Hey loves, stopping by with a “How to Start A Plant-Based Diet” blog post. At the beginning of my journey, I wrote some tips to help get started.
It has been three years and five months since I have not eaten meat or seafood. I decided to share those tips again with an updated blog post.
My journey began one morning. I woke up and decided that I did not want to eat meat anymore. I knew if I focus on it too long, I would overthink and not start.
After that morning, I began conducting research and putting what I learn into action, and the rest was history. Over three years and five months, I am still learning things.
In the beginning, I had moments where I was lost. This lifestyle consists of you participating in research. You will have to give yourself grace. Can you be an unhealthy vegan? Yes, if you only consumed processed foods.
Can you be a malnourished plant-based/vegan? Absolutely.
When you change to this lifestyle, you cut out food groups (unhealthy as they may have been) that still provided you with nutrients your body needed.
You will have to relearn where to get certain nutrients & vitamins from what you used to get from animal products. Micronutrients such as iron, zinc, b12, etc. may fit in that category.
You can find iron and zinc in plant-based foods. You may have to supplement b12. I use nutritional yeast and a liquid b12 to get b12 in my body.
Protein is essential. Make sure you are getting the recommended amount of protein that is needed for your body daily.
Superfoods are important. Different veggies & fruits have nutrients that you will need.
Some will not always taste the best, but you will need them. Herbs and teas are necessary too. There are so many nutrients & vitamins in them.
There is so much confusion about the labeling, but I will say that I am plant-based. I do not consume any animal products. I do not consume dairy, cheese, or anything related to to the dairy family.
So, my meals are vegan, but my focus is eating this way for health purposes. Here and there, I dibble in vegan processed foods.
While researching this way of eating, I did learn that you can get vitamin deficiencies and gain weight from adding a lot of carbs, meat substitutes, processed foods, and high-fat food (pasta, bread, nuts, grains, oils, etc.).
I also learned that many foods include animal products.
Marshmallows have gelatin in them. Gelatin comes from bones, skins, &, etc. from animals.
Jiffy cornbread has pork fat in it. So, it is best to get vegetarian Jiffy. I cook cornbread from scratch. I don’t know why the pork fat is needed.
The processing of some wines includes animal products. The good thing is that you can find vegan wines.
Tips to Start a Plant Based Diet
Let me start by saying, I get it that this way of eating is not for everyone. That is OK. I strongly believe in doing what works for you. These tips are for someone who wants to try this way of eating.
Here is a list of things that have been helpful to me on this journey.
1. Understand Your Why
When you are trying something different, it is necessary to acknowledge your why and understand it. There will be moments when you will have to remind yourself of this until you get in your groove.
My why is for health purposes. I like the way I feel and think when I feed my body plant based/vegan foods. If you are the only one in your family living this way, your why will also help you keep going. You have to be Ok with doing this solo.
2. Meal planning
Create a meal plan for the week and create a grocery list to go with it.
I can’t stress this enough. It can be overwhelming in the beginning. Meal planning is very helpful with the transition to this plant-based/ vegan.
I made a weekly meal plan. I picked simple meals and focus on the seasonings. Utilize Pinterest. Type in vegetarian or vegan in the search bar.
When I first started, I didn’t know how to build a meal. I thought I was going to only eat VEGGIES. Plant-based / Vegan eating is more than veggies.
Plant-based eating also includes legumes, grains, nuts, seeds, etc.
Now, For e.g. I look for a protein, carb, veggies, & sometimes healthy fat to build my meals. Depending on what I am going for, the carb may be eliminated.
E.g. Dinner can be: Protein: Tempeh
Carbohydrate: Baked Sweet Potato
Green Veggie: Broccoli
There are so many ways to build your meal.
I didn’t add salads until year two in this journey. I remember making a salad in the beginning. I was hungry in maybe thirty minutes. I didn’t know how to build a fulfilling salad, so I stayed clear of them until year two.
Around year two, I start adding them to the blog. I have a few salads on here now. They have more than greens in them.
Here is one week of meals without snacks. I eat snacks. I don’t include them because I don’t want anyone to think the amount of daily calories I consume is the blueprint for them.
Everyone’s nutrition needs are different. All of the recipes for these meals are on the blog.
A few months back, I started a What I Eat In A Day Vegan Series on the blog. Here are some links to the meals below.
What I Eat In A Day Vegan What I Eat In A Day Vegan Vol 2 What I Eat In A Day Vegan vol 3 What I Eat In A Day Vegan vol 4 What I Eat In A Day vol 5 What I Eat In A Day Vegan vol 6 What I Eat In A Day vol 7
Here is a grocery list to accompany the meals above
Most of the items listed under protein, spices, & butter do not have to be purchased weekly.
