1. Have a powerful “WHY”
Be really clear about WHY you made this decision…
Were you struggling with being overweight?
Did you want to overcome chronic health issues?
Was it because you love animals and believe they deserve compassion?
Is it your dedication to the health of the planet and the earth’s resources?
Is it a deep humanitarian need to help people, feed the world and make positive social and global change?
When you get really clear and passionate about your why, it will get you through any How….(The HOW being…how do I do this? How do I stay on track? How do I stay strong through social pressure?)
When your “why” is deep from your heart, you make a decision at the level of “identity”…..and the rest of the journey becomes EASY!
2. RE-Educate yourself
You have been “educated” by the food industries for many years and there is a ton of misinformation you may have learned from books, schools, well-meaning people and the media.
You want to take in new facts by reliable sources and really think for yourself. Read books, attend seminars, lectures, events, veggie expos etc. Watch documentaries as well…such as Forks Over Knives, Vegucated, Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead, Hungry for Change, Earthlings, The China Study and tons more.
If you have 20 or 30 years of programming to eat unhealthy foods, it will most likely take more than just one book about a Plant-Based diet to undo all the old conditioning.
3. Find a role model!
Find people that inspire you and that have achieved the success that you want to achieve and follow their advice, model their mindset, strategies, diet and exercise plans so you can achieve the same results (follow them on facebook, opt onto their mailing list, go see them speak, learn from them in every way possible). In an upcoming blog, I will share with you the people that I like to model and why.
4. Prepare your kitchen and your house for success!
Get rid of or donate all the junk food, processed foods and animal products in your house. Go shopping and buy the staples you need! Create a cupboard of your own for all of your healthy foods. If you have kids, let them be a part of it and make it playful and fun. Kids are naturally curious so allow them to experiment with the new lifestyle too.
5. Find 10 to 15 vegan meals you love and learn to make them
People typically only eat about 10 to 15 different meals on a regular basis. Sometimes we think we need to learn a ton of new recipes, but normally people eat the same things almost every day with some slight variations. So, pick some dishes that you really love and learn how to make the vegan version of it so it is quick and easy. You will find that there are quite a few meals that you are eating that are already vegan, and some that only need a little tweak to make them vegan. This is a fun process and you will get a chance to taste and try different, new and exotic flavors, spices, fruits, veggies and sauces. Another useful strategy is to only change one ingredient at a time in your meal until you become accustomed to the new taste.
6. Enjoy and Celebrate the Journey!
Have fun along the way. Celebrate your choices and the rewards ahead. Get excited about the new people you will meet, about the things you will learn, about the breakthroughs you will have along the way. Be proud to be a person that is contributing to compassion, peace, kindness and the preservation of the planet.
You are opening the door to a whole new world….you can look forward to breakthroughs along the way that are life-changing. It can seem like you are closing a door to your old life, and that can seem scary, but remember that you are opening a NEW door…one of health, peace, happiness, compassion and possibility. I like what William Tuttle, author of The World Peace Diet says about it…he says it is like being born (or reborn). It is a little scary and disorienting at first, you don’t understand what to do or how to do it, but then you learn and get good at it, you make friends and find a place, and you become masterful at navigating your life.
7. Get Personal Support
Find people in your local area or immediate environment to hang out with. It is important to make new friends and have people that not only support you, but understand you. It is helpful to be around people that have the same values and ideals because it helps to reinforce them. It has been said that human behavior is geared towards adaptation. We had to adapt to our environment in the past in order to survive. We also had to adapt socially to survive and it is our nature to want to fit in with the group….which is what most people do, even if the group is doing something that does not make sense or is harmful to their health, animals and the planet. So, you want to find a group that will support you in staying on track and who honor you for the choices you have made. Join a vegan meet up groups, environmental groups, animal sanctuaries and animal rescue organizations. Get a vegan coach or join an online support group to make friends with like-minded people and learn how to thrive in your new lifestyle.
Later we will talk about navigating social situations with your non-vegan friends in a non-vegan world…
8. Be Patient and Kind to yourself.
If you make a mistake or fall off the band wagon…Have a recovery strategy….don’t try to be perfect….if you make a mistake or eat something off track, just get right back on. Let it keep reinforcing your strength and resolve to succeed. If you get stuck….just go right back to tip #1. Remember WHY you are doing this and get right back on track. Some people transition overnight, cold turkey. Other people take a little longer and sometimes it can take years of adjusting and transitioning. Don’t worry if you make mistakes, you will get there! Don’t let the mistakes mean that you are weak, you will never get there, it’s just not for you, you failed etc. You are NOT weak, You are STRONG. You can do whatever you decide to do. Just keep “failing forward” if you have to, it’s OK…. but keep moving forward.
9. Plan ahead and Learn how best to handle social situations
Always go into a social situation believing the best in people. Expect the best and you will often attract it.
Friends and family can sometimes be confused and even threatened by what you are doing. They sometimes feel that you embracing your new lifestyle is a rejection of theirs. (Rejecting their choice of food does not mean you reject THEM….so let them know that.) They don’t want to lose you and it is hard when your friends and family see you taking on different values than they have. Be patient with people, they usually come around and some will even jump on the band wagon with you.
What are some of the situations that will come up? Holidays, birthdays, office parties, Bar-B-Ques and potlucks where most people will not be vegan. Bring a vegan dish to a potluck that is a crowd pleaser so they can see how delicious the food can be and realize that you can eat healthy AND enjoy it. Let people know ahead of time that you are eating differently, bring your own food when you travel, bring food to work etc. Learn answers to questions that people ask like “Where do you get your protein?” or “My aunt Nellie is a vegan and she is sick and unhealthy and only eats coke and corn chips all day”. Or…”My uncle Al drank 6 bottles of scotch every night and smoked 2 packs of cigars a day and ate lots of bacon and he lived to be 90”. (The examples people give are often times not true or an exaggeration. They don’t tell you that Uncle Al was in pain, had a triple bypass, could not walk on his own etc.)
You will get all of these objections and questions and it is useful to know what to say. What you say is based on your own style. I try very hard to not be preachy or obnoxious to people because I know it doesn’t work and never will. I never directly disagree with them…instead I acknowledge what they say and then just suggest the alternative. “Wow, lucky Uncle Al….sounds like he lived to 90 not BECAUSE of his bad habits but in SPITE of them!” People sometimes try to find the only exception to the rule, then try to use that as the rule.
The main thing here is to plan ahead, be prepared and have some good answers planned as well. Be secure enough in your own decisions that you don’t feel like you have to attack others or be defensive. If you have difficulty with this step, go back to tip #1!
10. Remember the psychology of Choice!
You do this not because you have to but because you CHOOSE to….you are making a statement with your life….you are sending a message to yourself, others and the universe about your values, your compassion and your dedication to your own health and fitness. This is a choice you made to represent who you are and what you believe in. It’s a beautiful and powerful CHOICE!
11. BONUS TIP:
Be a Great Person. (People will want to model YOU!)
Being vegan is not the goal….it is the foundation of the bigger picture goal. Go be spectacular at something….
Be a leader and a shining example of an amazing person.
Be an example of health, fitness, happiness and compassion.
Make a positive impact in your own life and the lives of other people, animals and the planet.
Be a voice, not an echo.
When you go out and be an AMAZING person, people will notice, and some will want to model you too. When they do, they will naturally learn that the foundation of who you are is a compassionate, healthy, happy vegan!