When it comes to going vegetarian or vegan, the whole idea of perfectionism—of never eating dairy again and never eating meat—is among the biggest obstacles for people. I saw this first hand for the first time many years ago when I was teaching a class on vegetarian cooking. One student told me that she loved the idea of going vegetarian but she just couldn’t contemplate it, because she couldn’t give up her favorite food—a Reuben Sandwich.
I asked her how often she had a Reuben, and she said “Oh—maybe 4 or 5 times a year.” I suggested that maybe she would like to try being a vegetarian with the exception of 4 or 5 Reuben sandwiches every year. It had never occurred to her!
Sometimes people get more focused on definitions than on meaningful habits. If they can’t imagine themselves as 100% vegetarian or 100% vegan or 100% organic locavore, they don’t bother trying at all. If you’re thinking about eating a plant-based diet, but there are one or two things holding you back, why not give in to those couple of things, and be vegetarian the rest of the time?
When we give ourselves a break–and accept that we may not be able to be perfect– making changes can feel a little more achievable.