Making the switch to a plant-based diet can be intimidating. But, there’s good news! There’s no plant-based (vegetarian, vegan, etc.) police force!! You can go as fast or as slow as you would like. Today I’m sharing some ways in which you can start making the switch if you need some guidance.
Some readers may have realized that I am slowly making the switch to a plant-based diet. But living in a mixed-diet household means that I’ve had to take things on the slower side. Since I’ve started doing this, I’ve come up with a few tips that have helped me along the way. I decided to share them with you.
Granted, these 4 tips are what worked best for me. Everyone is different and everyone’s situation is different. So, if you have to, use these as a springboard if you are looking to make the change for yourself.
Tip #1: Research Recipes
If you making the switch to a plant-based diet chances are, you will have questions rolling around in your head like: “What can I eat?” “What can I make for dinner?” “What will my breakfasts look like?”
Luckily for us, we live in the internet age. A quick Google searches can lead you down a rabbit hole of plant-based food blogs and recipes. This can be both a blessing and a curse. There is almost so many choices out there that there are too many choices out there. So, spend a few minutes navigating a few sites and get a feel for them. If the food they create and write about seems like something you would eat, then it may be a good idea to sign up for their emails (most don’t send more than one or two week after a few initial emails) or at the very least, add their homepage to your bookmarks tab.
Here are a few blogs that I have found helpful.
- Forks Over Knives (This is a wonderful resource on why switching to a plant-based diet is better for your health. Though you do end up following a vegan, oil-free diet with this method, their focus is less on animal welfare and you won’t be subjected to “preachy vegans.”)
- Cookie and Kate (One of the first vegetarian blogs I stumbled upon over a year ago! Her whole food vegetarian and vegan recipes will leave your mouth watering. Her photography will leave you with food-photography envy. No? Just me? Oh well.)
- Rainbow Plant Life (A new addition to my list of favorite food blogs to follow. Nisha has many colorful recipes that taste just as good as they look!)
- Oh She Glows (A list of vegan blogs wouldn’t be complete without this one. Oh She Glows has been around for ages and was one of the first popular vegan food blogs. Though the site is not as active as it once was, it is full of recipes and tips for living a vegan life.)
- If you are looking for general information on veganism and making the switch, I’d also point out this great resource website: vegan.com. This site has great information for newbies to the plant way of life.
If you are more a cookbook person, have no fear! Cookbooks are another great resource to have. And typically you don’t have to worry about tracking dozens of printed recipes or unlocking your phone to see the next step in the recipe.
If you are new the plant-based diets, I’d recommend getting beginner plant-based cookbooks. These tend to be smaller and have more approachable recipes. The Forks Over Knives Cookbook is a great place to start. The first Oh She Glows cookbooks is another great title. But I really like Love Real Food by the creator of the Cooke and Kate blog. Though her recipes may not be totally vegan, she often includes modifications to make the recipe completely animal-free.
If you decide to stick with the diet, I’d recommend getting a couple “encyclopedia” style cookbooks that are plant-based. You can read my post on the ones I have but there are many others out there, too!
Once you have a couple blogs you love and/or cookbooks, decide on a few recipes you want to make. You can start off with just a handful of recipes. Most of the time there will be left-overs anyway. This gives you the opportunity to make a shopping list for those recipes.
Tip #2: Purchase Plant-Based Ingredients
This one may seem like a no-brainer, but I think it’s important!
One of the easiest swaps I made was to replace regular yogurt with plant-based alternatives. You can do this with milk as well! There are so many options out there now: Soy, almond, cashew milk and yogurts are all readily available at many grocery stores. Some brands are better than others, so be sure to taste a few to see which you like the best. Also, make sure to really read those labels! Look for a logo that says its certified vegan. If you see this, you can be assured that everything in the product is animal-free.
Without cow’s milk yogurt in the house, you won’t have to worry about “remembering” you’re trying a new plant-based approach. The plant-based alternative will be the only option. Are you a fan of the high protein Greek yogurts? Don’t worry, some brands make plant-based yogurts with higher protein too!
If you are looking to replace eggs in the morning, you can try making tofu scrambles or avocado toast. Breakfast can be intimidating for newbies to a plant-base diet. But if you allow yourself to get a little creative, you’ll realize it’s not too difficult. There are many recipes online for making oatmeal or overnight oats, take a few moments and see if any spark your interest.
Protein staples for plant-based diets include lentils and legumes. See my post about the various types of protein that vegetarians consume. A good way to figure out which ones you should buy are the ones that are used in the recipes you chose from Tip #1. Remember: Just because breakfast is associated with eggs doesn’t mean it has to be. Many vegans and other plant-based followers eat their leftovers as a breakfast meal.
Tip #3: Replace 1 or 2 Meals a Day with a Plant-Based One
I’m at a point in my journey where I am pretty consistently eating at least one plant-based meal per day. And for most of the work week, I can get away with two plant-based meals. Swapping out non-dairy yogurt was extremely helpful at lunchtime. And moving to oats or avocado toast in the morning has also helped me achieve this goal.
One of the ways I was able to replace many of my work lunches was by making vegan soups over the weekend and taking the leftovers during the week. I also would buy plant-based chicken patties or soy burgers. These changes accompanied by some non-dairy yogurt and a piece of fruit easily make my lunch vegan or animal-free.
Tip #4: Take Your Time
As I said at the beginning of this post, there is no police force who are going to “get you” for going too slowly. Or for accidentally eating something that has animal products. Just go at a speed that works for you. There’s no timeline unless you set one.