Steve Pavlina: 30 Day Vegetarian Experiment

Popular American author of articles on personal development Steve Pavlina came to the conclusion that the most powerful tool for self-development is a 30-day experiment. Steve tells from his own experience how he used a 30-day experiment to go vegetarian and then vegan. 

1. In the summer of 1993, I decided to try vegetarianism. I didn’t want to become a vegetarian for the rest of my life, but I read about the great health benefits of vegetarianism, so I made a commitment to myself to get a 30 day experience. By that time, I was already involved in sports, my health and weight were normal, but my institute “diet” consisted of only hamburgers, both at home and on the street. Becoming a vegetarian for 30 days turned out to be much easier than I expected – I would even say it was not difficult at all, and I never felt left out. After a week, I noticed that my working capacity and the ability to concentrate increased, my head became much clearer. At the end of 30 days, I had no doubt left to continue. This step seemed to me much more difficult than it actually was. 

2. In January 1997 I decided to try to become a “vegan”. While vegetarians can eat eggs and milk, vegans don’t eat anything animal. I developed an interest in going vegan, but I didn’t think I could take that step. How could I refuse my favorite cheese omelet? This diet seemed too restrictive to me – it’s hard to imagine how much. But I was very curious what it could be like. So one day I started a 30-day experiment. At that time I thought that I could pass the probationary period, but I did not plan to continue after it. Yes, I lost 4+ kilos in the first week, mostly from going to the bathroom where I left all the milk gluten in my body (now I know why cows need 8 stomachs). I was depressed for the first few days, but then the energy surge began. The head became lighter than ever before, as if a fog had risen from the mind; I felt like my head had been upgraded with CPU and RAM. However, the biggest change I noticed was in my stamina. I then lived in a suburb of Los Angeles, where I usually ran along the beach. I noticed that I didn’t get tired after a 15k run, and I started to increase the distance to 42k, 30k, and eventually ran a marathon (XNUMXk) a couple of years later. The increase in stamina has also helped me improve my taekwondo strength. The cumulative result was so significant that the food, which I refused, ceased to attract me. Again, I didn’t plan to continue beyond XNUMX days, but I’ve been a vegan ever since. What I definitely didn’t expect is that after using this diet, the animal food I used to eat no longer seems like food at all to me, so I don’t feel any deprivation. 

3. Again in 1997 I decided to exercise every day for a year. This was my New Year’s Resolution. The reason was that if I did aerobics for at least 25 minutes a day, I could avoid going to taekwondo classes that took me 2-3 days a week. Combined with my new diet, I decided to take my physical condition to the next level. I didn’t want to lose a day, not even because of illness. But thinking about charging for 365 days was somehow scary. So I decided to start a 30 day experiment. It turned out not to be so bad. At the end of each day, I set a new personal record: 8 days, 10, 15, … it became more difficult to quit … After 30 days, how could I not continue on the 31st and set a new personal record? Can you imagine giving up after 250 days? Never. After the first month, which strengthened the habit, the rest of the year passed by inertia. I remember going to a seminar that year and coming home well after midnight. I had a cold and was very tired, but I still went for a run in the rain at 2 in the morning. Some may consider this foolishness, but I had so much determination to achieve my goal that I did not allow fatigue or illness to stop me. I successfully reached the end of the year without missing a day. I even continued a few months later before I decided to stop and it was a tough decision. I wanted to play sports for a year, knowing that it would be a great experience for me, and so it happened. 

4. Diet again… A few years after I became a vegan, I decided to try other variations of the vegan diet. I did a 30 day experiment for the macrobiotic diet and for the raw food diet.It was interesting and gave me some insight, but I decided not to continue with these diets. I didn’t feel any difference between them. Although the raw food diet gave me a little energy boost, I noticed that it was too difficult: I spent a lot of time preparing and buying food. Of course, you can just eat raw fruits and vegetables, but it takes a lot of time and effort to cook interesting dishes. If I had my own personal chef, I would probably follow this diet because I would feel its benefits. I tried another 45 day raw food experiment, but my findings were the same. If I were diagnosed with a serious disease, such as cancer, I would urgently switch to a diet with raw “live” food, as I believe that this is the best diet for optimal health. I have never felt more productive than when I ate raw food. But it turned out to be difficult to stick to such a diet in practice. However, I have added some macrobiotic and raw food ideas to my diet. There are two raw food restaurants in Las Vegas, and I like them because someone else cooks everything for me. Thus, these 30-day experiments were successful and gave me a new perspective, although in both cases I deliberately abandoned the new habit. One of the reasons why all 30 days of the experiment is so important to a new diet is that the first couple of weeks are spent detoxing and overcoming the old habit, so it’s hard to get the whole picture until the third week. I think that if you try the diet in less than 30 days, you just won’t understand it. Each diet is different in nature, and has a different effect. 

This 30-day experiment seems to work perfectly for daily habits. I was not able to use it to develop a habit that repeated every 3-4 days a week. But this approach can work if you start a daily 30-day experiment, and then reduce the number of repetitions per week. This is exactly what I do when I start a new exercise program. Daily habits are much easier to develop. 

Here are some more ideas for 30-day experiments: 

• Give up TV. Record your favorite programs and keep them until the end of the term. One day my whole family did this, and it shed light on many things.

 • Avoid forums, especially if you feel addicted to them. This will help break the habit and give you a clear sense of what it gives you to participate in them (if at all). You can always continue after 30 days. 

• Meet someone new every day. Start a conversation with a stranger.

• Go out for a walk every evening. Every time go to a new place and have fun – you will remember this month for a lifetime! 

• Invest 30 minutes a day cleaning your home or office. It’s only 15 hours.

 • If you already have a serious relationship – give your partner a massage every day. Or arrange a massage for each other: 15 times each.

 • Give up cigarettes, soda, junk food, coffee or other bad habits. 

• Get up early in the morning

• Keep your personal diary every day

• Call a different relative, friend, or business associate every day.

• Write to your blog every day 

• Read for an hour a day on a topic that interests you.

 • Meditate every day

 • Learn one foreign word a day.

 • Go for a walk every day. 

Again, I don’t think you should continue any of these habits after 30 days. Think about what effect will be only from these 30 days. At the end of the term, you will be able to evaluate the experience gained and the results. And they will, even if you decide not to continue. The strength of this approach is in its simplicity. 

While repeating a particular activity day in and day out may be less effective than following a more complex schedule (strength training is a great example, as it requires adequate breaks), it is more likely that you will stick to a daily habit. When you repeat something day in and day out without a break, you can’t justify skipping one day or promising yourself to do it later by changing your schedule. 

Try it.

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