How to Start a Plant Based Diet

People ask me many questions about eating a plant based diet because they are intrigued! Some smile and say they could never do it while others seem genuinely interested. Then there are those who actually want to start a plant based diet, but don’t know how. In this post, I’m sharing ways to get mentally prepared to start a plant based diet along with my favorite resources that take the mystery out of plant based cooking  to make this a fun, empowering and easy experience. If you, or someone you know, is considering a plant based diet, then please continue reading…

Healthy Changes are Always Uplifting and Empowering!!!

This may sound silly, but how we eat is one of most personal things about us. Changing that, can feel like we are shifting the core of who we are!!  Instead of fearing that what you “can’t eat”, think of all that you are gaining. Going plant based has nothing to do with deprivation and everything to do with abundance!!  

The Challenge:

Change is also challenging. Especially since we relate to food on many levels. Not just physically but emotionally and socially too. Then there is the practical aspect of altering what you “normally” buy, cook and eat!!  You may have to find new comfort foods and stop shopping on “auto-pilot”. Those cooking for others have to consider the community impact. Will this new habit “rock the boat” or can you lead by example? Will your family embrace baked lentil falafels instead of chicken for dinner??  Are you ready to think about food and meal planning? Who will support you?

The Rewards:

My Rolfer Jiri says, “A Strong Mind Brings Good Things” and I believe this. Goals make us stronger because we must focus, employ discipline and practice self control. All the ingredients for self empowerment. A plant based diet is a great goal for your body, but it’s also good for your mind!!

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Consider a Few Guidelines:

Starting a plant based diet should be fun and exciting!! Here are some practical steps that keep this an uplifting, positive endeavor:

  1. Pat yourself on the back for wanting to try something new!!! It’s exciting!!
  2. Decide on your goal. This will keep you relaxed and balanced rather than critical or perfectionistic. For example, will you eat plant based for a month or gradually transition with vegan meals 1 or 2 days a week? There is no “right way” – but choosing what’s best for you keeps you on track.
  3. Consider why you are doing this and have a statement prepared for curious loved ones. For example, I’m starting a plant based diet for 6 months since I’d like to help the environment. Or I’m eating plant based dinners for all of March to get more greens in my diet. Some loved ones will support you and others may judge, so be prepared.
  4. Select 5 plant based recipes that attract you and can be folded into your repertoire. Also, veganize your favorite meals like:  Vegan Lentil Bolognese or Portobello Tacos with Jalapeno Sauce (ah-may-zing)!
  5. Meal prep in advance. I do this on Sunday. You can roast a kombucha squash to toss on salads, pre-make lemon-tahini dressing, stir fry tofu to sprinkle on soups and salads, make healthy granola (this one is addictive), cut up raw veggies (carrots, snow peas, celery, red pepper) to dip in baba ganoush, lentil soups are ideal for reheating, and my new favorite crack slaw salad with edamame and quinoa is my latest obsession (recipe coming soon).

Get Inspired and Organized

Looking at food porn is fun research. U tube, Pinterest or just typing “vegan pumpkin bread” in google, will yield a ton of great results. There are many talented people posting their plant based recipes and I learn so much. I was so happy to find Deliciously Ella make her perfect kale salad on utube. I used to shun kale but watching her massage those dark greens with tamari and tahini was a game changer!! Now I LOVE kale salads (my husband too). Don’t forget cookies.

My Favorite Plant Based Utube Channels:

  1. Deliciously Ella – short, sweet videos showing easy to make, casual plant based recipes. You will love her accent.
  2. Downshiftology – Lisa Bryan is NOT vegan but follows a paleo, gluten-free diet and gives a lot of good ideas on how to stay organized, focused, and clutter-free. And, she’s right here Irvine (a neighbor of Laguna) so I feel a natural kinship.

My Favorite Plant Based Blogs

  1. Oh She Glows – Angela Lidden is my “go to”. Her recipes are easy to follow, healthy, and turn out perfectly. I’ve never had a “miss” yet.
  2. Deliciously Ella – Ella Mills is a plant based powerhouse with her deli in London, blog, cookbooks, apps, u-tube channel and great new podcast. She follows a strict gluten-free vegan diet to fight a disease she was diagnosed with in college. She’s honest, causal, and has a lovely British accent. I love her short u-tube videos because they are easy to follow and turn out appealing, no-fuss plant based meals.
  3. Cookie and Kate – Kate is vegetarian not vegan but her recipes are inspiring and can often be made vegan. He motto is cooking “real food” so her dishes are well rounded and appeal to a large audience.
  4. Blissful Basil – Ashley’s site is beautiful. Her photos are crisp and airy and will have you drooling over every recipe. She offers a variety of healthy vegan recipes and even has a “raw vegan” section.
  5. 101 Cookbooks – This was the first blog I started cooking from. Heidi Swenson is a brilliant photographer and recipe genius. From San Francisco (although recently moved to LA) her dishes are imaginative and sophisticated. She is not fully vegan, but most recipes are adaptable. I LOVE her Golden Potstickers and Livened up Lentil Soup – truly delicious!!
  6. The First Mess – Taking it up a notch to fancier plant based recipes. I’ve never cooked from the site but LOVE to ogle her photos.
  7. My New Roots – Stunning photos and wildly unique recipes.

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