Going plant-based can be intimidating especially if you’ve grown up eating a lot of meat, dairy and eggs. I can speak from experience when I say that I didn’t know where to start. I did a lot of research before deciding to start my plant based journey and learned a lot along the way. Luckily, I started eating plant-based in June 2020 aka in the midst of the COVID-19 lookdown. I saw this as a great opportunity to try it out while not having to go out to eat with friends as a potential roadblock. I now know how to eat out with others as a plant-based eater but it was very daunting when I started. Below are my top tips to help you start and help make the transition easier.
- Start small. As with a lot of things, making small changes over time is a lot easier than going all-in. Start with small changes to your diet and when those changes become second nature, add another change. For example, start eating a plant-based breakfast every morning. Once you’ve gotten the hang of that, start eating more plant-based snacks.
- Don’t expect perfection. The goal of plant-based eating is to eat predominately plants; however, depending on what your diet looked like previously, this may be a hard transition. Be okay with buying some processed plant based foods to help you transition. For example, cookies, cream cheese, and ice cream can all be found in a plant based version. They will be more expensive and ideally you’ll cut them out completely once you’ve found your groove with plant based eating, but it is a lot easier to go plant-based if you allow yourself to eat these every once in awhile.
- Focus on all the foods you CAN eat and not on the foods you can’t. When you think about it, there really are A LOT of plants you can eat. A lot of people focus on all the foods that they’ll be giving up instead of looking at all the new foods they can try. I used to stick to the same fruits, veggies and starches before I went plant-based. Now, I look for new fruits and veggies I’ve never tried before. I tried lentils, tempeh and seitan for the first time and found out that I genuinely enjoyed them! I started cooking with different ingredients, found new recipes to bake and found out that some plant based dishes are even better than non-plant based.
- Find plant-based versions of your favorites. We’re so blessed in today’s society that you can find almost any recipe as a plant-based or vegan option. I highly recommend you find some key recipes that you enjoy. For example, if you love mac & cheese, find a plant-based recipe that you also love and can make when you’re missing your cheesy friend. I love pizza and knew I couldn’t give that up. So I found ways to incorporate pizza into my new diet.
- Try plant-based restaurants. Depending on where you live, you can find a lot of great plant-based restaurants. Start exploring your neighborhood and find new restaurant favorites.
- Bring a side to share. This tip applies to everyone but especially if you’re plant-based. Find a recipe you love and bring it to share with your friends. You’d be surprised at how open others are to trying new foods and you’re guaranteed to have something you can eat if you’re at a potluck.
- Last but not least, keep it simple. It can be daunting to keep coming up with plant-based recipes every day. Luckily, you don’t have to. While I encourage you to try new recipes, most days it’s easier to stick to quick, simple meals. Some of my favorite meals are the simple ones. For example, for breakfast I almost always have oatmeal, protein powder, nut butter and berries. It’s quick, delicious and I look forward to it in the mornings. If I’m looking for a quick dinner meal, I usually opt for potatoes, veggies and plant protein. I boil or roast the potatoes, steam the veggies and pan-fry or bake the protein. It takes me less than 20-30 minutes (depending on what kind of potatoes & protein I use) and is super easy. You can easily change up this meal by using different spices or sauces.
Do you have any other tips for going plant-based? Please share them below!