I had a couple of false starts when I became a vegetarian. The morning after I decided to try vegetarianism, I ate bacon for breakfast. A few days after getting back on my vegetarian plan, I ate chicken ramen. But I had promised myself I was going to stop eating meat, and I stuck with it until I went one week without meat, which turned into two weeks, then a month and then years. I had a couple of false starts when I became a vegetarian. The morning after I decided to try vegetarianism, I ate bacon for breakfast. A few days after getting back on my vegetarian plan, I ate chicken ramen. But I had promised myself I was going to stop eating meat, and I stuck with it until I went one week without meat, which turned into two weeks, then a month and then year.If you're determined to fulfill a Vegan Resolution in 2009 -- for your own health, for the sake of the animals or because you care about the planet -- let me offer a few tips for staying on track. Remember, be specific. Every journey begins with that first step.
1. Set specific goals. Decide if you want to go "cold turkey" (so to speak) or take it slow. Do what will work best for you.
2. Make a specific plan. Maybe you might want to give "Meatless Mondays" a try. Then gradually add one more day each week. Or maybe you could start with that favorite food that is impossible to give up (like cheese, for example - always a tough one!).
3. Follow up on a daily basis. Check in with yourself to see how you're doing and how you're feeling. Those who keep food diaries have the most success when changing their eating habits.
4. Be mindful of what you eat. The simple act of thinking about food has a tremendous impact on what goes into your mouth. When you find yourself saying "do I really want to eat that?" you will have come a long way.
5. Do some research. Vegan cookbooks and websites are plentiful. You could spend a lifetime reading them. Fortunately, most of the work has been done for you. [Check out my "Great Reads" in the Sidebar. One of the best for jumpstarting a vegan journey is Skinny Bitch by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin].
6. Discover new restaurants. Make dining out a pleasure by experimenting with new ethnic cuisine (Thai, Ethiopian, Japanese and Indian have many delicious options) or go to your favorite places and ask the chef if he/she can create a vegan dish for you. There are many vegetarian restaurants in the New Haven area and NYC is a vegan mecca (and just a MetroNorth hop away). Explore!
7. Experiment at home. Try one new recipe a week from those fabulous vegan cookbooks you found. Go to vegan potluck dinners. Share your favorites with friends and family. They'll love you for it (especially if you bring desserts!)
8. Find a buddy. It always helps to know someone who is struggling at the same time so you can help each other out. Or, talk to someone who has been there before (I've been through it all, just ask).
9. Enjoy your food. Really. It's new. It's different. And you don't have to feel deprived. You will soon discover an amazing array of options you never dreamed existed. Now, who could possibly be upset about eating these Sweet Nothings?
10. Be kind to yourself. Your choice to adopt a vegan diet is a big decision and will require dedication. Don't worry if you "fall off the wagon" or "cheat." It's not a guilt trip. It's not about perfection. Every little thing you can do to minimize the suffering of animals, improve your health and respect the environment has a positive impact on all those around you. The effect multiplies. And you'll feel pretty good in the process.