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How to go vegan as a teenager

how to go vegan as a teenager

So you have decided vegan as your lifestyle, but how do you go vegan as a teenager? The transition to a vegan diet can be both exciting and daunting as you adapt to a new lifestyle. 

It can seem like an overwhelming task to make the switch from animal products to plant-based foods, and living with non-vegan parents adds another layer of challenge to that. However, with the right information and support, it is easier than you think! 

Here is your complete go-to guide on going vegan as a teenager.

How to go vegan as a teenager 

Part 1: Transitioning to a vegan diet

Making the switch to a vegan lifestyle may seem like an intimidating task. It is important to understand why you are making this decision and to do your research so that you can make informed choices.

Why Vegan?

The first step is understanding why you want to go vegan. 

Some reasons people go vegan:

  • Environment: reduce air and water pollution and to make an impact on climate change
  • Animal: protect animal welfare and prevent animal suffering and cruelty
  • Health: reap the health benefits of eating plant-based foods and reduce the risk of chronic diseases

What is your reason for wanting to go vegan?

Do your research

Going vegan as a teen means making conscious decisions about what you eat and understanding why it’s important to do so. It’s important to do your research and understand why you are choosing to go vegan. 

This means understanding the environmental, ethical, and health benefits of veganism, as well as the potential challenges so you can make an informed decision. I suggest visiting a local sanctuary that looks after rescued farmed animals, watching documentaries and following social media accounts about animal rights. 

Taking the time to do your research and learn more about veganism will help confirm your beliefs.

Veganism and eating disorders

If you want to go vegan because you feel “cleaner” and healthier. I would suggest exploring this issue further. æsk yourself: is veganism a way to control your eating in unhealthy ways? If so, I advise you to read these articles:

 

Vegan Orthorexia: Everything You Need to Know

Veganism, Bulimia and Anorexia: Everything You Need to Know

Vegan Binge Eating Disorders: Causes & Strategies for Prevention

how to go vegan as a teenager

How to go vegan as a teenager 

Part 2: Introducing to your family

You have determined that going vegan is right for you, now what’s next? 

Talk to your parent and family

It is important to talk to your parent and family about your decision so that they understand the reasons why you want to go vegan and how they can help support you in this journey. 

As a teen, you may face some opposition from your family when you decide to go vegan because they love you and they fundamentally want to protect you. They are worried that you are not going to get all the nutrients you need by eliminating a part of your diet that they believe is fundamental to health. 

However, with some patience and understanding, you can help them understand why this is important to you and how a plant-based diet in the right portions is well-balanced and nutrient dense. I recommend listening carefully to what your parents are saying so you can identify their concerns, clarify the issue and respond with a solution. 

The main goal is to let them know you will be going vegan in a healthy way. 

Can I become a vegan overnight?

It’s beneficial to start slowly by introducing vegan meals into your diet one at a time. Remember that you don’t have to go vegan overnight; making gradual changes can help make the transition easier. 

Start with small changes like trying different beans and lentils, or substituting dairy with plant-based milk. Starting slowly is key – it gives you time to get used to the new lifestyle and adjust your diet accordingly. 

Making the transition gradually will give you time to get used to the new lifestyle and adjust your diet accordingly. This will ensure that you don’t feel overwhelmed or deprived of your favorite foods. Moreover, it will give you the opportunity to learn more about veganism and discover new recipes.

If you want to become overnight, we suggest talking to a Vegan Teen Dietitian. This will allow you to learn faster and avoid any nutritional deficiencies.

Get involved with grocery shopping

One of the best ways to start your vegan journey is by getting involved with grocery shopping. Being aware of what you are buying and how to read labels will help you make informed decisions about your food choices. Additionally, it will give you an opportunity to learn more about vegan products that are available in stores. 

Take some time to plan out your meals and snacks every week so you will have an idea of what groceries to get that week. You might realize that your household already has quite a bit of vegan items like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and beans. 

Is being vegan expensive?

You may have heard that going vegan is expensive, but this isn’t necessarily true. Research from an Oxford study states that vegan diets can reduce your food bill by 33%. 

