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how to help others transition to vegan to lower cholesterol

Hi there,

I'm looking for resources and advice to help my husband and a male friend--both avid meat and dairy eaters--start to transition to a more plant-based diet to lower cholesterol (both are above 200 total cholesterol!) I've been mostly plant-based for awhile, and vegetarian for years, and while I only cook veg for my husband and he likes it, he still loves his cheese and dairy, and often doesn't feel like he's eaten if there's no meat. And even though I've given him the facts of going vegan and stories about vegan athletes and strong men, he (and our friend) still worry about protein, and not feeling "strong" when they only eat veg.

I should add there are cultural obstacles--we live in Egypt, and there are no real meat substitutes available to help with the transition. I can sometimes find tofu but that's about it, and we can get soy milk but not others. And while we can find some whole grains, it is not easy to find, for example, whole grain bread, and certainly not healthy wraps or tortillas.

Also, both men are both relatively fit and not overweight at all, and in their forties with no health problems, making it all the more challenging to encourage them to change their lifestyles. They also both have parents with high cholesterol and prefer to think of it as genetic, although their families eat a typical diet with meat, dairy, etc.

So, in sum, they both want to lower their cholesterol, but aren't super-psyched about going plant-based--my husband would prefer to go back on statins, which he was on before. How can I help with the transition--even if it's a slow one--without being pushy or preachy, and make it enjoyable? Also, while I'd love for them to be fully plant-based, I don't think it's very realistic; the main goal to start really is to lower cholesterol--what are the most important and easiest changes we can start doing?

Hi there,

Hi there,

Thanks for sharing. They might be up for trying the kickstart since it's only 21 days. Three weeks is not a long time to test drive a diet change. They may be more receptive to that idea than thinking in terms of "forever." Plus, they may end up enjoying it and want to continue eating more plant-based foods afterward. It may also be helpful to watch health documentaries together like "Forks Over Knives" which features stories directly related to high cholesterol. I think it's pretty common in Egypt to eat fava beans, so that would be a great swap for meat-based dishes in addition to any other bean or lentil. Keep us posted!

Hope that helps!
Maggie Neola, RD
Physicians Committee

Maggie Neola

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