“Plant based” means something different to everyone. For some, it means living a healthier and more vital life. For others, it represents a more peaceful way of life, which would prevent animal suffering. Alternatively, it can mean choices that could improve the environment. The path to a plant-based diet looks different for everyone. Some people switch to a purely plant-based diet and never look back. For others, it’s a process of ups and downs that can take several weeks, months, or even years. If you are interested in a plant based diet and wondering “how do I start a plant based diet?, this article is for you. Below are 10 Tips to Start a plant based diet.
#1 Tip to Start: Know WHY you want to go plant based
You may have many reasons for choosing a plant based lifestyle. Maybe you want to do something good for your body, prevent illnesses, and focus on fitness. Or, perhaps you are more focused on the welfare of animals, and the environment and want to make an impact through your nutritional decisions. Maybe you are intolerant of certain ingredients or have a food based allergy and are therefore motivated to make a change in your diet.
No matter which reason you chose for this step, you should always be aware of why you want to make a change. When things get complicated, people tend to make excuses and fall back into their old patterns. To help prevent this, keep in mind why you chose to do this whole thing in the first place. Remember, the health benefits that you’ll reap by eating veggie. Recall how good you feel when you’re eating clean and healthy. Feel grateful for the opportunity to make an impact on your world through the little daily decisions that you’ve chosen to make. You are a rockstar- own it and enjoy it!
When times get tough and your tempted, remember why you made this decision. The more detailed you can recall your reasons, the higher the likelihood of successfully switching to plant-based foods. Write down your reason somewhere, save the answer on your cell phone and always have it handy. This way, you can remember during those challenging moments WHY it is worth staying strong and not buckling.
2. Go slow
Switching to a plant based diet can be a big step. So, another tip to start a plant based diet: do it gradually. You might find it difficult to stop eating all animal products at once. Give yourself some time and drop these foods slowly. Perhaps you start with a 5/2 approach where you eat veggie all week (M-F) and flex a bit on weekends. Or, you could start with a veggie dish a day, and migrate more towards your plant based goals at your own pace. Furthermore, you could choose to start with more of a traditional vegetarian protocol excluding meats like beef, chicken and fish, but still incorporating eggs and dairy. The bottom line is that you’ve decided to make more healthy choices with your diet. Now, your ready to put that into practice at your own pace.
When you are out with family and friends, look for restaurants, bakeries and other eateries with veggie offerings so that you can also eat well while your out and about. When it comes to family celebrations, offer to bring something plant based with you. Plan ahead to make your life a little easier. Give yourself the time you need to work it out, find your favorite alternatives, and move in the right direction, one step at a time.
3. Eat whole foods and cook for yourself
By starting a plant based diet, you are embarking on a culinary journey of discovery. Here, you will get to know many new and delicious foods. Nowadays, there are a ton of plant based alternatives available everyday at your local grocery store. Focus on real, whole foods rather than industrially processed meat alternatives. That means preparing most of your meals from unprocessed plant foods such as fresh fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds. Most people find that they enjoy the vibrant colors and flavors of fresh whole ingredients over processed and packaged foods. Plus, you’ll avoid many of the unwanted additives and preservatives that are often found in the processed meat alternative foods. Therefore,highly processed meat alternatives should not be the basis of your menu, but only an exceptions, or a now-and-then convenience.
To get the most out of your plant based diet, it’s good to start eating veggie as often as possible. If you are not already doing this, try to get into the habit of cooking for yourself. There are plenty of awesome cookbooks available online. You can find a good plant based cookbook from amazon. Having a good plant based cookbook at home will do wonders for meal inspiration. There are also a lot of fantastic recipe apps, meal planners, and websites available for use on your mobile, iPad, or laptop. Some favorites include The Engine 2 Meal Planner and the PCRM app. Both are easy to use and full of colorful and flavorful recommendations.
4. Crowd out the meat with the good stuff
The standard American diet consists largely of animal and processed food products that are very high in saturated fat and empty calories. In contrast, wholesome, unprocessed, plant-based foods generally have fewer calories, are low in fat, and contain more fiber, nutrients, and antioxidants. When you go green, you may find that you can eat a larger quantity of food per meal. Veggie meals tend to pack a more nutrient punch per meal and are oftentimes loaded with helpful fiber that keeps things moving along. If you know what I mean. Furthermore, removing meat and dairy from your diet removes much of the high calorie, high saturated fat ingredients. This helps you to keep each meal at a more reasonable calorie count. That can help you hit your health goals quicker.
