Anybody can GO vegan. Heck, my dad makes a joke that goes, “I’m vegan… BETWEEN MEALS!” Ha! Got me there, Dad!
The point is, many people decide to go vegan and they’re all about it for a while. Then they get frustrated. Or bored. Or lonely. Or demotivated. Or any number of less-than-optimal states of being. We’ve given you tips on how to GO vegan, now we’d like to tell you how to STAY vegan.
From Jenny and me, 13 tips on staying vegan:
1. Spread the word!
Tell everyone you’re vegan. Reaffirming this fact not only to myself but also to people I meet might make me obnoxious, but it also keeps me feeling like the public is watching my every move. And nobody likes feeling hypocritical. They tell you to do this when you’re going to quit smoking too—it just makes you more accountable.
2. Get a vegan tattoo!
I’m sort of joking but not really? I got one (pictured above). It’s there to judge me, forever.
3. Remember why you’re vegan!
Re-watch Meet Your Meat, Earthlings, or reread Diet for a New America. Listen to podcasts like Colleen Patrick-Goudreau and We Like It Raw. Revisit why you went vegan in the first place when you’re feeling shaky. Ask yourself on the regular, why you are doing this. Animals? Environment? To bring more compassion into your life? It will help remind you why this sometimes challenging way of life is worth it. And it’s fun to see how your commitments, ideas and thoughts about this way of life change over time. As my therapist tells me, check in with yourself on the regular!
4. Stay in the know!
Watch new exposés. Read new studies. Every time the “health community” “learns” something about food, pay attention—you might have forgotten all the pus and antibiotics in that hunk of cheese you’re craving. Have all the information in your grasp. This is particularly easy to do if you have the Internet. God bless the internet!
5. Take it easy on yourself!
Forgive yourself if you do something that’s not vegan. You’ll learn what to watch out for on ingredient lists and which brands of face lotion are tested on animals. You will learn SO MUCH, it’s crazy. You can always choose to do something different next time, and guilt-tripping yourself isn’t going to make you feel motivated to continue in this lifestyle. It’s okay if you’re not perfect, you’re human! Your lifestyle isn’t about being more vegan than anyone else and mistakes happen. This is especially important when beginning or coming back to a vegan way of life!
6. Listen to your body!
If you do slip up, pay attention to your body. If/when you do something that’s not vegan, on purpose or on accident, think about how it makes you feel physically in addition to mentally. You might notice you feel better without those eggs clogging up your arteries!
7. Build your vegan community!
Find vegan friends. You can do this through a meetup, through vegan blogs (ahem), or by complete accident. Talk to them when you’re feeling low about veganism. For every vegan you don’t want to talk to, there are at least five more you do. You have a vegan BFF out there just waiting to be found! It took me five years to find Jenny Bradley. Patience pays off.
8. Throw a party!
If you are a social being and like to have people over, throw a vegan party! I like to have monthly potlucks, in which I invite everyone I know and ask them to bring a dish, if they so desire! Of course it must be vegan! It brings out the creativity in my vegetarian and omnivore friends, and they get really excited when they veganize their dishes! I swear! It’s the cutest. Plus, everyone loves eating! Food at parties gives people something to do and talk about!
9. Experiment in the kitchen!
Try new recipes, like, all the time. Rice, beans, and kale are all healthy, but some deep-fried tofu cubes or a few bites of homemade vegan ice cream shouldn’t kill you (of course, consult your doctor if you’re at all worried about that). If you’re bored with what you’re eating, going back to the omni side could look terribly appealing.
10. Go to vegan venues!
Hit up vegan restaurants. Don’t have any near you? Make a point to take some road trips to the closest ones. There’s a big wide vegan world waiting for you!
11. Be prepared!
Traveling while vegan can be an adventure. Plan accordingly. You can always eat at Subway or Taco Bell on roadtrips, but bring snacks! Everywhere! Weddings, plane rides, whatever circumstance has you not eating for hours at a time. I have found this is especially important when arriving somewhere late or if you have a food allergy! I firmly believe raw, dehydrated foods are the best for these situations because they are healthy and flavorful. Basically, pack nutrient dense foods (bagels, pretzels and bread have a tendency to leave me hungry and unfulfilled as opposed to kale chips, dried fruit, nuts or a superfood Powerbar).
12. Let the vegan haters hate!
Don’t let assholes (I’m including myself here) shame you into quitting. I’ll be like, “Oh, people who support PETA are human lice,” but then I’ll totally forget to look at ingredients on some random granola bar I bought because I was hungry and end up eating something with whey in it and not feeling so high and mighty after all. Plus a few days down the road you’ll probably see me looking up a recipe on PETA’s website. The point is that this is your choice, and people who are jerks to you about it are just that: jerks.
13. Let the omni haters hate!
Pick your battles with omnivores. Haters gonna hate and you’ll wear yourself out when you feel like you are always on the defense to testy omnivores. Sometimes I just laugh jerks off, because in the end, I don’t care what they think of me and I know I gotta do me! Remember, it’s about you! This is your life, your diet and your choices! Everyone will have an opinion (they always do!) but in the end, my goal is to show everyone what a healthy, happy, satisfied, well-adjusted, fun vegan looks like.
There you have it! I hope this list helps you stay vegan and stay strong. It’s a great thing you’re doing, keep up the good work!