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(when trying to spread the plant-strong message, don’t use the Sue Silvester approach)
You watched Forks Over Knives, you read Engine 2 Diet, you watched Kitchen Rescue. You picked up a few Happy Herbivore cookbooks, and you are ready to go. How could anyone not want to dramatically improve their health? You want to shout it from the rooftops and get the world plant-strong! Trouble is, that you can’t even get the people under your own roof to consider being plant-strong. A lot of emotions come up when we change our diet. It is especially hard, because knowing nutrition truth and knowing how most diseases are caused, it is very hard to watch as others continue to eat food that will lead to things like heart disease, t2 diabetes, Alzheimers and more.
There are 2 different types of people:
1. The relatively healthy person in your house who does not want anything to do with your new plant-strong life.
2. The very unhealthy person who is in immediate need of a drastic change, a life or death situation.
Let’s start with the first scenario.
Let’s say your spouse loves meat, they have somehow managed to keep a normal weight, and they have no current signs of heart disease (high cholesterol or high BP). They might not see any reason to change what they are doing. In addition, depending on how long you have been plant-strong, they might not think you will last a long time on the new eating plan. Chances are, you have tried many other plans, and maybe you have even changed the way you cook in the house, or tried to convince them that another way of eating was really the best thing. Your spouse could be suffering from what we call “spousal diet fatigue”.
This is when, as the saying goes “they have heard it before.” It’s no wonder they aren’t really interested at first, they aren’t even sure if you will be all that interested. So what do you do ? If you, yourself have health problems, talk to your spouse about really wanting to make changes to the way YOU eat. Not the way they eat. This is about YOU and your health, not your spouses health. Tell your spouse that they are more than welcome to eat whatever they want, however, you can’t prepare it anymore, because it is just too difficult to stay on track if you have to cook completely different meals. Encourage a ‘prep day’ where you and your family prepare the meals they want to eat that week.
For children: The only thing that we believe that should be an absolute line in the sand is dairy. Dairy can cause irreversible auto immune diseases that will last a life-time. We’d urge you to sit down with your spouse and watch Dr. McDougall’s lecture on dairy to clear up any questions. Of course, switching children to a plant-strong diet is the healthiest thing you can do for your children, but sometimes it has to start slowly. If your family is not ready to jump on board 100%, start making some small changes to meals.
- Have fresh fruit and vegetables cut up and ready to go, so that snacking is easy.
- Get rid of the junk food from the house. Pop tarts, fritos, soda and lunchables have no place in any kitchen. You can start cleaning up the worst offenders (including dairy) to start getting your family on a more healthy path.
- Have your family pick out some recipes from your new cookbooks that look good to them. You can also check our Pinterest page which has 100′s of plant-strong recipes with photos for easy browsing!
- Have a taste test! This is especially important when you are removing dairy from the home. Pick up some plant-strong non dairy milks and let your family test them out to see which they like best. Be prepared, you might have to have a few different non-dairy milks in the house to meet different tastes. Be sure you serve the non-dairy milks cold and shaken, and serve with a plant-strong cookie or mighty muffin.
- Have healthy plant-strong sides. Serve things like whole grain pasta, potatoes, sweet potatoes and vegetables that your family DOES enjoy.
Bottom line, your family/spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend might not be as thrilled about your new plant-strong life as you are, you might have to ease in a little more slowly with them. In the meantime, you have to do what is best for you, and set a great example to the people around you.
The person in an emergency health situation:
We refer to these people as standing on the tracks, and the train is a moment away from hitting them. If this was a real life scenario, chances are you would do something pretty quickly to get that person off the tracks. We would guess you wouldn’t just whisper “hey, you, there is a train coming right for you, you might want to move, I guess, if you want to.”
More likely you would run at them like a charging bull, screaming at the top of your lungs. Now, we’re not suggesting you do that with the way you introduce the plant-strong life to someone who is in immediate need of changing their diet.
However, you might have to be a little more firm about the way you approach them. First, approach the person with love and respect. No one enjoys being yelled at or lectured to. Tell the person how much you love them and how you are concerned about their health. You can tell them that the reason you are saying something is not to be judgmental, but because you want that person around for a long time, and you do not want to see them suffer.
Ask them if they would be willing to watch Forks Over Knives (note, it is available on Netflix, Amazon Rentals and Hulu) with you, or read a book on plant-strong nutrition. It doesn’t have to be our book, there are a lot of great ones out there like “The China Study“, “Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease“, “Dr. Neal Barnards Program for Reversing Diabetes“, “The Starch Solution“.
Ask them to help you. Sometimes people want to feel as they are contributing in someway. Going on the plant-strong journey together can often help in a lot of ways.
Ask them if they would be willing to hear you out for 30 minutes. Most people will be willing to listen if they know that it is for a set amount of time.
See if they will just try it for 28 days.
Above all, approach the topic with respect and love.
You might want to pick up the book “The Pleasure Trap” to help you understand why changes in diet can be so difficult for some people.
The bottom line in sharing your newfound plant-strong joy is to do so with respect and kindness. Remember it took you time to find out about being plant-strong, so you might have to give others a little time as well.
What advice do you have for people who want to spread the plant-strong message? What has worked? What hasn’t worked?