I think that once we learn all the ins and outs of being vegan, we can sometimes rest on our laurels. We "achieve" this big thing that seems unimaginable to the average person and feel snug in our success. But there is still work to be done, in fact, there's always work to be done :) It's not really hard work, just things to keep in mind as you settle in.
NOT RESEARCHING FROM THE BEGINNING
Are you still buying from companies that test on animals? Or are you doing everything by the book, but not keeping in touch with your mental and physical health? Take inventory of what you're doing currently in your life and see how that compares with your original mission. If your health is out of whack, you'll feel terrible - so get a book like Becoming Vegan and do a little fact-finding!
BECOMING A SOCIAL HERMIT
It can be SO easy to just eschew all social contact along with animal products. It's hard at first to explain to people why you're not eating meat, or hard to go out to eat with people who might chide you or make fun of you. If you show you're serious about your lifestyle change, most people (at least people who care about you) will back off over time. Alternatively, make your social gatherings not as eating-focused: how about a weekend afternoon at a museum, or a beach party, or gardening with your parents? Find new ways to connect with the people you love. Shake off the people who really won't make the effort to try to understand your life decisions, if you feel the need to. If all that fails, join a local vegan group (or an online group) for support & friendship!
NOT LEARNING HOW TO COOK
This was essential for me when I started to go vegan. Relying on super-processed convenience foods is expensive and gets boring real quick. I started trying recipes online and in cookbooks that had high ratings, and from there learned how to make things myself without a recipe. It not only makes it easier on yourself, but impresses other people when you can whip up an amazing spread of food (that just so happens to be all vegan.)
NOT EXPLORING NEW INGREDIENTS
If you want to get bored, keep making & eating the same foods every night for the rest of your life. If you want to grow and explore and all of that good stuff, try out a new ingredient every once and a while. You can try it in someone else's recipe or include it in something you make all the time (like tacos or stir-fry). I don't think I would've ever known how great fennel could be until I just tried it out in a technique I found on the internet. Technology is power, people.
STICKING TO ONLY ONE SOURCE OF GROCERIES
Chances are, there are places to get food where you live that you've never thought of before. The food is probably cheaper and better quality, too. I live in a city right now, and found lots of Korean and Indian specialty shops, four or five specialty co-ops, many CSA's, and several farmer's markets. When I lived in the middle of nowhere, I found farm stands and orchards within a 10 minute drive. It all depends on where you are, but you could be saving a lot of money on both staples and fresh produce if you just do some (internet!) searching. And it might help you with the "explore new ingredients" thing too.
FORGETTING WHY YOU STARTED
Sometimes being vegan can be hard - maybe after someone posts a cruel photo on your Facebook wall, or when you're on a road trip and you can't find anything but McDonald's for miles, it can feel really rough. I think this is when a lot of people say "well, fuck it. I tried." First of all, don't be so hard on yourself - the world isn't perfect, it's harsh and we have to just deal with living in it. Whenever I'm feeling worn thin, I think back to those first few months after I started to go vegan - I was SO passionate, so angry, shaking and red in the face after seeing documentaries, reading books, and experiencing the ignorance of everyone around me. There's a reason we're doing what we're doing; show yourself some grace, dust yourself off and keep going - this is all a learning experience.
NOT EXPANDING YOUR COMPASSION
It's really easy to think, once we're vegan, that we know it all. We're compassionate, or at least that's what we think of ourselves as. The truth is, there's a lot of unconscious misconceptions, biases, and hatred in our minds, even after we stop eating animals. Injustice surrounds us and for a lot of people who are shielded from it, we may not see it until someone calls us on it. Compassion is defined as the "sympathetic consciousness of others' distress together with a desire to alleviate it." Compassion should be for EVERYONE, not just animals. It's about understanding and deferring to those who do not normally have a voice. We should be thinking about racism, sizeism, ableism, and everything as an opportunity for compassion, learning, and understanding. Just as you learned about the plight of animals and the environment, extend that open mind to your fellow man and see what you can do to help.
NOT THINKING HOLISTICALLY
Veganism is not just about food - it is a mindset of consciousness, of action, and of teaching. It's one thing to change the way you eat; it's another to change the cleaning products in your house and change where you buy clothes and host bake sales to raise money for charity and buy locally to reduce fossil fuel consumption and be open to talking with others about your life. Everything affects everything else - we have to accept and welcome every new piece of knowledge as it comes in and make it a part of our worldview.
ENDING THE LEARNING PROCESS
We can't just watch a few videos when we're young and call it done. Every day is a new opportunity to learn about yourself and the world around you - whether that's through books, blogs, Facebook comment threads, magazines, zines, or just talking to a friend - absorb every piece of information and see how it sits with all of your assumptions and previously-solid facts. Keep learning and changing and see where it takes you. Let's make knowledge our foundation for change in the world. <3