There are so many different ways to help encourage sticking to veganism, but I'm going to focus on a few that I find to be the most successful to stress. (Age group from 20-30).
- Feels Good
- Debunk the Myths
- Tips & Tricks
Almost everyone I have met who has made a quirk about veganism stresses how much they couldn't go without specific meals that they savor and love. The importance of cooking your own meals might sound scary, but veganism offers so many opportunities to experience with new and unfamiliar products. Cooking is empowering, exciting, and more often than not leads to a tasty meal that you and your friends / family may enjoy. When I started, I rarely cooked and ate whatever I could find. Cooking is now one of my passions and I love nothing more than the watching the faces of my omnivorous friends as they take a bite into a "bacon cheeseburger" and struggle to hand the burger back to me.
Specifically, I stress the need to recreate your favorite dishes without the animal products they once required. If spinach lasagna is your favorite, make spinach lasagna! If you're craving scrambled eggs, grab a block of tofu and some veggies and see what you can come up with. It's an exciting adventure and can really help encourage those attempting vegan to stay motivated.
On top of this, the introduction to a new culinary world is thrilling. I'm sure your typical omnivore doesn't know that adding kala namak to your tofu can make it smell like eggs, or that oyster mushrooms can replace clams in a chowder!
As silly as this topic sounds, people take feeling good for granted. When eating a (balanced) plant based diet, there is no doubt that you start to feel good. It only took me a week to realize that I didn't need to feel awful after every meal. There was nothing wrong with me, I just needed to stop putting unfriendly food into my stomach.
This change in feeling should be emphasized as much as possible. They are already interested in living a plant based lifestyle, they just need more encouragement. Remembering that if they stick with it they will feel better is important. The light at the end of the tunnel is actually a pleasant feeling of content.
The simple fact that no animals were harmed in the making of your dinner is often enough to keep you committed.
Debunking the Myths
There are so many myths surrounding veganism that give it a bad name and evoke fear in the minds of the curious.
- Where do you get your protein / iron / random vitamin no one else seems to ever worry about?
- Milk is required to build strong bones, you have to drink it.
- Tofu is gross!
Debunk these myths! Tell them that there is so much protein in a plant based diet that you don't need supplements. Tell them that milk is meant for baby cows and not baby humans and is linked to many health issues (source). Give them a piece of tofu you cooked that changes their mind!
Tips & Tricks
After being vegan for a long time, you learn so many tips and tricks that help make things easier. I wish I knew when I started that if there is any amount of cholesterol in the nutritional information that it wasn't vegan and I didn't need to spend any time reading through the unpronounceable list of ingredients.
Tell them how to order vegan at their favorite restaurants (or any restaurant), and that they can eat pretty much anywhere. Tell them what mock meats and cheeses taste the best, and how to make that block of tofu you cooked for them earlier. Tell them that nutritional yeast makes everything taste better. (subjective!) Tell them that anything you can imagine, you can make vegan!
It's all about a positive attitude. Everyone can do it!