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How to Start a Plant-Based Diet – 5 Steps

Congratulations on your decision to eat healthier for you and the planet. Your body is surely going to thank you!

But before you dive in headfirst to the world of plant-based or vegan foods, we need to make sure you are successful. What does that mean? It means laying out a plan for you safely and successfully transition to a plant-based diet so you don’t burn out, quit, and burn all of your copies of VegNews (seriously, don’t do that).

How to Start a Plant Based Diet
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First, let’s get some definitions straight so we are all on the same page!

Plant-based vs Vegan: What’s the Difference?

You may have heard the terms vegans and plant-based diet and assumed they were the same thing. Or maybe you have no clue why people are fighting over what to call the fact that they don’t eat meat or dairy.

There is a difference between the two although many use them interchangeably. Plant-based refers to someone whose diet is mostly plant-based. In other words, they may eat only a plant-based diet, or they may eat an 80% plant-based diet. Many people accept that there is a continuum and adjust their diet accordingly.

On the other hand, vegans (sometimes called strict vegetarians) do not consume anything that comes from an animal. They omit meat, seafood, poultry, dairy products, and eggs. This also extends to their lifestyle where they will not use or wear products that come from animals.

Regardless of what you choose to call yourself, understand that there are many passionate people on both sides of the label table and protect those labels fiercely. For the purposes of this post, we will use the term plant-based.

Step 1: What is Your Why?

Why do you want to go on a plant-based diet? Are you trying to reverse or avoid a chronic condition? Do you believe this is simply a better way to live and exist? Have you had a health scare?

These are some of the reasons people turn to a plant-based diet. I started my journey many years ago after watching a video on animal rights and welfare. But I didn’t truly understand the power of a plant-based diet until I had a health scare with my type 2 diabetes. From then on, with some bumps in the road, it’s been plant-based all the way!

You need to identify your why so you have something to hold on to when things get tough. Making yourself better, getting healthy, and losing weight are all difficult things. What can get you through the tough times is knowing why you started this journey in the first place. Make a vision board. Put an awesome photo on your phone’s lock screen. Write some notes to yourself and tape them around your house. Whatever you do, make sure your “why” is front and center every day.

Step 2: Clean Out the Kitchen

You knew this was coming. It’s time to clean out the kitchen and give away or toss all of the temptations that will keep you from staying on your new healthy path.

What you choose to do with this food is up to you, but you want as little temptation as possible. If you live in a home with those who are not plant-based, try to have at least one shelf in the cabinet/pantry and refrigerator where you can store your own food and ingredients to make cooking easier.

By also taking this step, you’ll also see where you need to fill in your pantry to have cool herbs, spices, and other ingredients to make delicious, plant-based dishes.

Step 3: Grab Some Cookbooks

Now that you’ve done some cleaning, you are going to need to know what to eat. And while you can find anything on the Internet, it may be easier to pick up some good, old-fashioned cookbooks to get you started. Some of my favorites (and some blogs) are listed below:

Use these sites and books to come up with a great meal plan for a few days or the week and build your shopping list.

Step 4: Make a Shopping List

Did I mention you need a shopping list? 

Shopping with a list not only makes good financial sense, but it ensures you get everything you need to make some yummy food and not go hungry. 

Checklists like this can help you get started.

Step 5: Plan For Quick Meal Wins

Did you know that meal planning and meal preparation can be fun? Okay, maybe we have different definitions of fun, but meal planning is definitely going to help keep you on track when you’re too tired to cook and just want to grab something quick. Whether it’s overnight oats you grab in the morning or heating up that southwestern style salad with brown rice, planning ahead for quick meal wins will help you to keep eating healthy.

Look for some quick meal tips in Step 3 above.

That’s it!

Now you’re on your way to a plant-based diet and lifestyle. Remember to reach out for support on social media and to make this fun! There’s plant-based inspiration all around and you’ll soon find you don’t have enough time to make everything because it all looks so good!

Did I miss anything above? What helped you transition to a plant-based diet?

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Hi, I'm Wendy!

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