As you all know, plant-based is all the rage these days with fast food giants like Burger King sporting the new Impossible Burger. Historically the world has seen its fair share of diet and fitness fads come and go. There are some fads that turn out to be quite beneficial, even if their marketing focuses on profiting from peoples’ low self-esteem. When I hopped on the plant-based train, it was after rolling my eyes for quite some time at the whole thing. My journey started with a spiritual fast in which I ate a primarily vegan diet for a month. After the fast, I felt so amazing that I decided to stick to it. I have heard a lot of people consider taking this route as well, and figured I’d drop some quick tips for those who are considering taking the plunge!
So, what does it mean to be plant-based anyways? Being plant-based is pretty self-explanatory. Just like it sounds, it is eating only foods that come from plants. No animal products are consumed (or at least significantly avoided) on a full plant-based diet. It is very similar to being vegan, but true vegans also exclude all animal products from their entire life including makeup, clothing, and more! If you want the detailed rundown on the difference, there’s a great article about it here.
These tips are specifically geared towards people on a tight budget as well, so you can expand upon these as much or as little as needed. Here we go!
Start Slow! Unless you know that going cold turkey works well for you, take this as a process! Do not go raid your fridge and chuck everything out and replace it with new and approved plant-based items! Not only can that be incredibly expensive, it may derail you before you even begin. As you finish up certain items, start replacing them with plant based alternatives. If you run out of butter, opt for a plant based version the next time around. This one is my favorite! Once you finish off that gallon of milk, grab a plant-based alternative!
What is your end goal for transitioning to a plant-based lifestyle? Do you want to be 100% hardcore one day? Or would you like to get to substituting half of your food for rich plant-based alternatives? Pick a ratio and work your way up to it. I stick to a 90/10 ratio. That means that I eat 90% plant based and allow 10% for times when I want something that outside of those parameters. I would like to get to 100% plant-based, but that may take me a while and I am 100% okay with that! Any step you take toward eating a more plant filled diet is a good step. Maybe start off with a 20/80 ratio. What is one item you could live without for 2 weeks? Could you cut out milk? Eggs? Deli Meat? Pick one of those things and stick to it! See how you feel after a few weeks and begin upping your plant based ratio! This way you can work toward your over end goal in a healthy and sustainable way!
One of my biggest mistakes when I first went plant-based was trying to find all of these complex vegan substitutes and recipes. It was already difficult to make that transition, so trying to make it more complicated with recipes or food I wasn’t used to the taste of made it more difficult! Plant based is as simple as this: eat fruits, vegetables (especially those leafy greens!), legumes, and whole grains. Substitute milk for almond or oat milk. Change out your butter for a vegan, non-soy option or olive oil. If you are not a cook like me and need something to help your transition over with meat, try these! I love them and they are easy to make! I am not a huge fan of salads, but they are easy to make and incredibly budget friendly. You can add lots of fruits, veggies, and nuts to give it a full flavor! You will get overwhelmed if you start pinning recipes from Pinterest! Vegan/Plant-Based cooking takes a little bit of finesse, and there are a lot of ingredients you will not have in your pantry when you start out. Grab a bag of apples, carrots, hummus, peanut butter, and celery for easy on the go snacks. Remember, keep it simple at the beginning!
I always look for the vegan icon on foods to let me know its safe to consume! But if you’re like me and you’re on a budget, sometimes I grab items that don’t have milk or eggs in them, but may have been made in a facility around milk and eggs. A lot of breads, cereals, grains, and milk substitutes fall under this category. Sure, in a perfect world I’d like to get all my items organic, local, non GMO, vegan, ect. But when you’re on a budget, you do the best you can. Remember, ANY step towards a healthier lifestyle is a good step. Become a master at reading labels. Check for milk and eggs. But, while you’re at it, if you cannot pronounce the ingredient, it’s probably best to skip it.
Anybody will tell you that drinking more water is good for you. If you are making any kind of significant changes to your diet, its always good to drink more water. On top of that, don’t give up! If you make an oops and eat more than your ratio for that week, don’t sweat it! Just keep going! There have been weeks that I consumed way more dairy, eggs, or meat than I have committed to eating. Even though my body wasn’t very happy with me, I didn’t give up! I kept to my overall commitment for a living a better lifestyle and did better next time!
Hopefully this gives you a very easy overview of transitioning to a plant-based (or more of) diet! Feel free to reach out with more questions! I am not a nutritionist or have any medical background. I’m just a girl who loves food but wants to feel amazing by the food I choose to fuel me.