I get asked all the time how to start a plant-based diet. While the idea of eating plant-based can be very overwhelming, it doesn’t have to be. This feeling of overwhelm often comes when there’s a rigid all-or-nothing mindset around the term plant-based. But that’s not what we’re about here at Nourished by Nutrition.
The NBN philosophy is centered a flexible plant-based diet. This means there is no one way, or right way. It means filling up your plate with an abundance of plant-based foods, but giving you wiggle room to eat the foods you enjoy and make you feel good. (Spoiler alert! You don’t have to give up animal products to eat more plant-based.)
But I get it, guidelines are helpful, especially in the beginning. That’s why I’m sharing my top 5 tips to start eating plant-based. These are small changes but when made consistently they can have a big impact. Pick on of these tips to get you started. Once it becomes habit, move on to the next. Soon enough, eating more plant-based will become second nature. I can’t wait for you to experience all the benefits of this plant-centric way of eating!
5 simple ways to start eating plant-based
Swapping out your milk for plant-based milks like almond or cashew is one of the easiest first steps to take towards eating more plant-based. You can easily make your own using a blender and straining with a nut-milk bag. (Out of all the bags I’ve used, my favorite is Ellie’s Best.)
But I get it, sometimes we just need convenience. There are so many great plant-based milk and other dairy-free options. It’s just important to read the labels. Opt for plant-based milks with no added sugar and ingredients you recognize. The shorter the ingredient list the better. Some of my favorites are New Barn, Malk, and Califia.
Learn to love plant-based proteins like lentils, beans, tempeh, or hemp seeds. There are so many delicious meatless meals centered around these plant-based proteins. Think lentil tacos, tempeh bolognese, chickpea curry.
If you want ease your family into more plant-based options, you can add plant-based proteins to your animal protein-based dishes. For instance, substitute half the ground turkey in tacos with lentils, sub half the ground beef in your bolognese with tempeh, and half the chicken in your curry with chickpeas.
Related post you might like: Protein 101: A Simple Guide to Understanding Protein
Drink a smoothie
Smoothies are such an easy ways to get in a lot of plant-based foods and nutrients into your day. Spinach and other greens can be packed in without changing the flavor. Frozen cauliflower, and frozen zucchini can easily be added to smoothies to boost the fiber and nutrients. This hidden veggie trick can replace or reduce the amount of banana in the smoothie without sacrificing creaminess.
Be careful not to make your smoothie a sugar bomb. While fruit is a nutritious plant-based food, it can easily be overdone, especially in smoothies. In most cases, I recommend about 1/2 cup of fruit per smoothie.
Balance your plate
Aim for having about half or more of your plate filled with vegetables. Focusing on an abundance of nutrient-dense vegetables at your meal ensures you are getting a variety of nutrients and eating mostly plants. In a sense you are crowding out the less nutrient-dense foods while filling up with vitamins, minerals antioxidants and fiber. The other 1/2 – 1/4 of you plate should be filled with plant-based or animal protein of choice, grains or complex carbohydrates and topped of with healthy fats.
Most people find it easier to shift their eating style when they have a positive outlook on what they’re eating rather than focusing on eliminating or reducing foods. So make sure you focus on all the beautiful foods you are filling your plate with.
Having go-to recipes on hand eliminates the extra effort and time it takes to find new recipes. Keeping 5 to 10 to-go plant-based recipes that use pantry staples to come together quickly makes eating plant-based easy. It helps you feel confident in the kitchen knowing you can make a delicious, healthy meal without too much thinking. To get you started make sure to check out the recipe index.
Want help getting started?
If you’re ready to start eating plant-based, download my 7-Day Real Food Reset! This is a done-for-you plan with recipes, a grocery list and meal prep guide. It will help you get started eating more whole, plant-based foods so you can feel your absolute best.