3 Mistakes People Make When Going Vegan – and How to Avoid Them

I’ve been teaching people how to go vegan for 30 years and I absolutely love it! And over the years, I’ve noticed a few common things that can trip people up as they transition to veganism. So here they are, along with how to avoid them.

1. Feeling Pain Instead of Joy

When people think about going vegan, they often focus on how hard they think it will be. They focus on the foods they’ll be giving up, instead of all the new foods they’ll be adding on. They worry about being different than their family and friends, instead of the beauty of their own personal transformation. In other words, they fixate on deprivation, instead of abundance.

To avoid this mistake, shift your mindset. My mantra is “Liberate Your Mind and Your Mouth Will Follow.” So view going vegan as an exciting new journey that you’ll enjoy. Embrace the adventure of this new path you’re taking and keep an open mind and heart.

2. Comparing Instead of Inspiring

Do you know how long it’s going to take you to go vegan? The answer is, however long it takes you! I tell people all the time that it’s not a race or a competition. Your vegan journey is your own. It’s great to read the vegan transition stories of other people for inspiration. But there’s a big difference between inspiration and comparison or competition.

Inspiration can make you feel excited and motivated that you can do it, too. Comparison or competition can make you feel deflated and doubtful that you can do it. It’s not necessary to feel bad to grow. So be kind and gracious with yourself, and seek encouragement and support from folks that will lift you up.

3. Giving Up When You Slip Up

This one is key. When you’re transitioning to vegan foods, it can be common to take one step forward and two steps backward. So you might be doing great one day by eating all vegan food, then the next day or two, you might slip up by eating meat and dairy. Understand that this is usually part of the transition process. So don’t beat yourself up and don’t give up. Just start again the next day.

And at the same time, continue to read vegan books and blogs, watch vegan cooking videos and documentaries, and get support from others. So that even on those days when you slip up, know that all the things you’re doing are still working together in the background to help you mentally and physically transition. Keep your eyes on the prize and know that you are in the process of going vegan and you will do it.

What My Grandma Taught Me About Food And Love

I’ll never forget the time we told Grandma that we couldn’t eat her food anymore. It was 33 years ago, and my mom, sister, and I were new vegans.

We used to have Sunday dinners at my grandmother’s apartment and she was the bestcookever. We lived for Grandma’s fried chicken, homemade biscuits, macaroni and cheese, pound cake and apple pie.

But when we went vegan, we had to break the news to Grandma (my dad’s mom) that we couldn’t eat her food anymore. When we told her, she looked at us indignantly and said “Oh, ya’ll done got sanctified!” Then she turned to my mother in disbelief. “And Mary, you done joined em!”

Since cooking was one of the ways Grandma showed her love — as many grandmothers do — she was not happy about this turn of events at all.

Well, it took a few years, but Grandma finally softened up. One day, out of the blue, she called me and said she wanted to make me an apple pie. I nearly dropped the phone. Grandma’s apple pies were legendary and I truly missed them. But since she used dairy products, I couldn’t eat them anymore.

But on this day, Grandma asked me to go get all my ingredients and bring them over. That I did, along with some vegan ice cream, and we spent the afternoon together in her kitchen while she made me a vegan, whole wheat crust, organic apple pie from scratch. When I finally got to taste it, I realized that Grandma had substituted the same amount of maple syrup for white table sugar, so the pie was way too sweet. But I just smiled and said it was delicious. It’s one of my sweetest memories!

That afternoon with my grandma 30 years ago let me know that food could still bring us together. That our food traditions could include veganizing family favorites and that our bonds of love and family could still be nourished and cherished.

In fact, when my mom went down south to visit her older sisters during those early vegan years, they just took her greens out of the pot before they added the meat, and kept it moving.

So I share this with you to say don’t let the fear of losing family food traditions and bonds hold you back from going vegan. Your relatives just might surprise you!

Food traditions are always evolving, anyway, as new generations put their twists on family recipes.

And as more and more people go vegan to live longer, healthier lives, the health legacies of entire families can change for the better. You just might be that spark for your family.