When facing a life-changing decision that takes you out of your comfort zone, you may find yourself looking for an excuse to delay it one more day, week, or month. "Why start today? I can always start tomorrow," we say. We've all been guilty of this. I said that for months. Finally I made my decision to follow a plant-based diet and it's been over a year since I've made that life-altering change. My health was out of whack, I began to pinch at my extra bit of skin and frowning when I realized I had gained 35 lbs. since high school.
What keeps us from making that first step? It's usually a wide variety of things, but I'd like to tackle them one-by-one.
Solution: Find a recipe that has this mysterious ingredient (or fill-in-the-blank with another ingredient) and try it out for yourself. Not only will you conquer your fear, but you may even find a new favorite recipe that features this ingredient!
Lack of education | I know it's hard to find a place to start. When I decided to change my diet, I had just watched Forks Over Knives and had no clue what I was getting in to. Luckily, I have some creative researching skills from my journalist days and was able to find many reliable sources of information that helped arm me with knowledge for all my naysayers. Don't be afraid to challenge what you learned and exhaustively research until you're sick of learning everything there is to know about plant-based diets.
Solution: Fortunately, I've done the work for you! Check out my plant-based resources page for more information on cookbooks, books, documentaries, lectures, infographics, and more.
Afraid of what others think | One of the biggest challenges I faced in the beginning was figuring out how to tell others I was going plant-based. That was tough because they often replied with something I didn't want to hear or they sounded doubtful of what I was doing. Over time, I really gained confidence and some self-esteem back that I had lost in the previous year with this change. After the first month I was beginning to feel better, look better, and realized that their opinions didn't matter so much anymore.
Solution: Don't let others drag you down and tune out the negativity. They will always be naysayers, but you have to remember why you are making this change and that you're doing this for your health.
Focusing on deprivation | Although I definitely had some hurdles to jump over in the beginning, something that many people get hung up on before making this change is the deprivation. When you view it as what you can't have (animal products) versus what you can have (fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, and legumes), there is a high chance that you will fail miserably. Once you discover all of the new foods that you didn't know you liked, there will be less thought given to the foods you are no longer consuming.
Solution: Instead of focusing on what you can't have, find new foods that you enjoy that you can have. It's all about finding new and exciting meals that feature great ingredients and healthier choices than fretting over a cube of cheese.
Self-doubt and failure mentality | If you psych yourself out before making a decision, you'll be more likely to fail. Telling yourself that you can't do something is almost like a self-fulfilling prophecy. Going into a new lifestyle change with confidence and excitement will ensure a greater rate of success. You will have weak moments and you will slip up. It's not the end of the world, and you'll start back up and keep going. Don't let small defeats set back your goals for the bigger picture.
Solution: Surround yourself with positive people and cut out any negativity in your life. You need to have your own group of cheerleaders, whether that be friends, family, coworkers, or a combination of all three.