How to Deal With Craving for Non-Vegan Food?
First of all, congratulations on your decision to become a vegan! It already tells a lot of positive things about you.
A lot of vegans, especially in the early stages of their journey, develop craving for things that they used to eat which contain animal products. It makes sense and is totally ok!!
The issue is not the craving that emerges but the way we choose to deal with it.
At the end of the day everyone finds the way that works best for them, but because I get this question quite a bit, I decided to share a few ways to help that help me deal with cravings.
First of all, it's important to know why did you choose to be vegan? Is it because of a health reason? Is it for a moral reason? both?
In order to persist and maintain a certain path, any path, it is important that we know why we are walking it. At the beginning of my journey, I had quite a few cravings for all sorts of things. Before being vegan, I would have enjoyed eating fish and seafood, meat, an omelette in the morning, oh and... cheese was my love.
The first craving attack I had was for fish. I decided to try to control myself, to hold back. I realized that the craving doesn't go away for two months! and I really want to eat fish. I can't stop thinking about fish. So I decided to go to a very good restaurant and ordered a fish. I ate it without too much pangs of conscience because I realized that the change I want to make is for life, and I probably have to do it more gradually.
After eating that fish, the craving disappeared. After a few months it came back again, but not with the same intensity. This time, I chose to deal with it differently. I made a tofu in a fish-style (I'll add the recipe link here), and it reminded me of the fish my mother used to make for me. It worked! It help me get the craving go away. I haven't eaten any fish ever since.
Another craving I had was for seafood. This one too was in the beginning of my journey a vegan. It just didn't go away. I decided to order a large portion of seafood, again at high quality restaurant, because I wanted to make sure I'm going to have a delicious and very satisfying meal. I ate the dish and it made me more calm; it gave me peace.
Another very big challenge I had: before going vegan I used to start my day with an omelet. It was very hard for me to find a vegan breakfast that I love and that will allow me start my morning with pleasure, with satisfaction. For a year and a half I was searching for a good breakfast option to replace the omelet. I didn't like the omelets made with lentils or hummus flour. Today I eat VEGAN omelet in the morning. The preparation time is the same as the preparation of an omelette from eggs (You can check out the recipe here). Searching for alternatives is a key solution in the vegan lifestyle. This is a huge key to success. It's important that we find the alternatives that will satisfy our needs.
I admit that to this day, I have a strong desire to eat all kinds of animal food sometimes. Occasionally it may be cheese or chocolate that I love to eat, sometimes it's seafood, but I'm able to control the urge and remind myself that this food involves taking steps that don't match with my values. It's very important for me to stand behind my values, and this conversation inside my head really helps me deal with the cravings. If I see that it doesn't help and the craving continues, I watch videos that strengthen my knowledge and remind me what happens to this food before it gets to my plate.
Early in my journey as a vegan, and until I was comfortable with the vegan diet, I often watched movies and lectures that reminded me why I chose Veganism. It immediately did a "reset" in my head and gave me the drive to continue to stand behind my decision. The more comfortable I got, the less often I watched the information films, but to this day I continue to watch a movie or read an information book, even I seem to know the information already.
If you have a craving that doesn't go away, here are some steps you can take to this with it:
- Watch documentaries, movies, videos about the any topic related to veganism that you feel will strengthen your why (the industry, health, environment, etc.)
- Find alternatives to the things you're craving.
- Find recipes or learn how to make new recipes for dishes you really liked before going vegan.
- If you feel like nothing works, it's best that you eat it and make it go away, rather than giving up completely on being vegan. If a one time slip will help you move forward and continue to stand behind your values and your standards then do it.
There is no right or wrong to dealing with cravings. Does a one or two or even three times slips make me not vegan? of course not! Today I'm 100% vegan. Every time I fell, I learned; I had to fall in order to get back up and continue my journey stronger.