Not everyone is a New Year’s resolution kind of person. For those who are, it’s often a time of initial excitement that quickly diminishes to indifference or even feelings of failure. Most people don’t stick with their resolutions, but it doesn’t have to be that way! If you’ve made a vegan resolution for the New Year – or even if you have another resolution that you feel strongly about – read on for my tips to resolution success.
Prepare ahead of time. Advanced planning will help ground you in unfamiliar territory and minimize stress. Look for recipes online and in cookbooks. Listen, read, and watch anything relevant that interests you. Seek out local and online vegan communities for friendship and support. There are also coaches like myself as well as many group programs and vegan challenges that can help guide you along if you need a helping hand.
Be Clear and Sincere. Write your intentions down. Revisit often, not only to remind yourself of the commitment you made but also to modify as needed. If your original plan becomes too ambitious, rework it to reflect more realistic expectations. Do the same for a plan that isn’t moving quickly enough. While you may think there is a logical order for removing animal products from your diet, you can do it in whatever order you’d like. What matters is you keep the end goal clearly in mind and be honest in your intention to work toward achieving it.
Start Slow if Needed. Making changes requires a lasting commitment. That can sound scary, but it’s actually a gift. It doesn’t need to be done all at once. Resist the temptation to use this as an excuse to procrastinate, but know that you can go at your own pace. For example, say you want to go vegan for the New Year, but you aren’t ready to be vegan during an upcoming event. Instead of waiting until afterwards (because face it, there is always a “next” event), go vegan on New Year’s as planned. If the time comes and you still aren’t ready, do your (nonvegan) thing for that one event. Then, wake up the next day with a fresh commitment to veganism in your heart. For more on this, refer to the “vegan after vices” transition style in my article here.
Grasp inspiration when it appears. While many people fixate on January 1 as The Day to make changes that resonate with them, committing to something new can happen on any day of the year. If you’ve had your one last “I just can’t live without (insert animal product here)!” indulgence, you might choose to begin on an arbitrary day like December 28. Or maybe you didn’t get the idea for a vegan resolution until January 10. Or, suddenly it’s March, and – oops! – you haven’t begun yet. No need to wait until the next January 1. Each moment is an opportunity to answer inspiration’s call.
Stay motivated. Many things can knock you off track. Some are within your control, and others aren’t. Cravings, slip-ups, full-on reversion. Whatever happens, it doesn’t have to become a pattern. And if it does, every moment is an opportunity to shift into a more positive pattern. Forgive yourself. Forgive anyone who had a hand in it, unknowingly or not. Figure out how to fix it if you can. Deal with it if you can’t. Practice acceptance. Think about what you learned and how you’ll handle the next time differently.
If it comes to something more extreme such as you experience a trauma or a parent is hospitalized and you are their caretaker, you may not be able to stick with your initial resolution 100%. Do what you can, and don’t get down on yourself for what you cannot. Your resolution is always there for you to return to.
Lastly, remember that this is about something bigger than yourself. This doesn’t need to be expanded upon so much as emphasized. Anytime you are having doubts or you feel like quitting, remind yourself of this. You are doing an amazing thing that affects so many beings and so much of the world outside of yourself!