Anytime you try to make a significant change in your life, you will encounter some level of resistance. Whether you’re quitting a substance, starting a new career, or trying to switch to a plant-based lifestyle, the influences, thoughts, and patterns from your old self will inevitably try to persist.
Many people begin their plant-based journey with the best intentions, only to end up right back at square one a few weeks later. I’ve been vegan for eight years now. During that time, I’ve had my fair share of struggles and temptations to overcome. Today, I’ll give you some of the best tips I’ve learned on how to keep up with a plant-based diet.
Before going vegan, I’d never really had anybody question my diet or what I ate. Once I committed to a plant-based lifestyle, though, it was like the whole world turned against me. Suddenly, everybody was asking me questions, trying to engage me in moral debates, and shoving temptations in my face.
Meanwhile, all I wanted was to make a positive change in my health and try to help the planet at the same time. But, as the saying goes, “C’est la vie.”
Here are some of the most common struggles I encountered when trying to keep up with my new vegan lifestyle.
My first week after switching to a plant-based diet was pretty easy. Once I got to the second week, though, I got hit with cravings. I could smell a hamburger from the restaurant across the street, and my body started craving the meat I’d promised myself to give up.
These cravings are, in part, completely natural. As omnivores, we’ve evolved to crave foods that contain essential nutrients our bodies need (and meat is one of them).
To reduce my cravings, I had to work with my biology. To stay on track and maintain my vegan diet, I needed to take the right supplements so my body didn’t feel like it needed meat. The first thing I did was invest in some solid plant-based protein sources and some of the best trace mineral supplements to ensure that my body had all the nutrients it would otherwise only be able to get from meat.
My supplement routine, combined with creating positive habits and healthy plant-based alternatives, is what helped me overcome my initial meat cravings.
As you continue your plant-based journey, you will learn that there are plenty of meat substitutes, and you can still have delicious vegan burgers whenever you’d like.
Social gatherings were hard at first. My entire family and many of my friends constantly questioned my dietary choices and continuously tried to tempt me back to my old life. During these situations, I simply had to remain firm and explain that no matter how hard they tried, I wouldn’t give in.
After some time, the people who mattered accepted my new lifestyle and stopped pressuring me about it. The following year, my aunt even made a special vegan “turkey” dish for Thanksgiving - just for me!
The healthiest plant-based eaters cook their meals from scratch, using fresh veggies, beans, pasta, and other handmade foods. Vegan recipes are versatile and delicious - if you take the time to cook your meals, you will soon learn that there’s almost always a plant-based version of your favorite food.
However, we all get busy and, sometimes, there’s not enough time to cook a healthy meal at home.
Here are some helpful tips to help you keep up with your diet, even if you don’t have time to cook:
Your worst enemy is often yourself. After making a sudden lifestyle change, your brain and body may try to push you back into your old, familiar ways. Our bodies naturally fight change, so we must work hard to overcome our old habits and create new ones to replace them. It is often the hardest during your first few months of going plant-based.
Writing down my goals on paper and reminding myself why they were important helped me immensely. Every morning, take a few minutes to write your lifestyle and dietary goal on a sheet of paper. Compared to speech, reading, or visual learning, your memory works better when you write things down on paper.
When you make written commitments to follow through with your diet, and make healthy choices, only use plant-based shampoos and hair products and cruelty-free cosmetics, and start taking care of the planet, you’re more likely to follow through.
Keeping up with your new plant-based lifestyle may be difficult, especially during the first few months. However, the more you repeat your new habits, the easier things will get, and the less you’ll be tempted to return to your old lifestyle. After a few months, you probably won’t look twice at a hamburger or a steak!