When I started my vegan journey in May of 2012 I was determined to live a more compassionate and sustainable lifestyle and show my family and friends that anything they could eat, I could eat vegan. I took on the task of showing my friends and family that it is possible to create wonderful meals that are vegan. I wanted to educate my family and friends that I would not live a life of deprivation or starvation but rather quite the opposite—a life of good health, compassion, vibrancy, and flavor. And that is what I set out to do.
As my vegan journey continued anytime that I wanted to eat something that I would normally have had in my old lifestyle, I made it a point to stop myself and put in the time needed to find the vegan equivalent. For example, if I was looking for ice cream, I would have some coconut based or soy based ice cream found at my local grocers. For me, this thinking, of “anything you can eat, I can buy/have/find/bake/cook vegan” really worked for me. There was never a time that I felt deprived, but rather empowered, to create the vegan equivalent needed to sustain and maintain my health and lifestyle choice.
Whether you are in search of tips for yourself, or family and friends, below are some helpful ways to successfully navigate your new lifestyle and help reduce the urge to eat non-vegan or old-lifestyle food choices.
- It is important to shift the focus from food, feeling pleasure, satisfaction or comfort from a food item to a pleasurable activity instead. Examples include going for a walk, talking with a good friend, taking a bath, or any other activity that could contribute to your self-care.
- Eliminate sensory cues, smells, sights, and sounds related to the food craving or urge.
- Engage in a non-food related activity such as reading, talking to a friend or going for a walk.
- Clean the pantry out and get rid of old lifestyle foods and replace with vegan staples such as nuts, seeds, pre-cut veggies, fruits, or pretzels.
- Take a look at The Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions by Celine Steen and Joni Marie Newman, or The Complete Guide to Even More Vegan Food Substitutions: The Latest and Greatest Methods for Veganizing Anything Using More Natural, Plant-based Ingredients by Celine Steen and Joni Marie Newman. These two books are great resources at guiding people towards enjoying favorite recipes with new vegan substitutions.
- Have vegan options readily available at home, and pack a snack for when you’re away from home or traveling. Frozen grapes or blueberries are a frosty, sweet treat, or pack trail mix, oatmeal, beans, or crunchy raw veggies.
- Practice mindfulness or meditation techniques for stress reduction and self-discovery.
We are all doing the best that we can on our paths to healthier, happier, and compassionate lifestyles. It is important to reconnect back to our heart and to the individual reasons that you have decided to make a vegan lifestyle change. Reconnecting back to our heart space can help us maintain our connection to ourselves and to our contributions to a more compassionate world ahead!
Heather Swick, MS, is a certified vegan lifestyle coach and educator through Main Street Vegan Academy. She loves helping others experience the joys of living a vegan lifestyle and owns Mojo Vegan Life, LLC. More information on Heather and Mojo Vegan Life, LLC, can be found at www.mojovegan.life! Or feel free to get in touch with Heather via email.