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A plant-based diet is becoming increasingly popular due to the tremendous benefits of research behind plant-based nutrition.
But while many people agree that we should all eat our fruits and vegetables, not everyone is exactly sure how to give up animal products in order to do so.
What is a Plant-Based Diet?
If you’re not familiar with a plant-based diet, here’s a small summary. The diet is made up of whole plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, leafy greens, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes such as beans, peas, and lentils.
Plant-based diets normally eliminate added sugars and free oils, but some may include healthier options of those ingredients on occasion. Many plant-based diets also allow the occasional use of cultured dairy products, organic eggs, or wild fish, but this is much less common.
In short, a plant-based diet is a healthier version of a vegan diet when it’s eaten to a 100 percent degree. However, everyone can benefit from a plant-based diet even if they’re not ready to call themselves a vegan or live a vegan lifestyle.
What are the Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet?
In short, plants are full of vitamins, minerals, and necessary macronutrients in the most pure form. Because they are made of whole foods, plants also provide more nutrition than processed foods or conventional animal products.
You can see all of the benefits of a plant-based diet here and how it can improve your health.
Transition Tips for Easing into a Plant-Based Diet:
Below are some ways you can transition into a plant-based diet slowly and effectively to make the process easier. These tips will also allow you to explore how the diet works for you and see how it may improve your health.
Look over these tips and see which ones best fit you, your schedule, and your personality.
Feel free to give all of these a try or take them step by step!
1.Forego Fast Food and Junk Food First
One of the first things to do before you eliminate anything is to take yourself off of processed foods and junk food. Taking this one step alone can do wonders for your health, including your weight and longevity.
No matter if you’re eating vegan or animal-based, fast foods and junk food the two worst types of food for your body. Plant-based diets naturally eliminate them making it easier to abide by.
Focus on eating more fresh, whole foods and avoid all fried foods and foods with refined ingredients.
2. Give up One Animal at a Time, Starting with Processed and Red Meat
Although you may love steak, bacon, sandwich meat, and burgers, red and processed meat are the worst foods for the human body according to research. Just giving these up can do wonders for your body.
The American Institute for Cancer Research and other major health organizations now advise individuals to give up red meat and processed meat in general. These foods have been linked to cancer and can increase the risk for heart disease and diabetes.
You can later reduce the amounts of animal products from other sources later (if you choose to) as time goes by to make the process of transitioning easier and more successful.
3. Focus on Adding, Not Subtracting
Make it a rule to add more fruits and vegetables into your day, preferably by adding in a serving of each at all of your meals and even your snacks if you can. This will prevent unnecessary hunger and deprivation.
4. Start the Day off With Plants
One of the easiest things to do when you’re trying to transition into a plant-based diet slowly and effectively is to start your day off with a healthy, plant-based smoothie.
Skip the eggs and bacon or the cereal and milk. Add some fruits like berries and an apple, a couple handfuls of spinach, some non-dairy milk, ice, flax seeds or walnuts, and some protein powder of choice into your blender. Start your day off on a healthy foot can also make it easier to eat well the rest of the day.
5. Don’t Try to Count Calories
Remember, you’re not on a restrictive diet, so avoid the tendency or temptation to count your calories or restrict portions. Allow yourself to eat plenty of whole foods and stop when you’re full. This tip can also help you tune into eating more intuitively which may even help you lose weight.
In fact, it may be helpful to make sure you’re getting enough calories for your body’s needs and your health goals. You can use free programs like Cronometer or My Fitness Pal to help with this if needed.
6. Cover Your Basics
Anyone eating a plant-based diet should be sure that they’re getting high-quality omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin B12, and Vitamin D3. These nutrients are vital to health and can not be overlooked. Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in algae oil supplements, fish oil supplements, chia seeds, flax seeds, and hemp seeds.
Vitamin B12 is only found in the soil, although animal products may supply a good source if the quality of the food is high enough. Everyone should take a Vitamin D3 supplement no matter if you’re plant-based or not.
You may also find it’s beneficial to take a probiotic supplement which can assist with digestion and help your body’s microbiome balance itself out as you eat a healthier diet.
7. Find Your Motivation and Stick With It
Be sure to find your motivation for pursuing a plant-based diet as well. This will make it much easier in the long-run and make it feel less like a diet.
Read books, watch documentaries, and educate yourself on the benefits of plant-based nutrition. There are multiple websites available, with one of the best being NutritionFacts.org which is a non-profit, science-backed and researched-based website free to the public.
You can also find a delicious cookbook full of plant-based recipes and just start making a few to get your feet wet. You’ll be surprised just how easy it can be to stay motivated when you pursue the goal with an attitude of excitement and intrigue.
Or, maybe your goal is to lose weight, gain more energy, or just improve your health to prevent disease. Post a picture of yourself and make a collage of what your goals are. Write your goals down and remind yourself of how much better you’ll feel once you start feeding your body more nourishing foods.
8. Use Social Media for Support
Social media can be exhausting in many ways, but it can also be a gift in disguise when you’re searching for support. Find groups online or bloggers that specialize in recipes you enjoy. Search for plant-based recipes on Pinterest.
Find groups to join on Facebook, or find an online friend to join you on your journey. Having a support system can make transitioning into a plant-based diet much easier and enjoyable than going about it all on your own.
9. Fill Your Family and Friends In
It’s also a good idea to fill your family and friends on your new goals. Don’t focus so much on preaching to them about plant-based nutrition, but instead, just inform them that you’re trying to eat more healthy, whole foods and less processed foods.
This can prevent others close to you from discouraging you or making them feel left out. Remember, you don’t have to go 100 percent plant-based if you’re not ready, so see if you can get your family and friends to join you in taking small steps to eating healthier.
It’s also helpful to eat with your family and friends and consider cooking together if possible. This is a great way to start up a conversation and make the transition even easier.
10. Note and Mind Your Food Sensitivities
One of the main reasons people give up plant-based (or even vegan) diets is because they are sensitive to foods like gluten, soy, or additives found in vegan foods and feel as though the diet let them down.
Nuts, grains, sesame, and natural sweeteners are also problematic for many people. So mind your food sensitivities and be sure to get enough calories from other foods. Even if that doesn’t allow you to eat all plant-based, it will help you focus on eating more plants that do agree with your body.
Remember, progress is better than perfection. While some people may be ready to jump into a plant-based diet with full force, others may not. Learn how to choose the best diet for you and your body, and do your best to adhere to that way of eating.
Eating more plants is better than eating a few or none at all, so focus on these 10 tips to transition into a plant-based diet and enjoy whatever level of plant-based nutrition works for you!
By Mike Kamo