Going vegan? 7 things you need to know before doing it.

Thinking of going vegan or cutting back on meat? That's great, I salute you for your effort on making yourself, all animals and the planet healthier and longer lasting! 

If you're like me, you're looking for reliable information about what you really need to do in order to go vegan or to eat as plant-based as possible. As you are changing your diet, you should know that it's also important to maintain a healthy and balanced lifestyle. Eating vegan means you will have to make sure you get the necessary nutrients from the right sources. 

You also need to know how to find food wherever you go and how to stand up to sceptical people. My 7 essentials to going vegan!

There's vegan food literally everywhere. And I do mean everywhere! You just have to know where to look and how to find it. Most supermarkets sell a bunch of vegetarian and vegan products. Plus, you will always find fruits, vegetables, grains, pasta and other products that are almost always free of animal products. Feel free to ask someone at your store to lead you to their vegan product section. It might amaze you what they have. There's vegan food even in McDonald's! The key to knowing what and where is preparation. Google is your best friend. And www.happycow.net is your other best friend. You can see which restaurants serve vegan meals in your area. 

credits to Eric Helms.

Watch your calories and your protein, carbohydrate and fat intake. Don't fall for a detoxing regime or a crash diet. Make sure you still eat enough calories a day to keep your body functioning properly. In my recently published e-book, I explain what nutrients you need and why you need this. You need enough proteins, carbohydrates and fats to properly function as a person and as a sportsman. You need to make sure to eat enough products and the right products. I usually recommend about 2 grams of protein per kg of bodyweight, 30% fat intake (sometimes higher!) and the remainder should be dedicated to carbohydrates (usually about 35-55% of your diet). Download an app to track your nutrient intake, for example FitSociety or MyFitnessPal. Keep track of your food for a few days and adjust accordingly.

Don't hesitate to ask for help from your fellow vegans. Asking for help is always a strength and never a weakness. Ask around for tips and tricks on how others do it. Ask around which restaurants or supermarkets are a right fit for you or how to deal with popular problems vegans encounter. However, make sure you are not following all of the advice coming from a non-professional. It requires the right knowledge of nutrition to give someone proper nutritional advise. Missing essential vitamins and minerals can cause milder symptoms like fatigue, muscle cramps and bad skin and can progress to more serious symptoms like a weaker immune system, heart disease or muscle wasting. 

Watch your vitamin and mineral intake. As I said, proper vitamin and mineral intake is very important! Though some would like you to believe it is very complex, it can be quite simple. Make sure you are eating a great amount of different vegetables. Though most countries advise about 250 grams of vegetables each day, be a bit more bold and double that dosis. Eat at least 500 grams of vegetables each and every day. Make sure you switch things up every day as well so you have sufficient intake. Since most vitamins and minerals are water soluble, a high enough dosis should last about 3 days before your body dumps the rest in your urine. Eat nuts and fruits as well! Tracking can be very important here as well. MyFitnessPal can help you to track the most important nutrients as well! Taking a multivitamin will also make sure your intake is adequate. 

It's okay to go at your own pace. Everybody is in a hurry nowadays. Take your time to adjust accordingly. If you want to go cold turkey that's amazing! But if you want to phase out different products over time you are also welcome to do that. My advise to people who find it difficult to let go of certain products is to find proper alternatives. Don't wanna miss out on steak? There are vegan steak. Don't want to give up chicken? There is vegan chicken. Can't seem to let go of cheese? There is also a vegan option for that! Thank you science!

Supplement on vitamin B12 or eat vegan products with vitamin B12. Though I have covered the topic of vitamins, there is one vitamin in particular that is vital to vegans. Vitamin B12 is a vitamin found mainly in meat and some other animal products. But because we don't live in the stone age anymore, there are more simple solutions to vitamin B12 than to eat meat. Get yourself some B12 supplements or eat products that are infused with vitamin B12 (like Vivera). 

There will be rude people. But don't let rude people get to you! If you want to eat more vegan or are actually on the way to becoming a vegan, GOOD FOR YOU! Many other men and women are doing it and are pretty successful at it. I've been vegan for two months now and a flexitarian for a few years. I've always had people talking smack to me. And that's okay, society has let us strongly believe veganism is outrageous. It takes people time to get used to the fact that the only outrageous thing is that we aren't all doing a wee bit more effort to keep ourselves, other animals and the planet itself healthy and longer lasting. Keep calm and explain why you are doing this. If you want to be an activist: go ahead. But if you are like me and you don't enjoy schooling people in public, just remain calm and explain what it is and that you are just fine. Ask for your friends, family and colleagues to respect the way you eat and live. 

Share this with anyone who is thinking about going vegan or someone who needs some support in their journey to (eating more like a) vegan. I'm curious to know: are you vegan or considering being a vegan? Let me know in the comments below!

Claudio Fray

Fray Fit, Rosseelsstraat, Den Haag, ZH,