12 Easy Tips to Smoothly Transition into a Plant-Based Diet
Eating a plant-based diet has been proven to have many health benefits, and can also be easier on the environment than an average American diet. While making the switch may seem daunting, it’s surprisingly easy to transition to this way of eating.
So whether you’re thinking about how to transition to a plant based diet, or you’ve already started and have questions about how you can keep going, this article will give you a clear direction on how to begin a plant based diet and actually stick to it. Read What’s The Difference Between A Vegan And Plant-Based and Difference Between A Vegan And Vegetarian.
What Exactly Is A Plant-Based Diet?
A plant-based diet focuses on plant food sources such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, and grains, and does not include animal ingredients such as meat, dairy, eggs, or fish.
While not all plant-based foods are healthy due to too much processing, most people that go plant-based opt for a whole food plant-based diet, and this will be our focus in this article.
A whole food plant-based diet lets you meet your nutritional needs by focusing on natural, minimally processed plant foods.
If appropriately followed, a whole food plant-based diet can have its health benefits in the long run.
Whole plant-based diets limit the use of oils, added sugars, and processed foods leaving only whole foods to provide nutrition. Strawberry Breakfast Cake,
This maximizes nutrient intake and eliminates foods that can lead to poor health outcomes.
These diets are low in saturated fats, free of cholesterol, and rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Is Going Whole Plant-Based Worth It?
There is excellent scientific evidence that many chronic diseases can be controlled, reduced, or even reversed by moving to a whole-food plant-based diet.
Scientific research highlighted in the China Study shows that a plant-based diet can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer.
Many people also report bigger fitness payoffs, more energy, reduced inflammation, and better health outcomes after the switch.
But for someone starting out, it can be really overwhelming at the thought of shifting your diet to a plant-based diet.
Here are five easy steps to make your transition worthwhile.
1. Know Your Why To Transition To A Plant-Based Diet
Most people choose a plant-based diet for different reasons: to lose weight, control their blood pressure, combat different illnesses, or generally stay healthy. Whatever your reason is, understanding it is more likely to make you stick around and have a safe transition than when you’re just trying things out without a reason or a concrete objective.
2. Start slow
It could be so great if you could jump in and be a complete plant-based rock star, and if that’s you, then go for it. But it’s going to be dependent upon your situation, personality, and how well you can handle and manage lifestyle changes.
You want to be careful with making grandiose plans about your shift because if you go too hard on yourself, you are likely to fall back.
Have more compassion for yourself and a little more understanding.
Yes, some people can completely go cold turkey, but often it’s not the most successful option.
For instance, you can start incorporating one plant-based meal a week.
Find alternatives for the foods you love and enjoy the most. For example, if it’s a burger, go for a Plant-Based Burger alternative. If it’s a Mac and cheese, look for Plant-Based Mac and Cheese recipes.
You might have to try two to three different recipes before finding the one you love and an acceptable substitute for your favorite comfort food.
But keep in mind highly processed food though plant-based is not good for your health. So be careful when it comes to substitute or plant meat alternatives.
3. Eat More Vegetables
This may seem obvious but if you start making a concerted effort to bring more vegetables into your diet, what will happen naturally is that the more you incorporate those vegetables, a lot of animal products just kind of trickle out of your diet.
Be curious and interested in vegetables and how you can incorporate them.
Start looking up vegan recipes, plant-based recipes, and find things that you are interested in making and those that can easily incorporate a wide variety of vegetables. Air Fryer Falafel Salad Bowl.
4. Shift Your Perception Of Meat And Animal Products In General
Most people have been raised in a society and household that valued meat above all else. It was like with every meal; there had to be a big chunk of animal protein.
This is because most people think that the only way to get a significant amount of protein is through animal products, and that’s not true.
You can equally meet your daily protein requirements by consuming plant foods and even more without the health consequences that come with consuming meat and other animal products.
Whenever you start to shift your perception around meat and if you are still going to incorporate meat into your diet, look at it from a different angle. For instance, make it the second part of the meal.
So you can fill up to ¾ of your plate or halfway with delicious vegetables and then incorporating the meat as an afterthought.
You may have this idea that you need to have meat with every meal, but just start to create a different perception about how meat shows up in your diet. Yes, you can still incorporate some of it, but can you start to considerably reduce the amount of animal protein while increasing the amount of plant protein you are eating?
5. Recognize that you don’t need meat
Many people eat meat simply because they grew up eating it. For most of us, however, there was no conscious choice involved—we just always ate what we were served.
