This is the second part of my series on how to transition to a plant-based diet. For part 1, please click here.
This week, I’m here to give you five tips to aid in your plant-based transition. Let’s get right to it, shall we?
- Educate yourself. Learning about the benefits of a plant-based or vegan diet will almost certainly make your motivation about why you want to make the switch clearer and also provide motivation for when the transition seems difficult. Netflix has a bevy of documentaries – I mentioned in my last post that Forks Over Knives is what prompted my decision, but there are also ones that focus more on animal cruelty or the problematic animal product industry. Make sure to do some follow up research online or in books – documentaries are great for an introduction, but won’t necessarily go into all of the detail that you may want or need.
- Start vegetarian. This was something else I mentioned in my last post, but I’ve found that cutting out foods gradually made everything a lot easier, as I learned how to replace first meat, then eggs, then dairy in my diet rather than splicing off a chunk of my diet in one day. I found that this also helped me gradually see the positive effects in my body. This can be difficult for some, especially if your choice is to go vegan rather than plant-based, but if you’re struggling with what to eat with no animal products, perhaps a gradual approach would work better.
- Find your staples. As a Latina, I am genetically predisposed to love rice and beans.* I could live off of rice and beans. And rice and beans are both vegan/plant-based! Plenty of foods you love are probably already ones that you can incorporate into your new diet: pasta, bagels, chips and salsa, popcorn. As long as you’re aiming to make healthier choices rather than eating Oreos.
- Recipe research. Pinterest is my best friend now: all I have to do is type in “vegan _______ ________” and up pop hundreds of pins matching what I’m looking for. While my staple foods are great, it’s also nice to have some variety that makes me forget I’m plant-based once in a while.
- You may need supplements. I am by no means a medical professional and I would not recommend taking any supplements without advice of a medical professional, but many people who are vegan or plant-based need to supplement with vitamin B12 in particular. It’s commonly found in animal products and unwashed produce, but because we buy our produce already washed and not straight from the ground, it lacks in our diets. I knew I needed more B12 when I was insatiably craving eggs, even though the idea of eating an egg repulsed me. You can start out by introducing B12 rich foods in your diet but if you’re lacking in energy or noticing any other negative side-effects of a plant-based diet, make a trip to your doctor and get some blood work done so you can see where you might need to supplement. A perfect plant-based diet won’t necessarily need supplements, but we’re not all perfect. Here’s a website that outlines what other nutrients you might be missing out on.
PS The image is of my vegan gluten-free banana bread muffins. Let me know if you want the recipe!
Thanks for reading, friends! Until next time.
*This is not scientifically proven, but it might as well be.