Advice for Your 2012 Vegan Resolution

Tons of people each year make a New Year’s resolution to either take another step toward veganism, or to become vegan full-time. There’s probably not a single choice you can make that is capable of preventing so much animal suffering. Better yet, as we’re about to see, it’s constantly getting easier to make the switch.

It’s reached the point where it takes absolutely no work to find a vegan meal. Last July, Starbuck’s introduced a delicious Sesame Noodles dish to every one of its 11,000 USA locations. Chipotle Mexican Grill makes sensational vegan burritos and rice bowls; just order black beans (the pinto beans contain pork), rice, guacamole, and salsa. These days, even Taco Bell has a pretty good offering for vegans: order their regular bean burrito “Fresco Style.” They’ll swap out the gross orange cheeze and replace it with salsa—and if you’re feeling like throwing some money around spend an extra buck and have them add some rice and guacamole, both of which are vegan. In other words, tell that fine person at the counter: “One bean burrito, Fresco Style, with rice and guacamole.” Holy crap, now you’re sounding like one of those vegans who has been given insider information.

And, if worse comes to worst—you’re out on the road and your blood sugar is crashing—Subway has you covered with a cheap and acceptable vegan meal. This is a big deal since there are actually more Subways than any other chain restaurant worldwide, including McDonald’s—and there are 24,000 Subways in the United States alone. Admittedly, Subway’s vegan offerings aren’t great (but, then again, neither are their meat offerings since it’s all scary factory farmed crap!) As a vegan, you’re basically limited to either a salad or a “Veggie Delight” sandwich, hold the mayo and cheese. And if you want to avoid honey you’ve got to order the Veggie Delight on a white roll. Luckily, there’s reason to hope that 2012 will be the year the chain finally rolls out a more appealing option for vegans.

2011 has also been a great year for books for new vegans. The very first cookbook a new vegan should get is one that’s super basic, with ultra-quick, non-fussy recipes suitable for everyday eating. Robin Robertson’s late-2011 release, Quick-Fix Vegan makes for the perfect cookbook to jump-start your vegan lifestyle. Additionally 2011 saw the release of the most authoritative vegan nutrition book on the planet, Jack Norris and Ginny Messina’s Vegan for Life. And if you’re looking for some handholding in helping you make a painless, easy transition, you can’t do better than my own immodestly titled Ultimate Vegan Guide—which was also updated in 2011. You can buy it on kindle for just 99 cents.

As you make your transition, why not give yourself every advantage? It starts by making sure you’ve always got delicious vegan food in the house, so that there’s always something vegan on-hand if you suddenly get hungry. This is one way that Amazon.com can really come in handy: they’ve got a superb selection of non-perishable vegan pantry items at fantastic prices. We’ve collected the best of these items on this page. Order a few of the items that most appeal to you, and you’ve just taken another step towards easily sticking to your vegan diet in 2012.

Just like anything else you take on in life, the more energy you put into a project, the better results you’ll have—and becoming vegan is, at bottom, simply another project. The most important piece of advice I can give you is to constantly try new foods. Every time you discover something new that you like, you’ll be helping to crowd the animal-based foods you grew up on out of your diet. Until you’re ready to take off your vegan training wheels, make a commitment to sampling ten new vegan foods a week. I promise that you’ll be astonished at how quickly this will enable you to become comfortable on a vegan diet. Before long, the next time you find yourself hungry, the very first food that pops into your head will automatically be vegan. And in short order, being vegan will become second nature—it’s a lifestyle you don’t have to give any thought to maintaining.

But between now and that day, you may find yourself falling off the wagon. At all costs, don’t take one slip-up as an excuse to abandon your commitment to veganism. Learn from the experience, treat yourself with forgiveness, and ask yourself what you could have eaten instead. And since most new vegans inevitably slip up, you might make a point of absolutely committing right now to never again eat the cruelest of animal-based foods: chicken and battery-cage eggs. These two foods are probably right up there with veal and foie gras in terms of misery per mouthful.

If you need another shot of motivation to start off, spend the next twelve minutes watching Mercy For Animals’ superb Farm to Fridge video on YouTube. This is admittedly a difficult video to watch, but it can provide powerful motivation that lasts a lifetime.

If you’re not ready to go 100 percent vegan, that’s cool too. Just do as much as you can. Maybe you are ready to commit to no more eggs, or no more chicken, or no more seafood.  Whatever you’re ready to do is another step. And, as you continue trying new vegan foods every day, you’ll be opening up all sorts of culinary possibilities. Before long, you’ll feel eager to drop still other animal-based foods from your diet.

Finally, know that transitioning to a vegan diet will turn out to be much easier than you currently believe. Most vegans are shocked that, rather being painful, the entire experience ends up being exciting and joyful. You’ll be discovering delicious new foods. You’ll have the opportunity to improve your health while shrinking your environmental footprint. Moreover, there’s a real satisfaction that comes with aligning your food choices with your most cherished values.

It doesn’t matter whether your next move towards a vegan lifestyle is a big step or a small one. Just decide what you’re ready to do today and make it happen. Keep it fun, keep giving yourself every advantage, and know that success is guaranteed.