Plant-based diets are recognized as one of the healthiest approaches to eating, which includes any foods grown by Mother Earth, and avoids all foods that are slaughtered. In addition to doing your body right, choosing to eat plants does more than simply optimize your health, it also protects our planet and animals. If you’re ready to jump on the bandwagon, but wondering where to start? You've come to the right place.
Contrary to popular belief – a plant-based diet can offer all of the necessary nutrients required for optimal health, plus they tend to be higher in fiber and phytonutrients, so really it’s a win-win.
However, transitioning over to a new way of eating can sometimes feel overwhelming, which FYI is totally normal! An important thing to remember is this isn't a race for speed, a slow and steady pace will get you exactly where you want to be. Lifestyle changes are not often an overnight success, it takes time to learn a new way of life and as you do so you’ll discover exactly what you like and what you don’t from a plant-based diet. So sit back, relax and enjoy this new plant-based journey you’re about to embark on.
First things first, a quick breakdown of these two important terms you’ll be using from now on:
“Plant-based”: Food that comes from plants and is free of animal ingredients and byproducts such as meat, milk, eggs, or honey.
“Whole foods”: Natural foods that are not heavily processed, or processed at all. That means whole, unrefined, or minimally refined ingredients.
Eating plant-based doesn’t ALWAYS mean eating healthy, unfortunately it’s not that easy since there are tons of unhealthy fried, sugary and high carb plant food options on the market. Reading your nutrition labels is so important as companies can be very sneaky with their misleading marketing, so going forward try to avoid plant foods that are fried (unless they’re air fried) high in sugar, or contain unhealthy fats and carbs – unless of course it’s cheat day!
To sum it up: a plant-based diet means eating real, whole foods that come from plants!
benefits of choosing a plant-based diet
- Low in calories
- High in fiber
- High in nutrients
- Improved gut health
- Boosted energy
- Weight management
- Lower inflammation
- Better quality of sleep
- Protects cardiovascular system
- Can prevent cognitive decline
- Reduces carbon footprint
- Protects innocent animals
- BONUS: you'll save money on groceries
5 ways kickstart your plant-based lifestyle
- Slow and steady: gradually transition by making small changes each day. Like adding more veggies to every meal, replacing animal proteins with healthy veggies like yams and mushrooms, or switching out your dairy products for alternatives like oat milk. Breaking down these goals will make them more achievable, therefore you will find sustainability and added success in the process.
- Plan ahead: the key to success = planning! Planning your meals and meal prepping will make your days much easier, especially after a long day. The convenience will keep you motivated and help you succeed.
- Eat the vegetable rainbow: choose colorful veggies to fill your plate at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Aim to portion out at least half of your plate with veggies. In addition, choose to snack on nutritious fruits like avocados, dark berries and apples to help satisfy any cravings.
- Use healthy fats: the most delicious and nutritious fats that will compliment any plant-based diet include: coconut oil, avocado oil, extra virgin olive oil, nut butters like cashew, almond, or peanut butter and of course avocados. Use the internet to your advantage and look for fun and innovative recipes to highlight these ingredients. Pro tip: avocado makes for a great base to (vegan) chocolate mousse!
- Think green: if it’s a green plant, it’s probably good for you! There are a variety of leafy greens you can add to virtually any and every type of meal, so get creative when cooking and don’t forget your greens! A few versatile greens include: kale, spinach, arugula, and swiss chard – it’s best to steam, stir-fry or braise these ingredients to release all of their powerful nutrients and flavor.