The time taken to make the transition from being a meat-eater to a vegetarian varies considerably. Some stop immediately on the day they decide to become vegetarians while others eliminate meat from their diets over periods of months or even years. A gradual phasing out of meat is the most common approach, with 70 percent of people taking this route and 30 percent giving up meat all at once.
Individuals who give up meat suddenly fall into four categories. First, those who have experiences that evoke strong emotional reactions change quickly. Meat insight experiences, for example, can produce feelings of disgust that lead people to become vegetarians on the spot. Others feel such moral outrage after learning about conditions on factory farms that they vow without further consideration never to eat meat again. Mike, a high school English teacher, told us that he had never considered vegetarianism before receiving an issue of PETA News dealing with farm animals:
I quit on the spot, totally. Before I received that issue (out of the blue I might add-I must have been on a mailing list) I had eaten a cheeseburger for lunch. When I got up from my reading chair I was a vegetarian and haven't eaten another creature's body since.
Second, some people want to become vegetarian for a period of time but confront practical barriers that make it difficult for them to stop eating meat. In these cases, people turn vegetarian as soon as their circumstances change. Typical situations are ones in which young adults are living with meat-eating parents or in dormitories. In other cases, people become vegetarians after separating from meat-eating spouses. Third, some individuals plan on becoming vegetarians for a period of time, but wait for a day that implies a clear demarcation between one period and the next to begin. Some people begin their vegetarian diets as a New Year's Eve resolution. Two of our respondents chose Meat Boycott Week to make the change. And moving was a good cutting point for Robyn:
The decision to make a commitment to vegetarianism as part of a more general commitment to animals came upon me suddenly. I was moving from one apartment to another, and my brother was helping me. Since our kitchen things were packed up, he went out and got some fast-food fried chicken. I ate the greasy stuff and then announced, "That's it. No more." The repugnance I felt was both physical and moral.
Fourth, a few people think about vegetarianism for a long time, but do little about it. Then, on a day when they finally feel ready, they announce to the world, and to themselves, that they are vegetarians. For these people, the time simply has to be right. As Janine put it, 'Since childhood, I was always bothered by the thought of eating animals. One day, out of nowhere, I decided that I had a choice. I stopped completely.'
The Gradual Change
As noted earlier, most people make the transition to vegetarianism by gradually eliminating flesh foods from their diets. These periods of time range, in our sample, from one month to four years, with one year being the median amount of time taken. There is a typical pattern to this transition, with 79 percent giving up red meat first, followed by chicken and fish at a later point in time. Some of these people give up red meat and chicken quickly, but continue to eat fish for a relatively long period of time. Another 12 percent gradually cut down on all types of meat simultaneously. (In addition, one person who developed an aversion to meat while gnawing on chicken legs gave those up first, one person concerned about the clubbing of baby seals gave up fish first, and one person gave up veal first.)
Quite a few people are eating less meat these days than they did in the past. Consequently, some individuals notice that their diets have been gradually evolving in the direction of vegetarianism for a long period of time. When these people finally decide to become full vegetarians, the transition is relatively easy because they are already halfway toward their goal. The experience of Martha, a homemaker and mother, illustrates this pattern:
I wanted to get my family off the 'ground beef merry-go-round" for health reasons. I had stopped cooking beef and I never bought pork. I made recipes using small portions of chicken and other low fat products. I was trying to get the fat out of our diet. Looking back, I realize that I was heading in the direction of vegetarianism all along. I had taken several steps already, so the final one to a nonflesh lifestyle was easy.
One might predict that people with a strong ethical basis for their beliefs would be more likely to make a quick transition than would those who reject meat for reasons of health or personal growth. However, there does not appear to be any relation between people's motives for being vegetarian and the length of time it takes them to change. Ethical vegetarians, in fact, often take a relatively long period of time to completely purge flesh from their diets. It seems surprising that the following person took so long to change, considering the strength of her convictions. But her story is not atypical.
For the past two years, I had been heavily involved in the Animal Rights Movement. In April, 1984, I was one of the first fifteen people ever arrested in the United States during an act of civil disobedience on behalf of animals. I had been arrested, brought to trial, and convicted. I had been in demonstrations, on the picket line, and had written letters until worn out. But it took me a full two years before I stopped eating dead animals. I wonder sometimes why it took me a while, particularly since I knew the truth about where the flesh came from.
