Change is never easy – because truly we humans are real creatures of habit. The reason for that is because routine gives us stability, predictability and makes us feel comfortable. That is not only the case for good habits but also for bad habits; once we are used to doing a certain thing in a certain way, it’s really hard for us to alter that behavior.
I often hear from non plant based friends that they like the idea of eating a more plant forward diet but that transitioning completely and totally giving up animal products is ‘impossible’, the reason being that the ‘grew up that way’. It is very true that they way we get educated, the things that we learn when we are little and repeat thousands of times, get fundamentally ingrained into us. Some of these things almost define our identity – or at least that’s what we think.
Change is not only difficult for us because we need to break out of routines but also because other people might see a ‘new’ version of us. That often makes us feel uncomfortable, and we feel the need to justify ourselves. But what if we let go of all of these constructs for a minute? What if we see change in a different light, a light of positive evolution? A lot of studies that I’ve learned about during my health coaching program as well as during my yoga teacher training, tell us that we can all change our habits but it needs about 30 days to reinforce the new habit and create lasting change. Now the biggest obstacle to these 30 days is ourselves, namely when we try to commit to too much, when we aim at goals that are just too high. Oftentimes, we can’t achieve these goals immediately and then we tend to give up and say to our disappointed selves: see, I knew it, it’s just impossible for me to change!
Now I believe in change and most of all, I believe that every single person can get there with enough planning and levelheadedness. What I mean by that is: set small goals, every day goals that you can easily achieve and then change comes over time. This is true if you want to transition into a vegan diet but also if you just want to become healthier overall. So instead of telling yourself that you want to eat less overall, just try to chew more, eat slower and take more time for a meal and you will automatically get there. And instead of deciding to give up all animal products at once, just start with one vegan day a week, explore plant based options such a nut milks and cheeses to replace dairy products or use meat replacing products, black beans burgers and tempeh to get off meat. Instead of criticizing yourself when eating animal products, just see it as a journey and not as an end goal. You will get there, it takes time and sometimes you’ll feel like you are not progressing but ultimately the day you set your intention, you were already half there.