“I really wish I could go vegan but it’s so hard to keep it up! I don’t know what to make for dinner and I’ve run out of inspiration by Tuesday.”
“I so want to eat plant-based, but I just don’t know what I’d eat for work lunches everyday. And what about our trip to China next year? And there’s this traditional Polish thing my mum always makes at Christmas.”
“I tried going vegan but every time we’d get to Friday nights and end up getting fish and chips. I can’t resist so I just gave up trying.”
These are actual things that my actual clients have said to me. Over and over again.
I love you guys. But collectively, you’re all making the same mistake. You’re trying to go too vegan too fast, y’all, and you’re letting the pressure of commitment get all up in your head.
My mum went vegan overnight—she’s my hero. She’s also the kind of person who will move cities, change jobs or start a new adventure at the drop of a hat. That’s an amazing kind of person to be, but most people don’t handle change at that rate.
Most of us have face time with food at least three times a day, and most of us have major emotional baggage attached. Food is tied to memories, culture and traditions. We build social interactions around it. We’ve been conditioned to associate it with punishment and rewards. Changing your entire system of eating overnight is a big deal, and it’s okay if you find it hard to do.
But don’t let that get in your head! When my clients come to me to make a change, I help them to make slow, sustainable changes based on their personal strengths and weaknesses. We start with the easiest change first and let the others sneak up on them so they don’t notice.
Here are my top tips for trying to go plant-based when it all seems too hard:
1. Make the easiest changes first
“I would love to go vegan, but I’d just miss ______ too much.” “I like eating vegan at home, but my friends and family don’t cater for me.” “Vegan breakfasts are simple, but I never know what to make for lunch and dinner.”
Okay, cool. It’s easy to get caught up on the changes that are hard. What about the changes that are easy?
Are you just as happy drinking plant milk as cow’s milk? Does your pasta taste just as good without the cheese? Sounds like you could stop buying dairy without breaking a sweat.
Do you love smashed avo for brunch just as much as you like the poached eggs or the salmon quiche? Great. Just make smashed avo your regular order when you go out with the girls.
If you always buy lunch when you’re at work, you only need to find one place that has one vegan option, and you’re set. If you’ll eat the snacks from your desk drawer no matter what they are, stock it with dried fruit, rice cakes and vegan muesli bars. If you order pizza with your partner every Friday night, figure out the vegan option—that’s one dinner a week you’ve gone vegan. (Even Domino’s has vegan cheese now, so no excuses here.)
Some swaps will be harder to make. Start with the easy ones, and you’ll be a lot closer to being vegan!
2. Don’t be afraid of commitment
“What if I go overseas and want to try a local delicacy that isn’t vegan?” “How will I bake cakes for the kids’ birthdays?” “What am I going to eat at the work Christmas party?” “Could I possibly commit to NEVER EATING CHEESE AGAIN?”
Calm down. You don’t need to have a plan for every eventuality. When that special occasion/work trip/cheese craving comes up, you’ll deal with it then. If you want to try being vegan today, try being vegan today. And tomorrow. See if you can do it for a week. Or most of the time. Or sometimes.
Don’t get overwhelmed by the idea of commitment, and let it stop you from doing something good right now. Just eat vegan at your next meal. The rest of your life will take care of itself.
3. Just try it for 30 days
30 days is long enough for most people to get on board with a new way of doing things. Get some help, get a meal plan going and see it as a fun challenge. If you don’t like it after 30 days, you don’t have to keep doing it.
Just for 30 days, try to push through those special occasions, family meals and other times when vegan is a bit tricky. It’ll probably be way easier than you think, and so much more satisfying!