There are plenty of affordable plant-based options available, such as rolled oats, nuts or seeds, tofu, chickpeas, lentils and sweet potatoes. Plant-based whole foods are generally cheap but it becomes more expensive when you start buying processed vegan products like plant-based nuggets, sausage and patty.

Some tips are to buy seasonal vegetables, buy non-perishable items in bulk, and plan your meals ahead of time to avoid food waste. With some careful planning and budgeting, you can make sure that you’re getting all of the nutrients you need while still sticking to a budget.

Preparing vegan meals

Ready-to-serve vegan meals are very limited and expensive so it is very important to learn how to prepare your own vegan meals at home. This can also ensure that you are getting all the necessary nutrients you need for a well-balanced meal. 

There are plenty of TikTok videos and online recipes available to help you cook up delicious vegan dishes or find alternatives to your favourite non-vegan dishes.  

Some of our favourites are:

Tiktok: Tabitha Brown, Alyssa Fontaine, Balle Hurns

Blogs: Love and Lemons, Plant-based on a budget, Feasting at home

You can also try experimenting with different ingredients and recipes until you find something that works for you. Additionally, you can offer to cook for other people, such as family or friends, to get more practice in the kitchen and have them love your cooking. 

vegan teenager

How to go vegan as a teenager 

Part 3: How to get all your nutrients?

Going vegan as a teenager can be challenging, especially when it comes to getting all of the necessary nutrients. It’s important to make sure that you’re eating a balanced diet and getting enough of the essential vitamins and minerals that your body needs.

Ensure your vegan meals are well balanced 

A well-balanced vegan diet should contain a variety of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, plant-based proteins like beans/lentils/peas, and healthy fats. 

Protein

One area of focus is to eat an adequate amount of protein. Teenage boys need around 52g of protein daily and teenage girls need around 46g of protein daily. 

Some common vegan proteins are tofu, seitan, lentils, black beans, chickpeas, almonds, peas, edamame, pumpkin seeds, quinoa and peanut butter. 

Whole grains

Other than protein, it is important to choose whole grains more often instead of refined or processed grains because whole grains contain more nutrients and fibre. Some common whole grains are whole grain bread, steel-cut oats, brown rice, barley and quinoa etc. 

Fruits and vegetables

Also, don’t forget to choose a variety of fruits and vegetables every day. It is recommended that teenagers have around 7-8 servings of fruits and vegetables every day.

Healthy fats

Last but not least, it is important to include healthy fats in your vegan diet. Healthy fats include avocado, nuts, chia seeds, extra virgin olive oil and flaxseed.

A fun way to do that is to pick one item every week from the grocery store that you have never tried before and find a recipe that incorporates that ingredient. It can be any of the plant-based protein, vegetable, fruit or grains. Not only can you experiment with different vegan ingredients every week, but your family can also get introduced to new dishes as well.

how to go vegan as a teenager

Read all labels

After you go vegan, the most common question you will ask when reading food labels is “is this food vegan or not?” It will seem like a puzzle at first but as you learn these tips and tricks, you will be able to know what to look for and read the labels quickly.

  1. Most obvious vegan items will have the word “vegan” on the package. There are also some foods that don’t say vegan but are vegan foods. These include most dry pasta, most bread, nut butter, rice noodles, tomato sauces and hummus.

  2. Be able to recognize some common non-vegan ingredients such as eggs, milk, whey and casein. Some different non-vegan wordings include casein, lactose, whey, collagen, elastin, keratin, gelatin, honey, vitamin D3, pepsin, aspic, lard, and albumin.

  3. On some labels, the “may contain” label is to state the food is made in a factory where allergens are present and can include some non-vegan allergens. However, those food are still vegan.

Do I need Vitamin and Supplements?

Vitamin B12, vitamin D, omega-3, iron, zinc, and calcium are some of the vitamins and minerals that teens on a plant-based diet should make sure to get.

Vitamin B12

It is essential to have an adequate amount of vitamin B12. Since vitamin B12 is only present in meat products and only a small amount of vegan foods are fortified with vitamin B12, getting this vitamin in supplement form is ideal. The recommended daily amount of vitamin B12 for both teenage boys and girls is 2.4 mcg. Since the body can only absorb a fraction of vitamin B12 at one time, it is recommended to take a B12 supplement of 50 mcg daily or 1000 mcg twice per week to meet the daily recommended B12 intake.

