THE BLOG
11/06/2013 12:49 pm ET

Going Vegan: Where to Start?

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More and more people each day are deciding they want to transition to a vegan-inspired lifestyle. They "get" that it's a healthier and kinder lifestyle for themselves, animals and the planet.

Surveys commissioned by The Vegetarian Resource Group and Vegetarian Times tell us that almost 2 million Americans identify as vegan (add a million who are vegan except for honey), and more than 15 million Americans consider themselves willing to eliminate animal foods.

And, yet, I hear every day from people who are intimidated by the idea of making the shift to this plant-based, heart-based lifestyle. They feel overwhelmed, anxious and unsure.

Their big question usually is, "Where do I start?"

Now, of course there's no single right answer to this question. However, I've found one somewhat surprising starting point that has worked incredibly well for my clients, family and friends.

This starting point? Green drinks.

Yes, green drinks -- juices and smoothies made with dark, leafy greens and other whole plant foods -- are what I've found to be the perfect place to begin the transition to a vegan-inspired lifestyle.

As I've started people with adding just this one thing to their daily lives, I've now seen time and again that it works in motivating them to keep moving deeper into what I call "plant-based eating and heart-based living."

Why Does It Work?

After experiencing the power of starting people with green drinks so many times, I have a theory about why it works. I made a video about this theory for my online program, and I'll explain it here as well. The theory is two-fold:

1) It's Psychological

When I tell people we are only going to add one positive thing to their lives, it's psychologically acceptable to most of them.

We aren't taking anything away. We're simply learning something new to bring into their lives that will help them feel better. I tell them -- and it's true -- that even if they just did this one thing, they would improve their health and wellbeing.

Everyone I've worked with has looked at me in relief ("You're really not taking anything away?!") and has been willing to add green drinks to their lives to start.

2) It's Physiological

The amazing benefit of adding daily green drinks to someone's life -- especially if they're not getting those dark, leafy greens regularly in their current diet -- is that they feel physical effects of this addition very quickly, often within the first week!

By infusing their bodies with the optimal nutrition that greens provide, in the easily-assimilable form of green drinks, I've seen people experience fast and tangible improvements in their digestion (chronic heartburn gone), energy (no afternoon slump), skin (hello, rosy cheeks of my youth!), mood (that glass is half-full), cravings (pear is my sugar now!), mental clarity (no more lost keys) and more.

Experiencing these health improvements, in their own bodies, so powerfully and quickly, is amazing motivation to keep going.

It's All Connected

I've heard many a current vegan who started on the path because of their health say that when they began eating healthier whole foods and less animal foods, they experienced shifts that were not just physical, but also mental and spiritual. They started to make connections between everything they consume, how it comes to be and how it affects us, other living beings and the environment.

It's as if when we start to replace the processed junk food and animal suffering we grew up ingesting with whole plant-based foods grown from the earth, a fog begins to lift, and we're able to see more clearly and feel more deeply. (This was my own journey, too.)

I believe that just by adding nature's all-powerful nutritional boost of green drinks to our systems, we light the first spark to ignite this process.

Dark, leafy greens are optimal nutrition. Dr. Joel Furhman found them to be the only 100-ranked food on his 1-100 scale of nutritional value, and he advises we consume them every day. And, as "the mother of the green smoothie movement" Victoria Boutenko tells us, drinking our greens allows us to get way more of them, helps them taste better to our palates and makes them more easily digestible for our generally compromised GI tracts.

Green drinks are detoxifying, alkalizing, energizing, balancing and healing. So by starting people with them as they take their tentative first step toward a vegan-inspired lifestyle, I've found we help create a positive opening in their bodies, minds and spirits right at the get-go. And then we just roll forward from there.

So, if you're one of the 15 million Americans willing to move toward a vegan-inspired lifestyle but you're not sure where to start, why not try just adding this one thing to your life, and see what happens?