Interested in a plant-based lifestyle but not sure where to start? From my years of trial and error, here are some tips that helped me finally commit.
Watch a documentary:
- What The Health– I hear about this documentary almost everywhere I go now. People are talking and it’s for a good reason! This documentary is a great start to understanding the purpose behind plant-based eating. I HIGHLY recommend watching this!
- Food Inc.– This documentary focuses on industry practices of meat and dairy production. It brings up questions of animal rights and what is humane and ethical—not just for the good of animals but for YOU as the consumer too. This is an eye-opener for sure. There is undeniably a lot of corruption in the food industry and some VERY questionable practices. Knowledge is power people. Do you want to know where your food comes from?
- Okja– This is not a documentary but an amazing Netflix original film. WOW! So good. Just watch it.
Read a book:
- The Plant-Based Journey– perfect for absolute beginners and an easy read. I highly recommend this book.
- The Complete Idiot’s Guide to a Plant-Based Diet– self-explanatory, I’m still reading this one myself.
- The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia– more of a reference book, this offers in-depth information on the healing powers and uses of individual food items including veggies, herbs, roots, fruits, and more.
- Healing with Whole Foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition– This one was recommended by a blogger I follow, Organic Olivia. I think it’s good to read introductory books (The Plant-Based Journey) before jumping into more technical ones but I was very intrigued by the concept of looking at food as medicine, something I’ve mentioned in my about section.
Join a support community:
- Vegan Aminos app– an online community for vegans and the vegan curious. I love to use this for polling the community to get opinions on what other plant-based eaters are doing. This is also a great place to find easy, everyday recipe ideas from regular people. The community on here is so active and supportive, it’s a fantastic resource for people who may not have a support community in their everyday lives. This was a huge help to me in the beginning and still a huge help now.
- Local vegan events or meetups– living in Los Angeles I know I’m fortunate to have access to vegan restaurants, fairs, festivals, workshops and more. If you live in or near a city look into what’s going on in the community related to this lifestyle. You may find some new friends or companies to support! Getting connected with your community is a fun way to explore this growing movement. You may even want to volunteer or work in this field! If you can’t find something in your area, maybe you could organize or host an event yourself.
Follow blogs, social media accounts, and YouTube channels for recipe ideas and tips:
- Join my mailing list for recipe ideas, shopping lists, tips, and more! Sign up at the top of this page.
- Use Pinterest for searching out plant-based and vegan meals and create pin boards so you can look back at recipes to try out and keep track of the ones you love. Want to know how to veganize your favorite meals? Pinterest is great for comparing multiple recipes or just browsing through what’s trending at the moment.
- YouTube is a fantastic resource for learning more about the plant-based lifestyle. This was incredibly influential for my journey and inspired me by seeing what others were going through. One of my favorite people to follow is Caitlin Shoemaker. Find a few people that you click with and subscribe to their channel to see their posts in your feed.
- I’m a huge Instagram freak. You can follow my adventures @eatwelllivewild to see what I’m up to. My suggestion is to follow at least 20 vegan or plant-based accounts. I follow food bloggers, activist accounts, meme accounts, fitness accounts, animal sanctuaries, vegan restaurants, travelers and more. Instagram is a huge community full of inspiration. If you’re an avid IG scroller, start filling your feed with whole foods and the temptation of delicious plant-based meals will be hard to resist! This also means you should probably unfollow accounts that post pictures of meat and cheese constantly. In the beginning it can be very difficult to say no to these products, but the less you see them the less you care. After a while, you stop wanting them at all. Don’t sabotage yourself while you’re still learning! Some of my favorite accounts are: @raw_manda @veganfoodshare @eatdrinkvegan @veganmemesofficial @boochaces
Makeover your kitchen:
- Check out my post Top 10 Plant-Based Pantry Essentials to get started. This will familiarize you with some vegan items that are awesome to have on hand.
- Clear out your fridge, cupboards, and counters of anything that doesn’t fall in line your new lifestyle choice; donate whatever you don’t need anymore.
- Make a list of your favorite veggies, fruits and plant-based foods so you can start to build a journal of ingredients and recipes to use. For example, I’ve always enjoyed sautéed garlic green beans. This is now a go-to item for me in a pinch! It’s simple to make and a crowd pleaser. I’ve also always loved banana bread, now I make a vegan version once a month or so and my roommates and friends can’t keep their hands off it! I’ve shared my recipe here.
