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How to Get Started With a Plant-Based Diet

Shanea Patterson is a writer based in New York. She's worked with clients like Instacart, Tailwind, Columbia, Esurance, and LifeLock.

Tips on orienting your diet to be more plant-based.

Tips on orienting your diet to be more plant-based.

Plant-based products are on the rise, and have been in the last decade. As more and more consumers begin to realize the benefits of a plant-based diet, companies are rising to meet these new demands in a number of ways.

For example, Kellogg is one company that's been slowly shifting its attention to plant-based products.

While it won't ignore the products it already offers, the company plans on splitting into three branches, one of which will be completely focused on plant-based products.

If you've been thinking about transitioning to a plant-based diet, the following guide can help you do it with ease (and a lot fewer headaches).

Finding Plant-Based Substitutes

One thing that makes the transition a little easier for most people is finding substitutes for the foods they usually eat. It can be pretty jarring to suddenly switch up your diet with totally new foods you've never eaten before, and it can give you the urge to go crawling right back to those unhealthy foods.

Here are some common foods people find it hard to give up (and their substitutes):

  • Milk - Oat milk, almond milk, cashew milk, rice milk, soy milk, hazelnut milk, hemp milk
  • Cheese - artisan vegan cheese brands (like Daiya), dried nutritional yeast flakes
  • Burgers - Beyond Meat burgers, Impossible Burger/Whopper
  • Eggs - Egg substitute (Just Egg), mung bean, aquafaba (also used as a baking replacement to make meringues, macarons, and brownies), tofu, tempeh, chia seeds
  • Bacon - All Vegetarian Vegan Bacon Slices, Be Leaf Foods Bacon Strips, Lightlife, tempeh Smart Bacon, Hooray Foods Plant-Based Bacon
  • Chicken - Jackfruit, seitan, Chick'n meat (plant-based meat)
  • Mayo - Vegan mayo, aquafaba
  • Dairy-free butter - Vegan dairy-free butter
  • Beef, Duck, and Sausage - Seitan
  • Yogurt - Plant-based yogurts, coconut milk-based yogurt
  • Pudding - Almond milk pudding, oat milk pudding

Find the brands and foods that taste the best to you and you'll be able to slowly transition to a healthier, plant-based lifestyle.

Plant-Based Companies to Get You Started

  • Amy's Kitchen
  • Morningstar Farms
  • Impossible Foods
  • Beyond Meat
  • Gold and Green
  • Maple Leaf Foods
  • Eat Just
  • Kellogg
  • Quorn Foods
  • Pinnacle Foods
  • Gardein
  • Sunfed

These are just a few of the brands offering plant-based products that people seem to love. Do your research and you might just find a few more that become your go-tos for vegan food products.

Look Up Plant-Based Air Fryer Recipes

If you're really not the cooking type but you still want to try delicious vegan cuisine, look up some plant-based air fryer recipes. The air fryer is a lot healthier than the deep fryer, not to mention that you'll get delicious, healthy food cooked to perfection.

If you don't already have an air fryer, you might want to invest in one. It can help make transitioning to a plant-based lifestyle a lot less tricky - and a lot tastier!

You can try sites like:

  • Taste of Home
  • The Recipe Rebel
  • Delish
  • Food Network
  • AllRecipes
  • Skinny Taste
  • Insanely Good Recipes

One of these sites should have at least a few air fryer recipes you can stick in your binder full of recipes if you happen to like one.

Make It a Lifestyle

When you're first starting out with a plant-based diet, things can seem a bit overwhelming because you might feel like everything you normally eat isn't right for your current diet.

But if you change your mindset about it, it'll be a lot easier for you to stick to it. For example, try to think of it as a lifestyle change. Fully embrace the idea, because you'll be a lot less likely to fall off the vegan wagon.

One way to do that is to plan your meals ahead of time. That can make it a lot easier to make healthy choices when it comes time to eat (which might mean you're too hungry to make good choices about food).

It can also help to clear out your fridge of anything that doesn't suit your new plant-based lifestyle. That means throwing out milk, cheese, and any other dairy products, along with meat, eggs, mayo, butter, and more. Any animal by-product needs to be thrown away if you're going to commit to a plant-based lifestyle.

Now that you've emptied your fridge and gotten rid of all the temptations, go shopping for some healthy foods. But before you head straight for the plant-based alternatives, put some actual plants in your cart. It is a plant-based diet, after all.

So grab some fruits and veggies that you love and start getting them regularly. Look up some recipes to include them in so you don't get tired of eating them straight out of the carton.

Also, get some nuts, seeds, and whole grains. Try some hemp seeds, chia seeds, flaxseed, and other superfoods. Try to add them to your diet regularly. For example, you could put chia seeds in your oatmeal or on a salad.

Bottom line: try to normalize eating plant-based. And don't be afraid to try foods you've never tried before. You never know what happy accidents might cross your path.

There are apps that can help you get the most out of your plant-based diet.

There are apps that can help you get the most out of your plant-based diet.

Find Some Vegan Friends

We all know how hard it can be to make new friends as an adult, but if you find something you have a common interest in (like veganism), you might be much more likely to form a long-term bond with someone, especially if they're as committed to this common interest as you are.

Find social media groups or local vegan-related events (like vegan food fairs) in your area. You could even try hosting some vegan-friendly meetups of your own.

Use an App

Using an app can help you stay on track with your vegan lifestyle once you start. It's a form of support that can be fundamental in helping you continue on your plant-based path.

Take a look at some apps that can help you transition to a vegan, plant-based diet and lifestyle.

  • 21-Day Vegan Kickstart
  • Oh She Glows
  • Food Monster
  • Veggie Alternatives
  • gonutss
  • BevVeg
  • VegMenu
  • HappyCow
  • Vegan Additives
  • Vegan Amino

Browse the details of these apps to see which one would best suit you and your lifestyle. What works for one person might not work for you, so do some experimenting to find the one that truly resonates with you.

Sticking with Your Plant-Based Meal Plan

Sticking with a plant-based meal plan the first time around is no easy feat, especially when you've been raised on meat and dairy your whole life.

But it is possible if you take it one day at a time, allow yourself to mess up and get back on track over and over again, and forgive yourself for those times.

Transitioning to a plant-based diet is easier with the right tools. So use the above as a guide to help you make your plant-based diet a lifestyle.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Shanea Patterson