We’ve all heard the news about celebrities and influencers who have tried out a vegan diet, only to quit. Today I want to share with you what you need to do in order to avoid being an ex-vegan yourself!
I remember how hard it was for my husband and me six years ago when we took the plunge into veganism.
Our daughter at the time was our only child and she was about 2 years old.
We faced a lot of adversity from family and the people close to us.
And, unfortunately, because we were still so new at getting the hang of a vegan lifestyle, we didn’t know how to respond properly.
We were still learning the best way to eat a healthy vegan diet, what exactly being vegan meant, and how to fit that into our lifestyle.
We were also the only vegans in our immediate circle-we didn’t even have a vegetarian in our group!
So with that all in mind, today I’m going to give you my best advice on what it takes to be vegan long term.
I’m also going to give you 10 actionable steps you can take today so you can continue to reap the benefits of living a vegan lifestyle long term!
If you haven’t been following me for long, nice to meet you!
I’m Megan and I’m an LPN, Vegan Educator, and Serious Foodie!
I’ve been living a vegan lifestyle with my large family for over 6 years now.
It hasn’t always been easy for me to stick to my vegan lifestyle…but it’s not for the reason you might be thinking.
Let’s dive into what you can do to keep yourself on track, and I’ll let you guess which one of these I struggled with the most.
How to Stay Vegan Long Term
I don’t know about you, but for me sticking to a diet is nearly impossible long term. That’s why it’s so important for you to treat veganism as a lifestyle rather than just another diet.
Watch the Video here:
Make Veganism about Someone Else
You can do this by educating yourself about how being vegan affects the world around you.
Dive deep into the animal ag industry.
Check out the allowed practices for your specific country. Watch a few documentaries (Dominion, Earthlings) and decide if contributing to this industry by purchasing the products they produce is actually in line with your personal values and beliefs.
Also consider your beliefs about the climate crisis and how you would like to reduce your carbon footprint.
Cowspiracy is one of the best documentaries to watch when you’re learning about how animal agriculture is directly related to global warming.
To help you out here, I’ve created a free workbook that will take you through a deep dive into exploring your motivations for going vegan.
It uses a technique I’ve adopted from health care called motivational interviewing.
You’ll answer a series of questions in the workbook that will help you see the benefits of changing your lifestyle.
And, I’ve included a bonus values worksheet, which will help you find what personal values and beliefs you feel are the most important.
This will show you if a vegan lifestyle is in line with what you value the most.
It comes directly from my signature program, Plant-Powered.
I’ve directed my student in the program to use this workbook as a tool to communicate their need for support from friends and family when they are explaining their new diet and lifestyle.
After all, that is truly the hardest thing about going vegan. Doing it in a non-vegan world!
Get Enough Calories
I’m on a lot of vegan and vegetarian Facebook groups, and it never fails that at least once a week someone will post a picture of their first vegan meal being lettuce, green vegetables, and roasted mushrooms, or some other low-calorie meal.
I get it because after all, that’s kinda what people think vegans eat by default.
There’s nothing wrong with eating your veggies! In fact, you should be eating a lot of them every single day.
But the problem here is that they are so low in calories and so full of fiber and water that you can accidentally undereat if you aren’t careful.
This leads to low energy, headaches, and an unsustainable diet that will have you wondering what all the fuss is about going vegan in the first place.
My best tip here is to educate yourself about how to properly plan a plant-based diet. I’ve got a free masterclass walking you through how to do just that here for you.
This one I really struggled with when we first went vegan.
I had never even heard the word vegan before, and I had only ever met a handful of vegetarians.
Our family wasn’t supportive, and we didn’t have a mentor to look up to except for YouTube.
This was okay in the beginning, but honestly, it started to feel really lonely.
Eventually we branched out and started finding other vegans in our local community.
We’d go to potlucks where we could actually eat everything at the table-aaammmaaaazzzzing!!
And we met a lot of like-minded people that made us feel normal.
My best tip for you here is to join trusted Facebook groups, get on social media and meet vegans in your local area.
If you’re just getting started, you can join my small mentorship group (it’s free!) I share recipes, tips, and motivation to keep you going.
I’m not going to lie….when you first go vegan you’re going to face a lot of questions, and sometimes criticisms about your decision.
