Welcome to the adventure of a lifetime! So, you have decided to learn more about the plant-based initiative. There are so many reasons to start giving up animal products. Whatever your reasoning, congratulations on making this decision. You will feel liberated spiritually, emotionally, mentally, physically. I want to share a list of tools to prepare you to succeed while initially pursuing this lifestyle change.
- Be patient with yourself – when you grabbed the guitar in high-school I am more than certain you didn’t bust out a Jimi Hendrix solo (if you’re younger than 15 years old, Jimi Hendrix was this dude who played guitar… like, really well – just Google him).
- Transition slowly – replace cow’s milk with plant milk (preferably unsweetened)
- Don’t be afraid to fail – if you end up making a mistake, don’t be discouraged. Consider it a lesson and move forward. Once again, at first, you’re no Jimi Hendrix on the guitar. You’re more like that guy in college who only knows how to play a couple Dave Matthews songs.
- Be consistent – if you don’t feel well, get checked out! Adding too much fiber too quickly may stress your digestive tract. And, by “checked out,” I don’t mean Google! Go see a physician and get a blood panel done.
- Eat enough – eating ONLY raw fruit is probably not the best idea (although some do and thrive). Nor is removing the chicken and NOT replacing it with calorically dense plant foods (nuts, seeds, beans, etc.).
- Remove temptation – start asking yourself what you want your pantry, fridge, and freezer look like next week, next month, next year. Are they filled with whole grains, legumes, fruits, veggies, nuts, and seeds? Within a few weeks, start getting rid of the meat, butter, yogurt, eggs, etc.
- Social circles – your friends may think you’re mad (the English mad, not the American mad). Communicate with someone who can support and encourage you. Don’t let naysayers naysay! Be your own champion. Sometimes you may feel like you are the ONLY person who is pursuing this. I assure you; you are not alone! Shoot me an email firstname.lastname@example.org if you need support.
- Supplement if necessary – consider B12, vegan-friendly GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) algae-based Omega-3’s, iron (check your blood panels and consult your PCP or RD), iodine, vitamin D (if you don’t get enough sunshine), and whatever else you may be concerned about. Do your research after you get your blood work done.
- Explore and have fun – dive into the world of plant-based recipes. Everything is colorful and vibrant. Invite a few friends over to dinner and challenge them to bring one plant-based dish beyond slapping peanut butter and bananas on a couple slices of bread.
- Support others – this can be difficult! By supporting others you may find a new supportive friend. People may constantly ask why you are transitioning (or why you have already). You may encounter nutrition and environmental “experts” daily. I have been studying nutrition nearly every day for the last five years and the more I know, the more I know I don’t know. Even experts don’t know EVERYTHING. So, when you meet someone who wants to improve their health, simply ask them if they would like some resources. This way, you can guide them in the right direction without being preachy (although “carnivores” may need to be preached at a little). I simply ask, “have you heard of PCRM or nutritionfacts.org?” No. Well, please peruse these sites at your convenience and let me know if you need more resources.