In 2020 I made the resolution to go vegan by January 31st. It’s February 1st. How did I do?
Success! My cabinet is now completely vegan. I managed to use up everything non-vegan except for half a jar of $2.99 mayo. The mayo got tossed and the jar went into my container bin collection.
How am I doing on a vegan diet? Great! I’m just as energetic and healthy as ever. Since I was 95% vegetarian for several months going into the resolution, there wasn’t much change other than dropping eggs and dairy. This past week I haven’t felt any urges or cravings for meat, dairy or other animal products so I seem to be past the worst of the withdrawal. Basically I’m feeling really stoked by hitting this goal!
How This Was Possible
A lot of people tell me they could never go vegan. That it’s too hard or why would they ever want to? If what you’re eating works for you, it works for you. That’s an individual decision and having battled with various food cravings and withdrawal, I fully understand how daunting any food changes can be and how culture plays a huge part in not just our own food choices but also the availability and diversity of healthful food.
Then there are the addictive factors. Beyond giving up meat, cheese is a huge hurdle thanks to its casomorphines that bind to our opiate receptors, hooking us to this delightful food.
How was I able to give up cheese, make the transition to fully vegan and hit my goal? A few key principles were the secret to my success:
1. A good resolution. I set a definite goal with a specific date: Going vegan by January 31st. It was soonish but not so far away that I’d slack off and forget about it.
2. Good planning. I made a plan for going vegan, including thinking up and creating strategies to help encourage my progress while managing cravings and temptations. I used the pantry method to transition throughout the month, found and adopted new treats, recipes and drinks that I enjoyed to replace former favorite non-vegan snacks and dishes.
3. Plant-based roots. Rather than quitting cold turkey and making a radical diet change from processed foods carnivore to whole foods vegan, I built off a journey of healthy, whole food-based eating that had grown steadily more vegetarian since November 2017. Basically my journey over 2 years was: processed foods carnivore -> whole foods carnivore -> whole foods pescatarian -> 95% whole foods vegetarian -> vegan.
4. Right mindset. My mindset was that I would jump any hurdle, problem-solve any roadblock in meeting my resolution. I also thought of myself as vegan, not vegan to be. Mindset is key. Framing my life and expectations this way gave me energy, determination and faith in myself to see it through. Additionally, my mindset was to focus on all the new foods I now had time to eat and try, how many new recipes I could discover – rather than focus on what I was “giving up” or “couldn’t have”. The first set of thoughts are empowering and supportive. The second set are overwhelming, depressive and like a punishment – they wouldn’t get me anywhere.
5. Strong why. I had strong, personally meaningful health, ethical and spiritual reasons to motivate me and underpin my willpower in moments of weakness.
- I’m a deep believer in real food as the basis of real health – mental, emotional and physical. Real food is my lifestyle already and I love deepening that way of living. Processed food equates to poison in my mind.
- As Gandhi said, be the change you want to see. I’m tired of cultural practices that produce so much food waste, treat animals horrifically and lead to so much pollution and destruction. Going vegan is my way of taking responsibility for and ending some of my own contributions to the world’s problems. My money and support has better places to go.
- I now see animals as friends and cohabitants on this beautiful planet. I don’t want to eat my friends! I want them to thrive, have happy lives and a pain free existence. If I can contribute to that in any way, even if it means refraining from using and eating animal products, I’m happy to do so.
These reasons provided a strong why for going vegan and keep me motivated even now. If you are already vegan or decide to go vegan, your reasons may or may not be the same.
For me, food is a journey back to myself but also a way to connect to the world. We are chemical beings and what we eat matters. I love my foods and all the health and energy they bring me but I love too knowing that what I consume isn’t causing harm.
If you’re interested in going vegan but not sure about it, why not take the 7 Day Vegan Challenge or The 7 Day Vegetarian Challenge? You’ll learn methods and recipes to help you each day finish the challenge strong.
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