10 Beginner Tips for Eating More Plant-Based
What is a WHOLE FOOD plant-based diet?
A whole food plant-based diet is centered around an abundant variety of whole grains, vegetables, legumes, beans, fruit, nuts, and seeds. Eat food as close to its whole form as possible (e.g. brown rice vs. white rice) and choose organic as much as you can. Avoid processed food. Whole food plant-based diets have been studied and claimed to be amongst the healthiest ways of eating. Let me put it this way, very few people argue against adding more vegetables and fruit to your diet to make you healthier. However, a whole food plant-based diet is so much more than just fruit and vegetables though they are an integral part. It is bolognese-pasta, hearty soups, comforting chili, fluffy pancakes, and deliciously decadent yet sneakily healthful baked goods. And in case you were already thinking of summer; yes, you can grill while eating a whole food plant-based diet.
Why eat more plant-based?
Lasting energy, clear-mindedness, and comfortable digestion are just a few positive “side effects” I noticed from my personal and anecdotal experience on a plant-based diet. I have gradually increased my food intake to be 95% plant-based. (I leave room for the occasional vegan ice cream or vegan muffin!) I have consistent energy that lasts throughout the day. I never feel tired after eating, and my digestion has improved three-fold. There is significant research to support my own experience and I encourage you to do your own investigating to learn more. I have some resources linked in my tips below.
Tips for EatinG Plant-Based
SWAP OUT ONE MEAL A DAY.
According to The Blue Zones, eating one plant-based meal a day can positively impact the environment. Start with breakfast. Oatmeal with fresh fruit, nuts and seeds, spices like cinnamon or cardamom, and nut butter. (Click here for an oatmeal recipe.) Another great option is whole wheat toast with unsweetened nut butter (check the label for wholesome, simple ingredients— for example if you are buying almond butter ingredients should be “almonds” or “almonds, salt”) and top with fresh fruit such as pomegranate seeds, sliced banana, or fresh berries.
CENTER YOUR DIET AROUND FRUIT, VEGGIES, BEANS, LEGUMES, AND WHOLE GRAINS.
Think bean chili, lentil soups or stews, and chickpea curries served with brown rice. If you are craving hearty pasta make extremely delicious plant-based lentil bolognese sauce served with whole wheat noodles. Eat fruit and vegetables in abundance until you are completely full and satiated.
SWITCH TO NON-DAIRY MILK.
Plant milks can easily take the place of dairy milk in any recipe and most people like them better. There are tons of non-dairy milk options available in nearly every grocery store which are usually found near the dairy section. Examples are almond milk, oat milk, cashew milk, soy milk, rice milk, and so on. You can also make your own milk to save on waste and cost. Cashew milk and oat milk are the easiest to make at home.
EAT DARK LEAFY GREENS EVERY DAY.
Get creative! You don’t have to eat a salad every day (though salads are a GREAT option). Add greens to as many dishes as you can. In your soups, stews, bean tacos, or bean chili cut up and add extra dark leafy greens. Making chili or soup? Add fresh kale or spinach. Making a veggie stir fry? Add bok choy or chard. Steamed kale tossed with spices is a great side to any dish.
LEARN ABOUT SPICES.
Learning how to spice your food is vital for plant-based cooking. Not only do spices make your food exciting, but the spices provide your body with a plethora of antioxidants and nutrients.
MAKE SURE YOU EAT ENOUGH.
Commonly, when people first start eating plant-based they find themselves tired, losing weight, or excessively hungry. Plant foods are significantly lower in calories but higher in and volume which can causing you to feel full quicker and longer. Make sure you’re increasing the volume of food you eat to get in your caloric needs.
SNACK ON FRUIT.
What if every snack you had was a piece of fruit? Most of the USA doesn’t eat enough fruit or fiber. Let’s change that! There is NO NEED to worry about the amount of sugar in fruit. Watch this: If Fructose is Bad, What About Fruit?
REMOVE PROCESSED JUNK FOOD FROM YOUR HOME.
Packaged cookies, boxed cereals, chips, and crackers may be convenient to eat, but they don’t provide many nutrients to your body despite what their advertisements may claim. These foods can cause your energy levels to skyrocket and and plummet drastically throughout the day. In order to set yourself up for success, stock up on fresh produce, whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts, and seeds rather. Fruit is the ultimate fast food.
KEEP YOUR KITCHEN STOCKED.
Set yourself up for success. Click here for my list of items to stock your kitchen.
Education and knowledge is a foundation for success. Inform yourself on the food and nutrients you’re consuming to keep you motivated. Read findings by doctors and researchers. (Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Dr. T. Colin Campbell, Dr. Michael Greger, etc.). Follow plant-based food bloggers for your favorite recipes (example: Avant Garde Vegan). Get reading and watch documentaries. Be curious! See my books and films list here. Once you start feeling great it will be hard it will be hard to NOT eat this way.
I originally wrote this post for Natural Mental Health. I have since updated and added to the contents.