As I’ve shared more of my story, I’m approached by people who are interested in trying some new recipes and experimenting with a more plant-based diet. When I share recommendations based on my own research and experiences, the same thing always comes up: There’s no way I can be fully vegan.
Truth is, you can, but you don’t have to eat a 100% plant based diet. It’s okay to make slow changes towards eating more whole, plant foods. I personally believe that when you take the pressure off by removing the vegan label, it’s actually easier to eat more like a vegan. When you intentionally make plant-based choices and you take your time, you’re more likely to create maintainable habits.
There are some instances where an immediate transition to a plant-based diet is necessary. Your doctor may have recommended a dramatic change of your diet to help improve your health. Or maybe you’ve witnessed the realities of factory farming and slaughtering and are unable to eat animal products again.
But honestly, the rate at which you transition to a whole food plant based diet really depends on what you want and what you’re willing to do to change your habits.
That being said, if you choose to transition slowly, here are my top 5 recommendations:
- Focus on the things that you are adding to your diet, not the things you’re giving up. Try new foods. You may be surprised at how your tastebuds now enjoy foods you once thought you didn’t like.
- Try one new plant-based recipe per week. A quick Google search of your favorite recipe plus the word vegan will likely yield thousands of results. For example, search ‘vegan shepherd’s pie’ and you’ll find dozens of tasty recipes like this one and this one.
- Explore your local produce stand. I recently discovered that I love going to the little produce market next to my gym. They have the most beautiful produce, some of which isn’t carried in my grocery store. The prices are often much cheaper and there are likely to be more local choices. They also sell pantry staples, like oatmeal, flour, quinoa, beans, etc. It’s a great little one stop shop.
- Read and watch documentaries about veganism. The more you know, the easier the choice to eat more plant food becomes. If you’re transitioning because of health, read books like How Not to Die or The China Study. If you’re interested in the environmental side, try watching Cowspiracy. If you’re interested in the ethical side, watch Earthlings. There’s also a ridiculous amount of resources available on YouTube. Again, a quick search will yield more results than you can imagine.
- Don’t beat yourself up. If you’re craving a burger, eat the damn burger and jump back on the plant-train tomorrow (and tomorrow you can look up my black bean and sweet potato burger recipe for the next time you’re craving that burger). Making this change requires a huge shift in your thinking about food and it’s okay to not be 100% on point. Make the changes at a rate that’s sustainable for your life. Slowly crowd out the animal products with plant food and eventually you’ll get there.
- Include satiating foods in your diet. Don’t think that you’ll be able to survive on just salads and apples. While eating your dark green leafy veggies and fruits are important if that’s all you eat, you will feel hungry! Try whole grains like, oats, whole wheat pasta and bread, brown rice, quinoa, etc. Legumes are another important addition to your diet. Some of my favorites include black beans, lentils, and cannellini beans. Starchy vegetables like potatoes and corn are also extremely satiating.
So that’s it. My top 5 (plus a bonus) tips for slowly adopting more of a plant based diet. If you have any other suggestions, please leave them in the comments for others to read. 💚