The Benefits of Being Prepared
Is it hard to stop eating meat? For most people, the answer is "No." About three fourths of our respondents (73%) claim that the transition is not difficult, although many experience some degree of inconvenience or awkwardness. The ease with which the transition is made partly depends on how well prepared people are. Among people who had prepared themselves by reading and trying out recipes, 80 percent describe the transition as easy. But among those who were not prepared, only 56 percent describe the transition as easy.
The majority of people (61 %) become vegetarian before they know anything about vegetarian cooking, and most are unfamiliar with the wide range of nontraditional foods that make vegetarian cuisine so diverse and interesting. Many continue to cook as they used to, boiling vegetables until they turn into mush and serving them with a potato. Some branch out and try brown rice, but don't realize that it takes a little longer to cook than white rice does. No doubt, many of the first nonmeat meals prepared by novice vegetarians are appalling. Concoctions of soggy vegetables and undercooked brown rice or beans are enough to critically test the morale and willpower of even the most committed vegetarian.
I wasn't well prepared. There was a lack of recipes and a lack of awareness of how to cook differently. All of a sudden I was left without anything to stick in the skillet.
I wasn't prepared. I didn't know what to eat. It was strange. I remember cabbage soup-it was so bland. I thought, "If this is what it is like, I don't know if I can do this."
Many people wander through natural food stores or health food shops in search of vegetarian products they have heard about, such as tofu, tempeh, or miso. Others look closely at the imported and specialty foods available in conventional supermarkets. However, for people raised on meat-and-potatoes diets, these new vegetarian foods can be confusing. Many people don't know how to cook with soy products and find their taste unappealing. Even plain and humble foods, such as lentils, seem 'exotic" to some and are a complete conundrum to others. As Suzanne, a vegetarian for one year, described it:
I was in the dark. I read a vegetarian cookbook, but the ingredients in the recipes seemed so far out. I felt truly foreign in the natural foods store. Words like legumes and tamari seemed unreal to me. We were eating pasta and pizza for quite some time.
After a period of eating mediocre food, most people set about learning how to prepare tasty vegetarian meals. This often requires a change in ideas about food. Most people grow up with the idea that everything other than meat falls into the category of "side dish.' But after a while, people begin to see that a grain (such as rice pilao or a particular vegetable (such as stuffed pumpkin) can serve as the basis of a satisfying main course. Considering that there are only a few types of meats, but dozens of different types of vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds, it is clear that vegetarian cuisine is anything but limited. Eventually, new vegetarians outgrow the feeling that a meal without meat is incomplete. As Joan said:
I didn't know anything. All I did was cook the same stuff and leave the meat out. It wasn't very satisfying. So it took a shift in thinking and practice to learn to cook meatless dishes. I bought some cookbooks, got a subscription to Vegetarian Times, and talked to my vegetarian friends. I went to their houses and saw what they ate. Then I found a brand of tofu 'hot dogs" and I couldn't eat enough of them. I loved them. Once I found them my problem was essentially over.
?Some individuals spend a lot of time reading about nutrition before becoming vegetarian. In some cases, people do this because the idea of a change in diet stimulates their interest in matters related to food and nutrition. In other cases, they are worried that they might damage their health by omitting meat from their diets. These people's fears spring from a lifetime of having been told that meat is necessary for good health. And many are warned by family members or friends that they will become anemic or get sick if they stop eating meat. Some believe that vegetarians have to be eternally vigilant to ensure that they get enough protein or other nutrients. For these reasons, it is not uncommon for new vegetarians to be anxious about the adequacy of their diets.
I knew that when you change diets, you can't do it on your own; you have to know what you are doing, especially with something like vegetarianism. I was afraid that I wouldn't get the proper food balance, so I joined a nutrition class and read books. I believed that you couldn't just become vegetarian because you wanted to-you need guidance.
Although many new vegetarians are concerned about nutri- tion, most find that a little reading on the topic helps to put their minds at ease. Their fears are further put to rest when they seek out and meet people who have been vegetarians for 10 or 20 years and are in good health. And, for many, their own feelings of physical and psychological well-being after adopting a meatless diet are the final proof that they are on the right track. Consequently, many vegetarians feel that fears about dietary deficiencies are overexaggerated. They claim that of all people, vegetarians are the ones with the least need to be concerned about nutrition. As one person stated:
I wasn't prepared at all. And I still don't think you have to be prepared. I don't think becoming vegetarian is a health hazard or that you have to be careful. Meat-eaters are the ones who should be worrying.
