“I have no doubt that it is a part of the destiny of the human race, in its gradual improvement, to leave off eating animals, as surely as the savage tribes have left off eating each other.” Henry David Thoreau
I began moving towards plant-based diet very slowly and I can trace the beginning of the transition back to my teenage years. I was 15 when I saw a slaughterhouse documentary and became a vegan overnight (that’s what 15 year olds do). I didn’t have any knowledge of nutrition or very good cooking skills and I quickly gave myself anemia. Defeated, I added poultry back in to my diet and kept eating iron pills that doctor had prescribed after my anemia episode. I diet remained the same for years until I decided to try Meatless January challenge. After the challenge ended I started reducing chicken in my diet and within a year I was 90% plant-based.
How to have permanent success with lifestyle change?
- Make a commitment – Get yourself clear as to WHY you are doing this and why it’s important.
- Go through withdrawal – You’ll have cravings for animal products, it’s normal and doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. Learn to navigate through them.
- Maintain your choices – Know what to eat, how to make it and where to get it. Master a couple of core recipes you can cook over and over again with minimal effort.
Avoid relying on willpower
Willpower is a finite resource. Cravings and impulsiveness increase when willpower is low.
- pre-decide what you will eat
- bring food with you everywhere – dont get hungry (low blood sugar is no bueno)
- drink enough water and get good sleep
- think of your transition as a new hobby
Craft your environment to support your new lifestyle
When you spend some time to create a supportive environment you avoid relying on willpower.
- make your default choice one you feel good about (these are your non-negotiables)
- always aim for healthy defaults
- take stock of where things go down the drain and plan ahead so you’re prepared next time
- keep your kitchen and home stocked with plant-based whole foods (don’t bring junk in)
- consider your commuting/travel routes and if possible, choose the route that has juice bar along the way instead of the donut shop you love
Break old habits/Create new habits
-changing the environment can facilitate changing behaviour
- shop in a new grocery store
- take different commuting route
- planning the way out of habirutal repsonses
- create new reinforcements for the new behavior
- subtle works better than blatant
- enlist others help and support
- put in extra effort during first few weeks of a transition to speed up habit building
Reach out to existing plant-based communities to make new friends
- Vegan Meetups in your area
- Cooking classes
- Social media (say hi to someone you like!)
- Conferences and special events
- Invite existing friends to plant-based events
*This post was modified from notes I took during the PlantPure Summit 2016*