18663 Ventura Blvd, Suite 202, Tarzana CA 91356

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Soft- versus Hard-Sell

We know the facts -- a plant-based diet is so beneficial -- it's kinder and healthier.

So why isn't everyone a vegan?

When someone reluctantly admits he eats meat, we may think, he needs the facts.... NOW!  Tell him about how meat clogs the arteries, and plant-based diets reverse coronary artery disease.  Show him pictures of chickens crammed in wire cages, pigs in gestation crates, and cows hanging at the slaughter. And get him to a screening of Forks Over Knives..... STAT!!!

But, that approach can seem overzealous.  Overwhelming people with facts will not lead them to change.

I'm more in favor of the "soft sell" approach.

In my daily life as a cardiologist, I advocate a plant-based diet as a way to prevent and reverse cardiovascular disease in all of its forms -- to lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, stabilize or reverse coronary plaque, reduce risk of diabetes, and so forth.  However, I recognize that not every patient who walks in my office is going to walk out a vegan.  In fact, most won't.

When I start talking to patients about diet, a reaction I often get is, "I'll never become a vegetarian."  And expecting a person who eats meat, butter, and cheese for three meals a day to give it all up isn't realistic.  But, I believe we can meet somewhere in the middle.

We can agree that this patient's diet and lifestyle habits have gotten him to the point where he is with his health, that years of animal products, fast food, junk food, lack of exercise, and smoking led him to his present disease.  We can also agree that in order to do better that some of those habits need to change.

Eat more fruits and vegetables.  Eat less meat and dairy.  Walk for a few minutes every day.  True, a plant-based diet is ideal, but let's start somewhere with attainable goals.  Maybe at the next visit we'll talk about taking it one step further.

I'm not going to say I haven't had patients go full-on plant-based at the drop of a hat.  Because I've seen it happen and I've seen the great results that come with it.  But most patients aren't going to do that, and we need to start somewhere.


Cate said...

You are right. We are creatures of habit and change is scary. People can't make drastic change unless they are ready for it. Taking baby steps makes it more likely for those changes to sick.

I think that the fact that you practice what you preach goes a long way with your patients.

Unknown said...

Hello! I like your blog so far. I found a different post while searching for something totally unrelated on Google (as is wont to happen), and now I'm browsing. :)

And I agree - I'm all soft-sell. I don't even tell people I eat only plants unless it comes up or is relevant. I find that it strengthens the impact it makes on people when they find out.

And yeah, people have to be ready for it in order to change. From what I've seen of your blog, you did an about face during college. I think you living out what you tell them will help. It would for me, if my doctor shared that with me when I prompted them.

Lara baxter said...

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