Alton’s been reflecting about a significant change he made in his life and what he’s learned from it.
Five years ago I decided to become a vegan (please don’t groan!). I have to stress that this surprised my friends. Until that point, I was what you might call a ‘militant meat-eater’. I scoffed at vegetarians and made jokes about eating bacon. One of my friends was a vegan and I enjoyed debating with her on ways to justify my meat-eating; having wisdom teeth, animals are bred for meat and we’ve been eating meat for thousands of years. However, she was a formidable opponent and had logical and clear arguments for the vegan lifestyle. Eventually, I thought, ‘I wonder if I can be vegan for just a couple of weeks?’ That was five years ago and I haven’t stopped since.
As we’ve just begun a new year (and January is Veganuary!) you may be contemplating making some changes to your life; whether it’s to improve your health, take more exercise or give up smoking. From my experience, I’d like to suggest five top tips for making and maintaining a change that I’ve found helpful.
Remember why you decided to make the change
I became vegan to protect animals and the environment. A quote that sticks in my mind is, ‘If you could live your life without causing unnecessary suffering to others, why wouldn’t you?’ Remembering my reasons helped me in the early days when I was tempted to go back to my old ways and still helps me today.
Live each day at a time
My original plan was to try veganism for a couple of weeks, I had no plan to do it permanently. This philosophy has continued five years later. Making a big change can be scary. I believe it’s even scarier if you think it’s forever. For example, could I really imagine a life never eating cheese again? Taking things one day at a time or setting short-term goals takes the pressure off and makes it far easier to contemplate.
Be kind to yourself
I‘ll be honest and admit I’ve made mistakes in my lifestyle change. I’ve accidentally eaten something containing animal products or even wilfully sneaked a cheese and onion pasty. However, I don’t beat myself up about these things. I’m human and fallible. I just remind myself why I’m doing it and move on.
Gain some support from others
Making a big change can seem daunting, especially if there’s a steep learning curve. As a keen cook, I‘ve had to completely relearn how to make foods like ‘cheese’ sauce as well as egg and dairy-free cakes. Early on I joined a few vegan Facebook groups. Not only was it great to have the support from like-minded people but I could also ask questions and quickly learn new things.
When you’ve made a change and maintained it for a period, remember to look back on your journey and be proud of your achievements. I often think to myself, ‘Wow, if I can make the change to veganism, imagine what else I could do if I put my mind to it!’
I’d love to hear more about the changes you’ve made in your life and what helped you do it.