Want to start reducing your meat or dairy intake because of ANY of the worthwhile reasons to do so?
This is my favorite thing in the world! I help people all the time. On this page, you’ll find tips, my own meal construction plan, and resources. On the page right below this tab, you’ll find a grocery list for some of the things I buy.
You’ll want to be sure to include THESE 4 food groups, as recommend by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.
PCRM also gives some substitution ideas here!
My tips for trying plant-based/veganism:
- Know why you’re doing it. You could have a million reasons, or you might just have one. Your choices and actions will stick better if there is a purpose. You might want to write it down and put it on a sticky note, or maybe you’re good with keeping it in your head. Thinking about your why is imperative for making conscious choices. This choice can be very personal and you can make it alone, but it might help to have at least one other person who you can do it together with, or someone who can keep you motivated.
- Research, ask questions, and check out blogs or recipes. You could eat a vegan diet of just pasta and salad but you would probably get really bored. There is more variety in plant-based eating than you could ever imagine- so look up where you’re stuck (maybe you need ideas for vegan breakfasts, or vegan sandwiches, or vegan dinner dishes). I eat whole food plant-based so my foods are minimally or not processed at all, and made up of whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and legumes. This means I like to eat with every meal: greens, potatoes/rice/oats, beans or lentils, vegetables, and fruits.
- Though I encourage you to do research on the variety of foods you can still eat as vegan (vegans can eat a variety of foods- shocker, right?!), I recommend this so you don’t feel unnecessarily deprived or anxious about what you’re giving up (this is a normal reaction, but remember, you are gaining so much more in health, compassion, and energy). Deprivation is never something I’ve felt, though my friends joke that my diet is so restrictive. I actually appreciate and eat MORE varieties of food and flavors now, as a vegan, than I ever did before. However, make it EASY for yourself. I repeat the same things that I love over and over again. Every meal you eat doesn’t need to be an instagram-worthy plate of epic proportions. Find what works for you, stick to the basics, and go extravagant for special occasions or on weekends when you have some more time.
- Remember: everyone who you know who is vegan was NOT vegan at one point. And none of us are unicorns; we ALL said the same thing you might have at one point, “I could never go vegan because _____ (fill in “I love cheese” for most people).”I always tell people who say they can’t go vegan- don’t think about whether you can or you can’t. You can do anything if you make a choice and have support (and if you’re here, all you have to do is look on this website to find the support you need or reach out). You just need to make the choice- and that is a decision no one else can make for you. For most vegans, making this choice best was the best decision and most liberating choice of our lives. The one regret that most vegans have is that they didn’t make the choice sooner.
- Find leaders to look up to based on your interests. Perhaps you’re an athlete- whether you play tennis, do cross-fit, or are a competitive dancer, there are plant-based athletes you can follow. If you’re trying vegan out for the enviornment, find leaders in the movement who have changed their plate, too. Find those whose posts and food choices will motivate you to make this courageous choice stick.
- Find a community! Find others who are eating vegan too. Maybe you’ll have a friend/sibling/partner who is interested in trying it out; however, in many cases you won’t have the support right next to you- so don’t let that stop you! If you’re on this page you know at least one person is vegan, and she is happy to help you out and be supportive. There are tons of Facebook groups for vegans or transitioning vegans (look them up by location or interest- for example Vegans of New York or Plant-based Athletes), and you might find others at your campus or job or in your city who are eating vegan. There are always pot lucks, brunches, and other events to go to. Or maybe you just want to change your diet in the comfort of your own home. Whatever works for you is good- but knowing there is support for you.
Veganism isn’t hard if you’re living by yourself and can control what you keep in your refrigerator and make your food yourself. But if everyone is eating meat, dairy, and other animal products around you, it will help to have others to talk to so you don’t feel like you’re crazy. The main reasons even people who WANT to go vegan don’t is because they: don’t think there’s anything they can eat (wrong) and don’t know anyone else doing it/have no community. Both of these can be solved by reaching out to others.
Here is my typical plan:
Oats with plant milk + fruits AND greens (since i like to start my day with them), or a tofu/veggie scramble with potatoes
Lunch: a bowl of some sorts that hits all of these points:
Starchy vegetables: sweet potato, gold/yellow/red potato, rice, or corn
Legumes: black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, chickpeas (maybe in the form of falafels), lentils
Non-starchy vegetables: kale, arugula, spinach, cabbage, fennel to make some sort of salad and than I’ll usually do a cooked green vegetable: brussel sprouts, collard greens, or broccoli
I always use some kind of sauce: salsa, tomato sauce, hot sauce, cheese sauce, guacamole, hummus, tahini, balsamic, or spices (cinnamon, everything bagel mix, paprika, etc).
Lastly, I always end my meal with some sort of fruit.
My chance to get creative! Maybe I’ll make a chili, or an Indian dish, or a lentil bolognese, a black bean burger, or a pizza.
Usually fruit with cinnamon because that’s what I love. I also make baked fries and my own potato chips (both with no oil).
And if you’re interested in some pictures of the things I eat, check out my Instagram story where I always post what I’m eating throughout the day!
Some great resources:
Check out this AMAZING Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine: Starter Kit
Also, No Meat Athlete offers some great tips here.
Don’t forget to supplement with Vitamin B12.
If you’re looking for a community and you’re up for a challenge, try Challenge 22+. I spent my summer interning for the challenge. They offer an international challenge run through Facebook for FREE. Go vegan for 22 days with the support of experienced vegans, clinical dietitians, and others in your same position. I’ve mentored for two challenges and have been working all summer on the challenge, and it’s an incredibly supportive atmosphere for those who want to reduce or go vegan, where you can ask anything, share your experiences and get quick replies to any question you might have. I can’t recommend it more!
And of course, please contact me if I can help you in any way. I’m happy to explain things, answer questions, or connect you with others- and if you do let me know of things you need help with, I’ll have a better idea of what content to post for what new vegans might need. This is primarily why I made this blog 😉