It’s the first week in January and the beginning of Veganuary– a campaign to encourage people to eat vegan for the month of January. This year over 40,000 people have pledged to take part. If you’re one of them you might already be wondering how you can keep eating vegan though out the whole month when we live in a world where eating animal products is the norm and there are so many temptations around!
I took part in Veganuary last year and have been eating a plant-based diet ever since. In this article I want to share with you some of my experiences in transitioning to veganism. Hopefully it will help you enjoy Veganuary and transition to veganism for a month or even more.
5 Tips for Transitioning to Veganism
1. Know why you’re doing it
Is it for the animals? The planet? Your health? Or maybe purely for the challenge.
If you know why you’re doing it you can focus on that reason and the bigger picture when you’re faced by temptations and the urge to quit.
Originally, I wanted to try veganism for the health benefits, but then as I learnt more about veganism my motivations changed and I became more concerned about animal welfare and the positive impact that veganism can have in terms of the environment. Everyone will have their own reasons and your reason is just as good as the next persons.
2. Make an effort to try new foods
Last year you were probably stuck in the habit of eating the same meals over and over again. If you transfer the same practice towards vegan food you’re likely to get bored and give up. Take Veganuary as an opportunity to get excited about food again and try new vegan foods.
How about having homemade granola with almond milk for breakfast, a delicious vegan soup for lunch and peanut butter dahl for dinner? With delicious snacks like this vegan brownie of course!
I do acknowledge that it can be extra effort to try new things, so, as I mentioned in my ‘how to approach meat free meals’ post, you could just swap out meat for a vegan protein source or non-dairy milk for mylk (e.g. almond, rice, oat) in a recipe that you already love. Plus, there are an increasing number of off-the-shelf vegan options available, which equal zero effort in cooking (although I would generally advocate to make food yourself so you know what went into it).
Last year in Veganuary I set myself the challenge of making a new dish every week – I tried the Nākd Almond & Raspberry Cookies from the Veganuary website and a great vegan quiche from the I Quit Sugar for Life cookbook.
There are lot’s of great recipes on the Veganuary website – look out for my contribution: curried bean burgers.
3. Get support through social media and vegan meet-ups.
If you’re stuck for inspiration on what to eat, what products you can buy or anything else related to veganism then get on social media. There are loads of facebook groups and hashtags on twitter and instagram related to veganism. You will be able to ask questions, share your experience, get support and find out about vegan events in your local area.
For me, using the hashtag #Veganuary on instagram really helped me transition to veganism in January 2016 because I felt part of a community and I didn’t want to let them down.
Although – a note of caution. I have had to unfollow some twitter accounts because they were posting too many pictures of injured animals, which made me upset. I have also experienced some negative comments on messages I have posted in facebook groups, for example, when I posted a picture of a fry’s chicken nugget and said it tasted like the real thing! Some people are just plain rude and over opinionated when they are hiding behind their computer screen – so try and take no notice of them. All of the vegans I have met in real life have been lovely and nothing like the vegan stereotypes.
4. Don’t worry if you eat animal products
Yep! You read that correctly! Don’t worry if you eat animal products by accident or as a choice. Almost every vegan I’ve spoken to has accidently eaten animal products, for example, if they misread a product label or have been served something they didn’t realise wasn’t vegan until after they’d eaten it. You might also be surprised to learn that many people who identify as vegan have chosen to eat something with animal products at some point for various reasons.
I have previously confessed in my interview with Skating Tomato that I do eat yogurt sometimes when I go back to my parent’s house and it’s in the fridge!! 9 times out of 10 I’m not bothered about it or I can resist, but then sometimes I just feel like I have to try it… or eat a whole 500g tub! The silly thing is I don’t even like the taste of it as much as I used to but I just get a craving at 10pm at night and feel like I don’t have the will power to resist! Another example is that I tried some vegetables from my boyfriends chicken Thai Green Curry when we were in Thailand because I wanted to see how it tasted.
The key message is don’t worry if you eat animal products. It doesn’t make you a ‘bad’ vegan and don’t let it be an excuse to give up on your vegan journey. Just accept it has happened, stop thinking about it and move on.
5. Don’t throw away your non-vegan toiletries and leather goods
Don’t feel obliged to throw away the content of your makeup bag or your favourite leather coat. Personally, I don’t think it makes financial sense. It would be much less wasteful to use up the products and then buy new vegan-friendly ones to replace them.
If you do decide that you really don’t want to use them then it would be nice to give the items to your family/friends or unopened products to charities (e.g. a collection for a homeless shelter) so that people can make use of them.
Hope this post about transitioning to veganism has been helpful.
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If you have anything else you’d like to know please ask me in the comments or you can use my facebook page.
Photo credit: The cow image used in the cover photo is by my lovely friend Adriana instagram: @a.d.moser. She is also currently vegan and loves sharing recipe inspiration with me 🙂