You want to make lasting plant-based progress, right?
The truth is that whatever kind of goal we’re trying to achieve or new habit we’re trying to adopt – whether it’s getting in shape or reading more – for most of us there’s no such thing as overnight success. It’s the same with switching to a plant-based lifestyle. It takes sustained effort, day in and day out, to make a major shift in our eating habits. Recognizing that we’ve embarked on a journey over time is the foundation for success, but the culture we live in doesn’t always support this awareness.
Today’s Fast-Paced Environment
In today’s fast-paced digital environment, it can be so easy to feel frustrated with where we’re at in life. From flashy advertisements about good looking, happy and oh-so-successful people to our friends’ “look at me now” Facebook posts, we’re constantly bombarded with images of the great lives others are (supposedly) living.
It’s so tempting, no matter how rich or rewarding our own lives may be, to feel like we’re not enough, that we’re not keeping up or where we “should” be in life. Let’s face it, the reality of our own rather ordinary day-to-day lives can seem dull in comparison to the fantastic possibilities we think others are living and accomplishing.
What’s more, we live in an instant gratification society and have come to expect instant results. As a culture, we’ve lost our sense of collective patience and of the importance of “paying our dues” and “putting in our time.”
When we approach our plant-based lifestyle from a dual sense of personal inadequacy and from this “quick results” orientation, we are vulnerable to becoming overly ambitious and unrealistic with our plant-based goals.
Easy Does It: Manageable + Measurable Goals
According to James Clear, author of “Atomic Habits,” it’s all in the repetitions. Achieving change is about showing up even when we don’t feel like it and making small, incremental amounts of progress.
When it comes to a plant-based lifestyle, this means setting manageable and measurable goals that we can accomplish and, most important, build upon.
Instead of going radically plant-based all at once, start by making small behavioral changes such as having a fresh green salad every day, or fruit for dessert.
You could eat two meals a day that are plant-based until you get the hang of it, as described in Mark Bittman’s book, “Eat Vegan Before 6 to Lose Weight and Restore Your Health for Good.”
Or start with Meatless Monday’s and keep adding an additional day per week until you’ve made a complete transition.
Taking tiny, baby steps will allow you to keep moving forward! Consistency is key – putting one foot in front of the other is the way to truly integrate lasting, sustainable change into your life.
Going “cold turkey” is sudden change that can shock our system and cause undue stress. It might be tempting to throw out everything from your fridge and freezer in one afternoon, but really, think about how that’s going to feel a few days later when you start craving familiar foods?
Of course, it’s your choice and everyone is different. If you can jump in wholeheartedly with both feet and make it work – go for it! You know yourself best.
Only 5% Who Go “Cold Turkey” Succeed Long Term
For most of us, slow and steady will likely win the plant-based prize. And while some can be successful going “cold turkey,” it’s estimated that only five percent succeed long term. When we proceed at a moderate, even pace, we have the time and space we need to deal effectively with the obstacles that arise – and they will arise!
Muscling through or “white-knuckling” our way into rapid change rarely works. Once the initial enthusiasm burns out, what do we have left to fuel ourselves?
Remember that old story of the tortoise and the hare?
Well, the moral of this story is: be a plant-based tortoise!