We’re about to embark on an exciting, life-changing 21-Day Food Day Challenge together.
Here are some of the familiar challenges that come with the transition to a 100% plant-based:
- Adapting to changing taste buds
- Handling social pressure
- Figuring out how to begin
- Banishing self-doubt
- Getting rid of preconceived notions
- Struggling with old belief systems
To answer some of those challenges, I thought it would be worthwhile to ‘pick the brains’ of some of the world’s leading plant-based experts.
Here’s their advice:
Dr. T. Colin Campbell on Changing Tastes
“…high fat and high protein and refined carbohydrates too, those are addictions, those are food addictions. And like other kind of addictions, we can get rid of them, we can reverse them. “
Dr. T. Colin Campbell
Maybe one of the most helpful things to consider is that the current Standard American Diet is high in fat and protein and low in carbohydrates. They are addictive. As you start to make the shift to a whole food, plant-based diet, you start getting rid of those addictions. And the food you eat will taste different; there’s no question.
But whether the change comes quickly or slowly, it’s important to remember that your taste preferences will change. Just give it a little bit of time.
Dr. T. Colin Campbell is a professor Emeritus at Cornell University and is best known for co-authoring the bestselling book “The China Study: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted” with his son, Thomas Campbell, MD.
Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Jr. on Understanding the Risks If You Don’t Succeed
“You need to understand that you will give up one plate of delicious food which hurts you for another plate of delicious food that enhances your health.”
Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Jr.
The biggest challenge is understanding that continuing on your current path constitutes a risk to your cardiovascular health.
If you are already sick with a cardiovascular disease, you will probably be far more motivated to adopt a 100% plant-based diet because you know it will greatly enhance your health. If you aren’t sick yet, educate yourself about the causes of cardiovascular disease and its prevention and reversal.
At the end of the day, it’s simple. You need to understand that you will give up one plate of delicious food which hurts you for another plate of delicious food that enhances your health.
That’s a choice we can all make.
An American physician, author and former Olympic rowing champion, Dr. Esselstyn works at the Wellness Institute of the Cleveland Clinic and is the author of “Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease: The Revolutionary, Scientifically Proven, Nutrition-Based Cure.” Dr. Esselstyn is a vocal proponent for a low-fat, whole foods, plant-based diet.
Dr. John McDougall on Banishing Doubt
“Don’t blink. Don’t ever have any doubt in the truth.”
Dr. John McDougall
When everybody else is saying your choice in diet is ‘wrong’, it’s just too easy to believe them. But they aren’t right. You know the truth. From every perspective—whether it’s about saving your health, your money or the planet Earth—you know your choice is the correct one.
It’s time to go back to those times. Return to the simple ingredients (and foods).
It actually becomes easy when you understand that the obvious solution is to substitute all the animal foods and oils for the fruits, vegetables and starches you grew up eating.
A physician and nutrition expert who teaches better health through vegetarian cuisine, John A. McDougall, MD has been studying, writing, and speaking out about the effects of nutrition on disease for over 30 years. His latest book is “The Starch Solution: Eat the Foods You Love, Regain Your Health, and Lose the Weight for Good!”
Dr. Michael Greger on Social Pressure
“The world is built to make us unhealthy”
Dr. Michael Greger
Social pressure is probably one of the biggest challenges when it comes to transitioning to a plant-based diet.
It can be really difficult if you’re the only one in your family or your social group trying to adopt healthful plant-based eating. Therefore, it is CRUCIAL to seek out support from others. Find a local vegetarian group nearby or a group online. Support is really essential when you face a big challenge such as an important holiday, family event or social gathering.
Don’t try to do everything on your own. For the first few weeks, you may struggle with the change. You increase your chances of success considerably if you are part of a group. Sign up for a challenge like the UC Davis Integrative Medicine 21-Day Food Day Challenge.
Dr. Michael Greger is a physician, author, and internationally recognized speaker on nutrition, food safety, and public health issues. A founding member of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, Dr. Greger is licensed as a general practitioner specializing in clinical nutrition. His upcoming book is “How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease.”
Dr. Pam Popper on Not Knowing Where to Start
“You just have to go through the initial part of it and eventually it becomes who you are.”
