So, you’ve kicked off the new year with a resolution to go vegan in 2018? Congratulations! You can look forward to enjoying the health benefits that come from a plant-based diet, as well as the peace of mind of knowing that your actions will help reduce the devastating toll on the environment and animal suffering caused by the production of meat and other animal products.
But, how do you go vegan and stick to it?
As we all know, making a resolution and keeping it can be two very different things! Whether you’re quitting smoking, aiming to hit the gym or trying to cut back on meat, resolutions are easier said than done. It’s not that you aren’t committed, it’s just that old habits do die hard. And, when the demands of everyday life get in the way, new resolutions (no matter how positive) can fall by the wayside. The trick is to anticipate the challenges that are sure to come sooner or later. Have a strategy in place for how to deal with them when they do.
Go vegan your way
- Some will go ‘cold turkey’ (sorry!). Others might start by cutting out meat, before reducing dairy and eggs. For some it might mean going vegan for ‘x’ number of days each week and gradually increasing the number of ‘vegan days’. There is no right or wrong answer. The point is that you’ve changed your intention and now you need to find the right way for you to change your habits.
Meal planning is key in making the switch to plant-based eating.
- Arriving home from work at 6pm, tired, hungry and wondering what to make for dinner will have you reaching for your old meat-based staples. Take time on the weekend to plan your vegan meals for the week, stock up on all the groceries you’re going to need, stick the menu on your fridge, and you’re set. Subscribing to a plant-based delivery service like Green Dinner Table makes it even easier. You’ll get a menu for the week, recipes and all the ingredients you need delivered to your door. You won’t even need to step inside the supermarket.
- Now that you’ve got your meal plan down and your pantry is stocked with plant-based goodies, what are you going to do when your friends suggest heading out for dinner? Fortunately, restaurants are catching on to the popularity of vegan eating and it’s a lot easier to eat out than it used to be.
- There is still the occasional hospitality dinosaur out there, where the only vegan thing on the menu is chips, but most restaurants will happily accommodate your needs, if you ask nicely.
- A good trick is to call ahead and ask about vegan options – then you can show up knowing there’ll be something you can eat, and you might even strike it lucky and have the chef whip you up something special!
- Remember that Indian restaurants are often a good bet – plant-based eating is widespread in this part of the world – but southeast Asian, Middle Eastern, Greek, Italian and Mexican restaurants often have good options too – though you may need to ask them to hold the cheese, sour cream, yoghurt or fish sauce.
- As the ad for a certain chocolate bar goes, ‘You’re not you when you’re hungry!’ Making good decisions is infinitely harder on an empty stomach. Make sure your pantry and fridge are well-stocked with (healthy) vegan snacks and get into the habit of carrying a few with you so you won’t be caught short and find yourself reaching for a non-vegan option because it’s the closest treat to hand (and mouth!). Try nuts, fruit and vegan protein balls, for a start.
Variety is the spice of life
- Many people who switch to a plant-based diet find that food suddenly gets more exciting, not less. A lifetime rotation of the same-old meat-based dinners is replaced by a brand-new playing field where the options are all fresh and exciting. But, if you do find yourself replacing your old set of meals with a new set that is equally limiting, it’s time to get creative!
- There are plenty of ideas online, as well as an ever-increasing number of vegan cookbooks.
- Using a plant-based delivery service like Green Dinner Table is a great way to get out of your comfort zone and try something new – with a professional chef coming up with the menu each week, there’s no way you’ll get bored!
- Cooking for non-vegans can rattle even the most committed plant-eater. After all, nobody wants to serve up a meal that goes uneaten. But this is your time to shine – who knows, you might just open their eyes to a new way of eating. There are some dishes that offer an easy transition from meat-based diets – familiar foods that can be given a vegan twist while still packing a flavour punch. Curries, stir-fries, pastas and, of course, tacos are all hugely popular, easy to make vegan, and offer so much flavour that no one will miss the meat.
Put these tips into practice and you’ll be well on your way to enjoying the benefits of plant-based eating in 2018! And remember it takes time to create new habits. So, if you do have an off day, don’t beat yourself up over one individual meal. Focus on the bigger picture: the new, healthier and kinder vegan habits you’re putting into place.