I recently brought my new vegan red lentil pilaf to a potluck dinner where its "vegan-ness" drew much attention among the guests.

One woman who tried it said she thought it was great and then admitted that she had just recently quit being a vegan. When I asked her why, she said, "I just couldn't stand all the substitutes. Vegan sausage and vegan cheese just don't taste as good as the real thing. I couldn't do it, so I went back to eating meat and cheese."

Unfortunately, this story is all too common among those who are taking their first steps toward health on a vegan diet. When giving up meat and dairy, many people expect to continue with the same dietary routines and habits as they have always had - they just figure they'll make substitutions.

Starting a vegan journey like this is actually the best way not to stick with it! Expectations of what substitutes can offer will always fall short - that's why they're substitutes.

So instead of focusing on substitution, think TRANSFORMATION! Becoming a vegan is a great opportunity to completely rethink the way you eat, how often you eat and how you balance your nutrition.

Try these simple transformative tips:

  1. Think differently about your idea of a typical meal. - For example, do you generally think of breakfast as being cereal, toast or eggs? Why not do something different? Have a smoothie, a stir-fry, or even a salad instead!
  2. Re-consider how much you eat and when. - A friend of mine once told me, "You should eat like a king at breakfast, a prince at lunch and a pauper at dinner." It makes sense, when you think about it. Isn't it better to consume our calories earlier in the day when we're actually burning them? Instead, many people eat small breakfasts and lunches, and then sit down to a huge dinner that their bodies will have to digest while they sleep. Maybe cereal for dinner is a better idea after all...
  3. Eat smaller meals more frequently - Although we have evolved technologically, we are biologically still grazers and this approach is closer to what our bodies need. Our bodies are happiest with a small but steady stream of healthy food. Eating this way also helps to keep your nutritional intake more balanced because you won't be trying to jam every "food group" into one meal. You can spread your daily requirements out over several meals and have, say, your greens over one or two meals and your proteins in another two. Eating five or six small meals each day keeps your body much happier and gives you the opportunity to rethink the structure of your meals.
  4. .

There will of course, be occasions when you will want to use a substitute (desserts would frankly be impossible without them!), but if those occasions happen only...um...occasionally, then you will find it much easier to stay on your vegan path. Becoming a vegan means taking a big step "outside the box." So why not go farther and throw the whole box completely away!

Author's Bio: 

Fiona Ostermayer has been a vegan for almost 10 years. She has been writing about her experiences with vegan and raw food for the past two years and is the founder of the Busy-Vegan web site. Fiona works with people of all ages and is passionate about promoting and teaching healthy lifestyles, including vegan nutrition, raw food nutrition and the importance of eating locally and organically.