Congratulations! You’ve decided to try out going plant based. You’re in for a treat with new dishes, and you must be very excited to see how your body will start changing as it takes advantage of all the wonderful health benefits from plant foods.
Chances are, you will reach out to your friends and family to share your plans and excitement with them. You might also be looking for encouragement to learn how to cook new foods. Get ready for a wide mix of reactions. A couple of people might think it’s great, most will think you’re insane, and you’ll get a lot of questions that will make you second guess your decision.
As an adult, you’d think that making your own choices about what to eat would be easy. Didn’t we stop surrendering to peer pressure back in high school? You might be surprised that most people who have given up being vegan has been due to societal pressures. I guess we never really grow out of being influenced by others to do things we know may be harmful to our health.
The most critical time to establish a supportive environment is during the early stages of transitioning into the WFPB diet. You’ll be busy restocking your kitchen, looking up new recipes, and retraining your taste buds to new flavors. Your garbage may also fill up with unsuccessful dishes while you figure out how to cook produce you’ve never used before. This can be very time consuming and overwhelming.
Fortunately, there are many tools and resources at your disposal to make the transition smoother and permanent.
Here are some steps you can take to build the right support system around yourself:
1) Take a trip to a plant based immersion program
These live-in programs can last anywhere from a few days to several weeks. One example is the Dr. John McDougall 10 day live-in program. Here, you will have access to medical staff if you take medication and chefs to teach you how to prepare new meals. The temptation to cheat won’t be there because you will be buffered away from low nutrient foods. Another benefit is you will be surrounded by people who are interested in making the same changes in their lives. You can find comfort in sharing this experience with other people.
2) Work with a local professional
Maybe you don’t need the full immersion experience of a live-in program, but would like assistance with different parts of the transition process. There are many professionals, like me, around the country who can customize their help to match your needs.
3) Isolate yourself from negative people
This means distancing yourself from people who may derail your progress, which can be tricky because it might be people who are very close to you. You’ll have to make a personal decision about prioritizing between your needs and potentially jeopardizing relationships. However, when it comes to friendships, you should be able to rely on the people around you. If they can’t support your decision about what you eat, then it’s time to make an evaluation.
What is more important?
This doesn’t mean you have to give up on a friendship forever. Their lack of support may be due to their misunderstanding of the health implications from eating animal foods. Once they see positive improvements in you it may spark their curiosity to learn more, but in the mean time, don’t put yourself on the firing line. Build up confidence in your decision before exposing yourself to the negativity.
4) Join online community forums
There are many groups online where people can share recipes, and find encouragement. Facebook has many WFPB lifestyle groups you can join. These groups give terrific access to thousands of people to get tips about cooking various foods, and to connect with others who have gone through similar experiences.
Here is a short list of facebook groups you can join:
Plant Based Foodies
Vegan & PB Food Lovers Unite
5) Join health groups on meetup.com
Meetup is another great way to meet like-minded people. Here you can find company for food-related events, and not feel like you are the only one abstaining from animal foods.
6) Immerse yourself in literature and documentaries with success stories
Knowledge is power. The more you read and learn about the benefits of the WFPB lifestyle the more likely you will stay with it for the long haul. There is a continuos stream of new books, documentaries, lectures on youtube and studies discussing why eating this way provides the optimal levels of nutrients, and reduces our carbon footprint. This collection of information will serve as the backbone for the reason to follow a WFPB lifestyle. Rely on this knowledge that you are simultaneously reducing your risk of chronic diseases and acting as a mini superhero to the planet.
Here is a short list of best selling authors, any one of their books can be a great start:
Dr. Neal Barnard
Dr. T. Colin Campbell
Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn
Dr. Joel Fuhrman
Dr. John McDougall
Forks Over Knives
Fat Sick & Nearly Dead
7) Enroll in a plant based education course
The most well known and recognized institute is the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies. In partnership with eCornell, the institute has crated several courses to educate the public about the plant based lifestyle. You will get access to high caliber professors, and some of the best recognized players in plant based education. Course topics range from reversing heart disease and stopping cancer development to environmental impact of livestock production.
8) Respect yourself
Above all else, your health is in your hands. Give your body the best available nutrients. With each bite of plant food you are removing unnecessary burdens off your body. Your joints will carry less weight. Your heart will beet more freely. Your skin will shine a little brighter. Your head will think more clearly. Allow yourself to take advantage of the gifts life has to offer without the baggage of food related health issues.
You deserve it!