Fascinating Findings on Facebook
In a Facebook group I joined, someone posted the question:
“How long did it take you to switch to 100% plant based diet?”.
I was surprised to see how many people responded with some form of “in an instant” or “overnight”.
In this blog post, I will share with you the super interesting thing I learned from corresponding with these “overnighters”. This may offer some insight into how one can find the motivation to make a “tear-off-the-bandaid” rapid and life-changing decision to adopt a vegan/plant-based diet.
Impetus for Change
Curious, I asked each of them what was the impetus for the rapid change. I wondered whether there is something they all have in common. (Just as an aside, the very sweet thing is that many thought I was looking for help going vegan. So I got all kinds of “you can do its” and “go for its” and “you won’t regret its”.)
It turns out, there is a common theme.
In every case, the decision was influenced by three things:
Knowledge gained about the benefits of plant-based eating
Compassion for one’s self, loved ones, the planet or animals
Conviction that a plant-based diet will reduce the suffering of the people, animals or planet within their circle of compassion
This is what I learned from reading all of their responses:
Conviction provides the impetus for the change. In other words, in order to break dietary habits, form new ones and make a sustainable transition, it helps to have a firmly held belief or opinion that a plant-based diet is a path to reducing suffering.
This woman’s words sum up that sentiment perfectly.
“I did the vegan January challenge (Veganuary) and loved it. I learned so much that I was not willing to just be vegetarian anymore. Animals, the environment and my and my family’s health trump convenient instant gratification. I have always loved cooking and I’m embracing this lifestyle fully. My babies mean too much not to.”
So let me break it down. The first piece of the equation is knowledge gained. I asked, in the Facebook group, “was there something you heard, viewed or read that was the impetus for the change?”
Many different sources were mentioned.
The following quotes provide information about those sources and the impact they had:
“My brother had read about Dr McDougall and watched the Forks Over Knives (FOK) Documentary. He decided to try it. OMG his pain disappeared in two weeks. I started studying it all through December and went for it on Jan 01st. I have spinal stenosis and I had bad pain. FIVE days later my pain was gone. I was surprised, shocked but after a couple more weeks I was a total believer. I have bought the books and learned a new way of cooking. I will never turn away or cheat.”
“Once watching Earthling Ed You Tube videos the brain cells switched into overdrive and ever since have never let an animal product passed my lips.”
“Watched What the Health Documentary and was shocked, stunned and horrified emptied cabinets/fridge, boxed up everything and drove it to our friend’s house to donate.”
“Went vegan right away after watching Gary Yourofsky Activist You Tube video of how they treat animals in the food industry. Could never eat any animal products after seeing that.”
“After reading Dr Esselstyn – How to Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease book I changed almost overnight. I will never go back to the Standard American Diet.”
“I was vegetarian off and on throughout my life because I never really felt good about eating animals. Then I read Skinny Bitch Book in 2011, and just decided to go for it (quit eating meat and dairy). Since then I’ve seen Forks over Knives and read all the good literature out there on the health benefits of eating whole foods, no oil that I’ve gone that route for my health.”
“The day after I watched Forks Over Knives. Cleaned out the kitchen. Brought in plant based whole foods and never looked back. “
“So happy I ran across the Forks Over Knives documentary. I’ve done other diets and experienced some weight loss, but never felt a change of mindset and lifestyle like WFPB has inspired. I’m happier now than I’ve ever been. Lots of energy. Feeling in control and not deprived in any way.”
“What did it for me was a book that came out about ten years ago called Skinny Bitch. It only had one chapter on the treatment of animals, but I had no idea.”
