Tips for Transitioning to a Plant-Based Diet so you can #Switch4Good is sponsored by www.Switch4Good.org
It is so great to see Olympic elite athletes who thrive and excel with this dairy free plant based diet and their campaign was so inspiring and makes me want to keep up this great new lifestyle even more. Led by Oscar-winning director, Louis Psihoyos (The Cove), the commercial counteracts the misleading messaging prominently featured in the Milk Life advertising and hopes to educate viewers so that they can make better choices to improve their health, wellness and performance. And the good news is that the commercial spot will air in multiple markets on NBC on Sunday, February 25, 2018, including during the closing ceremonies of the 2018 Winter Games in South Korea. To illustrate that you don’t have to drink cow’s milk to build the strength required for Olympic greatness, the commercial stars:
- Dotsie Bausch – silver medalist cyclist, 7-time U.S. National Champion, former world record holder and two-time Pan American gold medal winner
- Rebecca Soni – former competition swimmer and breaststroke specialist who is a six-time Olympic medalist.
- Seba Johnson – the first black woman to ski at the Olympics and the youngest in her sport
- Kendrick Farris – three-time Olympian and the only USA male weightlifter to qualify for the Rio Olympic Games
- Kara Lang – 2015 Canadian Soccer Hall of Famer and 2008 Olympic soccer team member
- Malachi Davis – 2004 Olympic sprinter
By sharing their inspirational stories in the #Switch4Good campaign, these dairy-free Olympians have committed to encouraging and educating others on making the switch from dairy. These Olympians want the public to be informed about what goes in our bodies, and want to share the message that even small steps in reducing dairy intake can offer health benefits — ranging from weight loss, improved digestion, disease prevention, and increased energy.
Consumers can offer their support in amplifying this message, in counteracting the misleading information being circulated, and to bringing life-changing information to more people by viewing the commercial – found at www.Switch4Good.org – and sharing it with the hashtag #Switch4Good.
Much misleading information exists, which is why it was so important to develop this commercial and run the campaign – to share the true benefits of a plant-based lifestyle through the stories of these Olympians – for the ultimate prize: better health for each of us.
According to various reports*, 1:4 consumers reported eating less animal meat in the past 12 months and 1:3 consumers prefer plant-based milks. Many consumers want to move away from animal products, and we hope to encourage and educate them so that they can make the best choices for their health and wellness.
Keep reading for Tips for Transitioning to a Plant-Based Diet in 2018!
Below is a step-by-step guide that will help you make your transition with ease.
Do a 24-hour food recall. First, get an accurate idea of how much meat you’re currently eating. Instead of keeping a food log (which you’re prone to forget about after Meal One), do a 24-hour food recall. Write down everything you ate for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, and drinks for the past 24 hours. For many people, seeing a typical day’s diet in black and white is eye-opening.
“Even if you don’t think you eat much meat, consider the World Health Organization’s recommendations,” Dr. Wendt instructs. “Just 50 grams of processed meat, or a little less than 2 ounces daily, increases your risks. Bacon or sausage for breakfast, plus a deli sandwich at lunch, might put you well over 50 grams—and that’s not even counting supper!”
Stop thinking of meat as the main event. Unless you grew up in a vegetarian or vegan household, chances are you were raised to think of meat as the main dish and everything else as “sides.” Dr. Wendt says it can be helpful to mentally switch these designations.
“Consider meat a condiment that you can sprinkle over beans, whole grains, or vegetables, rather than the main dish,” she recommends. “For instance, you might crumble a small amount of chorizo into your vegetable soup or top your salad with a pinch or two of bacon bits.”
Get over your fear of carbs, too. Are you afraid that stepping away from meat will inevitably lead to more carb consumption…and then to more body fat? This is a common concern, but Dr. Wendt promises that it’s unfounded.
“There’s much more to a plant-based diet than bread, rice, and pasta,” she points out. “A balanced plate includes fruits, vegetables, fiber, protein, and more. And anyway, not all carbs are bad. You do want to stay away from simple carbohydrates (like those found in white bread and white rice), which are easily broken down by the body and quickly converted to fat—without leaving you satisfied. However, complex carbohydrates (like those found in whole grain products) will fill you up without filling you out.”
Take the transition slowly. There’s nothing pleasant about quitting your favorite meats cold turkey (pun intended)—and anyway, this strategy is unlikely to be successful in the long run. If you’re currently a committed carnivore, start by eliminating meat from just one meal a day. After a few weeks, you can move on to having meat only once per day—and after that, to one or more meatless days each week.
“No matter what kind of dietary change you’re making, the key to lasting success is sustainability,” says Dr. Wendt. “A slow, gradual transition gives your body and palate plenty of time to get used to more plant-based options and keeps you from feeling restricted and dissatisfied.”
