I am asked the question about whether it is better jump head first into being plant-based or work your way into it often. I wrote a post last year about 3 plans to become plant-based, such as overnight, within 1 week, and within 30 days. My suggestion is to go whole-heartedly for it overnight, you'll feel better sooner and there will be less temptation to slide off track.
I know not everyone can make that kind of change, and that is fine. You know your own limits, and any type of change that is going to last will need to beat your own pace. Some people are all-or-nothing types of people and need to make a change right away, whereas other people feel more comfortable taking a slower approach.
Deciding to make a gradual transition to plant-based can be a slippery slope, if not careful. It may take longer to become plant-based if the door is still open, especially if you don't have a plan set or an end date in mind when you start.
I was a vegetarian before making the transition, which I did overnight - admittedly with a few slip ups. Scott's transition was a little less dramitc, actually it was more of an 'accidential' transition. It wasn't a gradual phasing out of items or an over night turn-around, but more of a realization that he had been eaten them.
Whichever way to decide is best for you, here are some tips to help you along the way;
- Find a milk substitute that you like. There are several avaiable, from soy milk to almond milk to rice milk, and more.
- Look for a meat substitute that you enjoy. There are many in the freezer section of the grocery store, such as Gardein or Lightlife (note not all of their products are plant-based, so make sure to check the ingredients), and they will help with those 'meat' cravings if you get any.
- Keep a list of quick and easy recipes on hand to try, and make a list of your new favorites to make again.
- Give into yourself with plant-based options while adjusting, like plant-based chocolate or cookies. Don't restrict yourself, you'd be amazed at all the plant-based foods available.
- Search for a dairy/cheese replacement that you like. Several years ago there were fewer choices and they weren't that great, but they have come a long way since then.
- Keep a well-stocked stocked pantry. This will help when you find a meal you really want to make and then realize that you already have everything to make it! (see my pantry must haves)
- Make meals that have leftovers, like Chickpea Noodle Soup or Hippie Loaf.
- Don't be afraid to try new things - I was afraid of tofu for a long time, but now I love it!
- Go online and join plant-based forums and support groups, such as HH on Facebook, and look for meet-ups in your area.
Look at your cravings too, what is your body trying to tell you? Every so often my sister would crave a bagel, and nothing she did or ate could make that craving go away until she had one. One day she realized (while eating the bagel) how much she loved the salt on it, that's when she knew she wasn't craving a bagel to have a bagel but was craving it for the salt. Now when she gets a bagel craving, she adds a little extra salt in her meal & the craving disappears!
Last but not least, don't be too hard on yourself if you slip up. We have all been there, and we have all struggled. Just get back up and start right where you left off!