat gets their protein. And while you are at it, ask them how much they spend in healthcare and prescriptions each year.

Don’t ever feel you have to explain why you like to eat plants to someone who is truly not interested. In fact, it’s those folks who should explain why they choose a diet that makes them sick, raises our drug and insurance costs and is depleting our planet’s natural resources.

4) You become a savvy shopper, a much better cook and diets go out the window

Food became healthy and diverse when I became vegan but most of all it became fun. I thought I was a somewhat savvy shopper, spotting the deals and finding the BOGOs as much as possible. But, when you become plant-based, you often realize that healthy foods can become expensive foods. Whereby a can of beans or a bag of lentils is inexpensive, organic kale and tomatoes or fresh non-GMO sweet corn may not be all that accessible to some and if it is, it may come at a premium.

When fruits, veggies, grains, nuts, and seeds became your food 100% of the time, you learn how to shop for those things in a more savvy way. You will spend a second or two looking at the items on sale in the grocery ad or you may grab four cans of beans instead of two at the next BOGO event. You will take advantage of bulk food stores where you can get seeds, nuts, and grains at a steal and you will buy more store-brand (generic) items. Many retailers like Lucky’s, Whole Foods, Sprouts, Publix and Walmart have tons of organic store brands on things like beans, legumes, grains, pasta, hummus, etc. and you will be amazed at how much you can save and how far it will stretch.

You will look for deals and buy in bulk when you become a savvy vegan.

Buying in bulk is super-savvy. Storing your bulk items in clear containers also helps you see when you’re almost out. Aldi is one of my favorite stores for the best vegan deals. All that stuff in the picture on the right was only $24!

Every single vegan I meet also says they became a better cook.  They experiment with ingredients and food much more now than they did as an omnivore. It seems vegans are more apt to buy locally and are cognizant of food sourcing.  Your palate will expand and your plate will reflect the rainbow.  You become like a kid, wanting to try new fruits, grains, and veggies, some of which you may never have heard of. Eating will become an adventure.

In my case, I took it one step further. I fell in love with plant-based food so much, I invested in a 6-month plant-based culinary course and became certified as a plant-based professional.  It was important to me to be a better cook and to share my skills with others.

Hands down, one of the best things that happen when you become vegan…you stop dieting and you stop counting calories. And let’s be clear, I am not talking about the vegan who eats Gardein chick’n nuggets, Oreos and Ben & Jerry’s dairy-free ice cream 24/7. I am talking about the conscious plant-based vegan, who eats a diet consisting of a variety of fresh fruits, veggies, and whole foods, every day.

I eat platefuls of food and I just don’t gain weight. My husband is the same way. As a result of eating any and everything I want, I actually weigh less now (141 lbs.) than I did in 10th grade (147 lbs.). When I was a vegetarian, removing all meat from my diet but ate cheese regularly and occasionally eggs, I weighed about 155 lbs.

When you are vegan, you will eat and eat

Here is a snapshot of the food I indulge in. My version of a single-serving. I really just eat and eat until I’m full. As often as I want and whatever I want.

When you are plant-based the nutrients in the food work with your body. Your body retains all the good and filters out the bad through the fabulous fiber in your food and the microbes in your gut. Your belly will become less sensitive to bloating and heartburn, and guess what? You won’t have to measure your food intake or count calories. If you are eating the rainbow and getting as many fresh fruits, veggies and whole foods as possible, your body will regulate itself…and without much effort. Being vegan brings a satisfying peace of mind that is priceless. Which brings me to my last point…

5) Your body, mind, and soul will thank you       

Another thing I didn’t realize would happen, and certainly not with such impact, is the feeling you get before, during and after each meal. Prior to choosing plants over animals, I never thought about the cruelty and process that went into making my juicy burger and tender nuggets. I wasn’t paying attention to the number of resources it took to create the meat we ate or the negative impacts industrialized food systems are having on the planet. I value our planet very much and when I started researching my new lifestyle, I was shocked this information isn’t mainstream.

When you choose to put plants and whole grains on your plate in place of meat and dairy, not only does it help the planet and help your health, but there is a sense of awareness you get about food in general. It’s an awareness that is hard to describe at first but then it hits you…”I am no longer eating the soul and flesh of another living thing”. As harsh as that sounds it’s that simple and true. You no longer have to deal with the negative energy and in-humane processes that created the food you put in your body.

Animals are earthlings too

Animals are earthlings too and just because they are here with us doesn’t mean they are here to serve us. There is a certain peace that will come when you no longer consume other Earthlings.

There is a huge sense of peace and calmness when you stop eating animal-based products. You realize your choices are for a greater good. Even if you became plant-based for the health of it, you ultimately just feel differently in your head and in your heart. You become compassionate for all living things.

