I’ve thought about becoming vegan a few times over the past few years, though never stuck with it and always went back to my regular bad diet of fast food, beer, and coffee. On the other hand I have always been pretty good at sticking with my new year’s resolutions; I learned to swim, to drive and I’ve almost cleared all my debt. So, this year I thought I’d make veganism my new year’s resolution, here are the five reasons that I failed again in the hopes that any of you wanting to try it out might find it a little easier to succeed.
Reading this article won’t solve all issues, it’s here to give a little extra guidance. Veganism is a substantial change in lifestyle and not for everyone. Take this as five mistakes I made and something to keep an eye out for if you start on this journey.
I went all in from the start.
With anything I’ve done in the past, leaping into the deep end seemed to be the way to go, that’s just how I learn best. When I started to learn to drive, I went in with a two-hour session twice per week instead of the usual single hour per week. When I was learning Spanish, I downloaded every app I could find and was one click away from booking a month’s holiday to Madrid (thankfully for my bank account I didn’t.)
With converting to veganism, however, this was a big mistake, I threw all my food out even the good stuff and went out shopping for vegan-friendly foods. I won’t get into the sheer lack of vegan options in the UK’s biggest supermarket’s but let’s say you won’t be doing a lot of walking around in shops anymore. By the time I got home my shelves and fridge were full of ripe fresh fruit and veg, vegan chocolate and other treats. The problem this caused was I went from putting some food in the oven or microwave to having to learn a whole new way of cooking and eating, it is a pain to have to check every single ingredient in a recipe.
Had I gradually replaced ingredients with vegan options as I usually would with regular foods, this process would have been a lot easier. I caused myself a lot of stress for no reason.
I couldn’t be adventurous enough.
This is probably a symptom of the above, but none the less it was a problem for me. I’m an adventurous person with food, I love trying new food cultures and crazy ingredient combinations, I didn’t realize how much I would hate avocado…
I found myself enjoying one particular pasta dish I made with random ingredients I knew I would like, held together with vegan mayo. It was tasty, the problem with it was I hardly moved away from it because I didn’t want the avocado on toast and was always too hungry for a Caesar salad. Eventually, I started to enjoy tofu-based foods and Heck’s vegan sausages; I couldn’t find the adventurous variation I’ve experienced all my life.
I may have been naïve and not looked hard enough, but without taking a day out of the week to visit the farmers market I had to stick with what I had learned and the 3 or four dishes this made up.
I didn’t use my resources.
I work in a call center, this is an excellent benefit when it comes to a diverse workforce. I can proudly say I work with people from all corners of the globe and all walks of life. The vegan population of my 500 strong workplaces? Two. Not a great start since I have no friends or family who would even consider trying this “Snowflake diet.”
This is however another case of causing my own issues; I could have easily gone to those two people and asked for advice but thought I could do it all myself. I did get some welcome assistance from the café staff who would custom make existing wraps and sandwiches to accommodate my new diet.
There were so many articles and videos along with my colleagues’ potential support that could have answered the questions I had and guided me through the process. I knew best and what I knew ultimately led to me completely failing. If you try veganism, I’d recommend getting as much support and reading as much as you can.
I didn’t move on from setbacks.
As you would expect there was always going to be setbacks, accidentally eating non-vegan foods and giving into cravings. The best thing to do is learn from these setbacks and move on stronger than before, as my friend once told me after giving up smoking for seven years,
“if you quit for a week and smoke one cigarette that’s better than the 71 you would have had.”
Take this philosophy and apply it to the odd milk chocolate bar you find yourself eating after two weeks of veganism and hopefully you won’t beat yourself up as much as I did. Once I did this and never let myself off the hook, I started disbelieving in myself which led to the cravings and the beginning of the end.
From here I could have looked back at the success I had, all the meat and dairy that hadn’t made its way into my system and patted myself on the back. Instead, I saw the times I failed and used it as an excuse to eat meat since I love chicken; this was the one ingredient I desperately didn’t want to fail on. Once I tried my favorite chicken kebab, I simply gave up on veganism once again.
I reverted 100%
If you get to this stage realizing that veganism isn’t for you, you mostly have two options: completely return to your old diet or live a mainly vegan diet and add meat and dairy in where you want it. I didn’t think about these options and automatically opted for the former. I wouldn’t say this was a mistake or failure merely a misunderstanding of my choices, however knowing what I do know I would have gone about it differently.
I have started to take a more balanced approach to my diet, looking something like the charts you made in school with a banana, bottle of milk, fish, and bread. This suits me, and I probably won’t try veganism again, at least any time soon. I do however hope my mistakes help you go on this path a little easier than I tried not knowing what I do now.