How to start a plant-based diet for beginners

How to start plant-based diet for beginners

You’ve decided that you want to start a plant-based diet but you’re unsure where to start? Here are 5 tips from a Registered Dietitian who did the transition. Here are her top to tips on how to start a plant-based diet for beginners:

#1: BEFORE YOU START, CHOOSE YOUR APPROACH.

It’s easy to get carried away with the thought of a drastic change and great results but if you don’t think before you start, you might be setting yourself up for failure. There are 2 approaches that I’ve noticed, and you need to decide which would work best for you, based on your past success:

THE BIG LEAP: Removing most or all animal products overnight. This approach is definitely more drastic, but I often see it with people who are motivated by animal rights.

THE STEP-BY-STEP: Removing most or all animal products over time. I recommend this approach for people who are choosing to transition for health or environmental reasons. I say this because an overnight transition might feel like a crash diet and you won’t stay motivated in the long run.

I personally took the step-by step approach while my Fiancé took the big leap. When I first transitioned I was motivated by the health factor and I felt like cutting out all animal products overnight would be too drastic for me and I would feel restricted.

My fiancé, on the other hand, was motivated by animal ethics and he decided to cut out all animal product overnight.

We both did the transition and are now vegan, but we had to chose approaches that fit better with us.

#2: GET SOME BASIC & ACCURATE NUTRITION KNOWLEDGE

Now that you’ve decided your approach for going plant based, you need to concretely figure out what you are going to eat.

I recommend using the vegan plate as a plant-based/vegan beginner’s guide. Start by focusing only on what’s on the plate:

veganplate2
Source: The Vegan Plate from the book “Becoming Vegan” by Registered Dietitians Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina

You should be substituting your animal products with legumes, nuts & seeds. If you do this you will be getting the majority of the nutrients you need.

Many people worry about not having enough protein in their diet. By following thee ratios of this plate you will most likely get all the protein you need.

You would be lacking the nutrients your body needs if you were to replace animal products with only vegetables, fruit or carbs.

Listen to this YouTube video for a more in depth explanation of the plate:

The “other essentials” category is also important but not in the first week of doing your transition. If you’re at the step where you want to know more about these nutrients , click here: Omega-3 fatty acids, iodine, vitamins B12 and D. This is a credible source and gives concise information.

#3: BE IMPERFECT!

Trying to do everything perfect the first time will only lead to disappointment.

We’re already trying to perform in so many areas of our life, from being a grade A student to a good friend – don’t add a perfect diet plan to your list.

What’s important is to take the first few steps and learn as you go.

#4: IT WON’T TASTE LIKE CHICKEN

Yup, sorry to break it to you.

Don’t try to replace the taste of your favorite beef or chicken meal.You will be disappointed if you stay in the comparaison game and you will never be truly happy with a plant-based diet

You will also most likely end up trying foods that try to imitate the taste of chicken. These are very transformed foods that I don’t recommend having in your daily diet.

The best thing I recommend is to try something completely new – meals you never had before – like this you won’t be comparing and you will simply be enjoying all the new flavours.

Integrate new meals every week. The goal is to find new easy go-to recipes you adore!

Remember to select a reasonable amount of new recipes that are realistic with your time and lifestyle. Having too many new recipes might just lead to an overwhelming grocery list and a discouraging amount of time in the kitchen.

#5: DON’T BE A LONER, GET A BUDDY

Having a friend or a loved one on board to make the transition with you can make things a lot funner and less lonely. Don’t be shy, ask around!

There are also many facebook support groups where you can exchange.

Last but not least, I do recommend consulting a dietitian because she will help guide you and make faster and more sustainable changes. There’s so much information online, it can get overwhelming. She will simplify things and personalize a plan to increase your chances of success.

Alyssa Fontaine, Registered Dietitian, specialized in plant-based diets, weight loss and relationship with food. I make videos & do 1-1 consultations to help people change their eating habits & reach their goals!

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