When most people think about switching to a plant-based diet their initial thoughts tend to be something along the lines of “what on earth will I be able to eat?”, but trust me when I say the possibilities are truly endless. And no, this doesn’t mean you have to live on bland lettuce, beans and tofu for the rest of your life, quite the opposite actually.
When you get past this initial phase and decide that you want to make some healthy changes and take the leap into the plant-based world, most people are normally then daunted by the prospect of “well, where do I start?”. Don’t fret friends, I am here to help!
So today I am going to share with you 10 essential steps to help you transition to a plant- based diet so you and your family can start reaping the health benefits of this beautiful way of life.
1. Test The Water
I know the thought of changing your entire diet can seem overwhelming so let’s start small. Initially try switching just one meal a day to plant-based so choose either breakfast, lunch or dinner, or alternatively you could simply start with ‘Meatless Mondays.
Make small changes to begin with and over time as you increase your plant-based repertoire you can incorporate more plant-based options into your day.
2. Pantry Essentials
To make plant-based cooking super easy it is time to stock your pantry and get plant prepared. A few essentials are tinned tomatoes, coconut milk, lentils, whole grains, brown rice, tinned beans, oats, olive oil, coconut oil, nuts and nut butters.
I would suggest buying organic tinned products because there will be no added colours, firming agents or artificial preservatives.
3. Spice It Up
Plant-based cooking uses a lot of herbs and spices to create super flavoursome dishes so it’s time to invest in some dried herbs and spices. My essential dried herbs include thyme, basil, oregano, rosemary, sage, parsley, tarragon and bay leaves.
In regards to spices, I would recommend purchasing some cumin, coriander, chilli powder, cayenne pepper, turmeric, curry powder, cinnamon, garlic powder, nutmeg and my favourite of them all, smoked paprika.
4. Experiment with Milk Alternatives
A couple of years ago there were limited alternatives to cow’s milk in our supermarkets but nowadays we are blessed with a variety of plant-based alternatives.
Why not try experimenting with hemp milk, rice milk, soya milk, cashew milk, almond milk, coconut milk, rice milk or flax milk. The possibilities are endless!
5. Introduce One New Fruit or Vegetable A Week
Us humans are creatures of habit and tend to stay within what we know, so I am going to challenge you to purchase one new fruit or vegetable a week and incorporate it into your diet.
Try experimenting with papaya, pomegranate, guava or some kale, radishes or artichokes and before you know it you will have a whole new repertoire of foods to incorporate into your meals.
6. Avoid The Processed ‘Food Like’ Options
As much as good quality soy products can be part of a healthy balanced diet, the aim is not to make this your staple, plants should be your staple. There are so many vegetarian/vegan alternatives in supermarkets that are classed as ‘plant-based’ but this is effectively just another form of processed food.
Try your best to buy real food in its original form, as close as possible to how it came out the ground, exactly the way nature intended.
7. Try Plant-Based Versions Of Your Current Meals
Going plant-based doesn’t have to mean a complete switch from what you know and love to eat, it’s all about making simple adjustments.
For example, at breakfast you could make your favourite pancakes but instead swap the ingrediants to a banana, coconut flour and almond milk and for dinner you could make some delicious fajitas with large lettuce wraps filled with peppers, mushrooms, black beans and avocado. It doesn’t have to be difficult.
8. Find Inspiration
Today we are so lucky because we don’t have to go out and spend money on cookbooks anymore as there are just so many resources online. I advise you to set up a Pinterest account and get searching as there are so many beautiful recipes from amazing plant-based bloggers for free!
9. Be Aware Of The Refined Carbs
You will find that a lot of plant based recipes can be high in refined carbohydrates so be aware of this. Refined white flour, white pasta and bread are the culprits which are nutrient poor and calorie dense, however there are alternatives.
Instead I suggest experimenting with healthy flours such as coconut flour, buckwheat flour, sorghum flour and quinoa flour.
10. Learn The Health Benefits
In order to stay motivated and inspired on this journey I advise you to do a little background research. There are some incredible documentaries on Netflix that share the amazing health benefits associated with a plant-based diet such as Forkes Over Knives, and Food Matters.
After watching these films I can assure you that you will come away feeling super motivated to carry on the plant-based way of life.
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