This ongoing series will be covering tips that I have accumulated as I have tried to reduce my reliance on animal products. I’ve chosen the word vegan here, because I ultimately want to cease use of all animal products in my own life, but these tips are effective for anyone trying to adopt the reducetarian lifestyle.
Tip 2: Start Small
Let’s just imagine there are no cultural factors keeping you from a plant-based diet. Every restaurant you visit has multiple deliciously well thought out vegan options. Grocery stores have unlimited and affordable meat and dairy alternatives, and you have all the time in the world to prepare them at home. Your family is understanding of your dietary restrictions and accommodate accordingly. Going vegan should be easy right? Maybe for some! But if it isn’t for you, that’s ok! Especially if all the stars don’t align and you are dealing with the conditions listed above (which probably describes most people).
Giving up meat was pretty easy for me. Besides chicken, I never really liked most meats, so when I decided to stop eating it, I didn’t really have to wean myself off of it. Dairy and eggs on the other hand… well that’s a different story. I wouldn’t consider myself a person that is obsessed with cheese. I don’t often crave it and I don’t even like it in large quantities. But I do really, really like it as an accenting flavor. Same with other types of dairy. It just gives food such a creamy quality that is pretty hard to resist. When I first started transitioning to more of a vegan lifestyle, I actually found it was fairly easy to replicate that texture and taste. The problem wasn’t with the food, but with my brain. I am still trying to train my dopamine receptors to stop going so crazy every time I think about cheese curds.
The best piece of advice I have been given as I try to eliminate animal products from my diet is to start small. Yes, you will fail in this journey. But by starting small, you will give yourself a better foundation, which will make you less likely to fail in the future. If you are considering becoming vegan, but still eat and love meat, consider eliminating one type of meat from your diet. Once you have become accustomed to it being out of your life, eliminate another type, and another type, until you aren’t even eating dairy and eggs anymore (or whatever your end goal is). This will probably take a while, as we rely on animal products a lot more than we think! But it makes the experience less overwhelming, which means you’ll be more likely to do it! The way I see it, by ensuring our future success, we are doing a lot more in reducing harm in the long run.
So where will you be starting small?