Oct 2021 Issue | Top 5 Tips for Starting a Plant-Based Diet
By Lauren LIttlewood
When starting a new diet, we often find ourselves going through the gloom and doom stage. “I’ll never eat this again!” We set permanence to our new diet and then set ourselves up for failure. Going from a standard American diet to a plant-based diet is a jump. But don’t worry, we are here to help. We know that a plant-based diet has been proven to improve your health, especially your heart health. And research shows that you are at a reduced risk for some cancers and type 2 diabetes. Some people choose a plant-based diet for ethical reasons, due to the cruel practice in industrial animal agriculture towards animals, slaughterhouse workers, and farmers. Many choose a plant-based diet for the environment because animal agriculture is arguably the largest cause of the climate crisis.
So, the evidence is clear that a plant-based diet, free or close to free from animal-based products, can make a positive impact in many ways. Given these factors, we want this change to last. Here are the top 5 tips that will set you up for a long, healthy, and successful journey into your new lifestyle.
Tip 1: Color!
Yes, you have heard this before, but it is vital. EAT THE RAINBOW! Fruits and veggies of many colors are a staple in a healthy diet. The 5 a day recommendation is a minimum. The more you eat, the better you feel. Experiment with different recipes and different types of plants. If you have never tried dragon fruit, then try one. This is your new adventure, and the possibilities are endless!
Tip 2: Find your Favorites
If you have a favorite dish, like tacos, find a plant-based taco recipe you love before starting your new diet. This way, you never get to the point where you are thinking, “I’ll never get to eat tacos again!” There is an alternative to everything. Yes, even steak! If you are a total cheese addict, then find a vegan cheese that you like. That way, you never feel deprived, and those cravings can be satisfied.
Tip 3: Step by Step
Many people struggle with going from 0-100 on a new plan. Especially when it is a big jump from what they are doing already. So, the best way to put yourself on a long-term path to success is to take your time to transition your diet. For example, Week 1 cut out dairy (because that is most often the most difficult). Two weeks later, cut out chicken… And so on. This way, you give yourself time to adapt to each new change.
Tip 4: Forgive Yourself
We are human! Humans make mistakes. And the idea that we must be perfect in our diets is nonsense. You are going to mess up. You are going to have bad days and accidents. But the thing that makes the difference is that you keep working at it. That is the only way this becomes a lifestyle change and not just another fad diet for you.
Part of making this lifestyle change last is remembering what your why is. If you have a bad week, remember why you started on this journey and remember that it is a journey. Keep learning and growing, and before you know it, you will be the master of this once difficult food adventure.
Tip 5: The Whole Food
The final tip is, eat the whole food. As little processed food you can happily eat, the better. Sometimes you want the meatless buffalo chicken for the football game instead of the buffalo cauliflower. And that is okay! But aim for 80% whole foods in your diet on average and trust me, you will feel amazing!
Preparing yourself makes the difference in succeeding or not. You have the power to make this change, and with these tools, you have no more excuses. It is time to take the leap!