Switching to plant-based diets is tough. Very tough. However, if this change is brought about, the benefits are immense!
Several online articles mention people switching overnight! The change was either triggered by watching a documentary like Forks Over Knives (96 mins, 2011), or by reading a book describing animal cruelty, or after reading a book describing the health benefits of plant based diet. In this video, Dr Neal Barnard says that it takes 30 to 40 days for our taste buds and brain to get used to new food. So if you can stick it out for 40 days, the transition is likely to be successful. The book The Pleasure Trap (225 pages, 2006) by Doug Lisle and Alan Goldhamer describes the psychology behind making changes in food habits.
Embrace one change at a time. Adopt one good habit or let go of one bad habit. After successful adoption for a period of four to six weeks, move on to the next habit. See Kaizen (Wikipedia).
A juice fast for 10 to 30 days can be effective in resetting taste buds and handling food cravings. At the end of the fast, stick to a plant based diet. Reboot Your Life is a website along this theme. The website was inspired by the success of Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead (98 mins, 2010). US residents may watch the movie for free at Reboot Your Life website. The movie showcases the 60-day journey of an Australian businessman who cured himself of an autoimmune disorder with juice fasting and regular exercise. He was guided by Joel Fuhrman.
Even better than a juice fast is a water-only fast, the traditional technique for fasting. The Benefits of Fasting by Paul Martin is a nice article tracing the history of fasting in various religious and cultural traditions. Fasting is said to be curative. However there is insufficient western medical research on fasting. Among doctors who advocate plant strong diets, Joel Fuhrman has written a book Fasting and Eating for Health (1995, 255 pages).
In my personal life, whenever my food habits drifted towards unhealthy choices, a juice fast or a water fast has brought me back on track.
Multi day retreats tend to be quite expensive, upward of $150 per day. For those who can afford it, such retreats offer an immersion program with community support, cooking classes, exercise classes and on-site doctors.
When we switch to plant based diets, our bodies start expelling toxic materials. This cleansing process is called detoxification. At some point, the intensity of detoxification increases for a short period of time lasting anywhere from a few hours to a few days. The term 'healing crisis' is used to describe this period. A doctor who is familiar with detoxification can help distinguish between real illness and 'healing crisis'.
Within a few days of switching to plant based diets, a dramatic reduction in symptoms of existing diseases is experienced. So doctors are helpful in monitoring and reducing dosage of medicines. To get an idea of how quickly changes can occur, here are some videos:
(YouTube) Simply Raw (YouTube, 92 mins, 2009) narrates the personal experiences of 6 individuals during the first 30 days of switching to a plant based diet. Rapid changes in blood glucose levels and insulin intake were reported.
Nature Cure Centers in India
There are many 'nature cure centers' in India where people stay for anywhere between 7 and 30 days.