By Erika Krebs
Our family made a New Year’s resolution to go vegan. Well, that sure didn’t last. It’s harder than we thought and we have already messed up on numerous occasions. Help— any advice on making a transition easier?
Thanks, Amber, Lancaster, Pennsylvania
If I had a dollar for every time anyone – not just aspiring vegans – failed to follow through on their New Year’s resolution, I would have quite the stash of money. I love the idea of trying a fresh start. Heck, I like it so much, I wrote a cookbook with “fresh start” in the title! But, a New Year’s resolution shouldn’t be so much about making a sudden change; it should be about finding a long-term approach that works best for you in achieving your goal.
One idea that worked well for me was to slowly transition by focusing on a few things at a time, rather than getting rid of every item in my kitchen and stocking up on all sorts of new, unfamiliar products at once. Humans are creatures of habit, and the easier you make it to change a habit, the easier it will be to maintain the change. If your family is used to eating comfort foods with a meat and potato at every meal, switching to vegan salads right away may not be well received. Think baby steps!
First, find simple replacements. For example, there are several vegan mayonnaise, sour cream, and cream cheese products available today, and you don’t need to visit to a health food store to find them. Egg replacers for baking are another easy change to adopt. I use chia seeds and water for an egg binder and no one has ever noticed the difference! You can also use applesauce, bananas, and ground flax seed as egg replacers. Try these ideas for a few months and you will find that your fridge and pantry will be stocked with excellent vegan alternatives to the staples you were used to having on hand. Once you get the hang of that, try meat alternatives. Veggie burgers and veggie hot dogs are a great starting point and widely available at local grocery stores. You could also try vegan chicken products – Beyond Meat sells chicken strips that make delicious substitutes in a variety of recipes, and Gardein makes a large number of meat alternatives including chicken nuggets, which are kid-approved! As you get used to transitioning one item at a time, it no longer feels like a huge hurdle. Remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.
Every family is different, but I hope this suggestion can work for you. Don’t forget to reward yourself! Choose a small and manageable goal to work towards. If you are successful, celebrate together! You could enjoy a special treat or an activity together, such as a visit to an animal sanctuary to play with goats or snuggle a baby pig. Connecting with the animals is an incredible reminder to your children to be compassionate and to be motivated to progress more towards veganism.
Disclaimer: Erika Krebs is not a nutritionist, registered dietitian, nor medical doctor. The information on GenerationVeggie.org is based on each columnist’s own training, research through reading and talking with other like-minded individuals, and personal experiences eating plant-based, vegan, and raw foods. The material appearing on GenerationVeggie.org is provided for informational purposes only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Any or all changes to your diet and lifestyle should always first be discussed with your professional healthcare providers. GenerationVeggie.org assumes no responsibility or liability for any consequences resulting directly or indirectly from any action or inaction you take based on the information found on or material linked to on this website.
Posted in Advice Columns, Ask Erika