If you're like a lot of people, January resolutions are long over and you've had a few rough weeks of not eating your best, or sticking with your plant-based intentions, or drinking too much, or staying up late binge-watching Netflix. If you need a little inspiration, newly plant-based actor Christian Madsen (of Divergent and Family Business on BET) talks about his plant-based journey and how he gets back on track if he veers off his personal choice to stay plant-based and eat healthier. It's all about not dwelling in the past but leaning into the future.

Christian stumbled onto a plant-based diet while working as a waiter in a high-end Italian restaurant,  At first, he enjoyed the extravagant and heavy meat and dairy dishes that Italian restaurants are known for. But as tasty as it was, he found himself having afternoon slumps.

He also felt bad asking the chefs who were working so hard to whip up something for him to eat during their breaks.  So when they asked, ‘Hey, what can we get you?’  Christian just told them something "simple and easy," like sauteed spinach or a salad. He noticed that eating this way, devoid of meat and dairy, made him feel so much better. He started to choose cleaner, leaner foods and suddenly was no longer dragging after meals. He had more energy.

So began Christian's plant-based journey. It hasn’t always been easy, he admits, and he has had his fair share of falling off the ‘program.’  Here, Christian shares how he gets back on track and how he feels he has finally found his ‘cruising altitude’ with a plant-based diet without carrying all the ‘baggage’.

Immediately after this interview, Christian made a vegan dinner, with vegan wines from Vejii.

For the full interview, click here.

Eliysabeth: Was it hard for you at any point [to go plant-based] and what are the tips you would give for people who are starting out?

Christian Madsen: Yes, it was hard for me in the beginning only because of my non-understanding of how it worked. Of course, as a novice of these things, we go into it thinking ‘Oh, I just have to eat tofu and salad and that’s all I can eat.’  But, as you start to move away farther from that way of thinking, you realize that there is so much nutrition in lentils, seeds, nuts, tofu, our favorite tempeh, and different kinds of grains.

If you love pasta as I did, you can move towards a lentil pasta or something that’s a little bit cleaner than a flour-type base. Yeah, it was challenging in the beginning, but you have to understand that you’re changing your body. You’re changing your whole system when you take this dive.

So, as I said before, take steps to eliminate things first. Don’t just go straight cold turkey, no pun intended. Don’t go straight shut off. Wean off of things, see how you feel.

If you’re feeling like a mess, you’re probably, levels-wise, doing something wrong. So, just give yourself some time. Understand that this is a process. It’s going to take about a month for adjustments and some energy and all that stuff. Just know that it takes yourself a little bit of time and trust yourself that you’re going to feel so much better. The energy is going to be back. You’re not going to have this lug or this lag, and you know just give yourself some time with it.

Elysabeth: Did you ever have a moment when you were going plant-based and it was going well and then you were on a trip or something, so you didn’t have your tempeh at hand, and you kind of fell off? And was it hard to get back on?

Christian Madsen: Yes, I think don’t kill yourself if you’ve fallen off. That’s number one. You find yourself on a cold snowy day [in Chicago, let’s say,] you know popping into Giordanos and that’s the only thing you can find.  You know, you’re not going to feel the best afterwards. But that’s only because you’re reentering something that hasn’t been in your system which is possibly meat or some sort of dairy. But the thing is don’t kill yourself about it.

The next day or the next meal just go right back. Maybe go for a nice run. You know, get that stuff out, but don’t beat yourself up about it. I think a lot of the stuff becomes mental and it’s like, ‘oh what did I do?’ Just be patient and your body will adjust. And your body will also tell you how it feels afterward, whether it’s good or bad, and so just get right back on it.

So, don’t overthink it.  Don’t focus on the past. Focus on the future and feeling good. If you all off, start again without judgment and take it day by day. Before you know it, you will find your cruising altitude just like Christian - wise beyond his years! – and Veganuary just might end up being all year long.

Elysabeth Alfano is a plant-based business consultant and helps people transition to a plant-based diet. Follow her @ElysabethAlfano on all platforms and at ElysabethAlfano.com