It’s been an exciting month for the vegan movement!
Almost 400,000 people (and counting!) signed up to take part in Veganuary worldwide, and many UK supermarkets expanded their plant-based ranges too. Veganism really seems to be gaining momentum, with the likes of Brian May and Deborah Meaden giving it a go.
As we reach the end of January, I can’t help but wonder about the next steps for those thousands of people taking part in Veganuary. Judging from social media posts, there are many participants that are now vegan for life (brilliant!), finding this month to be a complete life-changer. I love seeing this compassionate lifestyle pleasantly surprise people – introducing them to new foods, improved health, and knowledge about the food industry. Last year, it was estimated that 47% of Veganuary participants stayed vegan after January, which is fantastic!
But can we improve on that figure? I’m interested to know why around 53% opt out of veganism once the month is over, and if you’re one of those people, convince you not to give up!
Let’s look at the reasons why you may give up on veganism.
Forgotten Your ‘Why’?
A change in lifestyle is usually sparked by something. It could be a realisation that you’re eating actual beings with feelings, or maybe connecting the dots from diet to health, or even discovering how meat production is harming the environment. At first, it can be like an awakening. Eagerness, passion, excitement… we just jump in head first. But after a few weeks of a lifestyle change, we start to settle in and learn the practicalities. We may experience a few teething problems, become demotivated, and forget why we decided to do it in the first place. It’s like New Year resolutions or going to the gym, at first you are raring to go… but then as time passes so too can your motivation.
Is this you? Reconnect to your why – write it down if necessary. I’d love to know why you decided to try out a vegan lifestyle! Watch a related documentary because visuals can often help – What the Health and Cowspiracy are both highly recommended. Sometimes, quiet meditation to review your moral stance can be useful. You can also use a vision board filled with inspiration – you looking healthy, a picture of that amazing vegan meal you had, beautiful rescued cows at a sanctuary. Hang it somewhere you’ll be able to connect with it every day!
Caved Into Societal Pressure?
Everything’s great when you’re doing your own food shopping, cooking and eating at home, and in a routine. The problems arise when family, friends or colleagues don’t take your views seriously or think they can persuade you out of veganism. All vegans at some point will be made to feel like an inconvenience due to their choices – I think it’s a rite of passage! I’ve personally experienced the following: guests moaning that we don’t have any dairy milk, people inviting me out to places that have zero vegan options, buying me dairy chocolate, asking if they can pick the chicken out of a meal for me to eat. It’s not done in a malicious way, but they just don’t see things how we do. We can even be our own worst enemy by telling ourselves we have to have THAT steak to fit in at a group meal; it’s human nature to want acceptance and validation.
Is this you? Those around you may never understand why you are vegan, but they don’t need to. The important thing is that you can calmly and confidently explain why you are vegan, and why that isn’t changing any time soon. Would your loved ones really want to see you forgoing your morals, or feeling less healthy, just because of convenience to them? If so, it’s time to evaluate who you keep close to you. Harsh, but true! The people that matter take a little time to adjust, but they do. My family are so wonderful at making vegan cakes and thinking of me. We can also mitigate stress by calling ahead at restaurants, letting friends know which eateries can cater for the whole group, or bringing out delicious vegan treats with us for everyone to try. Chocolate lattes and rocky road bars, anyone?
I also did a LIVE video around living with a non-vegan that you can check out.
Spending Too Much?
As a new vegan, it can be really tempting to follow every new product out there, buy up all the faux meat, and try 20 different kinds of cheese – all in one week. Before you know it, your bank balance is in single figures and you’re wondering what happened. You may think that this whole vegan malarkey doesn’t fit your income. But that couldn’t be further than the truth!
Is this you? Try going back to basics. Let’s face it – on a meat-eating diet,
you wouldn’t eat steak and salmon every day. So many vegan staples are inexpensive – beans, lentils, pulses, rice, pasta, vegetables. If you’re strapped for cash, budget. Minimise eating out, make a shopping list (and stick to it), meal plan, buy in bulk where possible, and shop around to see where has the best deals. Set yourself boundaries – there are certain pricey meat substitutes that I refuse to buy unless they are on offer, due to the price. You can also follow some great social media accounts such as Plant-based On A Budget, and read lots of money-saving tips online. Plenty of vegans thrive on a restrictive income – find them and connect for inspiration!
Do You See It As A Diet?
Perhaps you ventured into veganism because you heard it was good for weight loss or healthy eating. It certainly can be (if you eat the right things, as with any diet). But if you’re anything like me, you’ll only stick to a diet for so long. It feels like a chore, something you ‘have’ to do to reach a goal. That just doesn’t sound enjoyable to me. And for me, veganism has been an eye-opening, exciting journey – I want the same for you!
