Over the next several blogs, one of our brand ambassadors, Peg Haust-Arliss, LCSW-R, will be writing about overcoming the challenges associated with becoming vegan.
In some ways, social and personal challenges are the easiest to overcome. Let’s now take a look at common everyday challenges that may challenge staying the course.
• Taste and texture of meat, dairy, and processed foods are deeply ingrained in us.
• Unknowingly turning into a “junk food vegan.”
• Vegan options on the road, in restaurants, and in work and school cafeterias are limited.
• Believing it’s too expensive to go vegan.
• Believing there is no time to eat healthy.
• Vegan ingredients and cooking techniques are overwhelming for beginners.
1. Be open to trying new foods. Experiment from a place of fun and, most importantly, remember why you are doing this. Yes, your taste buds are going to have to adjust. They have had years of exposure to lots of crap. But they can make the change, I promise! One day you will not think twice about it.
2. During my early veg days, I thought I was healthy enough just by eliminating meat. Unknowingly, I was a “junk food” vegetarian. It was only a few years ago that I learned (or cared) how unhealthy it was. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy an occasional junky meal, but give you and your family a hand by choosing whole foods and home-cooked meals more often. To make this easier, get rid of the junk food in your house; if you don’t buy it, you won’t be tempted. Have ready-to-eat veggies and fruit easily accessible at all times. To help soothe cravings and get energized, drink water! Add frozen fruit or cucumbers and mint for variety. Carry a water bottle with you wherever you go.
3. Mexican, Asian, and Mediterranean restaurants will typically have vegan options. If that’s not an option, call restaurants ahead of time and ask them if they can accommodate your dietary needs. I have been pleasantly surprised how many chefs really enjoy doing this. I think they are happy to have an opportunity to be creative. If they do this for you, make sure you lavish them with appreciation and compliments! For those times when restaurants are unavailable or undesirable, keep snacks in the car or your bag and purse that don’t perish quickly. Make your own homemade trail mix with raw nuts/seeds and pair with easy to carry fruit like bananas and oranges.
4. Keep your pantry stocked with legumes, whole grains, and frozen fruit. These will make meals more affordable and easier to whip up! Also, keep the dirty/clean list of organics on hand while you shop so you don’t spend lots of money buying everything organic. Shop at local farmer’s markets or join your local co-op to save money on fresh produce.
5. To save time, aim to cook only once a day (or even a few times a week). Make large amounts and refrigerate for quick weekday meals. Pre-chop onions, peppers, herbs and garlic, and pre-squeeze fresh lemons and limes; all of these freeze and reheat well. Get creative with leftovers! Peel and slice ripe bananas and place in freezer bags for smoothies and ice cream. Purchase green bags/containers to keep and store produce longer. Have a wish list of kitchen appliances that will help you make healthy meals in less time, such as a high-speed blender, pressure cooker, and slow cooker.
I hope my tips and ideas help make your transition easy. Remember, it’s not about perfection or obsessing! If you build your muscles of compassion and patience, and take care of yourself emotionally, physically, and spiritually, you will avoid burnout. You will instead enjoy the most fulfilling lifestyle one can live. I am very hopeful! Since my journey started in 1990, I see the world catching on. It seems more and more people are finally “getting it.” I can see the day when the vegan movement is not seen as radical, but instead, as revolutionary and heroic.
Rise and Shine!
Peg Haust-Arliss, LCSW-R
Holistic Psychotherapist, Anxiety Specialist, and Vegan Health and Lifestyle Coach
Peg is an author, therapist, vegan health and lifestyle coach and the proud owner of Fear To Freedom Holistic Psychotherapy. Her thriving private practice is located in the beautiful Finger Lakes area of upstate New York, where she offers in-person and online individual therapy and coaching, VIP Day Breakthrough Sessions, and Coaching Programs based on her book: Anxiety Breakthrough.
Peg resides with her husband and their four very adored and entertaining fur kids. She is passionate about animal rights and is on the board of ARAUNY, Animal Rights Advocates of Upstate NY. For fun and relaxation, she loves cooking, physical fitness, music, wine touring, spa days, walking the dogs, very amateur photography, and spoiling her husband, family, and friends any chance she gets!
Download free excerpts of her book and connect with her on social media, all on her website at FearToFreedom.com.