How Tiny Habits Will Help You Go Vegan

03/05/2015 11:29 am ET | Updated May 05, 2015
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Part of the challenge for many people adopting a vegan diet is that it seems like a gigantic, daunting change.

But what if you could make tiny modifications to your daily routine so that going vegan seemed effortless?

BJ Fogg, a Stanford psychologist who studies behavioral change is an expert in creating new habits that stick. He developed The Fogg Method, a simple three-step system to cultivating new behaviors. Fogg emphasizes tiny habits that build to create lasting change. This process applies to any type of habit (from flossing to money management), but I think it's a good fit for adopting a vegan diet.

1. Start Small

If your goal is to go vegan, break that down into the smallest unit of behavior. Don't try to change all of your eating habits overnight. If you're currently a dedicated meat-eater, a plant-based diet isn't a small change. Instead, start with eating more vegetables. For example, add a delicious, vitamin-packed green smoothie to your breakfast every day.

2. Ease is Everything

Simplicity is essential in creating new habits. In the case of adding a green smoothie, make this process as easy as possible for yourself. Have your vegetables prepped, portioned and ready-to-go so all you have to do is reach into the refrigerator and drop them in the blender. If this is too much, purchase bottled green smoothies as part of your regular grocery shopping and enjoy one each day with your breakfast.

3. Integrate Seamlessly

Fogg suggests anchoring a new habit to an existing behavior. Let's say your current routine is to brew a pot of coffee in the morning. You decide to prepare your green smoothie as the coffee brews, making your current behavior a trigger for your new habit. It feels easy because it integrates into your existing flow and you hardly have to think about it. With practice, the behavior of preparing your green smoothie becomes automatic.

Next thing you know, you're drinking green smoothies every day. (And looking fabulous, by the way). Once you have these habits in place, you'll not only see positive outcomes, but also recognize how simple it is to integrate more good habits.

Remember your Accomplishments

It's essential to remind yourself of what you've accomplished.

"So big deal, I've had a few smoothies," you might think.

But the process of acknowledging your good behavior (no matter how small it might seem) is key to your success. Give yourself a little fist pump each morning when you finish your smoothie. Recognize the momentum you've created and feel good about it.

The realization that you're forming solid habits builds your confidence and leads to more success. Perhaps you'll start participating in Meatless Monday, or ordering tofu stir-fry instead of chicken at your favorite Chinese restaurant. Again, tiny habits.

To create good habits that build on each other, begin with small changes followed by small wins. These will help you unlock the power to move toward a vegan diet and transform your health.

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