How To Transition Into a Plant Based Diet?
If you are reading this post, you either follow a plant based diet already or you would like to start one. You can be proud of yourself. This is a big change. It takes a lot of courage to swim against the current in our omnivore dominated society.
In my opinion, when it comes to diet change, three different personality types exist.
- The “all or none type”: People that belong to this group will switch their diet overnight, hopefully based on scientific evidence and the resulting health benefits. (This is so me…)
- The “step- by- step” type: This group is motivated to change their diet but only takes incremental steps to achieve a switch to a complete plant based diet. This transition is slower and allows for a step by step introduction of plant based foods (This is so my husband…)
- The “weekday type”: Quite a large number of people are not willing to give up their traditional lifestyle in spite of knowing that their risk of suffering from chronic diseases will not improve. For them to be happy they require a piece of meat or cheese every now and then and they might decide to become weekday plant based people. Clearly, they will have some kind of health benefit. However, as Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn puts it ” If you follow a moderate plant based diet you will only get a moderate heart attack”. Eventually, most of the people in this group will end up as “step by step” types.
Remember to have a positive mindset…you are doing a great thing for your body and your environment. But also remember, it is your choice what you are eating every day. Choose healthy!
Visualize! Visualization is a powerful tool that helps you achieve your goals with great success. Imagine the changes taking place in your body and cherish them (works for me! Not for my husband…).
Now, here are a few extra thoughts on how to switch to a plant based diet with CHILDREN. These ideas may help ease the transition with your kids. Naturally, the age of the children plays an important role in how detailed your explanations are and what language you will use.
- Make the decision to live more healthy together. Make your children understand how all of you can benefit from a plant based diet.
- Explain to your children the connection between traditional diets and development of disease. A typical example would be how animal foods lead to the accumulation of plaque on the walls of the blood vessels, which will diminish blood flow to vital organs (like the filling in cannelloni). The result can be a heart attack, stroke etc. Give them real life examples (e.g. a relative who had a stroke). The internet can be quite helpful with interactive sites and articles for kids (see the bottom of my post).
- I also talked to my kids about the way animals are raised nowadays, that they are regarded as food products and part of an industry rather than a living being. Naturally, children want to protect animals and will be on the same page with you. I refused to show our daughter a video about a factory farm or slaughterhouse that she was very keen on watching. You have to draw a line somewhere..
- Include your children when you go shopping. Let them pick a new fruit or vegetable, look together for amazingly colored or interesting textured plants like rainbow chard or purple cauliflower.
- Make them try everything but leave them the freedom to not like everything. Our son dislikes avocados and continues to try them once in a while to see whether his taste buds have changed..so far, they haven’t.
- Try a lot of different dishes and let the children choose their favorites.
- Give them options: “Would you rather have rolled oats in your cereal or oatmeal?” They will feel in control but YOU give the options. It’s a win win situation.
- See the changes that you make together as a unique bonding experience for your family.
- Let the children transition. Use fake meats, cheese and sausages so they won’t feel deprived all of a sudden and then slowly reduce them as you go along.
- Do not go overboard: a candy on and off that they get somewhere is not the end of the world. Don’t make your children feel left out. In the beginning I prepared school lunches according to the menu that was served at school. Eventually, our children were fine with different food that I sent along. If they are invited to a party, let them eat what they like (only exception is candy.. my children know that they can only eat a couple of pieces). I usually stuff my kids with fruits and healthy foods before dropping them off somewhere. That automatically limits the amount of “bad” food they will eat.
- Explain to them why people don’t follow the same path. I remember that our son was quite shaken that his friends’ families would adhere to their diets knowing how unhealthy they were.
- You can introduce some kind of reward system such as “if you get enough energy from your food you can play on the ipad for 30′. If not it’s too big of an energy drain for your brain”.
- Most importantly: Have fun! Make your children laugh by telling them funny stories about what is going on inside their bodies. I made up stories about the carrot and the cucumber family. The carrot kids would slide down the esophagus, hit the cucumber kids, scream, tell them to wait, but no the next one would slide down…and so on…we had such a big laugh! Another story I remember vividly was about antioxidants (= super power weapons), germs and the body’s soldiers (= cells of the immune system). We would make up the most silly stories.
Here are a couple of links to some interesting animated websites for children. I recommend NOT watching the diet and food related articles as usually an animal based diet is highly recommended and praised as being healthy and good for kids. You and I know better…
Hope you can use some of my tips and did not get bored reading this looong post 🙂