Calcium

Calcium is essential for healthy bone growth. It is mostly found in fortified plant-based milk, dark leafy greens, beans and tofu. The recommended daily amount of calcium for both teenage boys and girls is 1300 mg, equivalent to 3-4 cups of plant-based fortified milk, depending on calcium contents in different brands.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is also essential for teens who don’t spend enough time outdoors and who live in areas where sunlight is limited in the winter. The recommended daily supplement amount of vitamin D for teenage boys and girls is 600 IU.

Iron

Iron is essential for healthy red blood cell production. Non-heme iron is mostly found in plant sources but your body has a harder time absorbing it. Pairing food that contains vitamin C can boost iron absorption. Some iron sources include dark leafy vegetables, nuts and whole grains. The recommended daily amount of iron for teenage boys is 11 mg and for teenage girls is 15 mg, but the recommended intake for vegan teenage boys is 20 mg and for teenage girls is 27 mg.

Omega 3

Omega 3 fats support your heart health and are essential to brain function. Some sources of omega-3s include flaxseeds, walnuts, chia seeds, hemp seeds, and walnuts. If you want to buy a supplement, the recommended daily amount of EPA + DHA for teens and teenage girls is 200-250 mg.

Zinc

Zinc helps your immune function, skin health and metabolism. Some zinc sources include cashews, soybeans, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, and tofu. The recommended daily amount of omega-3 for teenage boys is 11mg and for teenage girls is 9 mg.

Multivitamin Supplement

Although you can get an adequate amount of nutrients in a well-balanced vegan diet, a multivitamin-mineral supplement is recommended in case there are any nutrient shortfalls.

Some vegan multivitamins we recommend are Naturelo Multivitamin for Teens and VegLife for Teen girls or Teen boys

Make an appointment with a vegan dietitian

After you have created your action plans, it is best to ask your parents to take you to see a vegan dietitian. A dietitian can provide personalized advice on how to make sure your dietary needs are met while following a vegan lifestyle. They can also answer any questions you may have about plant-based nutrition and help you find delicious recipes that will keep your taste buds happy! 

vegan teenager

How to go vegan as a teenager 

Part 4: Social

You may feel like you’re alone and that no one else is going through the same thing. But there are ways to make it easier and more enjoyable.

Pack lunch and snacks

One of the most important things to consider when going vegan is packing your own lunch and snacks. Most school cafeterias don’t have vegan options so by doing this, you’ll have control over what you eat and ensure that all of your meals are vegan-friendly. 

Some vegan lunch ideas are:

Packing some snacks can ensure that you have enough energy throughout the day. Some vegan snack ideas are trail mix, hummus veggie dips and fruit with peanut butter dip.

Eating out

Eating out can also be tricky, but there are plenty of vegan restaurants and options available if you search online.

Give different ethnic restaurants a try:

  • Chinese cuisine
  • Indian cuisine
  • Mexican cuisine
  • Japanese cuisine
  • Thai cuisine

Most restaurants provide plant-based proteins, rice, pasta, potatoes and vegetables.

Dealing with judgement

You may also face judgment from friends or people around you who don’t understand your decision to go vegan. Remember that each person has their reasoning for reacting the way they do, and it is something that we cannot control. 

What we can control is how we react in response. Keep calm and be positive about why you chose the vegan path. It’s important to remember that you have the right to make your own decisions about what you eat and how you live your life. 

Build your support system

To make the transition easier, it’s important to build a strong support system of people who understand your journey and encourage your lifestyle choice, both in person and online. This can be joining vegan clubs at school or meeting like-minded vegan teenagers online. 

Connecting in your local community is also a great way to find like-minded individuals who share the same values as you do.

Final tip

Going vegan as a teenager can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Take small steps every day and the next thing you’ll know you will be thriving on a vegan diet.

If you need help going vegan, book a consultation with a vegan dietitian to get personalized advice to help you transition into a vegan lifestyle smoothly.