So you’ve hopped on to the Vegan -uary bandwagon. Congratulations! Know that you are not alone. Did you know that over 300,000 people are expected to as well by the end of January 2019?!
Let me just say, from the bottom of my heart, that I’m proud of you. Even if it is just for a month, you are making a decision that saves the lives of sentient animals, improves your health, reduces your carbon footprint, and if done properly, helps your local agricultural community. Veganism is the single biggest way fight climate change and protect the environment. Unfortunately, it can take some time to adjust. (You’ve made it this far already!!) Here’s how to make the most out of your last 2 weeks in January (and hopefully stick with it!!):
#1 Meal Prep / Cook in Bulk
One of the hardest things about being a newbie vegan is trying to figure out what to cook for yourself every day. Head over to The Minimalist Baker for quick, easy meals that you can make on a Sunday afternoon. I love following her recipes because they generally take me less than an hour to prep, cook, and clean up after! I love her one-pot meals. Finding adequate resources is imperative for your Vegan journey. It’s not about finding “alternatives”. It’s about finding delicious foods that you love to enjoy.
Here are a few other Vegan blogs that I love to follow:
- Oh She Glows
- The Buddhist Chef
- Eat Feel Fresh (Which is Ayurvedic!!!)
#2 Remove Temptations from your home
Give those non-vegan cookies to a friend or take them to work. Donate frozen non-vegan meals to a food pantry. Do whatever you need to do to remove the temptations from your home. Take note of the things that you are getting rid of, as well as non-vegan foods that you have cravings for, and find vegan substitutions.
#3 Stick to whole foods.
It’s hard enough removing a “food group” from your diet, so don’t replace it with faux-food. Soda-pop, sugar-laden pastries, and processed biscuits and cookies should not replace your meat. These are not real foods. These are addictions that are devoid of nutrients and lead to diabetes and weight gain.
You can’t go wrong with a single-ingredient dish.
While you might not always want to snack on a piece of fruit or a vegetable, changing your go-to snacks to nutrient deficient alternatives is doing your body wrong.
After removing fish, chicken and other nutrient-dense foods from your diet, you need to replace them with healthy alternatives that are as nutrient rich as possible. This means avoiding pastries, pastas and breads. Which leads me to:
#4 Eat the Rainbow!
Dark red beets. Green kale/spinach/dandelion greens. Rainbow chard. Blueberries. Purple Taro root. Different coloring means different nutrients. Eating a wide range of biodiversity ensures that all nutrient requirements are met. (Most people today aren’t quantitatively deficient, but they are qualitatively deficient.)
#5 Green means Protein
Generally, green vegetables contain lots of protein (broccoli, peas, and spinach are great examples!) If you are a very active person, ensure you are eating enough plant proteins.
Pro tip: Try lightly steaming your broccoli or Brussels sprouts for maximum benefit. Overcooking destroys nutritional benefits, as well as leaches flavor.
#6 Find your community
Following the online vegan blogging community, joining vegan facebook groups, and attending a vegan meet-up are all great ways to find community support, which can make all the difference for a newbie.
I recommend searching for “Plant Based” as well as “Vegan community/Vegan Support” to find groups to join on facebook. I am a part of “What Broke Vegans Eat” on facebook, and use it for laughs of all the insane meals that people put together. Theres also healthy vegan groups, vegan dating groups….there are even vegan bashing groups (where vegans go to hate on non-vegans. Don’t be those people).
#7 Happy Cow the S*** Out of your Neighborhood
If you aren’t familiar with the app “Happy Cow” yet, it’s time to download. Its your vegan bible. You will find any and all available vegan meals or restaurants in a given location. It’s truly a newbies godsend.
I recommend marking anything in your area that looks mildly inticing. Star all restaurants on google maps that are near your work, home, friends homes, kids schools, parents house….whatever! You can easily create a list on your google account that allows you to select or deselect this list, and you now have vegan options at the ready whenever the opportunity strikes.
#8 Take a Lesson from a Squirrel
Leave snacks in your car. Leave snacks at your desk. I usually have an orange in my purse when I leave the house for the day. Preparing yourself for moments of weakness is vital to your success. This way, if there are no vegan options or simply nothing appetizing (no, Susan, I don’t want an iceberg lettuce salad…), you aren’t left hungry or hangry!
Don’t be afraid to snack. Just don’t forget where you stashed it.
#9 Visit an Animal Shelter
Reminding yourself about the reasons why you went vegan doesn’t have to be sad or negative. Watching documentaries about animal welfare, climate change, and health are all great ways to educate yourself and rededicate your veganism, but they can also be quite depressing. Visiting a local animal shelter is a great way to combat sad feelings and interact with animals in a healthy way. (Petting animals releases oxytocin, and serotonin in both the animal and yourself...so why not give yourself a healthy dose of happiness too?!?!)
#10 Be compassionate.
Above all, be kind to yourself. If you slip off the wagon, don’t beat yourself up over it. This a drastic change you are making and it takes some time to get used to. Guilting yourself over a single meal or a moment of weakness is only lowering your confidence and making this transition seem “too hard”. If you didn’t immediately see abs in the gym, don’t assume a lifestyle change like this will happen overnight either! Also, be kind to others who might not understand your transition. Be patient and open and stay positive as you navigate this process- you never know what skeptic you might inspire!