Shifting to new unfamiliar patterns in your diet can appear intimidating — but eating vegan or vegetarian is less challenging than most people imagine! You may miss your old favorites in the beginning but with great vegan substitutes, you will miss them less over time. New tastes and experiences will more than fill the voids you initially perceive.
There will be disappointments in your transition and steel yourself against them. A meat substitute you purchased may not satisfy your cravings or a tofu dish you made may not turn out exactly right — keep an open mind, however, and know that there are countless options for meat substitutes and certainly countless ways in which to prepare a tofu dish!
Avoid an all-or-nothing mindset because a gradual transition is more likely to keep you steady on your intended path. Sudden and unreasonably ambitious shifts are more likely to disappoint and demotivate. Recall that the perfect can be the enemy of the good; stay on the good path to reach the perfection you want!
A great way to begin your transition is to start with veganizing your familiar favorites. Begin with making small and easy substitutions and take the time you need to graduate to newer foods. Embrace convenience foods such as pasta with a jar of sauce or chili over rice — just add store-bought vegan sausage to the pasta or a crumbled veggie burger into the chili.
Have realistic expectations of the impact of your transition to a new diet; eating vegan is healthful, but do not expect miracles. Follow the tips on good health, while also allowing yourself occasional breaks with treats that are less than healthy. Avoid overly restrictive versions of vegan diets which are not necessarily more healthful and likely less practical.
You may not know anyone making the same dietary transition as you are. It is not hard to find a dietary mentor — many local and national animal organizations will match you with a vegan mentor who, besides assisting you in navigating through grocery stores and restaurant menus, can also provide much-needed psychological support and added motivation.
When you slip in your dietary goals, by accident or by a momentary lapse in motivation, be compassionate to yourself and understand that you are only human. Be analytical about it, identify and avoid the triggers that may have caused the lapse, and stay strong in your resolve to eat better — the longer you have done it, the easier it gets!
You may find yourself alone among friends and family as you make the transition to an unfamiliar diet — it can be tempting to slip. But, remind yourself always of the compelling motivation behind your choice to eat more vegan meals — your health depends on it, you will lighten your footprint on the planet and you will reduce the horror of animal suffering.