Great! You’ve decided to include more plant-based meals into your diet. Here are 25 tips to get you started on a solid footing and to help keep you going when bumps pop up along the way.
1. Remember your ‘why’
When things feel wobbly it’s good to remember why you made the switch to a plant-based diet in the first place. Your motivators could go something like this:
- I want to feel vibrant
- I don’t want to get fat and sick
- I need to turn my health around
- The food tastes so good!
- It’s better for the environment
- Heck, I’m just not comfortable eating animals anymore
Whatever your reason (and they’re all good) revisiting them will help you stay on course until plant-based food habits become second nature. See next point if you’re off track.
2. Watch, read, listen, talk
Seek information and support to keep going strong. Watch or rewatch Mike Anderson’s Eating documentary on youtube.This is the film (plus guide book) that got us started in 2004.
Since then many more documentaries have come out, here’s a small selection:
- Forks Over Knives (US)
- Cowspiracy & Seaspiracy (US) [link]
- What The Health (US) [link]
- The Game Changers (US) [trailer]
- The Big Fat Lie (NZ 2018) [trailer]
Some important books that help deepen our knowledge and resolve:
- The China Study
- How Not to Die
And more …
And if you want to talk to a real person I’d be happy to help
3. Set reasonable goals
For some of us radically changing our diet & habits overnight can work. It’s like a light bulb moment and we’re changed forever.
This happens … not so often.
For the rest of us it’s a step-by-step process. So take it slow.
If you’re wanting to eat clean and green start with including a daily smoothie one week and add in a daily salad the next. Or commit to cooking at home five nights out of seven.
4. Eat more vegetables
Seems obvious but you are going to be eating a lot more fruits, vegetables, pulses and wholegrains, and minimising or eliminating meats, dairy and eggs.
Don’t worry you can still eat burgers and pizza, yummy pasta sauces, curries even not-butter not-chicken! It’s all about having easy recipes to follow and the right things in your pantry.
Try these 6 easy vegan family meals
5. Eat legumes and starchy foods
Lots of them. Why? These foods will fill you up and keep you satisfied. For example, choose potatoes or sweet potato over simple white pasta; wholegrain bread over white. You get the picture. Avoiding high calorie empty carbs (muffins, processed foods etc) will make this journey a whole lot easier.
Here’s the link to this delicious pumpkin soup plus two other versions.
6. Have a secret stash
Make a habit of having good snacks on hand so you don’t get caught out. It’s particularly hard when a spontaneous social event happens with all the wrong foods. Being prepared keeps you away from the sausage rolls and custard squares. And remember if there’s nothing to eat, fasting won’t kill you – just don’t drink too much!
7. Learn to say no
This can take a lifetime to learn and is downright hard when you’re learning something new. Refer back to numbers 1 and 5.
8. Take Vitamin B12
A wholefoods diet contains all the essential nutrients you need except for B12. Rest assured you’ll be getting enough protein, calcium etc. If you’re completely plant-based you’ll need to supplement your B12. Refer to your pharmacist for a good one.
9. Get physical
Complementing your fresh new diet with exercise will make you feel good and keep you motivated. Remember there are a tonne of elite athletes who are improving their performance on a plant-based diet.
10. Drink water
Don’t argue, just do it. Aim for 6-8 glasses a day starting now.
11. Eat chocolate
Dark chocolate is necessary. Don’t go crazy but treat yourself to high quality brands.
12. Keep nuts in the freezer
Store them in an air tight container or strong freezer bag. Nuts can go rancid fairly easily so it’s better to buy them more often than trying to store large quantities. If they smell rancid (a bit like paint) don’t eat them.
13. Always have baked beans
When you don’t have time to cook or there’s nothing much in the house, baked beans on toast will fill you up. You can even add fresh greens, spices and make a fancy version, see point 14. Black beans might be more to your taste – check out this super quick recipe.
14. Grow spinach
Picking something from the garden or a pot is incredibly rewarding. Plus it’s fresh and bursting with goodness. Add some parsley …. kale, basil, rocket, lettuce.
15. Garnish wildly
Toast seeds, sprinkle fresh herbs, dot chilli, splash tamari, dollop coconut yoghurt, smear mustard, spoon chutney … a good garnish takes something plain to the next level.
16. Buy organic berries
With a few frozen bananas & berries in the freezer you’re minutes away from a lovely creamy ‘nice cream’. Berries have high water content and therefore hang on to the nasty sprays. Organic ones will taste better too.
17. Avoid sprayed veges
Especially potatoes, cucumbers, zucchinis, celery, apples – anything with a high water content. Do your best with this one and try not to get hung up. We want this to be easy.
18. Go to your local grower’s market
You’ll eat what’s in season, there’ll be more spray free options and the freshness will deliver more nutrients than supermarket produce.
19. Add flaxseeds
Flaxseed oil does go off quickly so it’s easier to stick with the whole food. These wee seeds are full of omega 3s. Combined with water they make a great egg substitute to use in baking and fritters. Add whole or ground flaxseeds to your smoothies. See 20.
20. Make flaxseed ‘egg’
Mix 1 Tbl flaxseed with 3 Tbl water. Stir at intervals. The seeds will become gelatinous. Chia seeds work in the same way. And both are packed with omega 3s. Here are some other ways to sub out eggs.
21. Get more sleep
This helps everything.
21. Eat less, live longer
Try eating until you’re 80% full. Wait for 20 minutes before eating more as this allows the brain time to work out your satiation. Most of the time you’ll have had enough.
22. Snack on pumpkin seeds
High in iron and so tasty toasted in a hot pan then splashed with tamari. Also great on salads.
23. Don’t try to convert everyone
Stay cool. There’s nothing worse than an over-enthusiastic new convert. Lead by example. Your glowing good health will be enough.
24. Trust your instincts
There’ll be a new spin on what to eat and what not to eat every few months. If you feel good keep doing what you’re doing and ignore the latest fad.