Curious about vegetarianism or veganism? Well, you’ve come to the right place because today I’m sharing 10 tips for those who want to shift to a more plant-based diet. Before we start, I want to acknowledge something important:
Eliminating meat from your diet can be intimidating.
But it doesn’t have to be.
The benefits of a plant-based lifestyle are abundant, including:
- Aids in lowering your cholesterol levels
- Reduces your risk for heart disease, certain cancers, and diabetes
- Direct energy absorption from vegetables and fruits versus pre-digested and metabolized energy from animal proteins
- Supports the planet by reducing your overall environmental footprint
Follow my tips below to become more plant-based in your eating habits and lifestyle.
And remember, going through any type of change is a process. So give yourself the space, time, and love needed to do your best.
1. Do Your Research
First: Understand what your intentions are in striving for a plant-based diet.
Are you making this change for health reasons? Are you trying to alleviate your impact on the environment? Is it for the animals? Are you doing it to save money?
From there, investigate foods that you think will suit your lifestyle. This can be dependent on a number of factors such as: how active you are, your income, your location, and whatever you find to be important for you as a whole.
Continue to read, research, and educate yourself to fully understand what being plant-based means to you and how to maintain this lifestyle shift. Staying on top of getting all the necessary nutrients and maintaining a balanced diet is key to feeling good.
2. Ease Your Way into It
If you are a meat eater in transition, there is absolutely no need to go cold turkey when becoming plant-based (unless you want to).
Start with one meatless meal and work your way up.
Some options you can incorporate:
- Eliminate one type of animal protein at a time
- Avoid buying meat products at the grocery store
- Only eat meat when dining out with friends (also, limit eating out)
- Pick one day a week to go meatless for all meals
Go slow and allow yourself to adjust for a smoother transition.
3. Find Foods You Enjoy Eating
Don’t be fooled into thinking your culinary experience will now be bland and boring without any meat.
So not true.
There are tons of delicious recipes available for you to try!
I recommend starting with 4 to 5 recipes that you love and wouldn’t mind cooking often. Explore what works for your palette and what doesn’t.
Don’t look for dishes that will satisfy your “meat” craving – that is not sustainable and will only cause frustration. Grow to love your veggies and other vegetable-based protein sources.
If you are looking for ideas, check out my Plant-Based Food Inspiration Pinterest board which includes basics as well as savory and sweet recipes.
4. Avoid Loading Up on Carbs to Feel Full
There are such things as unhealthy vegans and vegetarians…
Don’t resort to living off of simple carbohydrates (bread, noodles, rice) to feel full. And don’t rely on getting your fuel from processed foods only. Some simple carbs and processed foods are ok. But remember- everything in moderation.
Instead, look to incorporate more whole grains, veggies, fruits and legumes into your diet to satisfy your cravings.
5. Discover Cookbooks You Like that can be used as Guides
The internet can be awesome and overwhelming at the same time.
I find it to be pretty rewarding to hold a physical book in my hands and flip through the pages.
One of my favorite cookbooks to use for inspiration is Thug Kitchen: The Official Cookbook. This book is hilarious (my kind of humor) and keeps it real, while staying on a budget which we can all appreciate.
6. Be Aware of How You Feel
Make sure you are getting all your nutrients when switching up your diet. It’s important to educate yourself on how to obtain specific nutrients from different foods.
Be mindful of how your body and mind react when going plant-based or when experimenting with any changes in your eating habits. This will take time so I recommend keeping a log or food journal to track and modify what does and doesn’t work.
As an example, I had a roommate who was vegan for a few months and noticed that she felt constantly hungry and tired. She incorporated eggs back into her diet and felt much better after.
We are all unique and one diet does not fit all.
Check in with your health care professional for guidance about your dietary and nutritional needs.
7. Meal Plan to Save
Here are reasons why meal prepping ahead of time is beneficial when going meatless or in general:
- Saves money and time
- Reduces stress
- Contributes to weight loss
- Refines your cooking skills with different ingredients
Find recipes that you can easily make large batches of and not get tired of eating for a week.
Pro tip: make extra brown rice or quinoa that will last a few days in case you need a whole grain base to go with your meal.
Need ideas for meal prepping? Check out my Healthy Meal Plans Pinterest board for inspiration on how to kickstart your plant-based lifestyle.
8. Don’t See it as a Chore
If you go into this thinking, “I’m on a diet. I can only eat this, this, and this. That’s it.”
It can be pretty damaging if you see what you are doing as a restriction. Remember why you are doing this and that it’s YOUR choice.
Stay flexible and find what works best for you. Again, a diet isn’t a one size fits all.
So don’t feel guilty if you still need to incorporate meat into your diet, that’s completely okay.
9. Share Your Discoveries with Others, Without Preaching
Offer to cook your new favorite meatless recipes for friends and family. This is a perfect time to showcase your skills at dinner parties, picnics, potlucks, and wherever food is shared. Or suggest going to your favorite vegetarian/vegan-friendly spot that you’ve discovered.
It’s always the best when meat eaters are surprised with a delicious vegan or vegetarian meal that they can appreciate.
However, I recommend that you resist from talking about the reasons why you are becoming plant-based unless someone asks about it. Diet can be a sensitive subject.
Looking for yummy recipes to make? Check out my Plant-Based Food Inspiration board on Pinterest for more ideas!
10. Keep Experimenting
Think: trial and error, trial and error, trial and error.
I’m still doing this today even after being plant-based for a few years now. My body is constantly changing, working hard for me, so I continue to look for the right combination of ingredients that fit my current lifestyle.
Continue to try different foods, get creative with your cooking. Fortunately, there are tons of alternatives today to substitute animal products. Going plant-based does not have to be boring, it can be fun!
Are you going plant-based, whether it’s vegan or vegetarian? What has helped you in the process? Anything that you are struggling or have struggled with? Share it in the comment section below.