Making the decision to go vegan comes with so many amazing benefits. You get to save animal lives, your health will improve drastically, it’s better for the environment, the list is endless. However, as with any lifestyle change, it’s easy to slip up along the way and make simple mistakes. Luckily, they can be avoided. We’ve compiled a list of some common mistakes people make when going vegan for the first time, so your experience can be as seamless and enjoyable as possible.

Transitioning into vegan eating doesn’t have to be hard at all! Just avoid these five mistakes to ensure that you stay healthy and happy on your journey!

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1. Vegan doesn’t always mean healthy

Unfortunately, just because a food item is labeled “vegetarian” or “vegan,”  doesn’t mean it’s necessarily healthy. There are many vegan food and drink products on the market that contain a vast list of artificial ingredients, are high in sugar, sodium, and are heavily processed. Many of the mock animal products can help people ease into a plant-based diet, but it’s important to maintain balance in the foods you eat to ensure that you are giving your body all of the essential nutrients that it needs to thrive. It’s easy and common to make this mistake when first transitioning to a vegan diet. Vegan snack foods, mock meats, and treats are totally fine in moderation, but make sure to also eat fruits, veggies, and other whole foods as well.

2. Not eating enough

One of the biggest reasons people give up a vegan diet is because they are not eating enough calories throughout the day. Plant foods are naturally less calorie-dense, and many foods and dietary groups are off-limits to vegans and vegetarians. This combination can make it difficult for new vegans to meet their calorie requirements on a daily basis. Your body needs a certain amount to function, and restricting calories too much can lead to several negative side effects, such as nutrient deficiencies, fatigue, and a slower metabolism. While it may take some time for your body and digestive system to get used to the increased fiber and volume of the food you are eating, but once you get the hang of it, you will never look back.

3. Not enough protein

Protein is a necessity when eating a balanced diet. It plays an essential part in the formation of tissue, the production of enzymes, and the production of hormones in the body. Not only does it help give you a feeling of fullness after your meals, but it can reduce cravings. When transitioning to a vegan diet, try to include at least 1 source of plant protein at every meal. Some great options include tofu, tempeh, beans, nuts, seeds, and nut butters.

4. Vitamin B12 Deficient

Vitamin B12 serves a variety of functions in the body. It plays a role in the production of red blood cells and DNA, among other things. B12 deficiency can lead to feelings of fatigue, numbness, and issues with memory. The best sources of B12 on a vegan diet include nutritional yeast, fortified plant milk and orange juice, fortified cereal, tempeh, chlorella, and nori seaweed. You can also opt for a B12 supplement.

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5. Not enough Iron

Because plant-based sources of iron are not absorbed as easily as animal-based sources, vegans need to consume almost double the amount of iron as their meat-eating counterparts. Iron deficiency can lead to anemia, which makes you feel weak and exhausted. Try adding some iron-rich foods like spinach, tofu, beans, lentils, and sunflower butter into your diet every day.

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