The idea of going vegan seems absurd to many, but even for those considering the diet or lifestyle, the thought can be overwhelming. Choosing veganism as a lifestyle for a short time or a lifetime, is a decision that takes deliberate thought and planning. Here you’ll find a few tips on how to successfully start and maintain a vegan diet.
Define why you want to be try veganism.
Is it for dietary reasons? Are you doing it for the animals? The environment? All over the above? Dig deep. The more clarity you have on this one the better.
If you want to take it a step farther, save it in the notes section of your phone so you can refer back to it when temptation arises. This will help you stay committed and consistent.
Decide how much food you can realistically cook/ prepare.
On a given week will you be able to cook every night? Will you have to cook different types of meals or modified meals for the non-vegans you normally cook for? Can you use a day to meal prep for some of all of the week?
Depending on where you live and how closely you are located to grocery stores and restaurants that cater to your new diet will make all the difference. When I first decided to try a vegan diet, my office was just 3 blocks away from a Whole Foods. In hindsight, that made my life a heck of a lot easier. Between the large selection of vegan friendly groceries and a prepared food bar that had a ton of great options, I was set up for success.
If you’re not quite as lucky, you’ll have to spend even more time cooking. Let’s be honest, most menus are not catered towards vegans and the veggie friendly options don’t always taste the best. I’d say, 80% of the time you’ll be able to make better tasting vegan food at home.
Plan your meals.
Unless you’re like me and really enjoy trying new food consistently (literally every day) I think it’s best to look through some of your favorite recipe blogs (like this one!) and cookbooks, then choose which meals you’d like to make for the week. This will help save you time, money and frustration throughout this entire process.
Define go-to items on restaurant menus you’ll be able to enjoy when eating out.
It’s obvious, some restaurants are more vegan friendly than others. You’re going to want to be more critical about what restaurants you frequent. In time, finding vegan options on any menu will become second nature, but in the meantime you may want to try more restaurants that cater to Asian, Middle Eastern, and some African cuisines. You’ll oftenfind an abundance of vegan friendly dishes at these restaurants.
If you do not have access to these specialty restaurants, you can always ask for accommodations. Most establishments will do what they can to cater to this (or any) diet. No matter where you go, the foolproof vegan meal on almost every menu are fries and a salad.
Tell no one!
Okay, you may have to tell a few people. Your spouse, children, and people in your care that will be affected by your diet should know about it. With that in mind, everyone is going to have an opinion about your diet. It might get politicized. Some may question your health. Other may snark that you won’t be able to maintain the diet. The list goes on. Some of the most well meaning people can make a comment that leaves you feeling hurt or questioning your own motives. Don’t let that happen.
Look- you don’t need that type of negativity and judgment in your life. Just don’t bring it up.
Go easy on yourself. It’s going to be a more difficult transition for some than others. Some meals aren’t going to turn out well, you may deal with cravings and much more. The best advice I received when beginning this diet was, above all else, make sure you’re eating enough food. Don’t starve yourself. Eating some meat and cheese at the beginning shouldn’t make you feel bad. It’s all a learning process and it should be enjoyable.