Are you thinking about going vegan in the new year? If so, congratulations on taking the first step towards a healthier and more compassionate lifestyle. Making the switch to a vegan diet can be a big change, but with a little planning and preparation, it can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience.
It was this time of year that I had decided to go vegan. In January of 2013, I had built up the courage to watch a video of a baby calf being taken away from their mother. I knew it was going to be impactful. I actually had avoided the video for a long time. I did it though and I officially couldn't unsee what I saw. I sobbed for what felt like forever and after I wiped the tears away, I made the decision that I had no other choice but to go vegan.
It felt like a FULL BODY yes. So, I joined Physician's Committee's 21 Day Kickstart Program. Back then they didn't have an app, so I old-school printed the recipes out, punched holes, and placed them in a skinny binder. It was technically my first vegan cookbook.
Fast forward to today, and I've made A LOT of vegan food, met amazing vegan people who I call my friends and community now, and can say today that veganism changed my life for the better. Along the way I've gathered some tips for going vegan in the new year, here to share with you as you consider going vegan yourself...
#1 Educate yourself
Before making the switch, it's important to learn about the various reasons for going vegan, such as improving your health, reducing your environmental impact, fighting for social justice, and advocating for animal rights. I have found that connecting to your why is what keeps you rooted and focused. When you have a strong foundation, it becomes easier to stay committed to your vegan journey. There are plenty of resources available online and documentaries and books to help you learn more about veganism.
#2 Plan your meals
One of the biggest challenges of going vegan can be figuring out what to eat. Take some time to plan out your meals and snacks for the week, and make sure you have a variety of plant-based proteins, grains, fruits, and vegetables on hand. There are also plenty of vegan recipes available online and in cookbooks, so don't be afraid to try new things and get creative in the kitchen. I swear by instapots nowadays, so having the tools in your kitchen to make cooking easier can make all the difference.
#3 Find vegan alternatives
For me, dairy cheese was the most challenging thing to no longer eat (there's actual science behind why!), but now there are vegan versions of just about everything these days, from dairy-free milk and cheese to meatless burgers and sausages. Some of my favorites products come from companies like Treeline Cheese, Violife, and Beyond Meat. If you have the time and are up for the challenge, you can make vegan sausages and vegan cheese from scratch. Otherwise, you can find alternatives at your local grocery store or health food store, or even consider ordering them online.
#4 Don't be too hard on yourself
Going vegan is a big change, and it's okay if it takes some time to adjust. Don't be too hard on yourself if you have a slip-up or if you struggle at first. Remember that the journey is about progress and not perfection. Every small change you make is still making a positive impact, for yourself, others, and the world around you. There were a few times I slipped up, one of those times was when I ate feta at my yiayia's (grandmother's) house. Food is so deeply embedded in our culture, so this was super hard to transition away from. I came home feeling so guilty, as if I had failed going vegan. Instead it was a learning experience of how I could do things differently but also how to patience for the process that was unfolding.
#5 Seek support
I cannot emphasize this enough, but community is EVERYTHING. Not only when going vegan, but within life itself. Going vegan can be a lot easier if you have the support of friends and family. So, consider joining a vegan community or support group, whether online or in person, to connect with others who are on the same journey as you. Joining programs and challenges, like Compassionate Filled Life's 30 Day Vegan Challenge, can be a good start. Having people to relate to and unpack everything together can make the whole experience so much more enjoyable and sustainable!
Going vegan in the new year can be a exciting and rewarding experience. With a little planning and preparation, you can make the transition smoothly and enjoy all the benefits that a plant-based diet has to offer.