It will come from well-meaning friends and family, and strangers who you’ve only really met once asking, “but where do you get your protein…”
Sometimes these questions start to feel a lot more like judgement and criticism-especially once they realise, you’re serious about not eating steak dinner with them.
This can either set you off, causing feelings of anger and resentment, or it can silence you and even cause you to compromise your values just to keep the peace at the dinner table.
This just isn’t right.
You can avoid most of this by learning how to respond to honest questions, and recognizing when to disengage when “honest questions” become an attack.
This is a skill I’ve learnt over many years, but you can give yourself a head start by learning the answers to common questions like “where do you get your protein” or simply saying, “my doctor is onboard and it’s working well for me. I’m really happy, thanks for asking.”
Then encourage them to do their own research if they have more questions.
You can tell them where you first learned about veganism, or direct them to a documentary like What the Health.
How to Stay Vegan
Here is a road map I’ve laid out for you to follow that will get you motivated and excited again about being vegan long term:
Download the free workbook I’ve created to help you define your personal values. Once you know your top 3-4 take a look at the vegan lifestyle on a moral stance. Does it line up with what you feel is most important in your life?
Watch Gary Yourofsky’s “Best Speech You’ll Ever Hear” on Youtube. He teaches a university class all about veganism and puts the ethical stance into perspective in a very digestible way. There is very little sensitive footage, and it gets to the heart of the matter in under an hour.
Watch Dominion. This is a behind the scene look at the common humane practices slaughterhouses use.
Watch Cowspiracy. This documentary addresses the environmental impact of animal agriculture and how each and every one of us can make a significant difference just by choosing what to include on our plates.
Watch What the Health. This documentary explains how a healthy plant-based vegan diet can prevent and even reverse a lot of our most prevalent debilitating diseases today.
Join a Facebook group (or many!) You can come over to How to Go Vegan with Megan, and also be sure to join other vegan for beginner Facebook groups. You can meet the community and see how other people are getting along who are just starting out as well.
Get on Pinterest. There are so many amazing and delicious vegan recipes for you to try! If you aren’t in to cooking, there are some really easy ones just for beginners as well!
Check out the vegan scene near you. While you’re on Facebook, see what events (virtual or in-person) you can attend to meet local vegans.
Think about the most common questions you’ve already been asked about being vegan. Are you confident answering those questions? If not, write them down and then find the answers. Practice some talking points so you feel more confident the next time friends and family ask about your diet.
Find a way that works for you to disengage in a conversation if it begins to become uncomfortable. Did you know there’s actually a term for people who don’t like vegans!? It’s called Vegophobia (and ya, I wish I was making that up). When you inevitably come across a person who has nothing but ridicule for your lifestyle, it’s important for you to recognize that and move on.
So, did you guess right?
Although I had a big learning curve when it came to eating a balanced vegan diet, food was never the most difficult thing about going vegan.
The hardest thing for me and the one thing that I still face again and again is the challenge of being vegan in social situations.
I don’t have a hard time anymore with it because I’ve nailed down my responses to people who don’t know me yet, and my friends and family all are very aware of my diet and lifestyle.
But, I do still need to pre-plan and consider others when attending events or going out to eat.
I never want the people closest to me to feel as though I’m ungrateful because I won’t eat a special cake or dinner they’ve created.
So my final tip for you today is to always let your host or hostess know ahead of time what your dietary restrictions are, and offer to bring a dish with you.
If you’re ever caught off guard with an offering of fresh baked cookies or some other treat your loved one has just made, you can kindly say something like,
“Thank you so much for thinking of me! These look absolutely delicious. I don’t actually eat butter/eggs/milk (etc.) so I won’t have one, but I’m so glad we were able to see each other today and spend some time together.”
This statement acknowledges that you recognize your friend’s effort, and show them what is really important-the time you spend together.
Here’s a pin for your board so you can come back to this post when you need some extra motivation! Don’t forget to follow me on Pinterest for recipes and vegan inspiration every day!
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Megan Kerry is a Vegan Lifestyle Educator and Licensed Practical Nurse. Her content focuses on vegan recipes and ethical living. She is a mom of four children, a long time vegan, and an even longer time foodie. She loves veganizing any and all dishes and sharing her recipes and lifestyle tips with all of you!