You Made The Vegan Commitment! Now What?
So, you want to be a vegan? Wow! You are making one of the most important decisions you will ever make in your life. This ranks right up there with committing to running your first marathon, choosing your life partner, or buying your first home. Yes! It really is that big of a deal!
Before we get started, let’s cover a couple very important bases. I get these two questions all the time regarding living a vegan lifestyle. Let’s just get these out-of-the-way so there are no distractions:
“Should I become a dietary vegan or an ethical vegan?”
Militant vegans make a big deal about your intention to live a vegan lifestyle. In fact, in some camps, if you do not become vegan for ethical reasons first, you are advised never to become vegan at all. The problem with that approach is simply this: When we attempt to control another person’s beliefs to support our own cause, membership to that cause eventually declines.
Ethics is an internal process, developed over time as we gather new information and resolve cognitive dissonance. Frankly, it does not matter why you are becoming vegan.
“Is it all beans and rice?”
Actually….YES! (just kidding!). I first started dabbling in vegan ideas when I attended the University of Idaho in the early 90’s. The school had a thriving hippie vegan culture deep in lentil country. At the time, you had to be very creative when developing a meal plan. However, today there simply is no reason at all to consume dairy or meat. Dairy and meat substitutes are in every grocery store. Vegan restaurants are popping up all over the place! I love beans and rice, especially lentils! But if that is not your first choice for something delish, you will have no problem finding stuff to eat!
Four Easy Steps to Becoming Vegan
Step 1: Start with Today
You decided that today is the day you want to adopt a vegan lifestyle. And guess what!? The reasons don’t matter! You are vegan! There is no christening, baptism, or communion! You just have to start walking the walk. Today is the first day of a long, healthy, peaceful, and respectful approach to living. Congrats! For today, simply start thinking about the amazing benefits of the lifelong experience you have just committed to, the people you are going to meet, and the gift of feeling connected to everything that is living.
Step 2: List all the Foods You Love and Look for Vegan Alternatives
When I first made the full commitment to a vegan lifestyle, the one dish I dreaded not being able to eat was potato salad. I LOVE potato salad, especially when made with red potatoes, gourmet mustard, and black olives! mmmmmmmm DELISH!
I decided that the best approach was the make a vegan version and see what happens. In the end, I think that I have finally created a vegan potato salad far better than the dairy version I ate before. However, it did take a few attempts to get it right. That is the trick in the end. I think Yummly is the best place to go. If you filter for vegan dishes and do a search for “potato salad,” you will find an overwhelming list of options. Do this for any dish you love. Look hard enough, and you will even find vegan versions of “butter chicken” curry.
Step 3: Get Involved in a Vegan Support Network
You will need support, regardless of how independently minded you are. Connecting to others helps us through the darker times when commitment wains. Your new-found friends will also have amazing food ideas the get you pumped. If you are an extrovert, it is not difficult to find vegan meet-up groups out and about. If you are more like myself, the online option is the best. Do a search in Facebook Groups. There are vegan groups for activists, the LGBT community, runners, weight lifters, inmates (?), you name it!
Step 4: Celebrate Landmarks
Hey! You are vegan! Every day is a celebration for yourself, and the impact your decision has had on countless lives and the planet. This decision carries impact. You deserve to treat yourself! Celebrate junctures while on your journey. Make a big deal of your one month, six month, and one year vegan anniversary. Be sure to tell everyone! If they sneer, who cares. You are amazing.