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happy vegan new yearWow, 2014!

The New Year offers beautiful new opportunities and fresh starts. It’s the perfect time to go vegetarian or vegan.

Why not consider making a veg-related resolution?

Could you participate in Meatless Mondays this year? Could you go vegetarian? Could you go vegan?

Of course you could! You can do anything you set your mind to! Plus, I’ll provide 5 helpful tips for getting started.

I was honored to share these tips with Tessa Spencer on ABC News 4’s Lowcountry Live! show yesterday. You can watch the clip here!

vegan new year resolution tips

Tip #1: Decide to Go For It!

The very first step is deciding to go for it, because we really can do anything we set our minds to.

And I will tell you truthfully that if I, the former (self-proclaimed) Miss Cheese – a dairy-addicted, non-chef, regular person – can go vegan, you most certainly can.

The key is finding your motivation.

And there are many positive reasons to motivate you to go vegan.

visit a farm sanctuary

Meet Nikki, one of nine billion motivators for me!

For me, reducing animal suffering is my motivation.

Most people have no idea that nine billion animals – not including fish – are raised for food in the US each year, and the vast majority of those are raised on factory farms which are inherently cruel.

Mother pigs are kept in crates so small they can’t turn around for their entire lives. Egg-laying hens are kept in cages so tiny they can’t flap their wings. Baby cows are taken away from their moms at one day old (or less!) just so the dairy industry can sell their milk.

The cruelties just go on and on.

The great news? We can choose not to participate in this cruelty by not buying animal products – by going vegan!

Another great reason to go vegan is the environment. Animal agriculture is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than all transportation combined, so going vegan has a huge positive impact for the environment.

A vegan diet is also very healthy; it can reduce your risk of some of the leading causes of death like cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. It can also be a good way to lose weight.

So find your motivation for going vegan – whether it’s for animals, the environment, or your health – and really decide to go for it!

Tip #2: Empower Yourself with Knowledge

There’s a lot of info out there to help us navigate a vegan lifestyle, so get out there and empower yourself with that knowledge!

Foer_Eating_Animals_HC(2)If you’re concerned about a specific nutrient like protein or calcium (both of which you can get plenty of on a vegan diet), check out NutritionFacts.org, which is run by a medical doctor and gives easy-to-understand nutrition information.

If you want to learn more about the implications of raising animals for food, Eating Animals is a great book.

There are tons of websites dedicated to making the switch easier, like chooseveg.com too.

There are also great films like Vegucated and Forks Over Knives (available on Netflix) that I highly recommend.

So read up, have fun learning, and empower yourself with knowledge to make this positive change for yourself.

Tip #3: Explore (and Adore!) New Foods

What we eat is a big deal. After all, that’s how this blog got started: so I could show my friends and family just what vegans can eat!

Dell'z Uptown Vegan Jazzy Pizza

Dell’z Uptown Vegan Jazzy Pizza

The key is to stay open and be willing to try new things.

You can make it easier at first just by veganizing your old favorites.

So if you love spaghetti and meatballs for example, try vegan meatballs and vegan parmesan. There are vegan versions of literally EVERYTHING you could want!

Then, try making vegan recipes from websites or cookbooks like Chloe’s Kitchen and The Vegan Table that you can find at the library. You can even make fun vegan recipe Pinterest boards.

I also have a list of Charleston vegan-friendly restaurants so if you live in the Holy City you can see what there is to eat out. And if you don’t live in Chucktown, there’s always HappyCow.net to explore for vegan eats.

I also highly recommend making out a menu and grocery list for the week so you have a plan to incorporate new and exciting foods into your diet.

Going vegan doesn’t limit us; it opens us up to new and delicious horizons!

Tip #4: Recruit Super Veg Support Heroes

vegan resolution 2014

My Mom, who sent me this card when I went veg, is a Super Veg Support Hero!

We all need support when making a big, positive change.

That’s why we need to recruit what I like to call “Super Veg Support Heroes.”

They’re your team that cheers you on and helps you in your veg journey.

They can be friends who try out new recipes with you, family, or an online group.

They can even be new people you meet through groups like Charleston Veggies & Vegans (who get together for potlucks and other events every month).

Reach out and find Super Veg Support Heroes in your area. It can be a great way to make new friends!

Surround yourself with support, and you’ll be successful.

Tip #5: Remember Perfection Isn’t the Goal

There are times when we all fall off the wagon, whether accidentally or because we couldn’t resist a strong craving for ____. vegan resolution new year

The important thing is to remember that perfection isn’t the goal.

Nobody cares if your “record” is perfect or not; there are no Vegan Police.

So if you fall off that wagon, don’t beat yourself up about it; just remember your motivation and get right back on.

Keep moving forward in your cruelty-free, earth-friendly, and healthy new lifestyle!

You’ll be so glad you did.

To a Vegan 2014!