It's Veganuary! How To Make Plant-Based Diet Work (& Last) For You, From A Longtime Vegan

January 19, 2023

Interested in the vegan life but don’t know where to start? Or maybe you’ve already been dabbling in veganism but are struggling? I want to offer reassurance that the way you’re feeling is totally understandable. As a vegan for over a decade, and perhaps more importantly, as someone who’s been in your shoes, I’m here to hold your hand and serve as your friendly guide.

While veganism used to be a fringe movement, it’s becoming mainstream. Between protecting our fellow animals, caring for our planet, improving our personal health, and a plethora of amazing food, there are so many reasons to find veganism alluring. So is it any wonder why more and more people are finding themselves drawn to a vegan lifestyle?

oatmeal with strawberries and blueberries in a pink bowl on a pale wooden table.

The issue, though, is that any change can be hard. It’s so much easier to stick with what’s familiar and just continue with the same habits. But if you’re still reading this article, it seems as though you’ve already taken the first step in moving towards a compassionate and healthy vegan life by simply expressing a curiosity to learn more.

So let’s look at some practical tips that will teach you how to smoothly traverse your journey towards a vegan lifestyle:

1. Become an explorer. There’s a common stereotype of veganism being about deprivation, but that’s really far from the truth. Actually, one of the exciting things about veganism is that it gives us an excuse to seek out a bunch of new tasty food. That might include sampling vegan alternatives to animal-based products but also tasting more food that just happens to be vegan. Before becoming vegan, I identified as a picky eater and had such a limited diet. But now my range of food has become more expansive, and I feel enthusiastic to try new things.

2. Embrace differences. That pint of vegan ice cream might not taste exactly like the dairy ice cream that you usually purchase, but does that really matter as long as it’s still creamy and delicious? We can appreciate vegan products for their unique flavors and textures rather than holding onto the idea that they should taste identical to animal products.

3. Escape the overgeneralizing trap. So often, I hear people say “I don’t like vegan cheese” or “I don’t like vegan meat.” But in reality, they might just not like the one or two vegan alternatives that they’ve tried. As the vegan food market has been booming, there’s so much variety among products. And so there can be a great deal of difference between items within a brand, let alone between different brands. So, just because you might not like Toffuti ricotta doesn’t mean you won’t find some Daiya mozzarella to be absolutely delicious.

4. Incorporate non-food vegan products. Regardless of your progress in eating more vegan food, you can add veganism into your life in other ways -from clothing to beauty products to household cleaning supplies and more. You might still be struggling to give up nonvegan cheese, but washing your hands with cruelly free, vegan soap might feel like an easy switch.

5. Go at your own pace. It’s better to take some time to transition to veganism, in a way that feels manageable, rather than to get so overwhelmed by going vegan overnight that you end up quitting. So whether making a fast or slow transition, we will ultimately be more successful when we focus on making our vegan lifestyle sustainable for the long run.

6. Find a vegan community. Whether in person or online, it helps to have access to other people who are supportive of a vegan lifestyle. Not only can they be a great wealth of information but also emotional support. It’s additionally wonderful to be able to relate with one another over shared values.

7. Remember the why. As we’ve already discussed, change can be difficult. To stay motivated, it’s good to remember why we want to make a positive change. Regardless of your own personal reasons for being interested in veganism, it can help to stay inspired by keeping those reasons at the forefront of your mind.

8. Be practical. It’s easy to forget that the Vegan Society’s definition of veganism is to “exclude—as far as is possible and practicable—all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals.” We still live in a not yet vegan world, and it’s not possible for anyone to completely avoid all animal products. It’s a very personal experience to figure out how much you can incorporate veganism into your life. Of course, we don’t want to let perfectionism end up being the enemy of progress. So just maintain the goal to be as vegan as you can be, and you’ll be on the right path.

No matter how much we might feel inspired to go vegan, we also still need to know how to successfully accomplish that goal. We can only ever grow when we have the resources to do so. With these simple tips, hopefully you are already feeling more empowered and better prepared to embrace your urge to keep exploring the vegan lifestyle.

Oh, and one extra bonus tip—if you’re trying to figure out what to cook and looking for some delicious inspiration, check out Peaceful Dumplings’ recipe section.

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Photo: Brigitta Baranyi via Unsplash

Lauren Wesp
Lauren Wesp is a writer with an M.A. in sociology. She is also an animal rights advocate, yogi, and guardian of two sweet kitties, Kirara and Nunu. Inspired by curiosity, she enjoys sharing in the exploration of interesting ideas and is especially motivated by what speaks to her heart. Check out her portfolio on Muckrack.


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