1. Ease Into It: One of my first mistakes, when I chose to go vegan, was to cut out all animal products at once. That worked for about two days before I began craving dairy and egg-based meals once again; the meat I actually didn’t miss at all. So I decided I would be vegetarian for a week to give myself a chance to mentally and physically prepare.
One of the most important things about easing into something like this—especially if you are making the choice for long-term—is that if you jump into it head first without really knowing what you are getting yourself into you will only be more discouraged when you fail.
This is usually the case for me. I find myself guilty of wanting to jump into things head first, too.
Part of it is not wanting to “waste” more time or to my ill-fated attempt at getting quicker “results,” both of which are nothing more than unnecessary negative thoughts. But I’m sure many of us know that sort of unfounded arrogance can lead us straight to a dead end. Besides, if you have waited this long it’s worth it to take your time because it is something you are most likely choosing for the rest of your life. During the easing in week that I was vegetarian, I took the time to do my research, which coincidentally is my next tip.
2. Research: Google has become one of my closest non-human friends. I truly commend those who have been vegetarian and vegan since before the age of technology, because it truly has made it enormously more achievable to change my lifestyle so drastically.
Pair online research of credible sources, newspapers, and articles with research of your local grocery stores that carry—or are most likely to carry—the products you are looking for. The best, and in my opinion only, way to keep track of everything so you have a chance at succeeding is to take notes...
3. Take Notes Continuously: A Pages or Notes section on your phone will become another best friend—I think you can have more than one, after all—or a handy pocket notebook and pen. Anything you keep or can keep with you at all times to write things down as you go along. Create lists upon lists upon lists: Vegan Foods, Local Restaurants, Vegan Beverage Lists; trust me these will come in handy down the road and also I’m sorry, but you simply cannot remember everything. After a while, you’ll learn to be vegan without needing to refer to the lists all the time, but it is always a great thing to have and add to. I find it can also work as a great motivator and having notes never hurt anybody, did it?
4. Continue To Educate Yourself: There is always something new to learn and in today’s day and age nobody can know everything. But with the world at our fingertips, we can thankfully stay up to date for the most part. While a vegan diet is not a new lifestyle idea, it has certainly begun to gain more recognition and praise in recent years. Finding out about the benefits of choosing a diet devoid of animal products is easier than ever and just another tool at your disposable to keep you an informed consumer.
A few of the many amazing benefits of being vegan on your own body include 1. Reduced intake of saturated fats, 2. Potassium (I’ve honestly eaten more bananas since going vegan than I ever have before), and 3. Healthy Skin (I’ve struggled with acne on my face and shoulders for several years and I noticed within the first 3 weeks of switching to a completely vegan diet that my face cleared up almost completely and my shoulders exponentially).
But avoiding animal products not only have positive effects on our bodies and animal lives; according to Mercy For Animals, a non-profit group advocating for animal rights, vegans: 1. Use less water, 2. Use less fossil fuel, 3. Have a reduced impact on climate change, and 4. Help save precious rainforests.
Overall, choosing plant-based products over meat and dairy, even just sometimes, has overwhelmingly positive effects on ourselves and our environment. Besides knowing you are truly doing something to make a difference in the world, this knowledge you carry with you will continue to inspire and validate your vegan lifestyle choice, especially in times where you may find yourself feeling overwhelmed or even doubtful.