You become more compassionate

When you become vegan, you care more about the animals even when you’re in it for the health. We are plant-based activists in our community but we are not extreme vegans. Here are a few signs from a local animal rights march.

Your body and all its parts were meant to process the plants you eat and it is going to thank you in many ways, over and over. I have studied the Holistic Anatomy by Pip Waller on my journey to becoming a Certified Holistic Nutritionist and I learned how much our bodies thrive on real food. Our internal systems perform at their best when we consistently provide them the countless nutrients they demand.

We have all heard of the famous Hippocrates quote that states ‘Let thy food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food’, but he was also quoted as saying “In food excellent medicine can be found, in food, bad medicine can be found; good and bad are relative.” It seems Hippocrates knew how indulgent man can be. Unbeknownst to him, however, indulgence would be at the drive-thru on every street corner and on the shelves in every grocer.

Becoming and staying vegan is not without its challenges. However, when you have been eating this way for a while, getting a good variety of whole foods in your daily diet, you will likely see many health conditions abate. I have talked to people who are no longer on blood pressure medicine, and who have reversed their cardiovascular disease. I have seen people lose hundreds of pounds and become triathletes living their strongest healthiest life possible.

If you are already vegan you can probably attest to what I’m saying. We are doing good simply through the food choices we make and our bodies love us for that.

If you are vegan-curious and hope to make the transition, well KUDOS to you 👏! So many people won’t even consider the possibility of how life-changing veganism can be. Yes, it has its stigmas, but many of us are working to dispel the myths, inform the curious and embrace those who choose to lead a plant-based lifestyle. Once you see changes with your own eyes, you’ll ask, “What took me so long?”

Things happen when you become vegan…good things. I can’t wait to hear what happened to you. And, if you enjoyed this blog post, please share it with others who might be ready to change their life!



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  1. Dawn on at

    Do you live in AZ? I live in Cottonwood, just south of Sedona….and am transitioning to a vegan lifestyle, because my body is SO reactive to meats, dairy, gluten, soy, lectins and caffeine….I used to love steak…I have been meat free for three weeks and am finding myself repulsed by the smell of it cooking, and I can’t even imagine taking a bite now. So interesting how quickly my body said, “no more, we’re done with meat.”
    Thank you for sharing! That school sounds like a blast! 😊

  2. Tricia Snow on at

    Interesting perspective. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  3. Heather on at

    Interesting article. Thank you for sharing. I have to chuckle at the protein comment. As Americans, if vegan Americans, we get our fair share of protein. For most of us that is not a problem!

  4. Malia on at

    But, but, but, PROTEIN!!! Hahahaha. That is usually the #1 thing that gets brought up when folks find out we’re vegetarian. Yeah, eating out is definitely more tricky for vegans, especially when trying to find food our kids will eat, so we end up being more vegetarian than vegan for that reason. PS: Thug Kitchen Cookbook is one of our faves. Looking forward to hearing more!

  5. Holly Bird on at

    Great article! I find it easy eating a vegan diet, and I never find it necessary to explain! I do think that label watching used to be hard but there is some great apps that you can use and it tells you if the product is vegan!!

  6. Lisa on at

    Props to you for taking control of your diet. I am sorry you have to defend your decision to people… they can be so nosy…

    • Lisa on at

      I’m just curious about tofu and soy as I have read that it effects female hormones in a negative way. Is there certain types that are good for us? Also curious about gluten free vegan options these are 2 things that have kept me from making the switch. My partner is a big meat eater and he is not completely closed to the idea of cutting meat from his diet, but he feels he needs to be “tricked” into thinking he is eating meat so he may require a lot of meat substitutes at first.

      • Jennifer on at

        Non-GMO/Organic tofu is perfectly healthy (if you are not allergic to soy) and actually works with the estrogen in your body. Please check out nutritionfacts.org about some great facts on soy. It is important to have organic/Non-GMO tho’. There are a lot of short informative videos on just about anything food-related that you may be wondering about at that site and all statistically driven! Thanks for your note!

  7. Angela on at

    Glad you found what works for you and your life – you are right, no need to defend it.

  8. Candy on at

    There is so much more to this decision than I realize. While it’s not for me, I totally respect the decision that it takes to be a vegan. Great educational piece to help us understand better. Thank you!

  9. jen on at

    a well thought out perspective. most vegans i know don’t take the time to think the nutrition aspects of it through…just jump on the fad bandwagon. Refreshing to read something that someone has actually taken the time to research and make an informed choice. 🙂

  10. Jelane on at

    Great post! Very thorough information on eating vegan. I’m not vegan but I do find I eat healthier when I incorporate several vegan meals into my diet each week.

  11. Eva on at

    I have watched vegan (and vegetarian) friends get interrogated when others learned of their lifestyle and it even frustrated ME. It’s awesome that you’re encouraging others and sharing your recipes.