Dr. Pam Popper
One of the biggest challenges is not knowing how to begin!
What to do first?
The great news is there are so many resources online—a veritable flood of information to help you with any question. Just take the example of recipes. There must be thousands of plant-based recipes online. Just Google the vegan version of any recipe and you’ll get plenty of entries.
At the end of the day, a plant-based diet is still different from the ‘norm’. But once you do get started and you stick to it, people begin to realize it’s not just a fad.
Dr. Pam Popper is an internationally known expert on diet, health and nutrition. She’s appeared in numerous documentaries and her most recent book is “Food Over Medicine: The Conversation That Could Save Your Life.”
Dr. Alona Pulde on Preconceived Notions
“Instead of closing doors with labels, open your mind to exploring foods that you can add to your current diet.”
Dr. Alona Pulde
I think when people hear “plant-based diet”, they think they have to be vegan, or vegetarian.
Remove those expectations and thoughts.
Instead of closing doors with labels, why not open doors and your mind to exploring foods that you can add. Even if right now that just means adding those foods to your current diet.
Remember that a transition to a 100% plant-based diet is (and should be) a continuum; there are lots of different varieties and choices for you. All you have to do is drop any preconceived notions about what you should or shouldn’t do. Once you open up, you’ll be really surprised at all the options available to you.
Dr. Alona Pulde is a Family Medicine Physician specialized in nutrition and lifestyle medicine. She is the lead author of the book, “Keep It Simple, Keep It Whole: Your Guide to Optimum Health” and “The Forks Over Knives Plan: A 4-Week Meal by Meal Makeover.” Dr. Pulde joined Whole Foods Market in 2010 to serve as a health and wellness medical expert.
Now, if you’ll indulge me just a little, I’d like to join my colleagues and add my observations on what I believe is the biggest challenge when it comes to a transition to a 100% whole food, plant-based diet…
Dr. Rosane Oliveira on Struggle and Solution
“The biggest struggle happens in your mind, no question about it. Everything else falls into place once your mindset is ‘in place’.
Dr. Rosane Oliveira
Are you struggling with your transition?
The word “struggle” says it all. Because when we struggle, it means there is conflict. In the case of a transition to a 100% plant-based diet, that struggle could take many forms. It might be a conflict which centers on your ‘food beliefs’. Or it might be a conflict about why you wanted to change your diet in the first place. Or it might be both.
The good news is: conflict starts and ends in your mind.
More often than not, your biggest struggle happens in your mind.
To address this, you need to re-examine your beliefs and evaluate whether or not they are helping (or hindering) the change you want to make.
For example, thinking you are ‘missing out’ on certain foods is a belief. What if you re-framed that belief to something positive? Instead of believing you are ‘losing’ why not instead view your choice to eat a 100% plant-based diet as a ‘gain’ in health, vitality and years.
Nothing else has changed. But when your beliefs change—so do you.
If the conflict you have is around “the reasons” you selected to do it, then look for a stronger, more EMOTIONAL why. Remember the “why that makes you cry” to keep you motivated. You have to look deeper for it, but when you persevere, you’ll find it. The beautiful thing about YOUR perfect why is that, once you find it, there’s no turning back.
Your “why” becomes part of your identity.
And when that happens your mindset is resolved. You aren’t conflicted anymore. And it gets super easy after that.
- You’ll find the support you need to follow through (Dr. Greger).
- You learn the “how-tos” to make the lifestyle work for you (Dr. Popper).
- You know it will take time for the new lifestyle to be second nature, and you’ll be patient (Dr. Campbell).
- You’ll exchange the delicious but unhealthful plate of food for the equally delicious, healthful choice (Dr. Esselystn).
- You won’t doubt your diet and you won’t doubt yourself (Dr. McDougall).
- You’ll let go of preconceptions about veganism, vegetarianism and open new doors (Dr. Pulde).
Everything will just fall into place.
Ready to Start?
As we begin our 21-day journey into healthful whole food, plant-based eating, please understand: YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
Changing longstanding habits isn’t easy.
Transition periods are hard.
And that’s why we’ll be here with you every step of the way.
It’s not too late. You can join us on the 221-dayFood Day Challenge now here.