There’s no doubt that meat can taste good, but that doesn’t mean it’s essential for optimal health. If protein is your major concern, there are plenty of plant based protein sources, including legumes such as beans, peas, lentils, chickpeas, and soy.
Nuts and seeds can also be good sources of protein, as well as vegetables like broccoli or spinach. A little planning goes a long way toward making meat optional. Say you usually eat ground beef in your chili: try a vegan turkey or textured vegetable protein instead.
You can also experiment with veggie burgers and mock chicken nuggets, which are easy to find at grocery stores. But take note of highly processed meat alternatives. So always go through the ingredients list and avoid anything with a long shelf-life commonly high in preservatives and additives. Once you get used to meatless recipes, they start tasting better than their animal-protein equivalents.
6. Include plants in every meal
Including plants in every meal is perhaps one of the easiest ways of transitioning to a plant based diet. Instead of having meat or fish at every meal, try increasing plant-based foods. You can try meals like quinoa and roasted vegetables for breakfast; a vegetable curry for lunch; and lentil dal with steamed veggies for dinner. These are just some examples, but if you look around your home, you can find other plant foods that can be made into a delicious plant based meal.
With time and persistence, eating whole foods – with an emphasis on unprocessed foods – will become your second nature. And don’t forget about fruits and veggies! They’re nutrient powerhouses when eaten alone or combined into more complex recipes. Include a rainbow of colors on your plate whenever possible because different types of food have different nutritional benefits.
7. Eat fruit as a snack
Another important step when switching to a plant based diet is to replace any unhealthy snacks with fruit.
Fruit is rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. For people just starting on a plant-based diet, fruit can be consumed as a healthy snack throughout your day.
Instead of reaching out for ice cream, a packet of cookies, or a can of soda whenever you feel like you need a sugar boost, you can choose a more healthy plant based alternative like a fruit. The great thing about fruit is that it’s naturally sweet and delicious, so you won’t be tempted by sugary junk food. If you are craving something savory like chips or crackers, try sliced apples with peanut butter instead.
8. Build Your Meals Around Salads
Instead of building your meal around protein, do it around a salad and incorporate meat as a garnish instead.
Suppose salads don’t rest well with your family, make a salad bar, especially if you have kids. Give them a choice.
You can have like 5 types of different vegetables chopped and kept in the fridge. Make 1-3 salad dressings, and this can last you even up to 2 weeks depending on the recipe. With all this in the fridge, you can create a salad bar for dinner and let everyone enjoy the vegetables they like. Allowing them to choose without feeling forced into eating what’s available will bring them on board and make the journey enjoyable. Quinoa Salad With Oil-Free Chipotle Dressing.
9. Incorporate Good Fats and Leafy Greens
Nutrients such as vitamin A, D, E, and K are fat-soluble, and having a diet free of fat can inhibit their absorption.
That’s why if you’re eating leafy greens without fat, the nutrients in them may not be absorbed into the body. What you want to be doing is incorporating dark leafy greens into your diet and then including a moderate amount of good quality, organic, least refined fats to help absorb nutrients and prevent overeating.
Best examples include nuts and seeds, avocados, coconut oil, and extra virgin olive oil.
While transitioning into a plant-based diet can be pretty immense, it’s still achievable, and following the 6 guidelines in this article will be a great way to get you started.
And it doesn’t have to be perfect. When approaching anything like fitness, diet, nutrition, etc., many people take on the mindset of perfection, and if they mess up, they quit. But messing up and relapsing, that’s all part of the process; just keep going.
10. Plan ahead
One of the easiest ways to make sure you stick with a plant-based diet is to have food already prepped and ready. This will make it much easier to avoid temptation because your favorite unhealthy meals are not going to be sitting around in front of you.
Plan out what you’re going to eat for dinner or any other time in advance (including snacks) so that when that time rolls around, you’re good to go. Having things set up ahead of time also makes eating healthy during busy times like vacation or traveling.
11. Get help if necessary
Family, friends, or even vegans can be great resources when you’re thinking about making big changes like starting a plant based diet. If you feel like your plant-based journey would benefit from some company, consider reaching out to people who are going through similar life transitions. For example, if you’re new to plant based and worried about missing certain foods (i.e., cheese), find other like-minded people online who miss that food and see what they’ve found for replacements!
