After You Have Watched “What the Health”: How to Begin Your Plant Diet
Admit it. You have watched the viral documentary What the Health and the idea of drinking milk pus and eating animal parts injected with antibiotics makes you queasy. Well, welcome to the club, one I have been a member of for 40 years and one that more and more people are rushing to join. What is your next step? How are you going to plan 2–3 meals a day and snacks when you are already so busy? How will you order at restaurants? What do you need to stock up on at home?
I’ve discussed this process with thousands of patients because plant-based diets have been shown to reverse heart artery disease and prevent heart attacks. I routinely use these resources to guide my patients through this transition and I hope they will help you too.
1. Check out free starter guides
Here are some organizations with free resources to help you get started on a plant-based diet:
• Kaiser Permanente The largest managed care organization in the USA provides strong medical support for a whole foods plant-based diet, as well as pages of practical tips in their downloadable resource.
• Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) This organization, led by Dr. Neal Barnard, maintains high standards and does original research. For example, PCRM has found evidence that diabetes mellitus in adults can be treated and reversed with plant-based diets. Their Vegetarian Starter Kit is excellent.
• People for The Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) This group does great work exposing animal cruelty and their Vegan Starter Kit to eating is an important resource, offering a two-week meal plan, tips to make the transition, and a list of foods to eat.
• Vegan Outreach This non-profit organization does wonderful work on college campuses reaching almost a million students a year. Their guide to cruelty-free eating is excellent; it features dozens of recipes, plus information about vegan philosophy and nutrition.
2. Watch “Forks Over Knives” and sign up for www.nutritionfacts.org
• Forks Over Knives is another powerful documentary that has changed many lives. I ask all of my patients to watch this movie with their family. The film’s website has a guide to eating that is another great resource.
Another critical step is to sign up for the free and amazing library of health videos available from Michael Greger, MD at www.nutritionfacts.org.
3. Learn About Animal Rights
• Animals Deserve Protection Today and Tomorrow (ADAPTT) This is a website created by animal liberation activist Gary Yourofsky and features his viral speech making the case for a vegan diet. The site has great resources for changing to plant-based nutrition. For some people, considerations of the plight of animals is even a more powerful reason to maintain a plant-based diet than health concerns alone.
4. Find complete nutrition plans
• PCRM offers a 21-day complete vegan program called the Vegan Kickstart. It’s free and includes celebrity tips, meal plans, webcasts, restaurant guides, daily messages, and a community forum. It is run beginning the first of every month, is free, and is even available in several languages. I highly recommend signing up.
• PETA offers a complete two-week nutrition plan for free including what to eat, what to make, and where to eat. I have found this to be a helpful resource.
• 22 Days Nutriton (www.22daysnutrition.com) has an eating plan for the next 3 weeks plus and also delivers gourmet plant meals to your home if you are struggling on what to prepare or pack for lunch at work.
5. Get Your Pantry Stocked
Having the staples for a successful and simple meal is the key as you cannot run to the story every time you are hungry. A stocked pantry can make or break your success, even if it is canned black beans, brown rice, and marinara sauce. Here is a handy guide to making the transition to a plant pantry that will help you get started on a successful path.
6. Find Travel Apps for Success
Eating a plant-based diet at home is one matter, eating one on the road another. Familiarize yourself with apps like Happy Cow and you will increase the odds that you will succeed long term.
While diet is a personal matter, increasing scientific evidence drawn from longitudinal studies such as the Adventist Health Study, the EPIC-Oxford Study and other large databases indicate that the lowest rates of chronic diseases occur in people who don’t eat meat, eggs and dairy and instead consume mostly plant-based foods.