Hi ____

  ..I didn't
realize you weren't vegan, but as you said, you haven't been eating
eggs or drinking milk so you've been half-vegan, so to speak,
already..

The first piece of advice I always give people is that (although
I know some people do it and realize that for some people it works), I
would caution against trying to do things "overnight".

The human body is very complex, much more so than a super-computer,
so it's always good to go slow (a) to give the body time to adjust
and (b) to be able to "listen" to one's body and tune into how
it reacts.

The danger if one doesn't do that is that 6 or 12 or 48 months later
one is burned out and bitter and "against" veganism because it "didn't
work" for them because they didn't go slow enough to listen to their
bodies.

Some people will initially feel a need for just as much protein, and
later slowly trail off. Some will be able to make certain changes more
quickly. Carl Lewis, the olympic gold medalist wrote something I can
forward to you but he said when he went from vegetarian to vegan,
he initially felt less energy. He thought it was going vegan, but then
he realize, it was just calories. He just needed to eat a little more
(in portion size) so make the total daily calories equal to what they
were before. When he did that, he felt great again, in fact, even
better than when he was vegetarian, and has his best year in
athletics! (I love to tell that story..) it's online somewhere and I
can find his article.

So with calories, with protein, with calcium, with B-12, etc,
the more you can educate yourself, the better. By the way, 
there are lots of myths about calcium..believe it or not, I can
send you articles from PCRM (Physicians Committee on Responsible
Medicine..maybe you've heard of them?) that the idea that dairy helps
with bones is dubious at best..the science shows it is neutral or
negative. I can send you references in a separate email. However,
some paying attention to calcium etc *is* important. And you'll
definitely want to take B-12...daily or bi-weekly, I can find
you the numbers etc.

One great source is Michael Greger's monthly newsletter..it's
only once a month so it does not clog your email up...and it's
got lots on nutrition etc for vegans.

Past newsletters are here http://www.veganmd.org/newsletters.html To
subscribe send any email to
"drgregersnewsletter-subscribe@lists.riseup.net"

You can give up cow-yogurt without giving up yogurt...I've been
enjoying silk brand (soy based) yogurt for years. It costs about the
same, or maybe two dimes or so more..It's 99 cents per Silk individual
soy yogurt. Of course one has to avoid overdoing sugar with those,
same as with regular yogurts. And it's smoother.  And you won't get
all those pus cells and hormones and the rest...

If it's not "creamy" enough in the sense of too low fat you can add
flax-seed-oil (or even soy based "cream") but I like it the way it is,
or I add raising, almonds, Swiss based Familia or other
granola/cereal..

I get some of my vitamins from veganessentials.com, especially my
chewable vegan twice a day multi, but Healthful Habits has (and where
you may move may carry) Solgar brands, like their B-12, and Solar is
either always or usually vegan..you can check with them.

What else?

You said you're not sure what ingredients are animal derived. I don't
have a list on me, but I'm sure we could find one online quickly. One
big one is gelatin...remember Jello? Well gelatin is made from
boiled bones and cartilage -- gross eh? And with mad cow disease
around, it's not just gross, either, but potentially dangerous. I
think anyone in their right mind, even if they don't give a hoot about
animals, but only their health, should on that basis alone avoid
gelatin. I am not sure if I was 100% careful in the past but now I
look in my vitamin capsules (Solgar's vitamin E capsules are vegan..but
some capsules are made with gelatin) and same with other
ingredients. If you really love Jello, you can find vegan jello, I
would ask health stores or veganessentials or other online stores.

Speaking of family and friends, they may give you flak, or may
just be concerned, because of all the myths out there. As a woman
you will want to supplement with iron (but don't over-do it either) --
check with the physicians committee for responsible medicine
website on what iron should be and how much supplements...or check
with Michael Greger, or both. PCRM is at

http://www.pcrm.org/ see their health section

http://www.pcrm.org/health/

So iron you should look into B-12 I kind of mentioned
already, and calcium I said I can email you later..but in a nutshell:
#1 you can get plenty of calcium from non-dairy and #2 the list
of myths also mentions that not overdoing sodium, and getting
enough weight-bearing exercise, are at last as important as
calcium, for your bone health.

You've heard of "white pizza" where they skip the tomatoes (which are
so delicious and good for you) and put only cheese, right?  Well you
can try "red pizza". Red pizza is just a name I made up for it (though
maybe others have too..) but it's just vegan pizza..you put your
favorite toppings -- onions, peppers, mushrooms, whatever you enjoy --
on top of really good tomato sauce, ...thick sauce if you like...and I
was at a restaurant once and it was the kind where you could ask them
to make modifications and they said they could do it..and the "Red
pizza" they made was quite good. I'm not really that much into pizza
myself, but in case you are, I thought I'd mention that..

Finally: please remember not to "beat up on yourself" if you have to
take a few steps back. That's ok, take your time. Also don't beat up
on yourself if you have a goal but move slowly toward it (I only got
my first non-leather belt two years ago..and I still have leather in
my shoes...my goal over the next 2 or 3 or maybe it may take 4 years,
is to eventually let go of all leather..but I know that I am *not*
causing any extra cows to suffer..it is more of an indirect support
for the system that I don't want, and mostly for myself. Plus I have a
bit more money than when I was a grad student, though prices are
coming down a lot for non-leather items. Actually even when I was a
child and eating beef, I didn't like leather very much) In any case
same with when I went from vegetarian to vegan, I slowly cut out a few
things...not pressure to stop eating this or that, but taking the time
to look for (now there's the web so it's easier) and find new
*delicious* recipes. When you find new things you love, you just
naturally substitute them for the old, and you don't miss the old
because the new are as good (often even tastier) than the old. So I
leave you with my all time favorite vegan recipe website:

http://www.veganchef.com

She has it so you can keyword search; just type in your
ingredient (or 2 or 3) like "Eggplant garlic" and click..you'll
get a recipes (sometimes dozens) with those ingredients..100% vegan.

Hope you're having a great break and wishing you the best
for 2004 as well,

Harel