Think of the last time you started a new habit, or quit a bad one. What worked for you?

Did you kick cigarettes to the curb all at once? Or enlist the patch, gum, hypnosis or cut it out gradually, day by day? Did you ever start a running habit by signing up for a marathon and then buy your first running shoes? Or start to walk a little more each day? These are relevant questions when you decide you want to eat a plant-based diet and change your approach to food. How you succeed has everything to do with your unique personality, and what works for you in making positive changes in your life.

Starting Small

So, when you contemplate: "How do you want to try to go plant-based?" Everyone is different. I met a woman who explained that -- inspired by her sister who had done it and was feeling fantastic -- she herself started gradually. First, she did Meatless Monday, and that went well. The second week she added Tuesday and then the third week, Wednesday, and so on, until week seven, when she was plant-based the entire seven days. In just seven weeks she had transformed her way of eating to a healthy plant-based diet and didn't miss meat and dairy.

The other way we know is to try to add in one new plant-based meal a week. So your first week is committed to plant-based breakfasts (oatmeal or avocado toast are the crowd-pleasers) and the second week you add in lunches -- salads and soups, bean chili and vegetable-based wraps or sandwiches. Then, week three, you commit to plant-based dinners. This is how Forks Over Knives is guiding its users on their Fresh Start Program.

Gradual Changes

The third way to go, and perhaps the most popular onramp, is gradual. You start by giving up meat, then poultry, then fish, then dairy. Or, you just stick to vegetables and fish for a while, until you realize you don't need all that fish. Call it vegetarian-to-pescatarian-to-ovo-to vegan transformation. Without realizing it, I basically did this over the course of a few years. My tastebuds changed and before I knew it, I didn't want to eat meat or chicken, but still enjoyed cheese and eggs and fish. Then I went cold-turkey, or should we call it cold-veggie. And it stuck.

Think about the last time you made a significant life change: Are you happiest telling yourself you will start a gym membership, then ramping up gradually -- with two workouts a week, then three, then four... then you sign up for a half marathon and find yourself hooked on running all of a sudden? You may think that onramp was gentle, but you ramped up quickly.

What's Your Secret to Success?

For most people, success begets success. Tell yourself you are going to replace a few food groups at a time -- meat, poultry, and cow's milk would be my suggestions -- and once you have figured out that you can be very happy with the vegetables and grains, seeds, nuts, fruit, and meat substitutes, you can feel you have succeeded in going mostly plant-based. Then jettison the few last remaining animal products that you have been keeping (eggs or cheese) and see if you feel even better.

Have a thought on how to best go Plant-Based? Share your opinions in the comments below or on The Beet's Facebook page, here. 

 

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