For the most part, the grocery list will be a lot cheaper.
The creamy sauce for the meal on Thursday includes vegan cream, vegan cheese, almond milk, etc. I do not make this creamy sauce all the time. So, I do not have to buy them often.
Also, Some items such as beans, condiments, sauces, etc. will not have to be purchased weekly.
I didn’t want to overwhelmed you so I didn’t include superfoods, powders, different types of seeds, etc.
When you are starting out, you can become overwhelmed and stressed about what all you need. The more you learn and move along, you will add them.
The meal plan and grocery list is an example of how meal planning works.
I wanted to show a simple meal plan that does not include a lot of smoothies and salads. You can have a week where you drink mostly smoothies and eat salads.
There is nothing wrong with smoothies and salads. I love them and incorporate them in meal plans often. I just wanted to show that there is not one way to eat on this lifestyle.
Weekly meal plan changes from one week to the next.
One week I may want bread for breakfast. Another week I may want smoothies for breakfast. I will have a smoothie for a snack full of superfoods though.
Two healthier types of bread are Ezekiel and Dave’s Killer Bread. I have been a long-time fan of Ezekiel Bread. Recently, my daughter put me on to Dave Killer’s Bread.
Then, another week may have a meal plan full of raw foods.
Weekly meal plans depend on what I am needing or wanting.
Also, I don’t deprive myself of carbohydrates. Been there, done that. Now, I eat them in a healthier way as much as possible.
I eat more sweet potatoes than white potatoes. Sweet potato is still a carbohydrate but is a healthier option. I will still have a white potato here and there.
If I want pasta, I eat pasta. I get red lentil pasta. It is a healthier alternative and it is high in protein.
3. Expand your knowledge of seasonings
Experiment, experiment, experiment with a variety of seasonings.
4. Recreate your favorites meals you loved as a meat eater
Have fun in the kitchen. I turn my music on and let my hands and the food make a beautiful melody. Cheesy, right lol. That’s me.
5. For Extra support, join vegan/vegetarian Facebook groups
If there is any negativity going on in the group, kindly remove yourself. Ain’t nobody got time for that. Follow others on this journey on your social media accounts. This can be a way to use social media for positive.
6. When you’re on your grocery run, take a slow stroll down the vegetable aisle and create some stuff in your head
Look at vegetables you never have looked at before and try them out. I often create meals in my head at the grocery store. For the most part, they taste good. Sometimes, they don’t lol. My taste buds are like, “Try again lol.”
Tofu Scramble, Vegan Chickpea Egg Salad, Nachos with Black lentils, Black Rice, & Black Quinoa
7. Meal prep
Meal prepping is king when it comes to starting a new eating journey. I meal prep for three days. After three days, the meal doesn’t taste right to me anymore.
Put some time aside, and plan out what you want to eat for however many days you are prepping for and meal prep.
I like to meal prep beans, rice, quinoa, etc. A lot of my meals consist of one of these. It makes it easier to prepare those meals.
Also, I like to do meal prep salads in these bowls I picked up here.
For some reason, looking at my salads in these encourages me to want them. I don’t know what it is, but hey it works for me.
I also meal prep my husband’s salads for work with these bowls.
8. Meat Alternatives
I don’t add a lot of meal alternatives (faux meats) to my meal, but I will eat them here and there.
When you are early in your journey of cutting out meat, I found that these are helpful to some people until they get acclimated with this lifestyle.
Everyone’s journey is different.
Do what works for you. I would suggest eating them in moderation since faux meats are processed foods with soy and high in sodium.
9. Take a look into other cultures’ meals
You may find a lot of meatless meals with delicious flavor.
10. Read your food labels
Just the other day, my husband when to get some vegan creamer. Our favorite one was out of stock. He saw one that said dairy-free on the front. Guess what? He turned the bottle over and looked at the ingredients.
It said it contained milk at the bottom of the ingredient. The ingredient that was identified as milk was under another name. I can’t remember the name at this moment.
If he only went by what the front said, he wouldn’t have known.
It is essential to read the ingredients. Some ingredients are animal products, but you will not know unless you familiarize yourself with the names. Gelatin comes to mind.
11. Go at your own pace
This is the Biggie here. It’s your journey, and you are the driver.
You can stop eating meat cold turkey, or you can incorporate a couple of meatless meals throughout the week in your current eating routine.
You can start vegetarian and gradually move to vegan. You can start as a vegan.
You can incorporate both into your routine. You can do it however you want to. Remember, it’s your blueprint.
12. Give yourself compassion and grace
You are relearning and reshaping how you think about food. It is a process, and you will have moments. That is ok. Dust yourself off and keep going.
Until next time