For a successful month of vegan eating, a little planning will go a long way. There are some lifestyle tweaks you should make and some you can let slide. Use these tips to set yourself up for a successful vegan start to the new year:
1. Give Your Pets a Pass
Dogs, cats, lizards and all of the other critters we love are typically omnivores, if not carnivores and very rarely vegans. Don’t try to change your pet’s diet in January — you can consider easing into that later with the advice of your veterinarian.
2. Identify Your Favorite Foods
Make a list of all your favorite foods you are giving up and then seek out vegan alternatives. Food manufacturers know what people crave, and they continue to amaze with vegan interpretations of meaty favorites. Case in point: the “Impossible” burger which is free of meat though it looks just as tasty. Craving froyo? Whip up some cashew banana “faux-gurt” to satisfy your hunger for missing dairy.
3. Do Some Homework
The internet is full of vegan recipes, so explore. And do some reading, too. We love Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina’s Becoming Vegan, and Ginny Messina and Jack Norris’ Vegan For Life for inspiration.
4. Apply Your Existing Culinary Smarts
You already have a few favorite dishes, right? Study the ingredients and start swapping: cashew cheese for Parmesan, black beans in the place of ground beef — the list goes on.
5. Go Beyond Your Comfort Zone
No civilization in history has produced and eaten meat the way we consume it in the United States. So look to the sophisticated cookery of India and Ethiopia, for instance, where exquisite vegetarian and vegan dishes are the norm.
6. Spice it Up
When you eliminate animal-based foods, you will be dealing with proteins that are bland by nature, starting with tofu and tempeh. The magic there is that these easy-going proteins are a fantastic canvas for herbs and spices.
7. Bond With Fellow Vegans
With such an extreme diet change, it does make sense to reach out and find community. A few clicks will lead you to an array of people who don’t eat meat, don’t wear fur, don’t wear leather or eat only raw foods. Trade ideas, get advice and just talk to people going through the same lifestyle change as you for motivation.
8. About Leather
Leather is expensive and if you already have a collection, it may be hard to part with — that's understandable. You can take it slowly.
As for buying new leather-like products, there are great alternatives like PVC and other cruelty-free leather substitutes. Going vegan doesn’t mean shapeless smocks, Crocs, and Birkenstocks — you can still find sexy, shiny clothes without harming animals.
9. Audit Your Hair and Beauty Products
Yes, even your hair and beauty products might not be vegan. If you plant to give this your all, you should avoid any beauty products that contain animal products, such as keratin hair treatments.
Enjoy the Ride
Our final piece of advice is, shamelessly pamper yourself while exploring the meatless universe. Many people steer clear of even the thought of going vegan, because it can be a restrictive way to live.
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