So You Want To Eat More Plant Based, Huh? Here Are My Tips
Since announcing my journey to a plant based diet on Instagram, I have received a lot of messages; many surprisingly asking for tips & resources. I have been plant based for a year now and feel I have enough knowledge to share what has helped me transition. I would be happy to share. I hope this post gives you some idea on where to start.
SO WHAT EXACTLY IS PLANT-BASED?
Before I dive into some tips on transitioning, first let's define what plant-based really means. There seems to be some confusion around plant based vs. vegan. Everyone can be plant based, but not everyone is a vegan. Plant-based is simply a commitment to eating a diet that focuses around whole, plant foods. However, plant-based eating isn’t just about the addition of whole, plant foods such as fruits, veggies, legumes, grains, nuts and seeds, but also the elimination of all animal products including meat, fish, eggs, dairy, gelatin and other animal byproducts from one’s diet. Veganism is a philosophy deeply devoted to animal rights. Being a vegan is a lifestyle choice that involves diets, politics and ethics. Vegans not only eliminate animal products from their diet, but from all aspects of their lives. So this includes no leather, fur, wool or silk; products derived from insects (i.e. honey and beeswax); or any products that have been tested on animals.
Okay, so now that you know what plant-based is, let's dive into my tips!
KNOW YOUR WHY
The most important step towards adopting a plant based diet is to know why you want to do it in the first place. Changing a habit isn't easy; let alone a whole diet you have been accustomed to your whole life! So, knowing your reasons for wanting a change will help you stick with it especially when old cravings kick in. Some of the most common reasons are for compassion towards animals, health related reasons, to help the environment; and so many others. I'll be sharing my reasons for going plant based soon!
DO YOUR RESEARCH
I can't tell you how many people I've met who have tried to adopt this diet/lifestyle and failed, because they didn't have enough information. Just like with everything else, you want to educate yourself on everything that relates to plant based diets. Some of the benefits of educating yourself first are making sure you're getting enough calories in your daily intake (it's possible to under eat on a plant based diet), knowing how to shop, knowing all the options you have available. There's so much more; just look into it!
Some of the resources that has helped me:
- Forks Over Knives - Documentary | This film sheds a light on how processed food contributes to diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity in America. With claims that this upcoming generation may be more likely to live less years than their parents, due to diseases caused by poor diet. It has an aggressive stance against the meat & dairy industry, and did not hold back against the heath care system in America.
- Food Choices - Documentary | This documentary gives a broad outlook on different diets and how they effect the human body. One of the highlights is the discussion of protein, and the misconception that you won’t get enough protein on a plant based diet. Also, you’ll get a dive into how meat production is directly related to global warming. It is a must watch!
- The China Study - Book | The China Study is packed with 417 pages of nutrition facts and research stats, so its not a beach read by any means. However, it is worth knowing about and reading. It is one of the largest comprehensive studies of human nutrition. Based on their research on the link between meat and our health, it has influence many people to go vegan/plant based like Bill Clinton, helped influence Cornell University to open a plant based nutrition certification program and the film Forks Over Knives.
- Cowspirsy - Documentary | This documentary explores the effects of cattle on our environment and health. Filmmaker, Kip Andersen, discusses how animal agriculture is the leading cause of deforestation, water consumption and pollution. It definitely opens your mind on how destructive our agriculture practices are on the planet and our environmental organizations are doing nothing to fix it. What I got from this film is: "Is meat consumption worth the destruction of our planet, the place we call home?"
- Food Heaven Made Easy - Podcast | A podcast created my Registered Dietitians and writers for Food Heaven Made Easy Blog. Their mission is to make the world we live in healthier, one meal at a time. Although these BFF's are not Vegan, they do follow a mostly plant-based diet. Their cookbook and Foodie Blog is also mostly plant based. So, if you are looking for some recipe inspiration, their blog is a good place to start. They share a ton of nutrition knowledge on their podcast, including Understanding what plant based is with Sharon Palmer. You can listen to their "What Exactly is Plant-Based? w/Sharon Palmer" Episode here.
- Plantpure - Documentary | This documentary is living proof that switching to a plant based diet can be life changing. Here you will see a group of people get a 10-day jump start into fully plant based diet, and witness the astonishing results. This film provides a strong case that a plant based lifestyle can be an effective alternative for those suffering with heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and more.
START OFF SLOW
Like I have mentioned earlier, it's really hard to change a habit/mindset you were taught your whole life over night! Unless you are just super disciplined and passionate about this new lifestyle, jumping right into it cold turkey is a bad idea! Here are some ways to get started:
- Start off with meatless Monday's! - this is an easy way to ease yourself into having more meatless meals during the week.
- Replace one dairy product with a non-dairy alternative. Some ideas are: any nut milk instead of cows milk, vegan cheese instead of regular cheese, an egg replacement like flax egg or a specific brand instead of real eggs.
- Replace one animal meat product for a meat alternative. Some of my favorite products to buy are Gardein's Meatless Meatballs (I used this in a recipe recently; check it out here), and Beyond Meat Meatless Crumbles.
FIND A COMMUNITY
I honestly have to give credit of my successful year as a plant-based vegan to those who I have surrounded myself with in person and online. Without them, I wouldn't have learned all that I know today! A community is needed, especially when you're surrounded by family or friends who don't understand or follow a plant based diet. I know for me, my support system came mainly from other plant-based eaters and not my family. It sucks sometimes, but it's good to know I have a group of people who are willing to answer my never ending questions and reassure me when I want to give up.
So there you have it! Those are my tips on transitioning! If you are still stuck, and need additional help, lucky for you, I'm a plant based nutrition coach!! Message me to learn how I can help you with your nutrition. Contact me here.