As we described earlier, vegetarians have little difficulty in meeting the current recommended dietary guidelines. But it is still necessary to eat sensibly. Consequently, increasing one's knowledge about nutrition is always useful, regardless of whether one is on a vegetarian or a meat-centered diet.
A number of people in our sample, because they were unprepared and didn't know what to cook, ate poorly after giving up flesh foods. For example, one person lived exclusively on junk food and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on white bread for the first six months. Several people who lived for a period of time on poor-quality vegetarian diets claimed that they didn't feel particularly healthy, which is not surprising. Their level of health and sense of well-being, improved, however, when they improved the quality of their diets.
Some individuals are largely indifferent to food-something which is difficult for those of us who love to eat to understand. For these people, giving up meat was 'no big deal," and they are no more concerned about the quality of their meals or their health as vegetarians than they had been as meat- eaters. Andy, for example, was unprepared when he gave up eating meat, but felt that no preparation was necessary. As he put it:
It was easy for me because I didn't care about food too much in general. I didn't know a damn thing about nutrition or health. I wasn't interested in the health aspects. I'm not even sure I knew there were any. Sort of a blind leap. My attitude was, 'I'd rather be an unhealthy vegetarian than continue eating these animals." My favorite kinds of meat were the rankest. I stopped on a dime with a stale bologna sandwich.
Our results suggest that most people who are serious about vegetarianism adapt well over time, regardless of how well prepared they are. But being familiar with vegetarian cooking and nutrition prior to eliminating meat helps to make the transition smoother and worry-free. Of course, it is also possible to learn on the job. At one point or another most people find it useful, and fun, to read up on vegetarian cooking, nutrition, and philosophy.
Just One More Steak
A question commonly asked of vegetarians is, 'Don't you miss eating meat?" To people whose lives consist of filling in time between one hamburger and the next, the idea of never eating meat again seems about as appealing as lifelong celibacy or solitary confinement. In fact, many vegetarians do miss the flavor and texture of meat, and many find the early weeks and months to be difficult. However, people change, and after a period of time, most wonder how they ever managed to eat the stuff in the first place.
Because most of us are raised as meat-eaters, and because our culture places a high social value on meat, it is not surprising that many new vegetarians have a continuing desire for flesh foods. About half (48%) experience cravings for meat and have difficulty with the thought of giving it up forever. Interestingly, women are as likely as men to report these cravings-a finding that contradicts the notion that men are more attached to meat than are women. Ethical vegetarians are also as likely as health vegetarians to have strong yearnings for meat, suggesting that it is easier to change one's mind than one's taste buds.
The first year that I was vegetarian I remember that my mouth used to literally water at the sight of meat cooking or being eaten. It was hard to resist and I really had to control myself.
It wasn't easy at first. There is no one in the world who loved cheeseburgers and steaks more than I did. I was raised on steaks. At a restaurant that's all I ever ordered, a T-bone or a Filet Mignon. But my convictions changed me.
Not knowing how to prepare tasty vegetarian meals exacer- bates this problem; boiled cabbage and mashed potatoes are unlikely to be satisfying to a person whose mouth is watering for a beef enchilada or a pizza with pepperoni. Not surprisingly, people who are not well prepared tend to experience greater cravings for meat. But as they learn how to prepare and appreciate vegetarian foods (such as tofu enchiladas or vegetarian pizza), the cravings become less severe.
Because food is so closely associated with our social and emotional lives, the thought of some meats can evoke a sense of nostalgia for pleasant times or social occasions. Traditional Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners-complete with turkeys or hams-are closely associated with fond memories of family gatherings. The smell of frying bacon in the morning reminds some people of cozy, safe days at home as a child. And the smell of barbecues is closely linked to memories of enjoyable summer holidays. As one person put it, 'The hardest thing for me to give up was barbecues. In summertime the smell of barbecues was tough for a while."