Stretch your culinary muscles. As you cut back on the amount of meat you eat, you’ll want to add new plant-based recipes to your kitchen repertoire. (Sorry—eating more chips, French fries, candy, and other meatless junk food won’t do your health many favors in the long run.)
Look for satisfying substitutions. Instead of telling yourself, I can’t eat that, ask, How can I make it healthier? Your quest to eat less meat (or even go meat-free) won’t feel like a sacrifice if you can find a plant-based way to replicate the flavors and dishes you’ve always loved.
“Fortunately, finding recipes and learning new cooking techniques has never been easier thanks to sites like Pinterest and Epicurious, plant-based food blogs, YouTube tutorials, and more,” notes Dr. Wendt. “If you don’t want to spend time searching and prefer a more customized approach, my Get Waisted program gives you access to thousands of curated plant-based recipes.”
“Before I cut meat out of my diet, I used to love making—and eating—Vietnamese pork bundles,” shares Dr. Wendt. “I mourned their loss for four whole years before I had the idea to substitute pinto beans for the pork. Turns out their creamy goodness, and even their coloring, mimics ground pork reasonably well. And bonus: Beans are consistently linked to high productivity and longevity. By choosing a bean over meat, I had not only found a way to extend my life, I was improving its quality, too.
“The point is, you don’t have to look for an all-new repertoire of meatless recipes—just get creative when preparing your old favorites,” she continues. “In addition to subbing beans for meat, give meat-replacers like tofu, portobello mushrooms, lentils, and eggplant a second (or first) chance.”
Start the day off right. Many of us view cured meats like bacon, sausage, and ham as a breakfast staple. We may even have thought we were doing ourselves a favor by avoiding sugary cereals and carbs. But based on the WHO’s recent report that processed meats are linked to cancer, it’s wise to bid a (perhaps tearful) farewell to these old meaty favorites—or at least enjoy them on a more limited basis.
“Don’t skip breakfast altogether if your old go-to option is off the table,” Dr. Wendt warns. “This meal is a great place to start incorporating plant-based substitutions. You can try vegetarian and vegan sausages and bacon if you prefer to start the day off on a savory note. Personally, I was surprised by how close to the original many of these copycats are. And don’t forget options like oatmeal, fruit smoothies, and whole grain breads and cereals. All of these are healthy, and once again, will fill you up without filling you out.”
Harness the power of association. If you really want to get serious about saying no to meat, go on the offensive by associating something very yummy with something even more yucky. Every time you bite off a piece of bacon, for instance, picture a mouthful of chemical-laden smog. When you’re craving a hot dog, conjure up a mental vision of a sludgy, disgusting landfill.
“During my own transition, I was frequently assailed by cravings for barbecue,” Dr. Wendt recalls. “So when I smelled or just started fantasizing about this dish, I would think about dirt. Sometimes I’d even picture a little pig on a factory farm, living his life in a crate, never getting a breath of fresh air and never knowing what it felt like to stick his nose in some nice mud. This tactic worked amazingly well!”
Consider what makes cents. Face it: Many types and cuts of meat are expensive! In fact, over 20 percent of the average American grocery bill is spent on meat (and meat prices are continuing to rise). So if you’re motivated by a good deal, you may find it helpful to remind yourself of the money you’re saving by choosing plant-based options.
“You might object that fresh produce and other non-processed foods can also be pricey—and I hear you!” Dr. Wendt acknowledges. “However, if you’re no longer funneling one-fifth or more of your grocery budget toward meat, you’ll have a lot more to spend on these items. Plus, alternate sources of protein—beans and grains—are very inexpensive compared to animal proteins.
“Also, remember that the cost savings aren’t limited to what’s (not) on your plate,” she adds. “For instance, many of my patients find that they spend less on cosmetics because a plant-based diet improves their hair and skin. And, of course, by eating nutritiously, you’re avoiding piles of medical bills in the future.”
Find some friends to share the journey. It’s a lot easier to make healthy transitions when you’re working toward your goal with friends, old or new. Don’t underestimate the power of support, encouragement, and commiseration.
“If you can’t get your family on board with a reduced-meat or no-meat diet, maybe you can swap plant-based meal plans with a good friend or team up with a coworker to make sure the break room is stocked with healthy lunch and snack options,” Dr. Wendt suggests.
“This is a great time to start making lasting changes that will improve your whole life,” concludes Wendt. “You can begin a new, healthier chapter of your life today, with no distractions or excuses weighing you down. It is my hope that the prospect of a more fit and healthy ‘you’ is inspiration enough to reclaim your health using the undeniable power of plant-based foods.”