As most of you may or may not know, I became vegan exactly one year ago now as I participated in The Great Vegan University Challenge organised by Animal Aid. I was vegetarian before but switched to a 100% vegan diet in February of 2016 as part of this challenge. It is similar to Veganuary but takes place in February and is organised for students all across the UK. After being vegan for one month I decided to keep it up as that was what I had wanted to do since deciding to become vegetarian and to my surprise, the switch was much easier than I had originally expected.
Although becoming vegan is one of the best decisions that I have ever made and I am currently the healthiest that I have ever been, after one year I have come across a few struggles and there were moments when I lost my motivation. This is a lifestyle after all, and you have to be passionate about it to stay happy about it. So here are a few tips to help you stay in love with this amazing lifestyle!
There are new researches coming out every single day on the benefits of a plant based diet, the terrible consequences of the meat and dairy industry on global warming, and most importantly on the changes that are happening right now thanks to the rise of people choosing veganism. There are so many documentaries out there and new ones being made all the time. To stay passionate, you have to stay educated. You have to remind yourself every so often why you chose this and why you want to keep choosing this every single day.
Don’t say that you can’t, but that you won’t (normalise veganism).
When I first became vegan and people would offer me non-vegan foods I’d say “no thanks, I can’t eat that”. Truth is, I can eat it, I just choose not to. This may seem simple but just choosing your words more carefully and saying “I won’t eat that” instead of “I can’t eat that” helps you and others have a more positive mindset on your choices. Saying can’t is first of all is a lie, but also has a negative connotation and makes it seem like you’re restricting when you really aren’t. Saying won’t makes it obvious that this is your choice and that you are comfortable with that choice, which will make other people normalise it as well.
Never stop trying new recipes or restaurants.
If you are lucky enough to live in a vegan-friendly city, you will realise that new vegan places open every few months and that more and more chain restaurants are offering vegan dishes. Go and check them out! Also, do not forget to look up vegan recipes or buy new vegan cookbooks. To be vegan is to love food and to love cooking, you have to enjoy trying out new foods and places to stay excited about veganism.
Go to vegan events, volunteer at information stalls, meet people with the same interests.
Stay active in this community! Vegan festivals are happening every year all over the world, go to one and try new foods and meet new people. Go to talks, join vegan Facebook groups, volunteer, educate yourself on vegan organisations in your area, etc. Feeling a part of this community will definitely help you stay motivated about it. You could also even try activism!
Don’t beat yourself up on the days that you are not 100% vegan.
Do not restrict yourself, I repeat, do not restrict yourself. Restricting makes you unhappy, and we don’t want that. When veganism starts feeling like a restriction instead of a choice, then you have to change something. I am passionate about this lifestyle but I won’t lie, this past year there have been some days where I went back to being a vegetarian. Family parties are an example, at a marriage last summer and this Christmas I have eaten vegetarian simply because there were no vegan options and I had not prepared anything in advance. One of the first parties I went to I forced myself to only eat vegan and the consequence was that I basically starved myself all night, got a little too drunk as I was drinking the same amount of wine as everyone else, and I had a miserable time. So I told myself, fuck it, I can make this exception once or twice a year. Of course I do my best to eat vegan all the time, but I try not to beat myself up if I don’t.
Stay informed on nutrition.
This is so important. To thrive on a plant based diet you have to know how much of what you need on a daily basis. Most ‘unsuccessful vegan stories’ are because the person in question was not informed on nutrition, they simply cut out animal products which is the unhealthiest thing you can do. You have to replace them, you have to know how to get your daily amount of protein, calcium, potassium, vitamins, iron, omega 3, and so on. Also don’t forget to take a vitamin B12 supplement as that it the only vitamin that does not exist in the plant kingdom. Meet up with a nutritionist and get your blood tested about twice a year. Be aware of your body, what it needs, and most importantly how to take care of it.
Remember, veganism is not only about food.
Most of these tips are based on food but veganism is so much more than that. It is about being against any type of cruelty towards animals. This is probably the most difficult transition to make; replacing your household products, beauty products, and clothes to vegan alternatives. Also not going to zoos, aquariums, or anything else that is using (and hurting) animals for humans entertainment. Staying educated on animal rights and cruelty-free products is important to feel good with your lifestyle choice. However, know that it is almost impossible to be 100% vegan in that regard as we live in a world where most things contain animal products. Anyhow, making an effort to find vegan alternatives and staying educated already goes a long way.
Here’s a nice article I just found today on the progress of veganism, check it out!
Vegan Festival 2015
Vegan Festival 2016
Loving hut Leuven