6 Tips for a Plant-Based Eating New-Year’s Resolution
The New Year is right around the corner, and it’s the perfect time to get a fresh start on our goals, setting intentions and inculcating new, healthy habits that will enhance our lives.
Most resolutions are geared towards improving and enhancing our physical, mental, and spiritual well being. This is why gym memberships and subscriptions to yoga centres soar through the roof during this time.
But one of the most effective ways to bring positive change into your body and mind is by reviewing your diet and eating your way to better health. And switching to a plant-based diet can create a lasting positive change in your life; a choice that will benefit your health, the animals, and the fate of the planet at large.
Of course, making this change isn’t easy, and many of you may be reluctant to try, out of fear that you may slip up and return to your old eating patterns. And if you’re afraid of trying a plant-based diet, you’re not alone.
Vegan diets are becoming more popular today as the world sees the potential health and environmental benefits involved. But it can be difficult to stick with the diet, and most people find themselves returning to animal products in just a month or two after deciding to make the switch.
Well, if you’re hoping to make this a more lasting change in your life, here are a few tips to help you out.
- Find the Initial Motivation
When you first decide to go vegan, it helps to identify your motivation for doing so, as there are usually several reasons involved.
If you’re looking to lose weight or eliminate pre-existing health conditions, it helps to do a bit of research on the negative effects of consuming meat and dairy.
On the other hand, if you’re going vegan to end your role in animal suffering, learning about animal industries, like the meat, dairy, and egg industry, will give you a better understanding of the harm caused by your consumption patterns. This alone can be a powerful motivator.
Alternatively, you may have considered going vegan for the environment and learning about how the animal industry contributes to global warming, deforestation, and species extinction will give you more reason to make the change.
Eventually, you will be motivated by multiple reasons, as going vegan affects all these aspects of life. But to start off, identify a reason that speaks to you the most and learn as much as you can.
- Take Your Time
There’s no reason to wake up on January 1st and be 100% vegan all of a sudden. Some of us have been consuming animal products for the better part of our lives, and switching all of a sudden can be difficult, if not impossible. So figure out a way to slowly eliminate animal products from your life.
For some this may mean cutting out certain meats like pork and beef in January, then progressing to chicken and fish in Feb, and finally eliminating dairy and eggs by the end of March. And finally, products like honey and gelatin, which can be easily replaced.
For others, this may mean being vegan three days of the week, or only upto a certain time each day.
Take your time and push your boundaries when you’re comfortable so the change feels organic and not forced. Each of us needs to figure out our own time frame and move towards it with patience and awareness.
- Get Educated
This goes hand in hand with the first point, as learning about a vegan diet and its benefits can help you stick with it in the long run.
For example, if you’re struggling with cutting out dairy, don’t force yourself to stop. Instead, do some in-depth research about the dairy industry and the horrors it conceals from its consumers.
Learn about the addictive substance casein (found in milk) which makes it difficult to let go of cheese. Read material on how consumption of milk can trigger type 2 diabetes and even cause osteoporosis.
Being educated about your new lifestyle will make it easier for you to stick with it and harder to return to an animal-based diet.
- Replace Your Nutrition
Perhaps the biggest mistake new vegans make is the act of simply cutting out all animal products from their diet. This leaves them with little to eat, especially when a large portion of their diet consisted primarily of animal products.
So perhaps you can start by giving up red or white meat and replace it with plant-based sources of protein, like chickpea or quinoa. Or if you’re planning to give up dairy first, replace it with plant-based milk sources and stick with this change for a while before giving up something else.
Remember, that while a vegan diet may be healthier, it takes a while for your gut bacteria and taste buds to adjust to the new foods in your diet. This involves an overhaul of your physiological state, so give your body the time it needs; being patient and making small changes is the easiest way to stick to the new diet.
- Get Support
When you first decide to go vegan, it can be a difficult and lonely journey. Especially when you’re doing it without a spouse, partner, or friend to accompany you.
And sometimes, there’s a lot of judgement and questioning that comes with it, especially from people who care about you the most.
The unsolicited advice and constant queries about your new lifestyle can be downright depressing at times, and it’s important to seek support from people who share the same values and are on the same journey.
Luckily, nearly every city has a local vegan community who will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have and reaffirm your choice to go vegan. Reach out to them so you feel understood, and you may even end up making a few great friends in the process.
- Delve Deeper Into The Ethical Side
While the benefits to the health and environment are numerous, most people will try and refute or dispel these claims, explaining them away with examples. You’ll also find plenty of healthy (at least outwardly) and environmentally-conscious non-vegans who may challenge your beliefs.
However, one facet of veganism that is practically impossible to justify is the cruelty aspect and the pain and suffering that industrialised animals endure on a daily basis.
If you ever feel like you’re wavering in the face of strong opposition, or that it’s difficult to give up certain animal products, remind yourself of the ethical aspect of that particular industry and the horrors faced by the animals involved.
It’s much easier to stay away from something knowing that the alternative is to directly consent to causing harm to an innocent being. Yes, it can be difficult to remind yourself that an animal is suffering every time you eat meat or drink a glass of milk, but at least it brings more awareness into your life and gives you a cause to stand for.
Yes, It’s Hard
While these tips can go a long way to reinforcing your habits and keep you on a plant-based diet, it can still be extremely difficult to stay vegan.
And what makes it harder is the fact that other vegans can be ruthless with those who aren’t able to stay 100% vegan all the time.
To make the transition easier, remind yourself that this is your journey and while others may sympathise, no one can truly experience it the way you do.
Constantly reminding yourself why you’re vegan and how your choices contribute to a healthier, more ethical world will give you a stronger sense of purpose and it’s sure to make the journey a lot easier.
In fact, this journey can teach you a lot about yourself, and how to stay centered and aware even when your closest friends and family are against your choices. And this knowledge will impact every other aspect of your life in a positive way.
So good luck, and here’s to a happy, vegan New Year!