Break Your Food Seduction with PCRM’s Vegan Kickstart

The Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) is challenging Care2 members to take the Vegan Kickstart, a 21-day program designed to help people adopt a healthy vegan diet.

According to PCRM president Dr. Neal Barnard, the author of Breaking the Food Seduction: The Hidden Reasons Behind Food Cravings—and 7 Steps to End Them Naturally, certain foods (namely meat, cheese, chocolate, and sugar) contain opiate-like chemicals that keep people coming back for more…and more…and more.

Dr. Barnard says it takes just three weeks for people to stop craving unhealthy foods. Ultimately, it’s easier and healthier to stop eating addictive foods entirely than to try to eat them “in moderation.” (This same basic philosophy applies to all unhealthy or unethical behaviors, really. When was the last time you heard someone earnestly say that smoking, driving drunk, or kicking dogs wasn’t that bad as long as you only did it on occasion?)

For optimal health, base your diet on a variety of fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and all the nutritious foods made from them. Plant-based foods are cholesterol free, low in saturated fat, and high in fiber and complex carbohydrates. They also contain phytochemicals, or plant chemicals, which knock out carcinogens and fight inflammation. Vegans are known to have lower rates of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and other life-threatening diseases.

To help you make the transition to a vegan diet, PCRM will provide tips, recipes, and more. In the meantime, here are a few basic tips to help you eat healthier: 

*Choose veggie burgers rather than hamburgers, bean chili instead of beef chili, soy sausage over pork sausage, and chickpeas, not chicken.

*Do a diet inventory and think about the foods you regularly eat that can easily be made vegan. For example, make oatmeal or cereal with soy milk instead of cow’s milk, leave the cheese off of bean burritos (or use soy cheese), and use Ener-g egg replacer instead of eggs when preparing pancakes and waffles.

* Try vegan ethnic foods. Most Indian, Ethiopian, Thai, Chinese, Japanese, and Middle Eastern restaurants offer a variety of vegan options. Many popular chain restaurants, including Johnny Rockets, P.F. Chang’s, and Moe’s also offer vegan items. For a list of vegetarian-friendly restaurants, see or

*For a quick and healthy lunch, whip together a hummus wrap with leafy green  lettuce, tomatoes, green onions, sprouts, and shredded carrots, or toss together a four bean and corn salad with an Italian or vinaigrette dressing.  For more innovative ideas for both adults and children, see

These are just a few suggestions—please take the Vegan Kickstart for many more.

Cindy Samuels


W. C
W. C1 years ago


William C
William C1 years ago

Thank you.

Sande Waybill
Sande Waybill9 years ago

Has this started yet? I signed the pledge and thought it began the first week in September, but have not yet rec'd any email/further info. (I have started anyway, as i intend to make this a permanent change - but I would like to receive the info/emails/recipes if possible)

Wade N.
Wade N9 years ago

Has anyone else started to receive e-mail updates/newsletters/instructions?

Aug 12/09 I signed the petition to try the Vegan diet challenge and have not received any e-mails that are promised. I was the 1612th person of the target of 10,000. I know that I will need assistance doing this...
Signed - Waiting in the starting blocks ready to go...

JOYCE ROOKER9 years ago

I plan on taking this farther than three weeks but it takes research to eat properly and stay healthy on a vegan diet. I thank PCRM for helping with this and making it easier.

nicole l.
Nicole L9 years ago

I have no problem with a vegetarian or vegan diet however soy is not a healthy food unless it is in it's orginal form which are Soybeans. All of this processed soy is bad and I wish people would stop pushing it, it isn't healthy. Natural foods are healthy. Also while I was pregnant I was a vegetarian trying to make the leap to vegan and the cravings for meat were intense. My OBGYN told me to eat meat that the cravings were because my body needed protein. I'm also enemic, it is genetic,I have an iron deficiency. Many of my family members are also enemic. I think you need to listen to your body. Individuals have different needs. I know that beans and nuts have protein however I still had intense cravings for meat that I didn't normally have when I wasn't pregnant.

Jane C.
Jane C9 years ago

I suggest an additional option on the "vote" line, namely: "I'm already doing it!!" Jane C.

Jennifer R.
Jennifer R9 years ago

Um, hello, gluten contains addictive substances as well and is not mentioned! Why not? Cutting out gluten helped my health more than anything else (along with dairy and eggs and processed foods).

Jennifer E.
Jennifer E9 years ago

As a vegetarian phasing out eggs, milk and milk derivatives I know it can be daunting. After only 5 or 6 days the cravings for snack foods does diminish. Vegan ice cream is terrific; and there are now many vegan meal options in grocery stores. When dining out I've found it much easier to ask the server right off for vegan options. (Otherwise everyone else will have their orders in while the restaurant is scrambling around trying to create something 'non-animal.') If you are going to a cook out bring your own veggie foods for the grill :)

Katie Moore
Katie Moore9 years ago

I read Dr. Barnard's wonderful book. While I was reading it my mindset was I can't do that break a bad habit of sixty years, and so I didn't. You know, if you think you can't, you can't. Now, I think I can. How wonderful is it that you can reverse diabetes.
It was easy for me to do the three day meatless challenge talked about elsewhere. Let's here it for veggies and fruits. As a bonus, you'll save money and Mother Earth will thank you.