Vegan diets have become much more popular in the last decade. People are willing to make the switch to a vegan diet for many reasons, from wanting to stop animal cruelty to fighting diabetes and cancer or to help the environment. No matter your motives for switching to a plant-based lifestyle or how excited you are about it, eliminating animal products from your diet altogether can be incredibly difficult for the uninitiated. Here are 5 tips to help you stay focused and motivated on your journey towards a plant-based diet.
Find a Support Group
Ideally, the people you live with will support your decision to become a vegan and want to join you! That isn’t always the case, however. If your family members or partner aren’t at all excited about giving up meat and animal products, make sure they at least understand your reasons and ask them to support you in your food choices. It might be harder for you if there are still animal products in your kitchen, but it’s still definitely doable!
There is no need for you to ever feel alone as a vegan. Facebook is teeming with groups just for vegans. There are groups for specific geographical regions, groups for parents or singles, and groups for shopping vegan at specific grocery stores. Join a couple of groups that interest you most and ask your questions and voice your concerns there. Other vegans are more than willing to help you navigate your food journey!
Make a Plan you can Commit to
For some people, going vegan cold… tofu turkey… is too much at once. Decide now what your goals are. Do you want to start with one vegan meal a week for a month, then two a week the next month, and so on? Or will you start with vegan breakfasts this week, then snacks next week, and dinners the next? Whatever your plan for transitioning, it needs to be doable with the time and resources you have. Chances are you’ll be trying a lot of new recipes and buying ingredients you never have before, so make sure you’ll be able to keep up. The goal here is to feel motivated and empowered, not overwhelmed and discouraged.
No matter how excited you are now about switching to a vegan way of eating, when it’s time to actually prepare your food at the end of a long workday, it can be hard to keep that energy up. Take a few hours now to set up an epic vegan cooking board on Pinterest. There are hundreds of blogs devoted to plant-based eating with ideas that will make you itch to start cooking.
You can look for inspiration in cookbooks as well. Start by browsing your local library’s selection of vegan cookbooks and try out some of the recipes before deciding which books to buy. Having recipes you already want to try will make meal planning a breeze.
Plan your Meals
Planning out your meals and shopping for your food all at one time will make a huge difference in your ability to stick to a vegan diet. Write out your meals for the week and stick to your plan. No more trying to decide what to eat half an hour before dinner, no more last-minute trips to the grocery store because the fridge is empty, and no more realizing 30 minutes into a recipe that you’re missing a crucial ingredient. Meal planning will save you a ton of headaches and make cooking your meals something you look forward to, rather than dread.
Research the Benefits
Lots of people are going to think you’re crazy to give up meat, cheese, and jello (maybe not the jello so much). You may not be able to convince others that you made the right decision by giving up animal products – but knowing the facts and being able to explain your motives will help others realize you aren’t so crazy after all. You may even be able to get friends and family to support you, even if they don’t decide to join you. Here are some great articles to get you started:
- How Plant-based Food Helps Fight Cancer — the Mayo Clinic
- A Healthy Future for Our Planet Is Possible! See How Your Food Choices Impact the Future of Life on Earth — Food Revolution Network
- 10 Things I Wish All Americans Knew About the Meat and Dairy Industries — Forks over Knives
Whether you’re transitioning to a vegan diet alone or with companions, it’s possible to make the switch and still love what you’re eating. Don’t give up; the benefits are definitely worth it!
What helped you the most in your transition to a vegan diet? Share it in the comments – you may make someone else’s transition a lot easier.