As Veganuary comes to a close, you may be wondering whether to keep going on your plant-based journey. Doing so is certainly a wonderful thing to do for the environment and animal welfare, as well as your own health.
However, long-term veganism is a little different from Veganuary. While Veganuary helps reduce your impact on a short-term scale, going vegan in the long term is a lifestyle change, which comes with its benefits, but also some challenges.
Don’t give in to social pressure
When people ask me what the hardest part about veganism is, I always say it’s the social pressure. It’s my grandma telling me that the whole world wouldn’t fall apart if I ate a piece of meat. It’s the eye rolls I get when I politely decline a treat with dairy in it. It’s the general pressure society puts on you to conform to its food standards.
This is something that you will most likely encounter on your journey towards veganism, so don’t let it get to you. Remember that it happens to everyone, that you have the right to make your own decisions about what to eat and that you can always rant about it to fellow vegans!
Focus on whole foods
During Veganuary, you may have been trying a lot of vegan meat alternatives. While they are amazing and a wonderful way to experience how far innovation has gone, they also usually aren’t the healthiest.
Going past January, focus on basing most of your diet on whole foods – fruits, veggies, grains, beans or nuts. Enjoy the vegan substitutes, but don’t make them a part of every meal you cook.
Don’t swear off vegan cheese
Here’s a very specific one – if you’ve tried vegan cheese during Veganuary, there’s quite a big chance you didn’t like it much. Does that sound familiar?
That’s because dairy cheese contains casein, which is mildly addictive. Nothing like alcohol or cigarettes, but what it does is make vegan cheese, which doesn’t have this milk protein in it, taste much worse. The good news is that after a few weeks or months, these effects will wear off and you’ll likely start enjoying vegan cheese much more!
Find the right vitamins
In times when most of us are staying indoors most of the time, and our foods are sanitized to ensure there’s not a single piece of dirt left on them, we should all be taking vitamins – especially B12 (and this advice isn’t just for the aspiring vegans out there).
If you haven’t been taking vitamins during Veganuary, now would be a good time to pick them up. I prefer to buy vitamins designed specifically for vegans (VEG1 is my personal favourite), because that way, you can be sure they don’t contain any animal-based ingredients.
Find support from fellow vegans
Whether you go vegan along with your friends, or just join a Facebook group about veganism, find a community of people who’ll support you on your journey. Everything is easier when you have support from someone else, especially when it comes to lifestyle changes.