Is your 2016 New Year's resolution to go vegan?
It shouldn't be.
There's nothing wrong with veganism, but expecting your diet to be any different on January 1st than it wast the night before is unrealistic.
Going vegan isn't a good resolution. You'll spend this month indulging in all the foods you think you'll miss and get frustrated when your body doesn't accept your new diet overnight.
If you really want to go vegan next year, use December for a head start. Here's what you can do this month to smoothly transition into a vegan 2016.
Gradually cut down on meat and dairy
You don't have to cut everything out at once, but use this month to look at your habits and question every non-vegan choice.
At your company's holiday party, did you exhaust all the vegan options before visiting the cheese plate? Do you need meat, cheese, and sour cream on your burrito or can you pick just one?
Keep it gradual over the month, but go completely vegan by December 29th. You don't want to carry undigested animal products into the New Year.
Get vegan recipes
Your new life calls for new recipes. Stock up on some of the popular vegan cookbooks and make a few dishes a week. Even if you aren't much of a chef, you'll still want a reference list of easy vegan recipes.
Sample vegan food
Use December to try new things. Whether you're at the grocery store or out for dinner, try something vegan a few times a week. Your palate will start to change, and you'll build a mental list of vegan options to get you started.
Do you normally go out for food during your lunch break? Look for plant-based choices at some of your local lunch spots.
Dinner plans? Browse the online menu before you arrive and find dishes that can be made vegan. There's always something.
Join a community
You might need a support system to make it through the first year. Sites like Meetup will have listings of vegan groups in your area, and online forums like VeggieBoards connect you with vegans from all over the world.
Vegan groups are a great way to make friends and get advice, and joining before the "New Years resolution" crowd shows your commitment.
Observe the Winter Solstice
The Winter Solstice is one of the best times to release things that no longer serve you. Here's an excerpt from Lisa Maria's description:
The Winter Solstice is a powerful time of re-birth and transformation - to acknowledge our shadow, heal our wounds, release old thought patterns and align with our destiny. When we dare to face our deepest, darkest fears and overcome them we can truly experience the ecstasy of life. We become confident and stronger. We discover our selves and we know who we are. We begin to trust life and know that it is a force that is both for us and within us. The Winter Solstice marks this triumph of the hero on his or her quest for a greater good.
Some people meditate, fast, or perform rituals during the Solstice, but just taking time to sit in silence and commit to your new life can make a huge impact.
On December 22nd, spend 20 quiet, uninterrupted minutes thinking about your decision to go vegan. Release your dependence on animal products, and set strong intentions for next year.
Go vegan for Christmas
I know I said you had until the 29th, but you'll be more than ready to go vegan by Christmas if you've already started transitioning.
The holidays are one of the tougher times to be vegan. If you can get through the questions from family, temptation from food, and frustration that no one is considering your diet, you'll be well prepared for the year ahead.
My tip: volunteer to help cook.
You'll be able to contribute a few vegan dishes to the table, keep an eye on the ingredients in other dishes, and grab the vegan ingredients (like grains and vegetables) from non-vegan dishes before they're covered in butter and cheese.
As long as you don't buy anything new, it's fine to use wool sweaters, questionable cosmetics, and anything else you already own sparingly while you look for replacements.
An early congratulations on your vegan 2016. If you follow some of these guidelines and start your transition before the ball drops, your new vegan lifestyle is bound to be successful.
Check out PETA for more information on going vegan.