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How to Move to a Plant Based Lifestyle

Helping Your Customers Convert

Back when I gave up meat, everyone had something to say about it.  Most of it wasn’t good.  I gave up meat because I was giving up dairy, processed food, refined sugar, gluten and …well, it just seemed like the thing to do. Sorry, I don’t have a thing about eating animal meat, except that it’s gross and I don’t love it.  I found out after, what a great thing I did for my body and my future health. 

So, it was easy for me. It’s not so easy for people who’ve been advised to either go plant based or cut back on their red meat.  They need help, support, and recipes that satisfy.

When I say it was easy for me, I mean, I was motivated and didn’t doubt my decision.  Your clients will be struggling with both.  What wasn’t easy – I didn’t have a clue what to eat.  I grew up with meat, potatoes, a vegetable and a fruit for dinner.  This was a well-balanced diet in the 60’s and 70’s.  We ate as mindfully as you could with a table of 5 kids trying to make sure we got what we wanted before it was gone.  So, I was finding substitutes for a sandwich with chips for lunch, lucky charms for breakfast and roast, potatoes, carrots and gravy for dinner.

For me, it was easier to group in smoothies and salads – a protein, vegetable, fat and fruit.  Translated into hemp seeds, spinach, coconut oil and strawberries/bananas.  I progressed and tended toward raw because it was easy and it made me feel good.  I needed a health coach.  Only I didn’t know that they existed at that time, I wish I did.

I’d search for recipes and then print out pictures and names of ingredients and take them to the grocery store.  The workers at Whole Foods went and hid when they saw me coming.It took hours out of every day to feed myself. I got on my family’s nerves. My husband didn’t like eating separately from me and my brothers and sisters didn’t like that I fed them pesto and pine nuts instead of lasagne with tons of hamburger.

Travel wasn’t impossible but it was tough and it annoyed my hosts.

It’s much easier to work with clients who are going plant-based if you yourself are living that lifestyle.  You can empathize and they trust you more because they see you are walking the talk.  It’s just like any other coaching, you set goals and action steps.  You let them voice their concerns and you listen. Provide them with the materials they need to educate themselves and make informed decisions.

If they’ve been eating “My Plate” then moving to a plant-based diet will be a huge adjustment. I can remember my concern that I would get enough nutrients.  I was careful and I studied a lot. Your client won’t need to do that.  They have you.

Cathy Sykora

Cathy Sykora

Founder, The Health Coach Group

Cathy helps health coaches build and maintain successful businesses that improve the lives of others.


Folks have concerns, valid concerns when they switch.

Where will I get my protein?  Have alternatives, recipes, a list of books with vegan/vegetarian recipes.  Give your customer a list of protein sources.  The more information, the better.

How can I afford all these whole foods? Talk to your clients about less expensive alternatives, legumes, potatoes, coop buying groups, and buying in bulk.

Do I need to worry about vitamin B12?  Give your client information on alternative foods for vitamin B12, and the supplements that do and do not work.

I have gas ALL the time.  What do I do?  Give your customer a list of enzymes and probiotics. Teach them to juice to eliminate some fiber. They probably never had this much fiber in all their life.  Help them to be patient.

Teach them:

  • to soak and dehydrate nuts and beans.
  • to juice
  • build fun international salads
  • to blend
  • get them into a community of others who are doing the same
Reinforce What They Know is True


  • Forks Over Knives
  • What the Health
  • Food Matters
  • Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead
  • Hungry For Change
  • Food Matters

Give them home cooking:

  • Veganomicon
  • Crazy Sexy Kitchen
  • Plant Strong With 150 Engine-2 Recipes
  • Forks Over Knives – The Cookbook


Encourage your clients and encourage them to share their favorite recipes.  Make sure they stay active in the plant-based community to help to support them while they may be getting opposition on the home front.

