YOU CAN DO THIS
There are a lot of misconceptions about eating a plant-based diet. I hope these tips can help clear up some of those misconceptions for plant-based beginners. As people grow more and more aware of their food and lifestyle choices and veganism as a way of life is becoming more and more mainstream, major companies are taking note and the number and quality of vegan products are the markets are increasing all the time. If you’re interested in eating plant-based for your health, the animals and the planet now is the time to go for it!
TIPS FOR EATING A PLANT-BASED DIET
1. ONE STEP AT A TIME.
If you’re a plant-based beginner, overhauling your diet probably isn’t going to happen overnight. It will take some time to get used to and there’s nothing wrong with a gradual transition.
WHERE TO START
Try starting with 1-2 meatless days per week, then increasing that as you get more comfortable with plant-based eating. Next, start replacing the dairy in your diet. This is easier than you might think. Take things one step at a time. Start by replacing the cream in your coffee with your favourite non-dairy milk then reduce or eliminate cheese by learning about vegan alternatives. Once you’ve got a grasp on living dairy-free, it’s time to tackle eggs. Eggs are easy to replace in your diet, just don’t eat them.
2. DITCH RULES AND LABELS.
People will disagree with me on this one, but I think eating a mostly plant-based is better than not even trying. When you’re just starting out, it’s going to take some time to adjust to not eating and cooking with animal products.
It gets easier, just stick to it, keep learning and eventually it will be hard to imaging eating and cooking with meat and dairy products. If you slip up, don’t stress about it. I believe it’s what you do consistently over the long-term that makes all the difference, so if you eat a bit of cheese or a product that contains milk, don’t beat yourself up, life is too short. Just move on and get back to normal.
THE BEST YOU CAN WITH WHAT YOU HAVE
I don’t eat a 100% strict vegan diet nor do I label myself vegan but I do eat as close to 100% plant-based as reasonably possible. There are different views on this mentality, but realistically I want to be able to maintain this diet for the rest of my life, so I just do the best I can. I don’t want what I eat to be a source of stress or restriction. I don’t use this as an excuse and I never eat meat or fish but sometimes dairy and eggs are hard to avoid completely, especially when travelling. Do the best you can with what you have, at any given time.
VOTE WITH YOUR DOLLARS
Another good starting point is just being conscious of where you spend your dollars. Support local food providers where possible and don’t buy mass-produced, factory-farmed animal products. We eat at least three times a day and every meal is a chance to either stand up for believe in or continue supporting what you don’t, to nourish your body with whole, healthy food or do the opposite. Choose wisely.
3. REMEMBER YOUR WHY.
Why did you decide to live without animal products in your diet? Did you see a factory farming video that affected you? Did you read a book that changed how you think about our food system and the way we treat animals? Is it strictly for your health? Always come back to that why if you find yourself struggling to maintain a healthy, plant-based diet.
4. STOP WORRYING ABOUT PROTEIN.
This does come with a caveat: you have to eat a balanced, whole-food plant-based diet made up of whole foods in order to get enough protein. That means being conscious of getting high-protein foods into your diet. Higher protein grains and vegetables, beans, lentils, tofu, hemp, edamame, tempeh, nuts and seeds are a good place to start
5. AT RESTAURANTS, JUST ASK!
Most restaurants will be more than accommodating or even note vegan options on their menus. Month by month, year by year, as veganism becomes more and more mainstream, expect even more restaurants to hop on board. If you’re worried, you can always check menus, call ahead and plan accordingly.
If you end up in a situation where you don’t see anything on the menu that works for you, ask your server if they can make you something. More often than not, they will happily create a vegan meal! Think stir-fry, rice, veggies, pasta, a big salad, baked potato or a veggie burger. And there’s always french fries! ??
6. GO ETHNIC.
When eating out and even cooking at home, I tend to lean towards Indian, Thai, Japanese, Lebanese and other ethnic cuisines because they’re veggie-friendly, full of flavour and most dishes are quite healthy!
7. MEAL PLAN AND COOK AT HOME.
For me, this is the most important step to eating a well-balanced, vegan diet. I plan all my meals for the week and then purchase everything I need to make them so I can cook at home. If you plan well, eating a sustainable and healthy, completely plant-based diet, is very doable and your best bet for maintaining it for the long run
8. REPLACE DAIRY MILK.
Dairy milk is the easiest dairy product to replace in your diet and the options for replacing dairy-milk are numerous. With products like cashew milk, rice milk, almond milk, soy milk and coconut coffee creamer readily available in stores, there are plenty of options.
9. STOCK YOUR PLANT-BASED PANTRY.
This will be very important in your success with plant-based living. If you stock your pantry with all the ingredients needed for healthy cooking, you’ll always be ready to make delicious, nourishing meals.
10. LEARN PLANT-BASE HACKS.
When you’ve been eating a plant-based diet for a long time, you start to pick up some fun hacks for Plant-Base cooking.
Get in the kitchen and don’t be afraid to experiment and try new things.
11. KEEP AN OPEN MIND.
Keeping an open mind when it comes to PLANT-BASE food is key to discovering delicious dishes you may never have even considered. Be open to trying new flavours and recipes, learn the ins and outs of Plant-Base baking, try new ingredients and restaurants and have some fun in the kitchen! Food can be a lot of fun and there is nothing more rewarding than sitting down to a wholesome meal you prepared yourself.
12. STOCK UP ON PLANT-BASED COOKBOOKS.
Even if you’re just trying to reduce the number of animal products you consume, these books will have you happily eating meatless meals more often than you think! These cookbooks will help show you just how delicious and easy vegan cooking can be.