Furthermore, you've probably been thinking about transformations you'd like to see in your own life. The new year is the perfect time to take charge of your health and diet so you can lose weight, feel great and thrive.
How can you achieve this optimal level of health and energy? By swapping out your meat and dairy products for healthy and delicious plant-based foods. In short—by going vegan, or at least mostly vegan.
The new year is the best time give up - or cut way back on - meat and dairy. Here's a step-by-step guide that will help you make your transition with ease:
• Do a 24-hour food recall. First, get an accurate idea of how much meat you're currently eating. Write down everything you ate for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, and drinks for the past 24 hours. For many people, seeing a typical day's diet in black and white is eye-opening.
• Stop thinking of meat as the main event. Unless you grew up in a vegetarian or vegan household, chances are you were raised to think of meat as the main dish and everything else as "sides." It can be helpful to mentally switch these designations.
• Get over your fear of carbs, too. Are you afraid that stepping away from meat will inevitably lead to more carb consumption and then to more body fat? There's much more to a plant-based diet than bread, rice, and pasta. A balanced plate includes fruits, vegetables, fiber, protein, and more.
• Take the transition slowly. There's nothing pleasant about quitting your favorite meats cold turkey (pun intended), and anyway this strategy is unlikely to be successful in the long run. If you're currently a committed carnivore, start by eliminating meat from just one meal a day. After a few weeks, you can move on to having meat only once per day, and after that to one or more meatless days each week.
• Stretch your culinary muscles. As you cut back on the amount of meat you eat, you'll want to add new plant-based recipes to your kitchen repertoire. Also, variety is important both for nutrition and your new diet's sustainability.
• Look for satisfying substitutions. Instead of telling yourself, I can't eat that, ask, how can I make it healthier? Your quest to eat less meat (or even go meat-free) won't feel like a sacrifice if you can find a plant-based way to replicate the flavors and dishes you've always loved.
• Start the day off right. Many of us view cured meats like bacon, sausage, and ham as a breakfast staple. We may even have thought we were doing ourselves a favor by avoiding sugary cereals and carbs. But based on the WHO's recent report that processed meats are linked to cancer, it's wise to bid a (perhaps tearful) farewell to these old meaty favorites—or at least enjoy them on a more limited basis.
• Harness the power of association. If you really want to get serious about saying no to meat, go on the offensive by associating something very yummy with something even more yucky. Every time you bite off a piece of bacon, for instance, picture a mouthful of chemical-laden smog. When you're craving a hot dog, conjure up a mental vision of a sludgy, disgusting landfill.
• Consider what makes cents. Face it, many types and cuts of meat are expensive. In fact, over 20 percent of the average American grocery bill is spent on meat. So if you're motivated by a good deal, you may find it helpful to remind yourself of the money you're saving by choosing plant-based options.
• Find some friends to share the journey. It's a lot easier to make healthy transitions when you're working toward your goal with friends, old or new. Don't underestimate the power of support, encouragement, and commiseration.
Dr. Mary Wendt, founder of www.getwaisted.com and author of Waist Away: How to Joyfully Lose Weight and Supercharge Your Life.