  12. Suzan on at

    Non-judgement is so important no matter what dietary lifestyle you choose. Thank you for sharing your perspective.

  13. Cameron on at

    I’m not vegan but I really enjoyed learning more about the lifestyle. And kudos to you for sticking to it and enjoying the benefits!! Thanks for this perspective.

  14. Ramae Hamrin on at

    I have tried vegan, raw vegan, and vegetarian diets for years, decades really. I do fairly well on vegan, but my body seems to crave a little animal protein these days to keep the weight on. Maybe I just haven’t eaten the right vegan high-protein foods. I eat about 98% vegan nowadays but have the very occasional organic dairy or wild-caught fish. I do think about the animals every time I eat dairy or meat and wish there was a better way.

  15. Robin on at

    Great post! I could never not eat meat! We mostly eat deer, elk and turkey that we humanely kill ourselves. It works for us! I prob should some day give up cheese, because I completely agree about it being a massive weight gainer (among other issues, I’m sure).

  16. Jenny on at

    This was a well thought out post. Thank you for sharing. I enjoyed reading about your story as a vegan. I liked how you said people started taking an interest in your protein intake. What a weird thing for someone to get worried about. Kudos to you for living the lifestyle that you want and for sharing what you have learned with others… no matter what the stigmas are.

  17. Kendra on at

    Great post! It’s always great to hear another perspective. It’s funny…as I was reading this I remembered my aunt commenting to me at Thanksgiving one year when I brought a vegan salad to dinner and let her know that it was both vegan and fat free. She quickly corrected me and said that she is “plant-based/fat-free”, and not one of those “crazy” vegan people. Ummmm….she only eats plants and no fat…I had no idea that vegans were different and “crazy”. I just had to shake my head and enjoy my meal. Judgement comes from just about anywhere, it seems.

  18. jody on at

    My sister is vegan nothing wrong with it. For me though I will pass great article.

  19. Lisa on at

    Great tips, that is cool you learned to cook better and take classes!

  20. Lisa on at

    Wonderful post. Thank you for sharing the lifestyle, very eye opening.

  21. This was a good read. I appreciated it. Thank you!!!!

  22. I can relate a little because I had gastric sleeve surgery. I usually don’t talk about it much anymore, but when I first had it, people would ask about my choices a little. But now, no one close to me says anything. I don’t think they notice or care. Ha!

  23. Cindy on at

    I’m plant based too…three+ years now. I tend to use that term and get less negative reaction from people. I chose this lifestyle for health reasons and found so many additional benefits! I’ll never go back to a SAD way of life. And I’m even more restrictive, again for my optimal health. I don’t eat soy, GMO products, canola oil or refined white sugar along with avoiding animal products. I do occasionally use organic coconut sugar in backing. I love how being plant based makes me feel!

  24. Jenna on at

    I’ve eaten vegetarian for awhile, but mostly just because I don’t like the taste of most meats. So many times I get comments about that, even though it isn’t as strict as vegan!

  25. Lina Thao on at

    Thank you for sharing! It was very interesting to learn.

  26. Alexandra on at

    interesting perspective to share. thank you. never thought of becoming a vegan but was curious about how others are doing it 🙂

  27. T.M. on at

    Very interesting – because everything you listed is the exact scenario for a family who has a child with food allergies, so I definitely understand. We’ve been label readers for nearly two decades and have finally mastered the art of explaining our situation. LOL.

  28. Dawn on at

    I love this post. We are definitely on the newbie end of becoming fully vegetarian and eventually moving to be vegan. It is a trek for sure and so freaking enjoyable. I’m blown away by the actual weight loss I’ve had just due to this change. I am dealing with Hashimoto’s and went gluten-free which helped with the aches and pain but not a stitch of weight loss in two years even with gym workouts on a regular basis. Moving to mostly plant-based was truly the answer for me. It is not a massive weight loss but this slow and steady gradual change. While the weight loss was a desire for me, getting my health in check was the main goal. Thank you for this fantastic post. I’ve been curious about taking some courses to really hone my cooking skills as well.

    Look forward to reaching more from you.

    • Jennifer Markell on at

      Thanks for your note! I love it when I hear from others who have found good health through food! 😁🍎🥦🥕

    • Jennifer Markell on at

      Awesome! I am so happy you got something from it! My work here is done! 😉 Best of luck on your plant-based journey.

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Meet Jennifer

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I'm Chef Jennifer! A trained and certified personal vegan chef, offering delicious and nutritious animal-free food through personalized, weekly meal-prep services. I also love advocating for the plant-based lifestyle. Changing lives, saving animals and veganizing the planet with REAL food, one plate at a time.🍎🥦🥕

Learn about me, why I started VIR and why I believe food is medicine...for real!


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