While many folks go vegan overnight after learning the truth about the meat industry, for some, the transition is easier if they can achieve smaller goals along the way. Here are a few helpful tips for making your switch to a vegan lifestyle last a lifetime:

1. Have Vegan Days

Choose one or a few days a week to abstain from animal-derived foods. Then, slowly incorporate additional days into your routine.

2. Be Vegan Before 6 p.m. (VB6)

Eat vegan foods until 6 p.m. and then eat whatever you’d like for dinner (which can still be vegan, of course!). From there, continually add more and more vegan meals to your weekly routine.

3. Be Vegan at Home

Make all the meals you eat or prepare at home vegan, including the lunches that you make for work. When dining out, keep in mind that most restaurants have vegan options.

4. Substitute

If you find that certain foods are hard to give up, find a substitution. There is a vegan version of every animal-derived food or ingredient. For example, eat Gardein’s “chicken” tenders instead of chicken nuggets. You won’t even be able to tell the difference. Or use nondairy butter (try Earth Balance) or coconut oil to replace butter. You can also get vegan lunch meat, bacon, and even mac ‘n’ cheese!

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5. Try New Foods

Make a habit of trying new foods at every opportunity. If you set a goal of sampling a few new vegan foods each week, you’ll inevitably discover a ton of foods that you love. And they’ll begin to replace the animal-derived ones that are currently in your diet. Before long, anytime you get hungry, the first food that comes to mind will be vegan.

6. Join a Community

Cook for and with others, especially like-minded people who can support you. Join your school’s animal rights club, or start your own.

7. Educate Yourself

Knowledge is power. Share it with others. It’s easier to eliminate animal-derived foods when you realize that someone was killed for them and that they have a horrible impact on the environment and our health.

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8. Visit Sanctuaries and Connect With Animals

Spending time with animals allows us to discover that cows, chickens, pigs, and goats are all intelligent, social beings who have unique personalities, just like the cats and dogs we share our homes with. Check out the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries and Sanctuaries.org to find a reputable sanctuary in your area.

9. Stand by Your Beliefs

Not everyone else is going to agree with you. In fact, some people will think you’re screwing up big time. It’s OK to be different, especially when being different means that you’re saving animals! Don’t worry about what others have to say—you know you’re having a positive impact on animals, the Earth, and your health.

10. Be Grateful

Many people don’t even know about animal rights issues, so be grateful that you do and are able to make a difference.

11. Be Prepared

Keep your kitchen stocked with foods like vegan cheese, vegan mayo, Tofurky products, pasta, and veggies. Tons of foods that you already eat are probably vegan. Check out our two-week sample menu for inspiration.

12. Know What to Eat on the Go

Try to keep protein bars or vegan snacks—even if it’s just a bag of nuts or pretzels—in your backpack for when you get hungry on the go. And don’t forget that 7-Eleven is your new BFF for vegan snacks. If drive-through is more your thing, you can hit up Taco Bell, too. It has a ton of vegan options.

Remember to take things at your own pace, and don’t be too hard on yourself if you slip up. This is about you making healthy, compassionate choices for yourself, animals, and the planet. Still need help going vegan? Sign up for a vegan mentor!

Share these tips with your friends to help them save animals, too!