• You can capitalize on September being a month of newness, growth and change
As Brené Brown discusses in a recent episode of her podcast, though January is recognized as the official calendar start of the year, our bodies are tuned in to that butterflies-in-the-belly feeling of change being afoot in September. Use that intoxicating momentum. With the natural world changing around us, autumn is a great time to usher in positive new directions in our personal lives. Living vegan has beneficial outcomes for the animals, the planet and humanity, as well as future generations. I cannot think of one lifestyle change that can result in such a positive domino effect, especially if adopted by many. September is the ideal time for this shift, too, because who needs the pressure and baggage of the January 1? New year’s resolutions are so last year.
• Embrace the season with more variety
It’s an interesting thing — and you may have to take my word on it at first — but sometimes removing options expands your awareness of what is available. On the surface, vegans are giving up meat and animal co-products, but when you begin to immerse yourself, you will likely see more clearly the wide variety available to us in the realm of animal-free foods: this time of year in the Northern Hemisphere, we have apples, of course (and so many kinds), but also arugula, broccoli rabe, celeriac, cranberries, escarole, persimmons, pomegranates, and heaps upon heaps of beautiful winter squash varieties (including pumpkins!), not to mention the wide variety of legumes and grains that are available year-round. It’s like removing blinders. It is easy for any of us to get in a food rut, but there is something about shaking up our habits that really makes one expand the lens.
• Fall into evolving and awakening taste buds
This is just anecdotal, but I have talked to many people who didn’t realize how great food could taste until they were vegan. It takes a bit of time for your taste buds to change (from what I have read, two-to-three weeks) and of course, it’s not just taste buds, but the emotional associations we may have with certain foods, attitudes, being apprehensive about something new to us, unfamiliar scents and textures and so on that can factor in to how we acclimate new foods into our diets. That said, repeated gentle exposure tends to encourage forming new eating habits.
Here is one small example: When I first went vegan in the 1990s, it was very difficult to find chocolate that was free of dairy. The chocolate that I did find without dairy was too bitter for my palate, which had been trained for the sweetness of milk chocolate. Eventually, though, my desire for chocolate was greater than my aversion to the perceived bitterness. I started eating dark chocolate and it really wasn’t long before I developed a preference for this rich, real, supercharged chocolate experience. Today, there are actually vegan chocolates on the market with nondairy milk and even so, I vastly prefer dark chocolate, the more bitter, the better. (Okay, this is probably not the best example for encouraging healthy habits but you know what I mean.)
• Enjoy nature more knowing that you are part of the solution
Taking a brisk walk in the woods, bike ride or enjoying a beautiful day at the beach takes on new meaning when you are taking an active role in helping to protect our planet. Animal agribusiness wreaks a massive toll on our planet, from our water footprint to air pollution, climate change to the mowing down of the Amazon rainforest. Depressing, I know, but there is indescribable fulfillment that comes from living a life that prioritizes creating positive change. I’m not going to claim that the changing leaves become more colorful or the air smells fresher after going vegan, but I will say that the feeling of being part of the solution is empowering and deeply meaningful. (And, hey, you may just breathe better, too!) It is a natural fit to commit to being part of the solution for the planet during such a gorgeous, inspiring time of the year.
• Watch scary movies, don’t inflict horrors
Autumn is the best time of the year for those of us who love horror movies. It may be a stretch, but I also think fall is a great time to go vegan so you can enjoy all your favorite scary films while knowing that you have made your own commitment to not inflicting horrors on other species. Knowing that no one is suffering on your behalf, you can enjoy some treats and settle in for a frighteningly good time. (Oh, speaking of, you should join us at Humane Halloween if you are a fellow enthusiast!)
• Enjoy more autumns
I am not one of those vegans who is going to make outlandish health claims, but research shows that plant-based diets has demonstrable benefits for cardiovascular health and in the prevention and management of type 2 diabetes. Not only that, researchers for a study published last year in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that those who were closest to a plant-based diet had up to a 25% reduced risk of early death from any cause. I’m in!
Is it the chill in the air or do you have goosebumps?
Please check out my free Guide for New Vegans for all kinds of tips and resources for newbies and the vegan-curious.