Some people experience a sense of loss, as if these times can no longer be recreated. Some even feel angry because these personally meaningful events from the past are so strongly associated with the eating of flesh. However, most vegetarians discover that it is possible to continue to enjoy these rituals by replacing the meat with vegetarian alternatives. For example, vegetarian barbecues, including soyburgers with all the trimmings, help many vegetarians to realize they have no reason to feel deprived. The same principle applies to holidays. Many vegetarians regularly stage elaborate Thanksgiving or Christmas dinners for family and friends, complete with a variety of gourmet meatless dishes.
Fast foods are missed by many people, be it the hamburger or hot dog in America, the fish and chips in England, or the meat pie in Australia. The numerous associations these foods have with social occasions (such as sharing a pizza with friends) makes them emotionally important. Many also miss the convenience of fast foods. Interestingly, one common fantasy among vegetarians is the wish to open a meatless fast-food restaurant.
Fortunately for new vegetarians, many companies are now producing reasonable vegetarian analogues to meat-based fast foods, such as tofu hot dogs and tempeh burgers. These are not only convenient and help to satisfy cravings, but also are of better nutritional quality than those based on meat (they typically have less cholesterol, fat, calories, and sodium). Many vegetarians, of course, would argue that these foods also taste better than the flesh foods on which they are modeled. In spite of their attractions, these foods are generally not available in fast-food restaurants, so vegetarians have to purchase them in specialty shops and take them home to prepare-a major limitation for people who need to eat on the run.
We spoke with a number of people who had embarked on vegetarian diets within the last year and were currently strugging with meat cravings. These people often describe long ligts of foods they continue to long for, and many clearly feel deprived. Those who have been vegetarians for a long time, or for whom the initial transition was easy, may underestimate the amount of difficulty some people have in abstaining from flesh.
I loved the taste of meat and fish, and I sfifl do today. I never ate steaks and hamburgers, but to this day I greatly miss meatloaf, roast, cold cuts, bacon, sausages, ham, and especially gravies derived from them.
I have not stopped craving meat at all. I would still enjoy it. The smell of Sunday lunch still drives me crazy. I look forward to the time when scientists can reproduce the exact flavors and texture of meat. I have found nothing to come anywhere near the delicious tang of meat in its appeal.
These feelings do not always go away, and some people continue to experience cravings for years. The following comments are from people who had been completely vegetarian for two and three years, respectively:
I have to admit that despite it all, nothing beats the taste of meat, fish, or chicken. It will take me a long time to get over my cravings for the flavor of these foods.
I miss fried chicken, hamburgers, and bacon. I would never have become a vegetarian for health reasons alone, unless a doctor pronounced a death sentence if I didn't.
Although occasional cravings for meat can persist for long periods of time, the satisfaction people receive from living in accordance with their principles usually more than compensates for the slight inconvenience. A vegetarian of nine years made the following comment:
I find I still miss the taste of meat. Whenever I smell it cooking, I get a little tinge of regret. But that is shortly replaced with a feeling of relief at not supporting animal slavery and slaughter.
Although cravings for meat are common, most people (52%) report no problems with them. Some people do not miss meat because they never liked it much in the first place. But in most cases, people who enjoyed eating meat are surprised to find, contrary to their expectations, that they don't miss it at all.
'I was in love with meat and wouldn't have given it up for just health reasons. But I had no trouble adapting to the instant change. I had no physical complaints or withdrawals in giving up meat.
There was no difficulty in giving up meat. There has never been a time when I thought that I would like a hamburger, because I would have had it if I felt like it. It has never been an issue or a deprivation.
Occasionally, vegetarians give in to sudden cravings for meat. This is not uncommon among recent converts during the first year or two. In most cases, it involves fast food such as hamburgers, hot dogs, or pizzas-the foods most likely to be purchased and eaten impulsively.
How do people react to eating flesh again? Some people find that these foods taste good at the time, but negative physical reactions shortly follow.
Once I succumbed to the smell of meat cooking and had a burger. It tasted good, it smelled good, but I felt terrible. I felt that this was a clear indication that my body was saying, "Nah, we're tired of this.'
Approximately one year after giving up meat, at an all day picnic, I was extremely hungry, hot, and tired. I had only eaten an ear of corn all day and by late afternoon, with the aid of coaxing from my friend's family that it would be all right "just this once," I broke down and ate a hot dog. I was sick afterward-emotionally and physically. I had an upset stomach, and worse, I had sold out my beliefs.
