There are many benefits to switching, such as helping the environment by lowering greenhouse gas emissions. Plant-based foods are also higher in fiber and lower in saturated fat than animal foods which helps prevent heart disease. Given all the benefits, many of us try to go plant-based but don’t always do it right. Changing to a plant-based diet can be a shock to someone who eats meat daily. For instance:
- Your taste buds may be used to the saltiness and heaviness of certain meat-based dishes
- You may start eating fewer calories on a plant-based diet, increasing your hunger for foods you are used to eating, like meat
- Your body craves animal products simply out of habit
If you’re not prepared, it may be hard to control your triggers, leaving you no other choice but to give in and go back to meat.
The solution? Set concrete and manageable SMART goals that you can actually achieve. SMART goal setting is a time tested and proven theory that helps you stop the ongoing cycle of setting weak goals and failing them. As a former meat lover, you have an added challenge in switching to a plant-based diet. Read on and learn how to set specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timed goals that help you stay on track, making it more likely that you’ll succeed.
SMART Goals For Switching To A Plant-based Diet Are:
When you first start planning the switch to plant-based eating, try breaking up more complex goals into smaller ones that are easier to focus on. If you just want to “never eat meat again”, your brain can’t focus on how to get there. Try a more specific goal like: “I will eat a plant-based breakfast that includes a vegetarian protein source every day”.
When goals are measurable, they are more likely to be followed through. For example, plan weekly or monthly goals to stick to, such as: “I will plan 2 Meatless Monday recipes and set aside 1 hour to prepare them every Sunday.”
If you crave meat-based dishes and don’t like every vegetable option out there, don’t set yourself up for failure by quitting “cold turkey” without a plan in place. Make sure the goals you set are attainable. For instance, if you don’t think you can switch to plant-based eating right away, find ways to do so slowly. Want to eat more legumes but aren’t a fan of beans? Try sneaking legumes in your favorite dishes, tricking yourself into eating more beans without drastically changing the flavor of your favorite recipes. Try goals like: “I will use mashed beans in all ground meat or meatball recipes, replacing at least half the meat with bean products.” Before you know it, you’ll train yourself to crave the foods you used to think were just a garnish on your nachos! Maybe you crave smoked meat or cheese as a snack – try switching these for equally satisfying plant-based foods. For instance: “I will satisfy my cravings for meat with apple slices dipped in peanut butter, dates or plant-based cheese.”
Make sure the plant-based goals you set are workable for your circumstances. For instance, you may wish to make your own plant-based cheese, but if you’re just starting out, this may not be a priority. Focus on goals that match your current cooking skills, adding on as you learn more in the kitchen. Or you may wish to eat only home-cooked plant-based foods, but live in a student dorm with no access to an oven. Don’t be so hard on yourself – not all of us have the means to switch to plant-based eating right away. Try to work with what you have and upgrade accordingly.
When you don’t have a finish line, how do you know if you’ve won the race? Set a time frame to meet your specific goals to know when, and if, you achieved them. For example: “I will prepare 3-4 plant-based lunch and dinner recipes every Sunday for myself and my partner by September.”
That’s just a few SMART goals for plant-based eaters – pick some of these for yourself or make your own! And remember, change is often hard – don’t be afraid to ask for help. Plan 1-2 goals per week and try to put them in place until you reach your final goal of adopting a plant-based lifestyle.
Do you have more SMART goal ideas for switching to a plant-based diet? Let us know in the comments below!
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