Of all the changes I’ve made in my life over the past six years, none has had such a profoundly positive effect as the choice to become vegan.
This diet and lifestyle have changed me from the outside in: I expected the health benefits and to feel a boost in energy, and I got them. But I had no idea how the choice to put different foods into my body would improve my mindset, deepen my sense of compassion, and increase my willingness to take risks and march to the beat of my own drum. And if you’re vegan or even vegetarian, I bet you’ve experienced the same.
And if you’re not yet vegan? The very fact that you read a blog like this one makes it likely that you at least know where I’m coming from. Maybe you’d even like to become vegan, but have never quite been able to make it work.
In that case, let’s talk about what it takes to make the change — and just as importantly, to make it last.
So here are the three things I believe give you the biggest chance of succeeding in this diet change (assuming you’ve got your own compelling reasons for wanting to do so):
First, a push to go for it.
You can have every good intention to go vegan one day, but it takes a “Ready, Set, Go!” to actually put forth the effort to make it happen.
Second, it takes a plan.
Sure, you can technically “go vegan” overnight — just throw away all your animal products, right? But you can probably guess how long that usually lasts: without the intermediate steps that give you a chance to become familiar with a new type of cooking, and practice ordering from progressively smaller sections of a restaurant menu, most well-intentioned attempts (including my first) to go vegetarian or vegan fail after just a few days.
Finally, to maximize your chances of making the change last, you should know what obstacles to expect and be ready to handle them.
From awkward social situations to unfamiliar ingredients to concerns about protein, iron, and vitamin B12, unexpected pitfalls are responsible for more than their share of “I tried to go vegan for a little while but it didn’t work out.”
The thing is, none of this has to be hard. I’ve spent the last few years obsessing over the most effective ways to change habits, and I believe that going vegan and thriving in this lifestyle can be just as easy for most people as it has been for me.
But it’s a matter of being intentional, not haphazard. Planning and transitioning gradually, not just diving in because you’re excited and can’t wait. (Sure, that approach might work for a few, but I’ve just seen too many people fail that way to believe it’s best way to change anything.)