It is difficult to say whether these negative physical reactions are due to indigestion or a guilty conscience-or both. Neverthe- less, these experiences typically help to strengthen the resolve and commitment of most people.
Feelings about Eating Meat Now
Although initial cravings for meat are common, they typically fade with the passing of time-usually within six months to a year. As noted above, only a handful of the vegetarians we spoke with were still experiencing cravings, and most of these were recent converts. After a period of time, even former meatlovers come to find the sight, and particularly the smell, of meat to be nauseating. The following comments are from people who experienced strong cravings during the early days of their transition:
Vegetarianism gets easier all the time. The farther away I get from flesh-eating, the more repulsive it seems.
Now the smell of a hamburger cooking turns my stomach, and I do not like going into restaurants. The business of dining strikes me as somewhat decadent, especially when the dined-upon are dead animals.
In this stage of my conversion, I can't stand the smell of any flesh food and become nauseated at the thought of eating it. To further explore this issue, we asked people how they would feel about eating meat now. This turned out to be one of the few questions on which a clear majority emerged: Eightytwo percent of vegetarians say there is no way they would consider eating flesh again. Feelings of disgust at the very thought of eating meat are prominent in most people's responses. To many, the idea is sim I unthinkable.
Just the idea of greasiness, and knowing what meat is. I just can't even imagine eating it.
I don't even think about it. It is so natural to me to be vegetarian.
The thought of eating an animal's corpse is very offensive to me now.
Some people are particularly adamant about never eating meat again. For example, one person said, 'You couldn't get me to eat meat with a gun to my head." Another said, 'Someone could pay me a million dollars and I wouldn't do it." Typically, these people have been vegetarian for a relatively long period of time. To them, eating meat has become an impossibility.
Some people no longer think of meat as food. For example, one person said that his eating meat would be equivalent to a meat-eater eating wood; it simply is not an edible thing as far as he is concerned. Along similar lines, others feel that eating meat is a form of cannibalism; consequently, they don't think about eating animal flesh any more than the average person contemplates eating another human being. For example, Mary, a social worker, said, "If you offered me meat, I'd feel the same as if you barbecued my next door neighbor and offered me a piece of his flesh-totally repulsed." For those ethical and spiritual vegetarians who feel a deep bond with animals, the use of the term . cannibalism" is more than a metaphor-it reflects a belief that the eating of animal flesh and the eating of human flesh are equally barbaric. In spite of the fact that most vegetarians feel so strongly about never eating meat again, a minority (17%) say they might under certain circumstances. For example, a few claim they will politely eat meat if it is served to them by relatives. And a few recent converts admit that they wouldn't mind trying some of their favorite meat dishes again. Jamie, a raw foodist, said that people shouldn't make a 'religion' out of vegetarianism and that he would have no qualms about eating meat again if he had the urge. However, he pointed out that if he were to eat meat, it would have to be raw!
In summary, for most people, the transition to vegetarianism is a major life change. Initially, the novelty can be over-whelming. Many new vegetarians are not 100 percent confident that they have made the right decision and have doubts about their willpower. Some anticipate symptoms of meat withdrawal or near starvation because they don't know what to cook. Others worry that they will become weak and anemic. And most feel awkward calling themselves 'vegetarians" when only a short time ago they were gnawing on drumsticks. Giving up flesh involves more than simply buying a new cookbook; it involves a major shift in one's self-concept and lifestyle. As part of this process, new vegetarians have to relearn many of their beliefs, attitudes, and behavior.
However, at the same time, there is a sense of adventure, and fun, in becoming a vegetarian. And typically, over the course of a year or so, people adapt. They learn how to cook, establish new eating habits, and lose their anxiety about whether or not they made the right choice. At a certain point, the inevitable happens: People become "real" vegetarians. After this, it feels normal to abstain from flesh, and, without any self-consciousness, people define themselves as vegetarians. When someone looks at a steak and thinks, 'My God. How can people eat that stuff?," it is clear that the transition has been successful.
