Whether you make a New Year’s resolution or not, you’ve got to respect those who use the new year as an opportunity to make positive changes in their lives. Change is never easy and sometimes, the start of a new New Year is like a gunshot at the start of a marathon — it signals the start of giving it your all and rushing head-on towards a clear goal. Some vow to get into shape and take advantage of that January 1st gym membership special, others promise themselves that this is the year that they will devote more time to their hobbies, and some of us make changes in the way we eat. Specifically, many Americans are eating less meat and dairy.
While many folks go vegan overnight after learning the truth about the meat industry, for some, the transition is easier if they can achieve smaller goals along the way. Here are a few
Helpful tips for making your switch to a vegan lifestyle last a lifetime:
1. Have Vegan Days
Choose one or a few days a week to abstain from animal-derived foods. Then, slowly incorporate additional days into your routine.
2. Be Vegan Before 6 p.m. (VB6)
Eat vegan foods until 6 p.m. and then eat whatever you’d like for dinner (which can still be vegan, of course!). From there, continually add more and more vegan meals to your weekly routine.
3. Be Vegan at Home
Make all the meals you eat or prepare at home vegan, including the lunches that you make for work. When dining out, keep in mind that most restaurants have vegan options.
If you find that certain foods are hard to give up, find a substitution. There is a vegan version of every animal-derived food or ingredient. For example, eat Gardein’s “chicken” tenders instead of chicken nuggets. You won’t even be able to tell the difference. Or use nondairy butter (try Earth Balance) or coconut oil to replace butter. You can also get vegan lunch meat, bacon, and even mac ‘n’ cheese!
5. Try New Foods
Make a habit of trying new foods at every opportunity. If you set a goal of sampling a few new vegan foods each week, you’ll inevitably discover a ton of foods that you love. And they’ll begin to replace the animal-derived ones that are currently in your diet. Before long, anytime you get hungry, the first food that comes to mind will be vegan.
6. Join a Community
Cook for and with others, especially like-minded people who can support you. Join your school’s animal rights club, or start your own.
7. Educate Yourself
Knowledge is power. Share it with others. It’s easier to eliminate animal-derived foods when you realize that someone was killed for them and that they have a horrible impact on the environment and our health.
8. Visit Sanctuaries and Connect With Animals
Spending time with animals allows us to discover that cows, chickens, pigs, and goats are all intelligent, social beings who have unique personalities, just like the cats and dogs we share our homes with. Check out the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries and Sanctuaries.org to find a reputable sanctuary in your area. For a great way to help a sanctuary click here.
9. Stand by Your Beliefs
Not everyone else is going to agree with you. In fact, some people will think you’re screwing up big time. It’s OK to be different, especially when being different means that you’re saving animals! Don’t worry about what others have to say—you know you’re having a positive impact on animals, the Earth, and your health.
Dea is passionate about pursuing gentle, pure living in all its forms. She’s a veg and fruit foodie, who loves to explore the healing properties of plant-based foods and then fully indulge in their sun-filled taste. She believes that “In the end, only three things matter: how much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.”