Is this you? Veganism may start out as just a weight-loss attempt or a healthy eating diet for some, but it can quickly become so much more. If you view it as restrictive (something that cuts out food saps the fun out of eating) it’s no wonder you want to stop! However, once you view it as a long term plan – a lifestyle, an opening to a variety of foods, a community – things start to change. It’s all in the mindset! Being vegan is a way of life – why not explore the other benefits of veganism apart from the diet? You might find that it fits in with your morals, with added benefits of improved health!
Are You Always Hungry?
When we eat meat, it fills us up very quickly. It’s dense, hard to digest, and moves along the colon very slowly. This isn’t necessarily a good thing for our bodies, even if it does make us feel satisfied. It’s a feeling we’re used to for our whole lives before going vegan. Plant matter takes up a smaller amount of space in the stomach, so you need to consume a higher volume and adjust your eating habits a little.
Is this you? You need to eat a higher quantity of the right things! Healthy snacks are a good choice between meals, as plant-based meals are digested at a higher rate. That means houmous with dippers, protein shakes, smoothies, herbal tea, Nakd bars, granola, nuts. You also need bigger salads – we’re talking a handful of EVERYTHING plus a protein source such as tofu or coconut bacon – and nutritionally balanced meals too (get that protein and healthy fat in!). It’s important to be self-aware when we feel peckish – are you really hungry? Sometimes we are so used to that uncomfortable ‘full’ feeling that once it’s gone, things feel odd. Try to identify if you’re just used to snacking so your body craves it. You could also simply be thirsty, bored or stressed.
Is Your Health Suffering?
Perhaps you rolled into veganism with the view that it was about cutting things out – and so you haven’t replaced your previous sources of vital nutrients. You may eat out at restaurants a lot, or in contrast, try to live off basic salads. Maybe you just feel unhealthy or unwell but you’re not sure why? Being vegan really shouldn’t adversely affect your health in this way.
Is this you? It’s a bold claim, but most people I’ve met who feel unwell on a vegan diet, aren’t doing it right. I won’t speak for people with niche medical conditions (I’m not a doctor, after all – but please do see a plant-based qualified professional so they can advise. Most GPs have very little training in nutrition) but for the rest of us – YES, we can thrive on a vegan diet. If you are feeling unwell, it could be due to a lack of nutrients, intolerance or another medical issue. Are you receiving B12 through nutritional yeast, marmite, fortified foods or a supplement? Are you an athlete who needs to eat more? Do you eat enough varieties of fruit and veg? It’s important that we all know basic nutrition regardless of our lifestyle, but many don’t. Before giving up on veganism, it’s worth tracking your food intake (MyFitnessPal is useful for a short while), getting your blood checked, or perhaps even visiting a suitably qualified professional. Veganism, when done right, can help you to feel in the best shape of your life.
You can also chat to a vegan coach – like me! Sometimes you don’t want to keep using google and staring at a screen… it’s nice to connect with someone, have an open conversation, get answers to YOUR specific questions, and hear a friendly voice!
Is It Time Consuming?
Changing what you eat can take up time. At first, it’s a whole new world of foods you’ve never tried before, trial and error with some strange-looking meals, and scurrying around the supermarket peeking at labels. We’ve all been there! It’s a steep learning curve with unique frustrations, but so many benefits. Please know, that it does get much quicker and easier as time goes on.
Is this you? I’d say that any way of eating can be time-consuming if you let it. Nobody’s got time for constant food shopping, complex recipes and obscure ingredients. Identify a Top 10 list of easy meals that you enjoy, so you can refer to it when busy. Try to keep a rolling shopping list, so that you always have the basic staples such as chickpeas, pasta, passata etc – that way you’ll always have something you can whip up if you don’t have time to shop. Build knowledge on which supermarkets have great vegan options so you don’t have to visit several stores. You can also batch cook and freeze when you do have spare time – lentil cottage pie and chilli are two things that keep well. Plus, frozen fruit is great for smoothies. Pinterest is your friend, too. There are so many recipes on there that take less than 30 minutes to make. More than I could even cook in my lifetime! Learner Vegan also has a great group board containing more than 3000 easy recipes – check it out!
What do you think?
I for one, am hoping that the percentage of Veganuary participants planning to stay vegan, increases drastically this year. I can’t wait to see the survey results! If you’re one of the lovely Veganuary participants, be very proud of the progress and achievements of the last month too. I’m rooting for you. If you’re thinking of moving away from veganism, reach out to me below and let me know why… maybe I can help. And if you’re reading this having never tried a vegan lifestyle, check out the benefits of transitioning to one.
Did you find Veganuary a little tricky? Perhaps you have some advice for the participants? Leave us a comment below!
PS. Before you go, have you grabbed this little gem yet? It’s my FREE Action Plan: ‘From Junk Food Mom To Nourished Vegan!’ It includes 5 steps I took to ditch the junk food from my diet, lose 28lb and gain energy.
We also have a private Facebook group designed to help moms reach their health goals. It’s a positive, non-judgmental safe space where all questions are welcome. We have plenty of meal ideas and brainstorming, too!
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