Making the Change
As we have seen, some people successfully make the transition from omnivore to herbivore overnight. However, most people find it easier to become vegetarian by making a gradual transition over a period of several months. For those who take the gradual approach-and we assume that most people do- we suggest the following procedures.>p> First, set yourself a series of small goals. The final goal, of course, is to eliminate animal flesh from your diet. But this is a major long-term goal, and most people find it easier to work with a series of smaller goals that can be accomplished in shorter periods of time. The first step might be very simple, for example, getting through one day without eating meat. The second step might be getting through one weekend without eating meat. And the third step might involve extending the time period to an entire week. The precise time periods are not critical. The important point is to formulate the goals you want to achieve, along with a realistic timetable for achieving them. Two or three months to complete the transition might be a reasonable period for some people; six months to a year might be better for others.
Reward yourself as each small goal is achieved. This can be done by taking something you enjoy doing-such as going to a movie, buying new clothes, or going out to eat-and making it contingent on achieving your goal. For example, if your goal is to go one week without eating any red meat or chicken, and you succeed, then treat yourself to a movie on the weekend. But only reward yourself if you succeed. If you are a film buff, your desire to see the latest movie everyone is talking about will increase your motivation to achieve your goal.
These goals might apply to all forms of animal flesh simultaneously. Alternatively, you can start with red meat, followed by chicken, followed by fish-or any other order that makes sense to you. Whatever your goals are, it is important to keep them flexible. For example, if your cousin from out of state shows up for a week, your program can be temporarily interrupted. Just get back on track again when events are favorable.
Another useful technique is to monitor your daily behavior by allocating points for achieving small goals. For example, you might give yourself a point every time you get through a meal without eating meat, making it possible to earn up to three points per day. Enter your daily points on a calendar and total them up at the end of every week. An important aspect of this procedure is that you do this for the week prior to changing your diet; this will indicate your baseline meat consumption. Then continue keeping track after you begin to eliminate meat; this will show how effective you have been in changing your behavior over time. You might, for example, have a baseline of 7 points before changing your diet, and achieve 12 points during the first week, 15 points during the second week, and 19 points during the third week. Now and then you might have a bad week during which your total drops. This is to be expected. But your weekly totals should present a gradually rising pattern. This technique focuses your attention on your behavior at every meal; after all, each one is worth one point. In addition, the technique supplies an extra incentive for avoiding meat: believe it or not, people love to accumulate points. You can also increase the incentive value of your points by 'cashing" them in for certain privileges; for example, 20 points might be exchanged for a meal out at a restaurant-vegetarian, of course.
After you have been modifying your diet for a while, expect a few cravings for meat. This is perfectly normal. But if you give in to your cravings, don't feel that you have failed. It is natural and common to eat meat again after you have begun to think of yourself as a vegetarian. Simply note what you have done and then get on with making the transition; don't get sidetracked from the larger goal.
Meat can be tempting to the novice vegetarian, but steps can be taken to minimize this problem. First, avoid situations in which you might be tempted. If you are going to a party or a social gathering, eat something first so you won't feel like nibbling on meat-based snacks. Alternatively, if appropriate, bring some vegetarian food with you. It is also a good idea to carry some food when you are traveling. On the open road it is often difficult to find a place to eat where everything on the menu isn't dripping with grease. If you are going out to eat with friends, suggest a place where you know you will be able to order something vegetarian. Most of the time people are waiting for a suggestion anyway, so it might as well come from you. Finally, if you get cravings for a hamburger or a hot dog, eat a soyburger or a tofu hot dog instead. Textured vegetable protein products have the same texture and appearance as meat, and many people discover they satisfy cravings for familiar foods.
If cravings for meat are a persistent problem, a good way to deal with them is through the use of mental imagery. Ima . e an extremely unpleasant scene involving meat. For example, think of a dead pet cooked and lying on a serving platter. Visualize your arteries clogging up with thick waxy plaque and your heart struggling to force blood through them. See a piece of rancid meat on your plate with worms crawling through it. Or think of a large vein protruding from a steak and spurting out blood. Find an image that works well for you, and when a craving occurs, conjure up the image in your mind. Not surprisingly, most people find this technique is sufficient to depress their appetite for meat.
You can also use imagery in positive ways. Think of images that reflect beneficial outcomes of vegetarianism. For example, visualize your strong heart pumping blood through arteries as smooth as glass. Imagine yourself petting farm animals, such as lambs and calves, and telling them that you're their friend. Think of tropical rain forests in Brazil that will be spared as the demand for beef in the West declines. These images should help to strengthen your resolve to forgo that cheeseburger.