Photo credit: North Charleston via Flicker
“Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.” –Albert Einstein
It seems there is no excuse anymore to not eat plants – everything from Food inc to Forks over Knives to The China Study are pinpointing the many reasons plant-based diets benefit us – primarily pointing to the mistreatment of animals in mainstream factory farms (even organic food!) and the correlations of high meat intake with diseases such cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
We are what we eat.
And now, for the first time ever, we have more vegetarians and vegans than ever before.
With more and more individuals becoming more health conscious, what are some tips to help ease the transition to eating more plants?
Focus on adding to your diet, not taking away from it
When I first became a vegetarian back in 2010, one of my main pitfalls was focusing on the ways my diet was constricted, rather than what I was adding to it.
When you strip your diet of meat or other products (fully or partially), you are forced to add healthier foods into your diet. When I took away meat, I added other delicious foods such as leafy greens, beans and rice, avocado, and creative salads. By focusing not on what I couldn’t have but instead on what I could have, my attitude shifted and I saw the beauty in fostering a plant-based diet.
In addition, focusing on the added energy, vitality, and better moods will really show you the glory of eating lots and lots of plant-based foods.
Adopt an open-minded spontaneity in the kitchen
Staying open-minded was another way that I struggled when I first went vegetarian in college. Since I can be a creature of habit, it was easy for me to stay in my comfort zone by only eating foods I had had before.
This is one of the fastest routes to failure, however, because eating the same foods all the time will result in boredom. If you are new to a healthier diet, the key is to experiment with new foods, spices, and recipes, so that you can find dishes that make your taste buds come alive. If you do this, you will never return to your unhealthy ways!
Baby steps: don’t be afraid of transition foods
Although health extremists (or raw food police as I like to lovingly call them) will be quick to tell you why you should not under any circumstances take a bite of a veggie burger or veganase or pho-chicken due to it’s processing, these foods can help aid the transition from meat to more plants.
It’s all about baby steps.
Most people are not able to change their diet over night, and even if they are successful at changing over night, it is more likely that the success will be short-term and not long-term. Instead of transitioning all at once, why not try taking babysteps? For example, if meat is what you want to transition away from, you could start with one day a week of only plants, then gradually increase to 7 days a week. Similarly, if you want to get away from dairy, you could begin with taking dairy out of your diet a few times a week, then add a vegan alternative, then slowly reduce the amount you eat.
Now tell me: what are your tips to transitioning to more plant-based foods?