The Catalyst to Vegetarian

I’ve been reading The Catalyst: How to Change Anyone’s Mind by Wharton Professor Jonah Berger. Good book, I highly recommend it. As I’ve been reading it’s caused me to consider why I made the switch to vegetarian last November.

My wife Jane has been a vegetarian for more than 25 years. She made that decision because she loves animals. She’s technically a pescatarian because she will eat fish. I tell people, if it walks or flies it’s off limits but if it swims it’s fair game. She must not have had goldfish growing up!

For most of those 25 years Jane has encouraged me to try vegetarianism. She was not overt, just subtle things as in, “Try this, you’ll like it,” or “I bet you’d like being a vegetarian.” My standard responses were, “I would never order that if I could get a steak instead,” and, This would be perfect if there were some chicken in it.”

I joked with people that we both loved animals: she loved saving them and I loved eating them. Knowing this, why would a guy who runs every day, lifts weights and does martial arts give up meat?

My catalyst for change was watching a Netflix documentary called The Game Changers. A UFC fighter was injured and looked into diet as a way to speed up his recovery. He was floored by what he learned about a plant based diet. He featured strength athletes, endurance athletes, mixed martial artists, football players and others who successfully made the switch.

I love my wife and I know she has my best interests at heart. During her years as a vegetarian she went through a pregnancy, ran two marathons, competed in triathlons and became an awesome golfer. But, there’s always that spousal rub. You know what I mean. Your spouse might suggest something and you contend with it but when someone else says the same thing, well it’s the best idea since sliced bread! Sad, but true.

Truthfully, the catalyst for me was the athletes. Because I had, or continue to participate in most sports I was intrigued by their results. When it comes to influence there was consensus, liking, authority and scarcity. A bunch of people (consensus) like me – athletes – (liking) had successfully made the switch. There was empirical data from doctors and other researchers (authority) to back up the claims. I wondered what I might be missing if I don’t at least give it a try (scarcity).

Believe it or not, I haven’t missed steak or chicken. You might think, “No way, I could never do that.” I’m with you because that’s what I would have said too. More importantly, what have I noticed since making the switch?

  • Although many people lose weight when they go vegetarian I’ve not lost or gained any weight. Mind you, I ate pretty good, much better than the average person to begin with, and worked out a lot.
  • I can’t say my athletic performance has improved but at 56 I don’t expect to run farther or faster than I used to because I don’t train like I did when I competed. The same goes for the weights. My goals are different now.
  • My annual physical was great! Cholesterol along with every other indicator were very good. Health, not athletic performance, is my number one goal now.
  • Jane’s life is much easier (that’s what I live for) because she no longer has to consider cooking meat or chicken when she makes dinner. I must say her cooking, which was very good to begin with, has gotten even better because she feels free to try new things.
  • When we go out we can split dishes now. This is particularly good because it seems like most meals these days can feed two or three people!

Bottom line for me, no big health or weight changes but given our lifestyle the switch has been good. That’s my diet and I’m sticking to it.

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An author, TEDx speaker, international trainer, coach and consultant, he’s one of only 20 people in the world personally trained by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., the most cited living social psychologist on the planet on the science of ethical influence.

Brian’s book, Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical, was name one of the 100 Best Influence Books of All Time by Book Authority. His LinkedIn Learning courses on sales and coaching have been viewed by more than 100,000 people around the world.


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