Topics » In The Kitchen » Going Plant-Based: Should You Transition Slowly or Go Cold Tofu?
T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies

You’ve decided to give plant-based eating a try–that’s great! It is one of the best decisions you can make for your health and your environment.

Will you go “cold tofu” or transition over time? There are pros and cons to each method, so here is some homework designed to help you make a decision.

Grab a journal or pad of paper and record your answers to these questions.

What Is Your Primary Motivation?

Some people are curious to see what it would be like to eat only plant foods for a while. Others want to try it as a means to losing weight. Many people are inspired to help the environment or protect animals. Some have been advised to eat less meat and dairy as a means to reducing or eliminating specific health concerns or diseases. Acknowledging why you want to go plant-based is important.

What Are Your Long-Term Goals?

Goals are different from motivation. Your motivation is what drives you to create goals for yourself. Your goals should be measurable and backed up with short term objectives. In this case, your objective might be to define your timeline; identify precise changes you will make and any new habits you plan to integrate.

If your goal is to eat plant-based for two weeks or a month just to see what it’s like, then it makes sense to dive all in and eat 100% plant-based from that temporary period. On the other hand, if you already know you want to make this way of eating a lifestyle, then you might take some time to transition based on your answers to the remaining questions.

What Can Your Grocery Budget Tolerate?

Plant-based eating does not have to be expensive. Vegetables, fruits, and whole grains are certainly among the least expensive food choices. But, if it would cause a financial hardship for you to dispose of processed foods you already have in stock, you may want to use things like bread, pasta, salad dressings, cereals, snacks, and condiments until they run out, then replace them with plant-based, whole food alternatives. As you phase them out, begin to plan your meals in advance and use a detailed shopping list so you don’t buy things you won’t use.

How Strong Is Your Support System?

The people you share life with will have a lot to do with your decision. If you live alone, or shop and cook only for yourself, it will be easier to go plant-based cold tofu. You aren’t affecting others by your choices. However, if you have a partner or family to share meals with, what is their stance? Are they making the change with you? If not, are they at least supportive? Having your family behind you is important when adopting a lifestyle change. If your family is skeptical, a transition over time, or a short-term trial run, may be a good way to show them how delicious and satisfying a plant-based diet can be without overwhelming them.

What Is Your Track Record?

Be real with yourself. What is your history with food, diets, and change? Have you jumped on every diet bandwagon only to hop off within a couple of weeks? Do you swear off sugar every morning and cave in every evening? Do you embrace change or fear it? Some people have to go 100% all the time in order to hold themselves accountable. If they have one bite, they’ll finish the whole bag. Others find that allowing themselves some slack in the reins helps keep the wagon on the tracks.

Once you make your decision and start on this journey, whether for a trial run or for life, continue to journal your experiences, physically, psychologically, and emotionally. When you find yourself tempted, or weakening in your resolve, go back to the beginning of this lesson and reread your motivations and your goals. Rewrite your objectives and carry forward. Life is a journey; keep your wagon moving.

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