Or maybe you’re concerned about how to eat in restaurants – connect with people on Facebook or Instagram who are also interested in eating out as plant based so you can swap stories and suggestions. And don’t forget old school options: I know plenty of people who have successfully transitioned by reading books with tips and advice from others who have done it before them.
Just think about all of your personal interests – there are certainly groups online ready to help and support you. And if nothing else, asking for help reminds us that we’re not alone on our quest to lead a healthier lifestyle!
12. Share your journey with others
Sometimes, it can feel easier to keep your plant based lifestyle to yourself when you first start out. But it’s actually good to share your journey with others – not only will you feel less alone, but you might even find other people who want to join in on it.
This is especially true if you have friends and family who might be interested in getting healthier too! So let them know about your decision and discuss with them any concerns they might have. You never know what positive things could come from that!
Before Switching to a Plant Based Diet
Going plant based can be a fantastic experience, but it can also take some time to get used to it, especially if you’re completely new to it. Before you make the switch, familiarize yourself with these six things anyone on a plant based diet needs to know about living a plant based lifestyle.
1. Keep track of vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 is found in animal products. That’s why a deficiency is common in people on a vegan or plant based diet. Reduced intake can cause health problems, including neurological issues.
Luckily, there are many ways you can get more vitamin B12 in your diet, including supplements and fortified foods.
so if you follow a vegan or a plant based diet, make sure you’re consuming adequate amounts of B12 to prevent deficiencies.
2. Avoid processed foods
The Standard American Diet can be heavy on processed food, so eliminating as many processed foods as possible is one of the best ways to start a plant-based diet. Cut out pre-packaged meals, frozen dinners, and fast food. Avoid eating anything that comes in a box or bag, including chips, crackers, and cookies.
The more ingredients listed on a package, the less likely it’s something you want to eat anyway. Pack your own snacks. Buy fresh fruits and vegetables when they are in season, wash them thoroughly with water and dry them before putting them away in your crisper.
Fresh produce lasts longer than canned or packaged food; if you buy too much at once, freeze some for later use! Use what’s leftover from dinner: It’s also helpful to make double batches of recipes during meal prep time so that you have extra servings available for later consumption.
3. Keep an eye on protein sources
When starting a plant based diet, protein is one of the essential nutrients to keep in mind, but it’s pretty easy to obtain from plant foods.
Good examples include lentils, peas, beans, chickpeas, nuts, and seeds. However, most plant based protein sources aren’t complete proteins, meaning they don’t provide all of the essential amino acids. Those that are complete are also adequate in amounts. Examples include soybeans, quinoa, hemp seeds, buckwheat, and amaranth. So, consider including these sources along with other sources of protein.
4. Take it easy on soy products
The debate over genetically modified organisms (GMOs) has raged for years, but there is one undeniable fact: Most of our soybeans are GMOs. According to Food & Water Watch estimates, more than 90 percent of U.S.-grown soybeans—and most of those grown throughout much of South America—are genetically engineered. So when you buy tofu, edamame, or any other processed soy products, chances are they were made with GMO ingredients.
Unless you can find organic sources, it’s good to consider other sources of protein like legumes, nuts, and seed
5. Friends and relatives will ask questions
Be prepared for friends and family members to ask you questions about your diet. Because many people don’t understand why someone would choose not to eat meat, it’s very common for them to be judgmental and express doubts about how healthy a plant-based diet is.
Be ready for all of these questions, and don’t be afraid to set boundaries if they come up. This process can take time, but it should ultimately be an informative one as well. You might surprise yourself by having a number of converts once you explain everything from health benefits to helping fight climate change.
6. It doesn’t have to cost more
It’s easy to think you’ll have to spend a lot of money if you want a healthy plant-based diet, but there are lots of ways that it doesn’t have to be expensive.
There are plenty of low-cost ways to enjoy delicious plant-based meals while keeping your grocery budget down. For example, beans, rice, lentils, nuts, and oats are some of the most inexpensive protein sources around. Besides, meat and dairy products are usually more expensive than plant-based foods.
Going plant-based is one of the most important things you can do to improve your health and prevent chronic diseases like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer among others.
With so many people in the Western world suffering from chronic health conditions, adopting a plant-based diet has never been more necessary. However, some people find it challenging to completely eliminate animal products from their diets and still enjoy great results.
Whether you’re ready to cut out animal products completely or just want to make some healthier substitutions, making the transition can be overwhelming if you’re not prepared! This article on how to transition to a plant based diet can help you have a smooth and impactful journey
Following the tips and guidelines discussed in this article will not only bring results but good results!
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