Learning how to smoothly transition to a plant based diet is key for long term success. Many people go into it quickly and with strict rules.
Whenever you take on something new, it's important to break it down into small reachable steps in order for the end result to be sustainable long term.
What is a Plant Based Diet?
A plant based diet is a diet with foods that come from plants. This means you don't eat animal products like meat, dairy, eggs and honey.
Plant based doesn't mean you are necessarily healthy, there are many plant-based foods that are processed and not nutrient rich. If you want to eat a healthier version of a plant based diet, you'll want to stick to a whole foods plant based diet.
A whole foods centered plant based diet is comprised of nutrient rich whole foods that are minimally processed.
How to Start
As a teacher of 14 years that spent a lot my career teaching students with learning disabilities, the number one thing I can teach when it comes to learning something new is take it slow.
Start by figuring out why you want to make this change. Eating a plant based diet is usually because of the following benefits:
- Ethical (for the animals)
For us, the reason was health. When you have your why, you can always turn back to it if you get to a point where you are struggling or trying to decide if you want to push forward.
Always bring fun into it. Share new recipes with family and friends and make trying new food about community and togetherness. Try new places to eat, get adventurous because you never know when you'll find something new you love!
Most importantly, don't stress. Learn to chill out and not let the pressure from the online world drive your progress. We are all different, and there is not right way to transition to eating a plant based diet, no matter what others want you to think.
Why you need small steps
Starting slow is really important for long term success. When you jump into something too quickly, you tend to add more stress and burn out in the end.
Here are a few ways you can start slow when transitioning to a plant based diet:
- Add one new product at a time- start with something easy to make or buy.
- Think of it like learning a new cuisine- research recipes and pick one new one to try until that seems easy, then slowly add one more until you feel confident to transition fully or as much as you prefer.
- Seek support from experts- I love working with clients to help them slowly transition to eating more plants in a low stress way.
- If you feel stress, back off- remember taking small steps backwards doesn't mean you won't take a big step forward, it is not a race.
- Give yourself grace- food shouldn't be associated with negative feelings, if you didn't make the goal you set for yourself, it's ok!
Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet
There are many different benefits that eating more plants can do for you. For us, we saw a lot of health benefits, from increased energy, better sleep, improving his heart disease and even weight loss for my husband.
You can read more about the health benefits of a plant-based diet in this article by Harvard Health.
But there are also environmental and ethical benefits to eating less animal products. Reducing our carbon footprint is important for the health of our environment and eating more plants helps with that.
It also helps reduce animal cruelty and mistreatment of animals. If we reduce our meat consumption as a whole to occasional, then the big corporations won't have the consumers to drive their unethical practices.
Tips and Tricks For Long Term Success
The thing about a plant based diet, is that it isn't an all or nothing thing, no matter what the online world wants you to think. Not to say that some people can't do it full force, but many of us find that stressful and overwhelming.
Which is why I totally advocate for eating mostly plants, but also listening to your body and consuming non plant based foods when you feel you want them.
That is my biggest tip for long term success. If you set yourself up for a black and white goal of going fully plant based without room for flexibility, then when you fail it is more likely you will quit completely.
However if you go into it saying that you will take small steps towards the goal of eating mostly plants, the times you don't will fit into that goal and you will still feel success and keep pushing forward.
Make sure to listen to your body, keep the feeling about food positive instead of negative, and don't feel pressure to do something that isn't right for you.
You can find some of our weekly meals and read more about my low stress plant based approach in this post.