More and more doctors are realizing that nutrition is the answer to preventing some diseases. Their patients trust them.  If the word comes from the doctor to switch to plant-based, they are much more likely to take it seriously.  Doctors don’t have the time to enforce, hold accountable or support.  Health coaches are needed for this.  You’re the answer.  Get your library ready, your educational materials and programs dusted off and step up to the plate. Literally.


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  1. Susan Mary Malone

    I was vegan for about 10 years, Cathy. And it is tough–but doable! I eat fish and eggs and dairy now, and the odd red meat once in a blue moon. But mainly my diet is plant based, and as you say, it’s not difficult to do! Except when you’re on the road 🙂

  2. Rachel Lavern

    I seem to be slowly transitioning to plant-based eating after hearing so many people sharing great they feel and how much more than can do in their lives once they are eating healthier. My diet has been mostly plant based,

  3. Beverley Golden

    As someone who has had digestive issues since I was a young teen, I have learned that I just don’t do well with grains and legumes and surprisingly to some, I have always done best on a high-protein animal product based diet. Some would say that animal protein is harder to digest…not sure why it works for me. I do eat a lot of greens and fruit and the fruit is so high in sugar, that that creates its own issues. I know that we are all individual and finding the perfect eating plan for ourselves can take time and experimenting. Thanks for sharing your experiences, as it sounds like you did the work and the results are working for you, Cathy!

  4. Meghan

    I love my plant based diet! It’s been instrumental in improving my health, including reversing my osteoporosis and my anemia. (Yes, that’s right naysayers…dairy & meat aren’t all that after all!) The movie Food Inc may help inspire people to move away from the ridiculousness that is our Standard American Diet, but most folks are simply unwilling to change. Thanks for highlighting different aspects of a plant based diet and illustrating that excluding dairy, meat, and sugar can be a healthy option.

  5. Reba Linker

    This is such a thorough guide and support for coaches who help their clients with diet and nutrition. Especially loved the supporting movies – so important to keep our minds on point!

  6. Alene Geed

    I am sure this was quite a lifestyle change for you. Congratulations on making the shift. I am not ready to do that myself but do remember years ago when I made the decision to give up red meats. It was an issue when we were invited to grilling parties. often I would eat just the veggies and be content

  7. Candess M Campbell

    Great ideas to transition Cathy. I especially love giving people the names of movies that will help. When my grandchildren were here one summer, I had them watch Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution with me. It planted a seed that may or may not sprout. Changing habits is a slow process and people need to be “motivated” like you were. The first step for me was to cut out sugar. Once this happened eating healthier was so much easier.

  8. Kimberly

    I would be a vegetarian at least if I didn’t cook for my family! I know I can still do it, I will just need to plan and make adjustments so they can still eat meat (although I’d love to wean them off of it some!) and I can leave it behind…
    Great piece, thanks.

  9. Anne DiVitto

    I have been vegetarian for a month now! Well, I should say pescatarian. 🙂 I do not miss meat at all and I’m trying for 4 days vegan, 3 days pesca. I love the way my gut feels. Great tips!!

  10. Jennifer Quisenberry of The Awesome Muse

    My cardiologist gave me a very restrictive (as in there are 26 classes of foods I shouldn’t eat) diet to detox, and then once I get used to it, adopt full time. I found that it took me about 6 hours a day to prepare the food I needed. It just wasn’t practical. I couldn’t eat out, everything had to be homemade, and was just so difficult. I used to be a vegan. That was soooo much easier. And I never thought I’d say that, for sure!

  11. Lorii Abela

    This sounds like a great eating plan. I try to eat healthy but I am not there in the same position as you. It is a decision that has to be made which I am sure my husband would not like either because he likes eating out.

  12. Joyce Hansen

    It’s been a long road, but more and more people are considering healthier alternatives. I hope that one positive aspect of the health care crisis is that people realize how much control they have by eating healthier. I really appreciate you adding to the resources out there, Cathy.

  13. Steven Lucks CHC/BCDP

    Did you know that even plant based is 40% less in nutrition so like IIN said you must supplement. But Harvard noted that all supplements don’t work. So if you really want to know how to help people contact me.


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