As a vegan-in-training, throughout the last year I’ve learned a thing or two about how to successfully stick to a plant-based, whole foods diet (and how to quickly recover from an inevitable slip or two… or ten).

If one of your New Year resolutions is to get healthier, and for you, getting healthier includes choosing a plant-based diet (going vegan, baby!) then congratulations! It’s such a clean, kind, healthy way to live. And I know you’ll love it ☺

So, on top of your vegan-starter-basics like watching Forks Over Knives, reading through some cookbooks and deciding what you like to eat, planning for meals, and grocery shopping, I’ve created a series of posts sharing a few really simple things I’ve learned (and am learning) through my transition.

Today it’s all about coffee.

I love drinking coffee in the morning. It’s one of my favourite times of the day (especially if it’s a weekend and I get to sip it from a big mug in my pjs). I used to drink my coffee with milk, and trying to drink it black was actually really challenging. Perhaps even worse was trying to drink it with plain-old-almond-milk, which never seemed to mix well and has a really distinctive taste.

Even though, black coffee is my healthiest (and simplest) option, I continued to pine for a creamy, smooth, delicious cup of joe and found myself starting off the day feeling a bit unsatisfied (the struggle is real!). In fact, through the first few weeks of cutting animal products from my diet, adjusting to my new morning coffee was the most difficult change.

Luckily, there are some pretty easy ways to remedy this coffee crisis:

Coffee Tip #1: Buy A Dairy Free Creamer For Home

If you love a “whitened” coffee as much as I do, treat yo’ self to a dairy free coffee “creamer” like So Delicious Coconut Milk Creamers and Silk Almond Creamer. They come in a bunch of different flavours (like vanilla and hazelnut), will only run you a couple of bucks, and are pretty darn good. They’re available at most grocery stores too, so super easy to get your hands on.

Coffee Tip #2: Plan Your New Starbucks Order

If you’re used to ordering a Tall-Pike-in-a-Grande-cup and filling the space with non-fat milk, I can attest that asking for coconut milk or soy milk “on the bar” is not.the.same. (IMHO – Starbucks’ soy in coffee is worse than at-home-almond in coffee).

So again, drinking black coffee is a good, healthy (less-expensive) option.

And of course, you can always swap dairy milk for coconut or soy at Starbucks (for an extra 70 cents) for any of their “hand crafted” beverages (think: lattes, mochas, PSLs). I’d say the majority of other cafes I’ve been to have almond milk as their dairy-free option. Just know that it doesn’t taste the same and you’ll have to adjust.

For my order, I’ve switched to an Americano Misto – basically an Americano (espresso and water) with steamed coconut milk – as my new “usual”. It feels the most like a coffee with milk… though does cost a lot more. And because the “milk” here is not the base of the drink, like it is in a latte, it tastes for coffee-y than coconut-y, if you know what I mean.

If I’m feeling particularly adventurous, I’ll spend ANOTHER 50 cents and add two pumps of Toffee Nut syrup too.

Coffee Tip #3 – Figure Out Your At-Work Situation

Picture this, you’re in an all day meeting. Locked in a boardroom in Saskatchewan somewhere. Yesterday you were travelling and stayed up late to prep and today you’ve been presenting for hours. You’re ready for a mid-day caffeine boost. Finally the little refreshment cart comes in with (non-vegan) muffins and cafeteria-esque coffee and all those little creamer pod things. And all you want is a coffee with milk. Heck you’d even go for a coffee with cream at this point. And you have a decision to make: Suffer through the worst black coffee you’ve had in a while, try your hand at a mint-tea-in-a-too-tiny-cup, or break and drink the god-damned cows milk because who cares anyway?

These are the moments for me when it’s so easy to slip up. But, if I can borrow from Kate Moss for a sec, nothing tastes as good as kindness feels. And these microdecisions all add up to whether or not you’ll achieve your goals. (And really, for perspective, the whole coffee conundrum is such a joke of a problem if you look around for a minute, anyway. I do understand that.)

So, my tip here (finally), is to just be ready for these kinds of decisions. Be ready for the times when you don’t have the luxury of ordering “soy on the bar”. Because if you’re not making impulsive, stress-based decisions, I bet your chances of succeeding are higher. Drink the coffee. Drink the tea. Grab a quick bio break and get outside and do some backbends for a more natural pick-me-up. Ask for a non-dairy option in advance. Keep a dairy-free option in the fridge at work.

Eating plant-based is an investment in your health, the environment, and your spirit. While the generalities of making the change are quite simple – cut out all animal products – the daily decisions required to get there can sometimes feel a bit more complicated.

Hopefully these tips help. You’ll surely come up with a bunch of your own too. Stay tuned for more tips, next up: grocery shopping and eating out.