When one makes the decision to go vegan, there is an initial burst of enthusiasm and passion for improving one’s health, the wellbeing of animals, and the sustainability of our planet. For some, it is an immediate dive into the vegan lifestyle without much planning. For others, it is a slow progression with a comprehensive plan detailing every step of the transition to veganism.
However, over time, this motivation ebbs and flows as our habits change, our relationships change, our body transforms and as challenges, temptations and feelings of apathy arise.
This might sound problematic, but it really isn’t. It is normal for us to have these fluctuations in motivation when making such a fundamental change in our life. Especially one which can, unfortunately, be met with anger, confusion, ridicule and derision from others.
In my personal experience and those of my clients, I have found these 8 tips to be quite helpful for staying positive and motivated during the transition phase of veganism to ensure this change is one for a lifetime.
So let’s get straight into it!
1: Take time to reflect
For me personally, I have always found inward reflection as the best motivator for maintaining a vegan lifestyle. Taking the time to step back from the chaos of the day, have some quiet time, and remind yourself why you wanted to be vegan can recalibrate your mindset and re-engage your motivation to continue on this journey.
Another benefit I’ve seen when people have these moments of reflection is an awareness of something special, which motivates us to continue with veganism, that can be all too swiftly passed by when one is thinking without thought throughout the days.
Whether it is being aware of how your body feels better, or the positive impressions you’ve left on others, or simply recognising the joyous look on an animal’s face when walking through the park. These are the subtle moments that can reinforce and solidify one’s decision to go vegan.
The way I reflect is by practicing meditation and mindfulness as much as possible. However, it does not need to be the same for you. It could be yoga, prayer, a walk in the park or simply sitting on a bench watching the sun go down for the day.
The method isn’t the important part. It’s your state of mind. So whichever method best puts you in a relaxed and reflective state of mind, choose that one!
2: Continue your educational development
If you’ve already decided to give the vegan lifestyle a try, chances are you’ve already learnt a considerable amount of information about veganism. However, the learning process shouldn’t stop here.
There is a steep learning curve with veganism and its many facets. From animal ethics, to nutrition, to environmental sustainability, to cooking, to conversation tactics, to business practices of food and clothing providers – just to name a few.
By continuing to learn about veganism in its totality, you will solidify your initial decision to embrace veganism and continue to build on your ethical principles and knowledge to an even stronger, more resilient foundation.
Furthermore, you will reduce the risk of making mistakes due to gaps in knowledge, which thereby prevents demotivation. A classic example is eating something that isn’t vegan due to an uncommon ingredients or food additive in the nutritional information. Don’t worry, we’ve all been there! Soon enough you’ll know this information like the back of your hand.
In this day and age, we are fortunate enough to have a number of mediums with excellent resources on all aspects of veganism. Some people enjoy learning about veganism through movies, or reading books, or listening to podcasts. Use whichever medium you enjoy most and make the experience of learning more about veganism as something to look forward to and less like homework.
If you want to stay up-to-date with new discoveries and research in the field of veganism and vegan nutrition, follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest and sign up to my Newsletter so you never miss out on the latest news!
3: Enjoy what you eat
This might sound like an obvious tip. However, it is not as easy as it sounds in practice.
There is a flood of new information that falls upon you when you make the decision to go vegan. Particularly when it comes to food choices. Make sure you are getting enough protein. Make sure you are getting enough calcium. B12. Iron. The list goes on…
With all this new information, some people do an entire overhaul of their diet to nothing but 100% healthy meals all the time in order to do veganism ‘correctly’. This may work for some. However, for other people, this type of approach is too sudden and drastic for such a change to last for a lifetime.
If you’re constantly tempted by your favourite meals that you’re actively avoiding, and start to resent the vegan food you’re eating instead, then motivation will naturally wane and can lead to a backslide out of veganism. The solution? Eat what you enjoy!
Especially with the ever-growing range of vegan products available in your supermarket, you will be able to veganise your favourite meals by swapping out the animal products with the plant-based alternatives and can again look forward to what you eat again – which is a key factor for successful transitions to veganism.
In those first few weeks, if you feel like a burger, have a Beyond Meat burger. Miss chilli con carne like I did? Substitute with some vegan mince and have a healthy vegan chilli sin carne. After some time, you’ll realise you don’t actually miss the old meals you used to love. They’ve been replaced with healthier versions!
And don’t be dismayed if you don’t like a product you’ve tried. There are multiple options out there to choose from different producers. So do a little trial and error. Who knows, maybe the product you will love is just two steps down the aisle.
Just remember: it’s a marathon, not a sprint. We all transition to our optimal vegan diet at our own pace. So there is nothing wrong with veganising your comfort food at the start of your vegan journey. Enjoyment is a key motivating factor for the vegan lifestyle, so embrace it!
4: Try as many new types of food as you can
Whilst I recommend eating food which you enjoy at the start of your transition, this should not come at the expense of trying new dishes.
One of the most astonishing aspects of the start of any vegan journey are the culinary delights you discover on your plate. It’s quite the surprise when you realise the plethora of flavourful recipes out there when you try different cuisines from around the world – and that veganism was the reason you tried these out. You’ll see that veganism isn’t so much about what you lose, but rather what you gain.
