7 Tips for Sticking With Your New Vegan Diet
A Vegan Health Article from All-Creatures.org

These vegan health articles are presented to assist you in taking a pro-active part in your own health.

See All-Creatures.org Health Position and Disclaimer

From Ginny Messina, The Vegan R.D.
February 2017

Donít force yourself to take on more burdens regarding your vegan diet than necessary and above all things, donít beat yourself up when you lapse. Keep moving forward, because veganism really does get easier as you learn the ropes.

According to the people who investigate these things, a lot of New Yearís resolutions are starting to fall by the wayside soon after January 1. Many who vowed to give a vegan diet a try might find their resolve weakening.

I shared a few tips for making the transition with my delightful friend JL Fields on her radio show Easy Vegan last week. But there are lots of things that newbie vegans can do to make their diet feel more practical and sustainable.

1. Embrace your cooking style.

In their annual click bait story on the ďbestĒ diets, US News and World Report suggested that eating vegan means spending lots of time in the kitchen. This is a poorly-informed and limited view of veganism. Vegan diets are diverse and so are vegan cooking styles; they can be as laborious or as fast and simple as you like. Time saving options for vegans include canned beans, frozen vegetables or vegetables that are trimmed, washed and ready-to-cook. Veggie meats, pre-cooked grains, prepared hummus, and spaghetti sauce in a jar all make vegan cooking a breeze. And as you explore vegan options, youíll learn that even some cooking-from-scratch techniques are not especially time-consuming. It takes about 60 seconds to rinse dried beans and dump them into a slow-cooker with water and salt.

2. Eat (some) processed foods.

Sure, whole plant foods are packed with all kinds of good things like fiber and phytochemicals. You should emphasize them in your diet. But if youíre too strict about what constitutes a ďwhole food,Ē you may eliminate foods that can make your diet healthier, like tofu or soymilk. Or you might be convinced to avoid processed ingredients that make meals more appealing like tomato paste, hot sauce, and vinegars. Even foods that undergo more extensive processing can play a role in a healthy vegan diet. If youíre craving meat and cheese, commercial versions of these foods may help.

3. Pop pills.

You arenít going to develop a nutrient deficiency in just a few weeks but vegans do need supplements over time and you might as well start now. It will give you a little extra peace of mind about nutrition. At the very least you need a supplement of vitamin B12 unless you are using fortified foods on a regular basis. Depending on where you live you are very likely to need vitamin D. Even people who live in sunny areas sometimes need supplements. Vegans may also benefit from supplements of omega-3 fats; we donít really know if these are necessary, but it probably makes sense to err on the safe side.

4. Feast on fats.

Some vegans do just fine on very low fat diets, but this way of eating isnít for everyone. Fat makes food more appealing and satisfying. It enhances flavors and textures. Itís also really good for you when it comes from nuts, seeds and vegetable oils. These foods reduce heart disease risk and can help with nutrient and phytochemical absorption. If youíre craving animal foods, simply adding more fat-rich plant foods to meals may make a difference.

5. Peanut butter: Donít leave home without it.

Itís not so hard being vegan at home, but out in the world, things get trickier. When youíre hungry and there is no Taco Bell in sight, what do you do? One way to avoid the problem is to always carry snacks. For me, itís peanut butter and crackers. And, if Iím traveling, I bring a little jar of faux parm with me. As long as I can get a platter of pasta with olive oil and garlic, or even some plain rice and steamed veggies, I can transform a mundane dish into a reasonably satisfying meal. These two items may not be your exact choices, but find what works for you and tuck it into your purse or backpack.

6. Acknowledge that being vegan is good enough.

Assuming that you arenít subsisting on a steady diet of Fritos and Oreos, and that you are meeting nutrient needs and eating mostly whole foods, your diet is probably pretty good. Giving up oil or gluten or soy or nuts or cooked foods wonít make it any better. Extreme versions of veganism donít make vegan diets healthier, they just make them more difficult.

7. Forgive yourself for not being perfect.

No matter how dedicated you are to eating a vegan diet, you might find that your commitment is sometimes overpowered by a craving. Or maybe itís a sense of discomfort in a social situation or the inconvenience of finding vegan foods away from home. These are slip-ups, not failures. They donít mean you arenít cut out to be vegan. Accept that youíre transitioning to something new and that a few missteps are inevitable for almost everyone.

In short, if youíre struggling with staying vegan, look for what is tripping you up and find a solution. Maybe you need to simplify your food prep, or carry more snacks or add more fat-rich foods or comfort foods to your meals. Donít force yourself to take on more burdens regarding your vegan diet than necessary and above all things, donít beat yourself up when you lapse. Keep moving forward, because veganism really does get easier as you learn the ropes.

Return to Vegan Health Articles
Visit Food Hazards in Animal Flesh and By-products

All-Creatures.org Health Position and Disclaimer

We began this archive as a means of assisting our visitors in answering many of their health and diet questions, and in encouraging them to take a pro-active part in their own health. We believe the articles and information contained herein are true, but are not presenting them as advice. We, personally, have found that a whole food vegan diet has helped our own health, and simply wish to share with others the things we have found. Each of us must make our own decisions, for it's our own body. If you have a health problem, see your own physician.