Whether for their health, the environment, the animals, or all three, thousands of people every year make it their New Year’s Resolution to go vegan. As it turns out, switching from chicken to Seitan can have some awesome benefits. A vegan diet each year uses significantly less natural resources, reduces the amount of livestock consumed and helps prevent health issues like heart disease.

Despite the benefits, it can be difficult to go vegan and even more so to stay vegan. Attempting to change any kind of habit is no small task, and it doesn't help to be surrounded by a culture obsessed with burgers, ice cream, and pizza.

However, you have the ability to make this goal a reality. It just takes a little planning and making sure you have the right attitude going into it. If you want to go vegan this new year, here are five tips to set yourself up for success.

1. Have a Solid 'Why'

This is what will help you stay focused on your goal when tempted by that cheese platter at your friend’s party. In order to stay in this for the long-run, it’s essential to understand why you want to go vegan in the first place.

While there are countless reasons for making the switch, three more popular reasons are for improving your health, reducing your environmental impact, and saving animals by eliminating your demand for meat and animal products.

It can be helpful to do a bit of research on each of these topics in order to develop a solid ‘why’ for going vegan. Even if you don’t plan on going 100% vegan, it’s important to be an informed consumer so you know what your money is supporting. What do factory farms really look like? How does the dairy industry contribute to climate change? What are the main contributors to heart disease?

2. Make it Your Own

If you have one certain image in your head of what it means to be vegan, stop. Before you get started, it’s important to understand there are so many ways to be vegan, and you have to make this your own.

You can attain your fitness goals by keeping things super healthy (including high-protein, high carb, or a balance of macronutrients), but you can also indulge in junk food like pizza, ice cream, and burgers! Yes, you heard that right. There is a plant-based alternative for basically any food that usually includes animal products, and big names like Ben and Jerry’s and Mellow Mushroom now offer vegan ice cream and pizzas.

That being said, following a vegan diet is pretty different from how many of us grew up eating. Especially during the first few weeks, you need to be willing to do some research in order to find the best ways to get all of your nutrients as well as how you can indulge in those cravings you are sure to have. 

3. Surround Yourself with Positive Influences

One common issue new vegans come across the lack of a proper support system. They might be living with their family who still consumes animal products and doesn’t approve of the lifestyle change or perhaps their friends make fun of them for going vegan.

It can be super difficult to stay motivated when you don’t feel fully supported. That’s why it’s important to seek out encouragement wherever you can. Have an honest conversation with your friends and family about why you’ve made this decision.

Find out if there is a vegan group at your school or in your community. Go online and join a few Facebook groups, subscribe to vegan YouTubers who you vibe with, and follow Instagrammers who post mouthwatering vegan food pictures. By surrounding yourself with support, you are far more likely to stay in this for the long-haul.

4. Don’t Give Up if You Make a Mistake

I have yet to meet someone who didn’t make a mistake at some point after going vegan. With all of the unusual ingredients that come from animals and the creative ways milk is practically hidden in foods (who decided that tub of guacamole needed milk, anyways?), it’s especially difficult for new vegans to navigate the grocery store and avoid every little animal product. 

It’s important to learn from those mistakes if your goal is to eat as vegan as possible, but it’s equally important not to beat yourself up over mistakes made.

If you end up relenting to a craving or find out something you ate had a hidden animal ingredient, it’s not the end. The awesome thing about veganism is it’s a choice you make at each meal. Your progress is not ruined by a single action. 

Veganism is not a switch you flip on or off. It’s a learning process. Understand that you are on a journey, and give yourself the room the grow into it.