As a vegan motivational speaker, the number one question I get is, “How do you stick with the vegan diet? I inevitably reach for something vegetarian – usually cheese or chocolate - whenever I get weak!” The answer, surprisingly, does not lie in your weakness for cheese or chocolate! The answer lies in your ability to be prepared.
Over the years, I have found with my clients that when I dig into the circumstances surrounding their foray away from their vegan commitment, it always had to do with not being prepared. Here are examples of what I mean:
You are really hungry on Friday afternoon, looking forward to going home and making something yummy and vegan. Your friend calls to ask about getting a ride to the Mexican Bar for Lisa’s birthday that night. AGH! You forgot about Lisa’s birthday! You race to store to get a card and a gift, and show up late to the bar. Everyone’s gathered around the table, they have a margarita waiting for you, and two huge appetizers with cheese nachos and jalepeno poppers. Knowing that it won’t be easy to get vegan food, and you’re starving hungry, you capitulate and dig in.
Your family members or roommates regularly bring non-vegan food into the house. You didn’t plan for dinner, and hungrily open the refrigerator door, only to find birthday cake left over from last night. You tell yourself, “Ooooooo!! Left over birthday cake! I love birthday cake! Just this once!” and dig into their non-vegan food.
You’re going to Cancun for vacation. The flight is late, you’re getting hungry, and you can’t find anything but a salad with creamy dressing at the airport. You finally just order it, and throw in some bread that you know probably has egg and/or butter in it, because you figure you can’t really let yourself starve.
Each of these examples has the same common denominator: You simply weren’t prepared. You might think that it’s your weakness for birthday cake or cheese nachos, but in fact, there are amazing vegan cakes and (finally) amazing vegan cheese on the market as well. If it was really just a question of you getting over your craving, you could go to the store or a vegan restaurant and get whatever it is that you’re craving.
So what is the answer? Be prepared. Every night you should look at your calendar and know what the following day holds for you, and prepare yourself for it. Do you need to bring your own snack for the plane? Call ahead to the restaurant to tell them a vegan is coming in tonight? Ask your friends to switch restaurants so you’ll have options? Stock your kitchen regularly with your favorite foods so you don’t run out of them and get tempted by roommates’ or family members’ non-vegan food?
The answer – being prepared – is actually very simple … it just requires a tiny bit of planning on your part each day. Commit to being prepared, and you’ll likely find it easy to be vegan!