“I gained 50 pounds since 2013. I was getting so depressed and was miserable. At 5’1” I weighed 176.6. My dad died at age 59. I’m 60. I thought if I keep this up I’m going to end up with diabetes, and have a heart attack or a stroke, and just keep gaining. And then somehow I ended up watching the documentary Forks Over Knives. I wanted to do it. It just so happened that the coming weekend I was starting a job as a caregiver for man with down syndrome and I would work 12 hour shifts. It was in his home. I was not to eat (of course) any of his food so I had to take my own. So I packed nothing but whole food plant-based foods. There was no opportunity to have anything else to eat during that 12 hour shift. That was my start. I never looked back. I’ve lost 23 pounds. I finally feel healthy, and even better I feel in control of the situation! I love to cook, so I’m actually having the added benefit of having a new hobby, which is trying new things in the kitchen and making beautiful healthy meals for myself. Another benefit? I’m now able to be off my blood pressure medication as my blood pressure has normalized!”
“Went to an Ann and Jane Esselstyn Seminar , the next day I started my vegan life.”
“I went vegan over night after watching Vegucated Documentary. It really opened my eyes. Especially about the egg and dairy industry.”
“I wasn’t feeling well and had some lab work done. I had pre-diabetes, beginnings kidney and liver failure, stroke-range high blood pressure, high cholesterol and triglycerides and that was just from the lab. I couldn’t stand more than 10 minutes at a time and I was weak and dizzy. Then I saw What The Health. I feel much better now after 7 month WFPB. My kidney and liver tests came back normal and my Dr. took me off BP meds this week. Progress!”
“How long is the movie Earthlings Documentary? That was all I needed.”
“I see a Plant-based Doctor who recommended this way of eating. My lab results are better and I just feel so much better….lots of energy! I will never go back.”
“I adopted a WFPB diet immediately after learning that I could reverse my diabetes which I have been able to do. The documentary Forks Over Knives gave me a lot of guidance.”
“I watched Earthlings. Or at least some of it. I never managed to watch it until the end. I wasn’t thinking about becoming vegan, I didn’t plan it. But Earthlings has left my life changed within minutes.”
Some other impactful sources of information that were mentioned were:
Compassion Plays a Role
The next part of the equation is compassion. Everyone alluded to the compassion they feel for themselves, their loved ones, the planet or animals as playing a part in the decision.
“My body felt like hell. I could barely walk up and down the steps because my knees and back hurt so much. Cooking and doing dishes at the sink was agony. My daughter had my second grandchild and I was doubting my ability to even babysit when she would need me. I had to try something! About 3 weeks in I felt completely different and thought “Well shit! This means I’ve gotta do this for the rest of my life. I better start learning how to do this WOE so it becomes second nature to me.” I’m happier now than I’ve ever been. Lots of energy. Feeling in control and not deprived in any way. Six months in and I’ll never go back.”
“I lost my dog, my best friend of 13 years. This affected me in an extreme way. It no longer made sense to eat animals because if Zeke could mean this much to me, then every animal can mean that much to someone. And just like that, the food was gone. Animal products of every single type were gone from my home and never returned. Three days after no animal intake, I had more energy than I have ever had, I was sleeping better with no aides (and after Zekes death that is saying something), I wasn’t hungry as often not eating as much, and when I went in to see my doctor three months later, my blood work came back absolutely perfect for the first time in my life. I’m 36 and I used to average a cholesterol of 212 as a teenager. It’s now 156. So my motivation started out in a very ethical place. And now it’s ethical, environmental, and personal and family health.”
“I began to watch What the Health several months ago but was so horrified/ in denial, that I turned it off after 5 mins. I thought I’d given my baby the best start in life buying him expensive organic yoghurt, organic milk and eggs etc. I also loved cheese and milk. I was worried it was pseudoscience/ vegan propaganda, so needed to find out categorically, based on science. There was a conference in March organized by plant based health professionals, mainly WFPB doctors- and that was all I needed. All of the evidence presented for me re: health benefits. Off the back of that I listened to How Not to Die and other documentaries etc. Cleared out the house, bought all the health staples, and started overnight. “
“My father had just passed away from complications due to diabetes and heart issues. I decided I owed it to myself, and my family, to take better care of myself as I had just been diagnosed as pre diabetic and high cholesterol. I’m happy to say I am no longer pre diabetic and my cholesterol is way down. It was the best decision I have ever made.”
