It’s delicious! It is important to dispel the myth that such a lifestyle is hard work or boring!
Tips for starting a plant-based diet.
Like all lifestyle changes, it is important to start slowly. Try making one change at a time and build up to your goal.
Replace animal sources of protein (beef, fish, dairy) with plant sources of protein (legumes, nuts, or grains) at a meal or snack.
Replace more processed grain products with whole grain products.
Keep track of the calories and protein you eat daily to make sure you are meeting your needs.
Having more veggies and fruits on hand and ready-to-eat makes them easier to consume. Whether you’re using them for snacks, putting them on a pan for roasting, or adding to other dishes that might have been veggie less, having items prepped helps.
When meal planning for the week, plan a recipe or two that features vegetables with a new recipe you would like to try.
Use convenient herbs and spices to add flavor to plant-based foods.
Typical Serving Sizes of Plant Protein
Listed below are sources of plant protein that you can start to include in your diet:
½ cup of cooked beans (6-15 g protein) ¼ cup of nuts (8 g protein) 2 tablespoons nut butter/spread (8 g protein) ½ cup of cooked brown rice/noodles (4-7 g protein) 1 slice of whole grain bread (5 g protein) 1 unit of a soy-based meat alternative (example, 1 soy-burger patty) (10-20 g protein)
Beans: add to soups, chili, burritos, salads, and sauces. Blend with spices to make spreads for sandwiches or dips for vegetables. Puree beans with vegetables to make thick soups. Servings: 3 per day – ½ cup cooked beans, ¼ cup hummus
Berries: toss them into oatmeal bowls, and salads. Cranberries and blueberries pair great with whole grain-based dishes,as in a quinoa and kale salad. Servings: 1 per day – ½ cup fresh or frozen
Other Fruits: eat them on their own or use in salads, oatmeal bowls, or whole grain-based salads. Blend frozen bananas for a delicious Green Light version of ice cream. Bake apples with cinnamon. Servings: 3 per day – 1 medium fruit
Greens: add to just about any meal or snack: soups, stews, pasta dishes, and sandwiches. Spinach, kale, collard greens, arugula, turnip greens, mixed greens etc. Servings: 2 per day – 1 cup raw, ½ cup cooked
Cruciferous Vegetables: toss into soups, salads, pasta dishes, and more! Red cabbage works well in tacos. Add broccoli and kale to your favorite pasta dish or roasted Brussels sprouts in your salads. Servings: 1 per day – ½ cup chopped, 1 tablespoon horseradish
Other Vegetables: use in soups, salads, stews, sandwiches, and more! Dip bell peppers, carrot sticks, jicama, or cooked asparagus into guacamole or hummus. Servings: 2 per day – ½ cup non-leafy vegetables
Flaxseed: mix ground flax seeds in with oatmeal, homemade salad dressings, or just sprinkle it on top of your meals. Servings: 1 per day – 1 tbsp ground
Nuts and Seeds: use in oatmeal, salads, & pasta dishes. Cashews, sunflower seeds & tahini can be made into creamy dressings or sauces. Walnuts & Brazil nuts are superior. Servings: 1 per day – ½ cup nuts, nut butter
Herbs and Spices: Add ¼ tsp of turmeric to your, oatmeal, or any savory dish. Blend it with cashews, pitted dates, and water for an adventurous drink. Use it in curries and soups. Servings: 1 per day, ¼ teaspoon turmeric
Whole Grains: mix up your morning routine with a bowl of buckwheat or quinoa. Add whole intact grains, such as barley, buckwheat, quinoa, farro, oat groats, or millet to soups and salads. Servings: 3 per day – ½ cup hot cereal, 1 slice bread
Beverages: the healthiest beverages are water, green tea, or an herbal tea called hibiscus. Servings: 60 oz per day – water, green tea, hibiscus tea
Exercise: walking, running, biking, swimming, rowing, aerobics, dancing, martial arts, competitive sports, yoga. Find a safe activity you enjoy, and go do it! Once per day – 90 minutes moderate OR 40 minutes vigorous
Disconnect: from electronics when you can to avoid constant stimulation. Shut off your phone in the evenings and especially before going to bed. Promote healthy sleep behaviors and avoid TV and electronic stimulation as a method to fall asleep. 15-20 minutes per day, time at midday
*** DON’T forget about these two essential Vitamins:
Pack healthy snacks for the road or plane ride such as nuts, chopped veggies, and fresh fruit or hummus cups. Hotels usually offer fruit and oatmeal. If your hotel room has a fridge and you are near a grocery store, stock the fridge with healthy items for your trip. If your travel is really hectic or you can’t eat optimally, just do the best that you can and get back to your healthy habits when you get home.
Most restaurants are very accommodating of dietary needs, and you should be able to review their menu online. Scan the menu in advance to see if a restaurant offers vegan options, and you’re already most of the way there. When you’re unsure, simply call ahead, explain your preferences, and they will probably be able to accommodate you.