Veganuary is coming to an end, and you've been trying all the foods and reading all the blogs about the why's and how's, and now you're thinking about staying vegan. If that sounds like you, then this blog can help.
Staying vegan in a non-vegan world can undoubtedly have its challenges. When the special offers and limited-time editions are gone, it's time to hone in on the practicalities of being vegan and staying vegan.
Here are our top tips on continuing your Veganuary journey into February and, hopefully, way beyond.
Find Your Why
There are three main reasons people have for going vegan or plant-based, and all are equally valuable reasons for starting your vegan journey:
To protect animals and reduce or eliminate animal suffering.
To reduce the impact of animal agriculture on the planet, e.g. climate change, deforestation, water pollution, wildlife decimation.
To improve their health and the health of others around them.
Most people start being vegan for only one of these reasons, but most end up staying vegan for all three of them. Learning as much as you can about all of these areas can help your commitment to the diet and lifestyle that comes with choosing to be vegan.
When you start researching these topics, you'll usually find that one in particular calls to you and motivates you to stick to your choice. There is so much research and data online. An excellent place to start looking is the Veganuary or Vegan Society websites. They are well researched and stick to the facts. There are great books out there, too, like Ed Winter's 'This Is Vegan Propaganda' or BOSH! ‘How To Live Vegan’.
Finding your own 'why' and getting informed about it is a powerful motivation.
Find Community And Like Minded People
Finding local vegan groups and vegan friends can be an incredibly supportive step in sticking with your Veganuary choice.
Although veganism has risen in popularity in the last few years, you're still likely to find yourself in the minority; for instance, you might find yourself the only vegan at a steak restaurant or a family gathering. And you are going to hear a lot of questions and maybe even a bit of ridicule about your decision.
Those things are a lot easier to handle when you know you've got friends, or even a community, to turn to. Where you can talk about vegan issues, learn from long-term vegans and let off steam about your experiences.
Try looking for local groups on Facebook or Meet Up, or just search online for your nearest meeting. If you can't find one where you can meet locally in person, there are many online groups too.
Surround Yourself With Swaps
There are so many different plant milks, plant-based sausages, burgers, meat substitutes, spreads, yoghurt etc. etc. available. But, just like any ordinary meat or dairy food, you won't like all of them.
So it's beneficial to try many different brands and types and find one that you like. Having meat substitutes that you can just swap out in your regular meal is convenient and comfortable, especially if you are still cooking for others.
And finding a plant milk you love in your coffee or tea is important too (oat milk seems to do it for most people).
Be willing to experiment and try new and different things. And give it a little time to find your perfect swap.
Take Away Temptation
If you live alone or have supportive family/housemates living with you, a helpful thing to do is remove temptation from your cupboards and fridge/freezer.
Clear your cupboards of tempting treats like chocolate, cakes or sweets - if you've found your swaps, you can put them in place instead.
Avoid going to restaurants or having takeaway from places where you know there are no vegan options. Give yourself some time and distance between the foods that tempt you to compromise on your choice.
Remember Your Tastes And Cravings Will Change
Did you know that you can actually retrain your taste buds? Your taste bud cells are constantly renewing, and their average lifespan is about ten days. You can retrain your brain to like certain tastes by eating them more frequently.
If you're struggling to transition to a plant-based diet because you don't like the way it tastes, try just eating it exclusively for two weeks, you might not love it at first, but the research shows that the longer you eat it, the more you'll like it.
Another top tip, especially with vegan cheese, if you don't like it at first, try having no cheese, vegan or otherwise, for a month, then try it again - you may very well find that you miraculously like it. Your tastes and cravings are actually fluid and can and will change.
Fill Your Feed With Inspo
Eating vegan will be hard if what you see all day are tasty looking non-vegan meals. You’ll end up craving food you “can’t” have and may even grow resentful of your vegan diet. Instead, fill your feed with vegan inspo and find some mouth-watering plant-based meals instead.
Possibly the most crucial tip for going vegan - forgive yourself when you slip up.
Eating vegan is centered on compassion, and it's essential to extend that compassion to yourself. If you have a slip-up, whether you just couldn't resist that cheese or you accidentally ate something with egg in it and found out afterwards, forgive yourself. You haven't failed, you're doing your best, and there's always the next moment to get back on track again.
Learn to forgive yourself for any slip up you make, even if it's more than once, and just carry on. Celebrate and enjoy your vegan journey, don't make it a cause to beat yourself up.
Don’t Think Too Far Ahead
It’s important not to put any pressure on yourself to do be vegan for everyday for the rest of your entire life, it may feel very overwhelming and, if you slip up you, can often feel like you can’t go back.
If you simply take each day as it comes, it will feel much easier to continue, and before you know it you’ll have achieved another month! Like with any life change, from giving up smoking to stopping eating meat, this is a key tip.
Take things at your own pace and remember that being vegan is about making healthy, compassionate choices for the animals, the planet and yourself.
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Vegan diets have been linked to a range of health and environmental benefits. Want to get involved, or already taking part? In this article, we share our top Veganuary tips to help you master going vegan.