“I was diagnosed with a blockage of the heart – did some research and went plant based 100% immediately. I’m 20kgs/ 44 lbs lighter and a lot more active. I’ve gone mountain climbing, diving etc. with no pains at all so fingers crossed, that the blockage is slowly clearing.”
“I’d had years of abusing my body with food, and decided I’d had enough. I love the difference in how I feel too much to go back. I have lost 30 lbs, reduced my heart meds by half. I love it!!!”
“Went cold turkey the moment I was told I was diabetic and I had high cholesterol (all women on mother’s side have these), I decided I’d change my “inherited destiny.” I did a 4 week raw vegan detox thinking I’d just eat healthier afterwards, but I felt so good that at the end of the 4 weeks I decided I’d continue on! 6 months later I was free of both diagnoses!”
“I hit 199.8 lbs (almost 40 lbs overweight), cholesterol was 290, and at 52, I was on a path I didn’t like. Since 2/9/18, I’ve lost 27.4 lbs, cholesterol measured on 3/6/18 was 213, and I’ve never felt better. So to answer your question…scared of future health issues. Added benefit is my actions are in alignment with my values and love for animals.”
“I have been on every “diet” known to man and had success with most of them, just always gained it back. I’m a food addict and restricting my calories makes me want to overeat even more. Now, I can eat until I’m full and eat whatever I want. It’s freeing!! Also, ethically, this way of eating matches how I feel. It’s a win-win!! Oh, and I’m FINALLY losing weight!!”
The Key Formula
Reading these stories, it became clear to me that:
Knowledge Gained combined with Compassion creates the conviction to make the life-changing decision to reduce and prevention suffering by consuming a vegan/wfpb diet.
These quotes speak to that conviction:
“Health, cruelty, the environment, the works! Convinced by my mom and a couple documentaries. What the Health, Cowpsiracy Documentary primarily, also Forks over Knives and some other YouTube mini-documentaries. The graphic exposés and stuff about heart disease and cancer made it pretty obvious that there wasn’t another way about it.”
“I decided to eat this way once I learned that consuming a vegan diet is the single most impactful thing we can do for the health of our precious planet. Best decision I ever made”.
“I am vegan for Animal rights- I now know too much.”
“I had high cholesterol. I tried cutting down on meats and fats and fried food. It worked for 6 months, then you start slipping under the banner of “moderation” and at the next check up it was high cholesterol again. Doctor said medication for life is needed. Ran into Forks Over Knives movie and gave it a try. 1.5 months later I had lost 25 lbs, felt more energy than ever, I was eating (truck loads of food at any time I was hungry) and not gaining an oz of weight, recovery from exercise increased. My cholesterol is at the correct levels now. Well, I would be nuts to touch animal products again. It would mean to go back to the beginning. It’s been two and half years now.”
“I read a book about how animals are treated in the meat and dairy industry, I was done. I will not be complicit in animal cruelty. I was vegan by Chapter Two. I learned about healthy eating much later however, but made the switch to being a healthier vegan as soon as I learned about the dangers of oil and processed foods.“
“I did it for health reasons and I am an all or nothing kind of person. Since then I have really educated myself and am all in for health, environmental and ethical reasons. Best decision I have ever made!!
I am so grateful to everyone who shared their personal stories and answered my questions on Facebook. I am most appreciative for the insight they provided me into what compels some people to make the overnight and life-changing decision to consume a vegan/plant based diet.
Who knew that Facebook is such a rich environment for conducting research?
Questions or comments? Please do share your thoughts and experiences. I love hearing from you.
Thank you so much for reading…a plant based diet is great for the planet, the animals and you.
With warmest wishes xo,