5. Stock your kitchen with healthy ingredients
One way to ensure your success is to stock your kitchen with healthy ingredients. Remove all the unhealthy products from your fridge and pantry ( i.e., meats, dairy (yes, that includes cheeses) and processed foods, etc.) and replace them with healthy, wholesome plant foods. Keep some quick and healthy options ready to eat in your cupboard or fridge. Fresh cut veggie sticks like carrots, celery, and cucumber are easy to prep and grab on the go.
6. Create a weekly meal plan
The old adage goes, “ If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”, right? Why not give yourself a big advantage and take a moment to plan your meals a week out. Don’t fret, this doesn’t have to be difficult. There are plenty of free sample plant based meal plans online. Many will create a custom shopping list just for the items you’ve chosen. A paid app like the Engine 2 Meal planner can do it all for you, also. It provides custom meal plans curated to your preferences.
Whichever you choose, planning your meals will take a lot of stress out of your life. Meal planning will get easier the more you do it. Eventually, if will be second nature and you’ll have your favorites memorized and ready to go.
7. Stay connected with your tribe
Joining a community like Dad Goes Green is a great way to stay connected with other like-minded people. We all need to feel heard and supported and there’s no better way to do this, these days, than to join a group. Together, we do more, and are more powerful through our interactions and encouragement of one another. We all have exposure to different information and who knows, you might learn something new from a fellow group member.
Most importantly, however, is to stay positive. Remember that the potential short term challenges that you may face in your migration to plant based will be short lived. The benefits, however, will be with you for a lifetime.
8. Live, and Let Live
Likely, you will also have to face confrontations with family, friends, or colleagues because they do not want to accept your nutritional change. This often manifests itself in ridicule and stupid comments, sometimes also discussions and arguments. Instead of engaging in arguments with them, you should openly explain how important your change is to you, and how well you are doing. Remember that you made this choice because you wanted it for yourself. Try to engage with them respectfully.
On the other hand, you may be doing so well with your plant based diet that you may bring everyone on board with you. Choose to set a good example and be a positive inspiration for your circle of friends and family. Don’t waste a lot of your time and energy convincing them. Let them see the change in you first and believe me, many will follow.
9. Learn to love to learn
It can sometimes be very frustrating when your friends, colleagues, or relatives do not understand you and may even stand in your way. From time to time, you may have the feeling of swimming against the current.
The best way to remedy that is to choose the path of continuous education. More simply, become a student of nutrition. It doesn’t have to be formal education, but learn to love to learn. This is your body and health that we’re talking about, after all, right? You want it to be cranking at its peak as often as possible.
Another great key to start your plant based diet is, read up on the benefits of a plant based approach. Try out new recipes. Experiment with new ingredients (Tempeh? What’s that?). And, share your experience with us here at Dad Goes Green…and with friends and family. It’s fun to learn and we all feel better when we’re expanding our capacity and becoming the best version of ourselves.
10. Have fun on your journey
Taking the journey to a plant based lifestyle slowly and methodically will help you discover something wonderful about yourself that you should celebrate. Enjoy your culinary voyage of discovery and personal development that comes with changing your diet. Even if it is sometimes difficult, try to see the challenges as an opportunity to learn and grow. We’ll be here to support you all the way.
Switching to a plant-based lifestyle requires perseverance. So, how do you start a plant based diet? You keep your goal in mind and remember why you are doing this. Eat a generous amount of vegetables and fruit daily and supplement this with nuts, legumes, whole grains, potatoes, and seeds. This is the foundation of your new healthy lifestyle. Be kind to yourself during this process. You don’t change your lifestyle overnight, and that’s okay. Making mistakes is human. Be patient and stay positive if you want to achieve your goals. You’ll be glad you did.
You may also like: WHAT CAN YOU EAT ON A PLANT-BASED DIET? >>CLICK HERE!
Read on to: CAN I EAT BREAD ON A PLANT BASED DIET?