We’re well into January. How are your New Year’s resolutions going? After a few weeks, resolutions sometimes lose their luster or our enthusiasm wanes. It’s never too late to re-motivate or even start again! Now that it’s been 3 weeks, here’s how I’m progressing on my resolutions to go vegan and meditate, along with my thoughts on the motivational challenges a change in lifestyle inevitably brings.
Up until this year, I was on a pescatarian whole foods based diet with the pescatarian aspect reserved to once a week or so. This made my transition to vegetarian fairly easy but I knew my love of eggs and dairy would present challenges to going vegan. In order to be successful in this dietary change, I started problem-solving ahead of the challenge and also continue to think my way around issues as I eat through the last of my non-vegan food by January 31st using the pantry method. Finding replacement foods that I love is the biggest challenge.
Breakfasts until now have been heavy on eggs and dairy. I tend to rotate through eggs, yogurt and oatmeal throughout the week. All three are versatile enough to stave off boredom, with yogurt and oatmeal also serving as yummy vehicles for nuts, seeds and fruit. Going vegan takes out eggs and yogurt from my meal rotation. That means replacing 2 out of 3 staple breakfast dishes.
Eggs. These are one of my true loves. Giving them up takes considerable planning. At the moment I’m making tofu scrambles that are tasty and quick.
I’m not a fan of American soy given its highly GMO’d status but luckily I can find decently priced organic and non-GMO tofu. The other issue I have is with the chemicals used in making tofu like calcium sulfate or potassium chloride, making even organic tofu a processed and chemical-laden food (something most people aren’t aware of). I’d like to replace tofu and soy but for now am making do until I find something else that I’ll consistently want to eat.
Yogurt. So far I haven’t tried non-diary yogurts but it’s something I’m interested in. Unfortunately, I’m used to making my own yogurt easily and on the cheap. I’m unsure how cheaply or easily I’ll be able to field non-dairy yogurt, but like I said, I’m looking into it. For now I’m mostly eating plain Cheerios with bananas and homemade almond milk. Not great but it’s my transition food in the meantime.
Lunch & Dinner
Since I’m used to preparing mainly veggie meals, the transition to fully vegan lunch and dinners hasn’t been too stressful but it helps that I’ve been eating through the remains of my shellfish, which sates my carnivore side at the moment. Mostly I’m eating more bean salads and curries.
One challenge I knew to plan for was problem-solving my cheese love. Cheese with whole grain crackers is my main snack, especially in the evening. I’ve replaced them with homemade guacamole, bean dips, and salsa. That and tapenades. I have completely fallen in love with homemade tapenade spreads so now my cheese snacks will be occasionally missed but I’m super excited to try a variety of tapenade and bruschetta recipes!
As we approach January 31st, my vegan pantry is growing while my non-vegan supplies dwindle. I’m well on my way to making the deadline but last week I kept finding unexpected items in my cabinets like a tin of anchovies, a tilapia fillet and one-off items that made me smack myself on the forehead. Right now I’m down to a pound of mussels, mayo, fish sauce and some sweetened condensed milk I use now and again to make chocolate milk and Thai iced teas. All that is manageable to either eat or toss without feeling like I’ve wasted tons of money.
My grocery shopping hasn’t changed too much other than grabbing a few more veggie items. I bought a couple of meat replacements like “chickn” or vegan “sausage” for moments when I get that savory, meat craving. I chose items with decent ingredients (some brands are really chemical-heavy) but they’re still fairly processed and most everything contains gluten so I use them sparingly. Mostly they are crutches.
The takeaway: So far so good. The craving challenge isn’t too tough thanks to delicious replacement foods that are also easy to make and keep on hand. What did you find or are finding tough when going vegan and how did you problem solve? Would love to hear your thoughts!
100 Meditation Hours Challenge
This challenge is all about developing a regular meditation routine via meditating 100 hours across the year. Because I’m accountable to you lovely readers, I put in the sitting time. It would be so embarrassing to slip up! This means at the end of 3 weeks, I’ve clocked 9 hours and 15 minutes.
That said, I do find it difficult to develop a routine in terms of when to meditate. Ideally I’d like to have a specific time in the morning. From past experience I know that the later it gets in the day, the less likely I will be to meditate. If I leave it till before bed, I just fall asleep or constantly nod off – not great! In the morning though I am energetic and tend to have better sessions without being sleepy or too distracted.
Scheduling is often a challenge for new meditators. Having a consistent time and place is ideal because it forms a structure that reinforces our practice and habit. Plus, our hectic lives can ruin our best intentions unless we schedule our meditation time and prioritize it like we would the times we set for heading out to work or having dinner.
The takeaway: Right now I’m happy that I’m sitting so consistently but know going forward that I need to problem-solve a fixed time to sit, taking into consideration that my schedule fluctuates depending on whether I have guests that day (I’ve been an Airbnb host for the last 6 months).
How is your meditation challenge going? What is challenging you and how do you think you can problem solve it for better results? I’d love to know your thoughts!
21 Days Make a Habit
It’s general wisdom that it takes 21 days to form a new habit. We’re into that period now with our New Year’s resolutions so while it’s not necessarily make or break time, this is the period when we might struggle more, lose motivation, backslide or give up. The trick is not to beat ourselves up and quit, but to realize we are only human and can’t be perfect all the time – especially at something new. Instead, we need to reaffirm our commitment, problem-solve our weaknesses, bolster our strengths and smile at the progress we make. In time, we’ll be smiling more and more and feel proud of what we’re accomplishing.
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