So you want to transition to a plant based diet…but you don’t really know where to start!?
I’ve been getting asked this question quite a lot lately, and so I decided it would be a good idea to write a little post! Transitioning into a plant-heavy or plant-based vegan diet can be really tricky, overwhelming and confusing. But if you’ve got the right tools, knowledge and planning techniques then it honestly couldn’t be easier. It has taken me a few years to settle into this lifestyle and I’ve learned a lot when it comes to following a healthy, affordable and stress-free diet. I want to share my favourite tips with you guys today; hopefully we can all learn from each other too, I would love to see your comments, questions and tips below!
1. Adding, not subtracting
Everyone implements change differently and I think it’s important to analyze how you succeed and why. For me, drastic change does not work. Instead, I implement change over a stretched out period of time, allowing myself to adjust physically and mentally in order to feel comfortable with the change. Start by changing up your grocery shopping routine. Stock up on affordable foods like brown rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes, pasta, tomato sauce, seeds, frozen fruits and veggies, beans and legumes. Add more fruits and veggies to each meal, this way your taste buds will adjust gradually over time. Add a big salad to the start of every meal and slowly start to decrease your animal products by replacing them with a plant-based alternative, if you wish (coconut yoghurt, almond milk, tofu, etc.).
2. Make it fun!
Trying new recipes is the best part of transitioning to a plant-based diet. You will slowly start to realize that any sort of vegan dish can be created from almost anything. Some of my favourite creations have simply come from throwing all my leftovers into a bowl! Here are a few examples:
- bananas, oats, almond milk, cinnamon
- chickpeas, tomato sauce, spinach, potatoes, brocoli
- black beans, salsa, avocado, corn, tomatoes
- quinoa, almond butter, coconut milk, raspberries
- sweet potato, hummus, mixed greens
Start by creating a base (quinoa, rice, beans, etc.) then add fresh or cooked veggies (cucumber, avocado, yams), then choose a dressing (soya sauce, hummus, tomato sauce, pesto, sriracha). It’s so easy! You’ll begin to figure out what your favourite combos are and from then on it will be a breeze to whip up something quick. I also really recommend scoping out some of your favourite plant-based blogs for inspiration – Google can be your best friend when you’re stuck for ideas. Or have a look through my Recipe section.
3. Eat enough
I can not stress this more, eat enough!! The beauty of a plant-based diet is that you can eat as many plants as your heart desires. Make sure to eat a big breakfast. If you are not a breakfast person, try making yourself a smoothie or a big green juice the night before so you can grab it on the go. Make sure to have snacks prepared for the week. I love chopping up carrots and celery and keeping them in the fridge so I can grab them on my way out the door. These Chocolate Coconut Bliss Balls are also a life-saver. I also love pre-bagging tamari almonds, dates and crackers to take with me. Never restrict your intake and eat when you are hungry. You may find yourself eating more than usual, but if you are eating lots of plant-based foods like fruits and veggies and complex carbs combined with daily physical activity, this is a good thing – I promise!
4. Know your plant-based protein sources & properly food combine
People are often hesitant about this one, but in reality, it’s SO easy to find plant-based protein. Some great sources are quinoa, nuts, seeds, oats, nut butters, homemade almond milk, beans, broccoli and brown rice.
Food combining is really important for not just people who follow a plant-based diet, but for everybody! Since fruits digest the quickest, it is recommended that you consume these first and alone. Next, veggies are digested and then heavier foods containing higher amounts of fats & proteins. I love starting my meals off with some fruit for breakfast or fresh veggies as a snack, and then eating any heavier foods afterwards such as toast or quinoa. This will really help with digestion and leave you feeling satisfied!
5. Listen to your body
Everybody works differently on a plant-based diet, but I really thrive off of a high-carb, low fat & low protein diet. As the seasons change, I notice my diet tends to shift with it, which I respect and acknowledge. This may mean that I will gravitate towards more fats in the winter time, like peanut butter & coconut milk, and heavier grains like rye bread & brown rice. Listen to your body, it may be telling you exactly what you need! Craving chocolate? Your body probably wants some iron. Craving peanut butter? Your body probably wants some protein.
6. Keep it stocked!
A really good tip is to keep your fridge and pantry stocked full of deliciousness, so that when you reach for food you won’t feel stressed. I love stocking up my pantry with all these goodies to make sure I’ve always got lots of ideas to go with. Making bulk meals is also a great way to save time (big tupperwares of quinoa, rice, chopped veggies), making a big batch of granola bars, and pre-freezing bananas for smoothies. Curries and chilli are also great bulk recipes to make for the week, which you can freeze or keep in tupperwares.
7. Do it for you
One more important tip…do this for you, not for anyone else. This is your body and your decision, and it’s up to you to make the right choices for yourself! Naturally, you are not only benefiting your overall health & wellbeing, but you are also helping the animals and our planet. So congrats! I believe there is no one diet for everybody, so hopefully these tips can help you transition into your own version of a plant-heavy or plant-based diet that makes you feel good!