When people go vegan it can sometimes feel like you’ve taken all of your favorite recipes and put them in a box. You’ve filled that box up with all of the recipes and food choices you’ve made your entire life. All of your favorite family recipes- the chicken noodle soup, the holiday meals, comfort foods, snack foods- everything is in the box. Now dump the box out, get rid of all of the animal products.  What are you left with?  Most people have this feeling of the empty box when they go vegan.  You’re not sure what to make when you need a quick lunch, not sure what snacks to bring, how to read labels, or really where to start.

It doesn’t have to be that daunting. You can be vegan in an easy way with a little bit of planning and preparation. Below are my best tips for new vegans.

Meal Plan

You never want to be left hungry, especially in the first few weeks of making the change. Find recipes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner- you don’t have to be a chef just pick a few things to make. Don’t forget snacks! Most likely you’re used to grabbing whatever you ‘normally’ eat.  With the new change you’re going to have to plan for some new meals. Don’t wait till the last minute to plan, you may end up giving in to old habits. Planning in advance lets you relax because you’re covered when hunger strikes. Eventually you won’t need to plan each meal because you’ll develop a new ‘normal’, and fill your recipe box back up, but at the beginning this is mandatory

Research, Research, Research

Watch all the documentaries you can, start reading books about veganism, animal cruelty, factory farms, etc. Find out what’s really happening. The biggest reason for staying vegan in the long term is having the education on WHY you’re making this change, WHY what you’re eating/purchasing/wearing matters, and WHY every little choice makes a difference. Forks over Knives, Cowspiracy, and Speciesism are great places to start.

Don’t Go Hungry

One of the biggest mistakes people make is not eating enough. Plants are much less calorie dense than animal foods. Eating the same amount of plant foods as you were animal products can leave you in a severe calorie deficient. This leads to people feeling weak and very challenged by a vegan ‘diet’. Pack your plate with satiating foods like legumes (beans, lentils, soy), potatoes (sweet and regular), rice or quinoa. Snack on things like nuts, avocados, seeds, dried fruit, etc. Eat enough to curb those temptations of adding back in animal products and keep your body fueled for the day.

Don’t Feel like You Need to Answer Everyone’s Questions

If your family and friends are pelting you with questions don’t feel like a failure if you can’t think of something informational, witty, or smart right away. You’re trying to make a change and/or challenge yourself, you don’t need to have all the answers right away. You can even keep this new change mostly to yourself until you’re ready to answer peoples questions. If you’re ready to share take it as an opportunity to dive deeper into your research, or to explain how important this change is to you.

Remember to Have Fun With It

Just because you’re vegan doesn’t mean you have to eat salad and celery all day.  You can make vegan nachos, or queso. You can still participate and go out to eat with friends. Try out new foods and new restaurants, most ‘ethnic’ restaurants have vegan options. Think Mexican, Indian, Mediterranean. Visit a farmers market or a grocery store you’ve never been before. It’s not about restrictions, its about a positive impact on your body, our earth, and the animals.  There are plenty of fun foods for vegans (have you heard of banana ice cream?)

Going vegan can be challenging if you don’t have a plan, but with a few simple steps you can knock out those first few weeks like a pro. This week’s Live Planted Podcast was all about how to actually accomplish new years resolutions and goals. The podcast discusses strategies for more easily completing your goals. Going vegan is an awesome new years resolution to set, so hopefully the above tips and the podcast help you more easily make the transition.

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