- If you’re missing some utensils that would help you more easily create plant-based meals, go pick up a few items that will inspire you to cook more often! A quality knife is essential for chopping veggies. You can also look into getting a mini food processor and a good blender if you don’t have those. I use my Nutribullet blender almost everyday for smoothies.
Meal plan and prep:
- Currently my go to breakfast items are fruit smoothies and a bagel with hummus and veggies. To make sure I have something healthy to grab on my way out the door in the morning, I prep on the weekends. I buy fresh fruit and chop them to put in the freezer for later. I do use some packaged frozen fruits like wild blueberries and cherries, but I promise you fresh fruit has SO MUCH MORE flavor and will make a huge difference and it’s typically cheaper. My favorite fruits to have stocked up are bananas, pineapple, dates, blueberries, cherries, and pitaya packets (pink dragon fruit) if I can find them. I also pick up a bag of Dave’s Killer everything bagels, a tasty hummus blend, and some fresh spinach and carrot sticks so I have something I can pack and make at work on my break. Yes I bring food to work to snack on! Nuts or trail mix, fresh fruit, toast, applesauce, and tea are all in the rotation. I actually have tea after lunch each day and it’s something I look forward to when I get back from my break! Right now I have a box of lemongrass sitting on my desk.
- For lunch I either pack leftovers from the previous dinner or I’m lucky enough to drive home and quickly make something. Rice, beans, and a veggie stir-fry can be a simple lunch with the option to pack a flavor punch in the way of salsa, barbecue sauce, curry, herbs and spices, teriyaki sauce and more. If you don’t have the time to cook lunch everyday, make a big batch of rice, beans, and veggie stir-fry on Sunday and portion it into meal-size containers for the week. You can swap out which ingredients you use to keep it interesting; rice, quinoa, lentils, noodles, or couscous, with black beans, pinto beans, white beans, or green beans, and some combination of mushrooms, carrots, onions, zucchini, broccoli, spinach, potatoes, bell peppers, etc. Figure out what you like and ENJOY your food. Eating plant-based does not mean food has to be boring! Veggies are packed with different flavors and textures, there are hundreds of herbs and spices, and many ways to cook even just one ingredient. Experiment and try new yummy creations! My favorite seasoning right now is wild truffle salt. I eat a lot of mushrooms and I like to enhance the flavor with this deep umami sea salt and ground truffle blend. My go-to seasoning that I keep on hand for practically everything is this organic salt free spice blend. It has all the goodies with the ability to control the amount of salt separately.
- On to dinner, seemingly the most daunting meal of the day. For those who cook regularly, this will simply take some thinking skills and a bit of improvisation. Can’t use butter? Try coconut oil! Need to feed a family? Try vegan enchiladas or lasagna! And yes, you CAN make both of those meals 100% vegan and still taste delicious, dare I say, better?? Cheese and dairy are not necessary but feel free to branch out and try nut milks and other alternative milks as well as vegan cheeses. Your digestive organs will thank you kindly for letting go of dairy, as the majority people have some level of lactose intolerance. Now if you don’t cook regularly, you’re going to have to learn. Don’t be intimidated though! Start by making something you normally love to eat, trying easy recipes with few ingredients, then build as you gain new skills. Fall in love with cooking. If you’re a foodie like me, it won’t be hard to do once you get started. The satisfaction is just incomparable!
Find a favorite vegan restaurant:
- For those days when you just don’t feel like cooking or your’re out of groceries and don’t have a lot of time, it’s nice to have a local restaurant on speed dial to call in a satisfying vegan meal or a place to swing by to meet a friend or a date. My local Thai restaurant has the BEST pineapple veggie curry. Knowing what your options are make it unbelievably easier to stick with your commitment. When all of my favorite foods can be made vegan, why do I need to eat animals? I get plenty of nutrition and enjoy every bite!
The big idea I hope you take from this is it is SO important to educate yourself on the why and how of a plant-based lifestyle. By understanding the reasoning behind this mindset and learning the tools that will help you achieve it, you will set yourself up for success. This is a PROCESS. Any progress is good progress. The more you move toward this goal, the easier it will become to stick with it! Good luck and happy eating! Eat Well & Live Wild