So it’s 2019 and the press has declared it’s the Year of the Vegan! Woohoo!
Maybe you’ve taken the leap and decided to join Veganuary…congratulations by the way! Or perhaps you’ve just decided to eat more plants and decrease the amount of meat and dairy in your life. Either way, that’s pretty incredible and I’m super pumped about you trying out this whole plant-powered thing.
But now that we’re sitting in the middle of January, I’ve been seeing a lot of posts in groups of people struggling and looking for help and reassurance on their Veganuary adventure. So I thought I would share a few bits of advice to help you get through the next few weeks and hopefully even stick with it afterwards.
Small Steps Still Count - first of all, you deserve a huge pat on the back for just taking the leap and making the switch to plant-powered eating! It’s not an easy task, but by simply deciding to join the movement you have already made an impact. It may not feel like it or even look like it, but by sharing the message, working on eliminating animal products and learning how to live a more compassionate lifestyle, you are already making a difference. Your friends, family and maybe even complete strangers on the internet see you trying to make a difference and that effort is planting a seed. A seed in their mind that might sprout in to something more…maybe this month or in a couple years…but regardless, it’s a seed that can be nurtured and grown into a whole other vegan. Just by you trying. So don’t give up…others need you even though they may not realize it yet.
Join a Community - there are countless groups, online and in person, dedicated to veganism. If you already have a veggie buddy, that’s fantastic! But if not, you don’t have to go it alone. You’ll have much better success if you have a tribe you can count on. So find a group that works for you. Whether it’s a facebook group for newbies or perhaps there’s a weekly vegan meet up in your city, or send me an email or facebook message…whatever it is, reach out. Everyone needs support sometimes, so you don’t have to be alone. And you’ll find it a lot easier if you’re able to vent your frustrations, ask questions or just see that others are feeling the same way. You know how they say it takes a village…well the same thing applies when you go vegan.
Keep it Simple - so I’m sure you’ve done some googling for awesome vegan recipes by now. But perhaps you’ve been put off by some super delicious, but time consuming and complicated recipes. Nothing is worse than trying to make a change only to feel defeated when you feel like you don’t have time or skills to cook anything. And all you can it is fries and salads. So my advice…just keep things simple. Don’t go all Juila Child or Gordon Ramsay when you’re just starting out. Even if you can cook well, adjusting to the nuances of vegan cuisine and be a bit tricky and might leave you with some less the perfect meals. So go for the basics…go for your favorites that can be easily veganized. Try things like tacos, or chili or spaghetti. Veggie curries and stir fries are super simple and satisfying. Here’s a couple of my favorite websites for simple and delicious vegan recipes and you can also grab a copy of my 7-day vegan meal plan HERE.
Give Yourself a Break - hey…you…you’re doing great! Stop being so hard on yourself. We always end up beating ourselves up over little things instead of celebrating our victories. So give yourself a break and be a little gentler to yourself. No one is perfect. So what if you made a mistake and ate something with milk in it? Who really cares that you caved one night and ate some cheese? That doesn’t erase all your hard work you’ve done so far. Everyone makes mistakes…myself included. I remember, just recently, picking up a box of crackers at the grocery store. I had read the label twice to make sure there were no sneaky animal ingredients in them and I felt confident they were ‘accidentally vegan’. So I get the crackers home and later I’m eating them with some vegan cheese and having a nice little snack. My husband comes in and sees me eating them and proceeds to scope out the box. “You know these aren’t vegan, right?” he says. WHAAAAAA? But I had checked them twice. Granted, I had two very distracting kids with me at the time and I was also tired, but I was sure they were vegan. Then he points to the one tiny ingredient near the end of list…whey powder. F&$K! How did I miss that?! My point is, after discovering the half box of crackers I had eaten wasn’t actually vegan, I didn’t beat myself up about it. I didn’t eat anymore of them and didn’t by them again. It was a learning moment. And even being vegan for nearly 2 years and vegetarian before that, I am still learning. And still making mistakes. And that’s OK. There is no perfect vegan…there is no first prize for being the best vegan. You do as best as you can and when you know better, then you can do better.
Treat Yourself - as much as I am all for healthy eating, I also believe it’s OK to treat yourself too. As much as Veganuary may seem like a month of salad eating, it doesn’t have to be. Go buy yourself an awesome veggie burger, or enjoy a bag of frozen veggie nuggets and fries. Maybe finally check out that vegan bakery and treat yourself to a scrumptious vegan cupcake! Just because you’ve dropped the animal products, doesn’t mean that you can’t still enjoy some of your favorite foods. Instead of focusing on what you can’t have, look at all the amazing things you can have. And use this time to maybe try out some new restaurants or cafes. How about some Indian or Ethiopian food or maybe try out that funky vegan cafe? Remember when I said it takes a village? Well grab some of your veggie village and try out a new restaurant or host a pot luck. Eat and enjoy! And maybe you’ll discover some new favorites along the way!
So that’s my 2 cents worth of advice on getting through Veganuary and maybe even enjoying it. Find your tribe, go with the flow and have fun! And remember, YOU ARE making a difference!