When I went vegan over 10 years ago, there were only a handful of vegan restaurants and not many (if any) vegan options at regular restaurants and cafes. As a result for this, I had to learn how to cook proper meals and experiment with different types of fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes and spices that I otherwise wouldn’t even dare to try out. Hell, I used to despise mushrooms when I was younger. I hated the taste, and the texture even more. Now, I’m totally hooked and can’t help but add them into any recipe.
So take this opportunity to get creative in the kitchen and have fun in the process. Embrace the new and surprising discoveries you will make. Thrive off your healthier food choices. I would recommend checking out some of my free healthy vegan recipes to try for yourself. They are easy to make, healthy, and taste amazing!
We all know exercise is important. No matter what your age is or what your diet is. This is not a tip just to tell you to exercise, but rather to pay attention to how you feel when you exercise.
With personal health being one of the main motives for people becoming vegan , experiencing improvements in this area can be a tremendous motivator.
It can be quite rewarding when you exercise and start to feel improvements in your body. It could be that you feel lighter, are less bloated, have quicker muscle recovery and/or have greater energy levels and focus whilst training. Additionally, you should also start to notice some weight loss, lower blood sugar levels, better digestion and greater mental clarity after the first week of your transition.
When these improvements occur, you’ll start to feel fitter, happier and healthier. Can’t think of many other things that can motivate a person more than this!
6: Know what to expect
It would be nice if I told you that it’s always positive when transitioning to the vegan diet. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.
Like with any fundamental change to the mind and body, there can be bumpy moments at the start of the journey. Particularly if you are still catching up to speed on what the optimal vegan diet is for you and your body (giving consideration to any illness, injury, food intolerances or chronic/pre-existing medical conditions you may have).
The most common problem I see people have at the start is with bloating or digestive issues. This is due to the greater amount of fiber in your diet, as well as your digestive enzymes and gut microbiome not being accustomed to the new foods you’re eating. Unless there are other medical factors at play, this is typically just in the transition phase whilst you promote a diverse ecosystem of beneficial bacteria to support both human gut microbiome and overall health in the long run [2, 3].
Being informed on what changes you can expect to see (such as the above), understanding why they occur and knowing how to address these issues can keep you motivated and on the right track on your vegan journey.
And remember: Eat, eat, eat!
Most people have concerns with fatigue, lack of energy and increased hunger when transitioning to veganism. Some of this is just the body adjusting to the new diet. More often than not, it is the fact that people don’t eat enough calories when starting out with veganism as you consume less calorie-rich fats and eat more low calorie fruits, vegetables, beans and legumes. So don’t be afraid of eating more at the table. It’s not an inherent flaw in the vegan diet – simply calories in vs calories out!
7: Learn to forgive
One main component of veganism is compassion. This can be forgotten when looking in the mirror. We tend to focus our attention on being compassionate to other people, the animals and the planet – so why not extend that to ourselves?
It is very hard to be the ‘perfect’ vegan, whether that perfection is determined by you, or by others.
At the start of your journey, you may have slip ups which are intentional or unintentional. For a moment, you have deviated from the path. How you reconcile this deviation and move forward is the real lesson to be learned in these moments.
Accordingly, learning to forgive yourself and to use those moments to motivate yourself to have more fidelity for veganism is fundamental to the life-long success of the vegan lifestyle.
This lifestyle change isn’t a test in which you ultimately receive a grade of pass or fail. If you’re able to forgive yourself in the moments where you make a mistake and maintain a positive mindset, you will be sure to keep your motivation levels high and enjoy every step of the journey – even the bumpy ones.
8: Engage with the vegan community!
Don’t underestimate how important this tip can be. Being involved and connecting with other positive, like-minded vegans in the community has always been a key motivator for me in my endeavors as a vegan, and is ultimately what inspired me to start this blog!
For some, it can be a lonely journey if you’re the only vegan person in the family, or the only vegan in your friendship group. One unfortunate consequence of this is that you can be surrounded by people who are negative towards veganism and can be an extremely demotivating echo-chamber. In these times, it can be quite uplifting and motivating to speak to like-minded individuals who know what you’re dealing with and can help you navigate through these problems.
It is great if you have people close to you who you can speak to on this level or, better yet, someone to transition to veganism with you at the same time. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. But fear not, because there is a large and vibrant vegan community out there that is more than happy to connect and can motivate you to continue your journey.
I’ve found my Facebook and Instagram great avenues to connect with other people in the vegan community. There are also a variety of others ways to engage in the community either online or locally: such as online vegan forums, local meet-ups, vegan fairs etc. So don’t hesitate making the connection with other people, inspire each other and keep thriving physically, emotionally and spiritually with veganism!
Always remember, every moment counts. By going vegan, you are actively taking a step in the right direction and doing a tremendous amount of good for your health, the animals, the environment and humanity at large.
So try not to get too overwhelmed in the initial transition phase. Everyone has moments where they feel flat and have dips in motivation. But these do not last. By incorporating these tips, it is my hope that you can boost your motivation back to the level when you first decided to go vegan and make your change to go vegan, one for a lifetime.
If you find that seeing vegan content keeps you motivated, then please follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest and sign up to my Newsletter so I can share my knowledge on all matters of veganism with you. Together, we can continue to motivate each other and thrive with compassion living a vegan lifestyle!