How to start a plant-based lifestyle
10 steps to start your plant-based journey
1. Find your why
What is your motivation to changes your diet? Just take a second and become very clear about the goals you want. Maybe you started because you saw a documentary that changed the way you see life. Or you have some health issues that are bushing you to changes the way you eat. Think it through and then write it down, so you will always see the reason why you started this journey. If you need more motivation to start this lifestyle, you can go and check out some of the documentaries. Some of my favorites are The Game Changers, Forks over Knives, and What the Health.
2. Eat enough food
Switching to a plant-based diet is often confusing. Knowing what to eat and how much is very important. Many beginners start with leaving animal products off their plates, but not adding anything to it. That is a big mistake that can lead to health issues. You have to understand that plant-based foods are less calorically intense, and that's why you need to increase the amount of food you eat. Start by checking your nutrition intake by adding all the food you eat into cronometer or nutridata and aim for about 2000 kcal a day. Also, look up all the plant-based recipes you can find to get more recipe ideas. Here on my website, you can find a lot of different breakfast, lunch, and dinner ideas.
3. Make sure to surround yourself with plenty nutritious food
Go through your pantry and other kitchen cupboards. Search for any food that isn’t beneficial to you and either toss it out or give it away. Then start stacking your fridge and pantry with plant-based essentials. Such as different fruits, nuts, seeds, and vegetables. Starches like whole grains and potatoes, pumpkin and legumes are your number one source of energy, so make sure you always have plenty of those within reach.
4. Grab and go
The easiest way to fall out of the cycle is being in a hurry. It just happens, you go out with a rush and when you realize your hungry the only things to buy have all animal products in them. So how to manage? Don't panic! There's always some fruits and nuts in the store, that will fill you up until you can get yourself some filling meal. Also, it's good to have some banana or muesli bars in your handbag. The best way to avoid these situations is meal planning your day, so you would always leave the house with a full stomach. Knowing some restaurants in your area, where they serve vegan meals is a good idea as well.
5. Take your time
Starting with something or changing habits may not come overnight. If you started this journey because of health issues, you could try to changes overnight. Most people should still take it step by step. First, you could try eating most of the home made meals vegan. Mealplan your week and start swaping animal products with nutritious plant-based alternitives. For example, you could use avocado instead of butter, tofu instead of chicken, and black bean burgers instead of beef. The more you learn about this lifestyle, the easier it gets. It's a journey, not a race.
6. Educate yourself
To be confident and knowing the right way, you have to learn. There will be people who will try to convince you that this lifestyle is unhealthy and you will not get all that you need with this food swap. A question like, where do you get your protein, will be asked several times. So don't get frustrated, just smile and answer them as genuinely as you can. For example, all the plants have protein in them. Eating enuff calories per day will get your daily protein requirements. If they are not satisfied, you can add that legumes are great sours of protein. Eating a bowl of rice with legumes is not only a good source of protein but also has all the amino acids that you need for the day. There will be more questions, so learning enuff about this lifestyle is the key. Read a lot of books, browse different websites and consult with a nutritionist. I would recommend books like How not to dye- Michael Greger M.D, The plant-based solution- Joel K.Kahn M.D and Power Foods- Dr. Neal Barnard.
7. Connect with other likeminded people
It is much easier if you're having some people with whom you could share your struggles and success stories. Join plant-based communities. Go to different vegan events. Talk to your friends, maybe some of them are on the same journey. This way of living is getting bigger and bigger every day, so don't be afraid to go out and connect with people.
8. Good kitchen equipment is helpful
No, you don't have to buy yourself expensive kitchen supplies. A good sharp knife, food processor, a blender will work fine. You may have everything you need already in your home. But everything that makes your cooking easier and faster will help you a lot. For example, investing in a non-stick pan and a rice cooker will save you time. Knowing what you need and don't need will come with time. Just start with the things that you have and then invest in what you need.
9. Creating new habits
Be easy on yourself. All new habits need time. If you make mistakes and fall back into old ways, it's okay. Just pick yourself up again and remind your goals and why you started. Every day is a new start off living your best life. Be your biggest supporter and fan, so everything is possible. Just remember to be kind and gentle to every kind.
10. Keeping it fun and exciting
Now, when you have learned to cook some of your favorite vegan dishes, plan a dinner party for your friends or family members. Let them also know how easy and tasty plant-bast foods can be. Take some cooking courses to learn more about making nutritious and delicious food. Explore all the restaurants that serve vegan meals, or go check out all the 100% vegan places that you can find near you. Don't be afraid to ask your non-vegan friends with you! I'm sure that they will also like to try something different. Look up all the vegan YouTubers and cookbooks to learn more ways of cooking your once favorite dishes. Veganise all your old recipes, it's fun to try. Most importantly, be happy and enjoy your new way of living.
Let me know how is your journey going? Do you have some struggles? Some success stories? Want to know more helpful tips on living as a vegan? Comment down below!