Here are a few tips I have learned through trial and error and expert advice. These tips are meant to serve as a helpful guide for those wanting to take the plunge and committing to becoming exclusively Vegan.
1. Don’t Let Weight Loss Be Your Only Incentive
Although weight loss can be great motivation to switch to a Vegan diet, it should not be the sole reason for making the dietary change. There is no longevity unless maintenance is a part of the equation. Once the weight is gone, then what? Go back to your old omnivore habits? Think about what else you gained from the change. Maybe you appreciate how much more energy you have. Maybe becoming a Vegan makes you feel like you’re contributing to the preservation of the environment or your compassion for the well-being of animals is well represented. What ever your reasons, make sure they have sustainability because they’ll keep you motivated.
2. Keep the P’s Well-Stocked (your pantry and your purse)
The Pantry: This is key, especially if you live with meat and dairy eaters. We’ve all been there – – you’re starving one late night and overdue for grocery shopping. You open the fridge and the cheese is staring at you. Instead of giving in to Sargento and his friends, keep frozen veggie burgers or burritos (Amy’s are lovely) in the freezer. Canned veggies/beans that can top a quick-cooking rice or tomato, vegetable or lentil soups are great when you need a hunger fix. Always check your stock levels, too. When in doubt, click here and check out my Pantry Staples section.
The Purse: You never know when you’re going to be stuck in traffic, at an event void of Vegan nutrition, or you simply forgot to eat something because you were too busy to notice. In order to keep the hunger pangs at bay, my purse stash includes things like pistachios, almonds, Kind Bars, snack size raisins, peanuts, or mini bags of pretzels. My kids eat my purse snacks as much as I do, so pack a few to share, you trendsetter. And yes, your purse might have to grow in size.
3. Side Dishes and Appetizers are Our Friends
When all else fails and there is nothing in the form of an entrée on that restaurant menu, look at the side dish and appetizer selection. You can make a smorgasbord out of them. Be sure to ask if they cook their veggies in animal fat.
4. Try a New Food Every Week or Two (Variety Is Key)
This is just plain fun. There are so many things I probably would not have tried and so many more things I still have to explore while transitioning. Adding variety not only motivates you, it keeps the spice in your sexy Vegan life. I’d never had a sprig of kale, tofu, beet greens, chia/flax seeds, pistachios, or barley before this dietary change. Now they’re frequent guests in my house. I have yet to try all of the grain varieties on the market.
5. When in Doubt, Keep it Simple
When you’re tired, when time is an issue, when you’re sick of chopping vegetables or simply when you don’t feel like dealing with the cleanup, throw some veggies (the kind that steam in the bag) in the microwave and pour it over leftover rice or a baked potato. No chopping involved and you only have to clean your plate. You can also click here to visit my 30 Quick Meal Ideas section and call it a day!
6. Have a “Go To” For Motivation
When you feel like you’re on the brink of giving up or you’re doubting your decision to take charge of your health because your husband’s Sunday football game invokes his need to fill the house with the scent of hot wings, step back and remember why you chose to do it in the first place, read the motivating book that got you started, pull out that new plant-based recipe you’ve been dying to try, visit your favorite Vegan-friendly blog (like this one, silly) or watch that eye-opening documentary about how meat is processed. I have an arsenal of motivation and I’m always rotating it to re-focus. I won’t lie, sometimes it doesn’t work (Sargento prevails), but 98% of the time, it does.
7. Accept the Slip-ups as Human (and enjoy every bite of that slip up for heaven’s sake)
This one is self-explanatory. Don’t sulk, get back up, dust yourself off and push “play.” Good grief… don’t be too hard on yourself.
8. It’s Okay to “ease in”
It’s difficult to go “cold turkey” with any habit. While some habits require it for success, becoming Vegan shouldn’t be one of them. I’m a prime example of moving at a turtle’s pace. If you have to do it by eliminating a meat and dairy option one at a time, so be it. It’s a triathlon, not a 400-race, so chill-lax, click here and check out my 8-Week Transition Challenge for transitioning.
9. Read the Label, then Read it Again
You’d be amazed how many sneaky, covert non-Vegan ingredients are disguised in the wording of food labels. Click here to see my list of those pesky villains in my Cloak n’ Dagger Ingredients section (coming soon). I am constantly Googling ingredients in the middle of the super market. When all else fails, pick foods with recognizable, simple ingredients. We should all be doing this anyway, right?
10. Know Your Triggers/Sabotagers
These are the events, situations and people in your life that unknowingly test your commitment. I have several – my kids, my mom, alcohol, and sleep deprivation to name a few. I go into more detail about my top triggers/sabotagers and how I deal with each of them in future posts. To see the whole kit n’ caboodle, click here and check out my 15 Sabotagers/Triggers section.
11. Don’t Go Crazy: Vegan is not a License to be The Klumps
Just because you’ve eliminated meat and dairy from your diet does not mean you can go hog wild on Vegan food. It’s not the magic bullet for weight-loss. It helps, but a calorie is still a calorie. There are fat Vegans – no lie. Don’t be one of them.
12. Be Happy and Take it One Meal at a Time