If you’re considering switching to a plant-based diet, congratulations! You’re about to make a wonderful choice for yourself. However, the transition can be intimidating. Here’s a look at some reasons why you should make the switch, as well as a few tips on making it as smooth as possible.

Why Go Plant-Based

A plant-based diet offers innumerable health benefits to those of any age, but it can be especially beneficial for seniors. By focusing mainly on fruits and veggies, you make sure you give your body what it needs. These foods are high in vitamins, nutrients, and fiber, plus they help you avoid unhealthy fats and excess sugars. These diet changes can improve digestion, increase hydration, and reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes.

Moreover, plant-based diets are substantially better for the earth. Animal farming increases the production of greenhouse gases, affects local water tables, and uses up lots of energy and resources through processing. Moreover, meat farming and dairy farming take up much more land than plant-based farming.

Start Small

With any big change, you may want to dive straight in and fully embrace your new vegan lifestyle. However, changing too much, too fast is a recipe for failure. A better technique is to gradually phase out meat over time.

For example, you can start off by avoiding meat and dairy one day a week, then two, and then three until you’re eating plant-based all week long. Or, you can work toward making sure all your breakfasts are plant-based, and then add in lunches, then dinners. Any transition will work, as long as you focus on making it a transition. Don’t overwhelm yourself with too much change.

Try a Variety of Foods

Unfamiliarity is one of the biggest hurdles facing those considering eating plant-based. When you’ve eaten meat and dairy for your entire life, usually many of your favorite foods fall into those categories. When a plant-based diet is on the table, it can feel like you’re giving a lot up.

However, a shift in perspective will help — instead of thinking of giving certain foods up, think about all the new foods you’ll get to know. There are tons of vegan recipes and cooking styles than many people never consider until they swap to a plant-based diet. As you try more vegan meals, you’ll come to find new favorites, and eventually, the diet won’t feel so foreign.

Look Up Local Vegan Restaurants

Another great way to get more comfortable with plant-based foods is to check out a vegan or vegetarian restaurant near you through a site such as HappyCow. This is an especially good option if there’s a recipe you’re thinking of making which features a pricier ingredient you’ve never had. By trying that meal out at a restaurant, you only invest in the cost of a single serving. If you wind up not liking it, you’ll have saved yourself the trouble of making it at home.

Our local favorite is Planta out of Toronto, Canada which just launched a location in Miami Beach, FL.

Use That New Energy

Once you’ve transitioned to a plant-based diet, you might find yourself bursting with energy. Make the most of this renewed vigor by starting a new exercise routine. Consider checking out a local group fitness class. These kinds of classes help keep you motivated, as well as provide a chance to meet new people who share similar goals. If you’re a Medicare Advantage subscriber, you might be eligible to participate in the SilverSneakers program, which gives you access to 13,000 fitness facilities in the US — including the YMCA. This makes joining a workout group a breeze, meaning you can take full advantage of the energy your healthy new diet brings.

Meat is Not the Enemy

I must be clear that I do not advocate a 100% vegan diet for a prolonged period of time over other dietary options. Not choosing to consume animal products because of personal beliefs is your right. However, meat should not be considered the enemy here. It is the quality of meat. Grass-fed beef, wild caught fish and free-range chicken with each animal being fed its’ diet as nature intended is an excellent source of good fats and protein. Over-consumption of animal products that are injected with hormones, antibiotics and not fed their true diets is where the benefits of meat consumption, from a health perspective, drops significantly. Cycling to plant-based diet from time to time is a great option regardless of personal beliefs.