6 Tips To Help Beginners THRIVE In Veganuary
I think it is safe to say that "January" is officially renamed in the minds of all vegans to "Veganuary".
Now, you may hear some vegan police giving it hate, as they do for Meatless Monday, because it's not "perfect enough" for their standards.
But look, do NOT let those comments discourage you. The fact is, true vegans who have compassion for ALL, know that Veganuary is a step in the right direction for many!
And that is what it is meant to be. It's a chance for everyone to feel ok to learn through the process and to experiment!
And of course, the goal is to make it stick as a life-long change, but those who are new to the lifestyle and willing to give Veganuary a try will need encouragement, support, and assistance from those of us who've been at it a while in order to be successful enough that they do stick to it!
So here are some tips for all of you courageous, open-minded beginners who want to give Veganuary a solid effort!
Ditch the perfectionism!
This is a learning process. You want to be better on January 31 than you were on January 1. Do not expect to learn everything you need to know before January 1 and then do everything perfectly from then forward. That perfectionist mindset serves no one and only sets you up for beating yourself up when you make mistakes for things you just didn't have the knowledge about yet.
No one has any right to judge you if you are trying. This is a perfect time to get involved in GOOD vegan communities and learn from them, not a time to win "vegan of the year".
Travel Your Own Path.
Find the path that works for YOU and fits your lifestyle. Some people are successful by going from omnivore, to pescetarian, to vegetarian, then to vegan over time. Some people are successful by switching to 1 vegan meal per day at a time and then gradually 2…and 3….etc. until they've removed all animal products.
We talk about some of these different paths in more depth in our Plant-Based Beginner's Guide.
There is no RIGHT way to do it. The right way is the one that makes a lasting stick for YOU! Find your groove and roll with it!
Be Kind to Yourself.
This goes with #1. EVERYONE makes mistakes. It is bound to happen at some time or another, so don't beat yourself up over it when it happens and don't think "you're not vegan anymore" or that you've failed and now you're just a lie and other vegans will condemn and crucify you for it!
It might be that you eat something out at a restaurant honestly thinking it was vegan, and then later finding out you were misguided. I did this myself at a coffee shop when the barista assured me there were no dairy products in the drink I was asking about as long as I subbed the milk for nut milk. I even asked to read the syrup labels - all clear! On another day, another barista informed me that they do have a powdered mix that also goes into those drinks that does include a small amount of milk powder, or at least that's what she was told (there's no ingredients list on this brand-specific package they receive). I still don't know for sure, but I never order that drink anymore just in case.
Or maybe you always buy certain known vegan products from a particular brand and then one day pick up a new product from that brand without reading the label - just assuming out of habit that they are all vegan - and then there happens to be beef broth in it, or gelatin, or casein - something that doesn't need to be in there, but yet, there it is.
You haven't ruined your "vegan streak" and yes, you can still call yourself a vegan. Veganism isn't about being perfect it's about doing your honest best to the best of your knowledge and doing the least amount of harm possible. Just chalk it up as another lesson learned, another notch in your faux leather belt, and another good tip that you can pass on to others!
Create routines to simplify so you have less decisions to make
and less thinking to do.
The more decisions you have to make, the more likely you are to struggle or make wrong decisions eventually. So don't think you have to create totally new, gourmet meals for every meal of every day.
Find go-to recipes for certain meals or snacks and keep them in a handy list. Rotate them in and out of your meal plans.
One of my favorite sections in our Plant-Based Beginner's Guide is the "Fundamental Starter Recipes". This section names 7 categories or meal types that you can use as your "staples" to make life easier and help you create routines for success. It even provides a recipe for each category to get you started! As you find other recipes that suite your tastes/schedule/lifestyle make a note of it and add it to its category of your Staple or "Go-To" Meals.
Don't try to force yourself to eat things you don't like -
start with what you do like!
Not necessarily thrilled at the idea of eating tofu for every meal? That's ok, but I bet you love burritos and pizza! I mean, who doesn't?!
Start there and learn how to make those favorite foods without animal products. That way you're enjoying the food. Over time, you'll find your taste buds and food preferences will change, and then you'll be much more open to trying some of the more unfamiliar foods like tofu or tempeh. ;)
I can't stress this enough, because if you're like most of us - you don't have a huge number of vegans in your family, friend circle, or neighborhood.
But the internet gives us the ability to connect with like-minded vegans all over the world!
But words of advice - be careful where you go! When we first became vegan, we were appalled at some of the nonsense and negativity in some "vegan" groups.
That's why we created our own group called Plant Strong Fitness, that currently has over 10,000 members in just 2 years of existence!
We qualify every single person who asks to join so there is no spam or "keyboard warriors" and remove anyone at the first sign of negativity or hurtful comments. That attitude is strictly not allowed in our friendly group. We are here only to help and uplift each other!
So Congratulations on your commitment to Veganuary! Let us know if there is anything we can do to help you!
Remember, beyond this blog, the first 2 places to start are:
Join our totally free Plant Strong Fitness group.
Pick up our Plant-Based Beginner's Guide - the regular price is $97 BUT we're offering it during January for only $20.17 to better serve all of our Veganuary friends! Use code "2017" at checkout to get the discount.
Happy Veganuary! :)