If you’ve watched plant-based documentaries or otherwise seen the success stories of others, you know the power that eating a diet without meat and dairy has to increase your vitality, help you lose weight and restore your overall health.
So why does the idea of actually eating this way have you flustered and ready to give up before you even begin?
Do these common challenges sound familiar?
You’ve been wanting to go plant-based for awhile but just don’t know where to start. You can’t seem to wrap your head around what a healthy “meal” really looks like. Perhaps you don’t feel like you can do it alone or you’ve started only to then be stymied after a bit. And then, of course, there’s the pressure you may be feeling from family members who can’t or won’t get on board with your healthy lifestyle.
THIS POWERFUL TOOL MAKES MEAL-PLANNING A BREEZE
FREEBIE Let me jump ahead quickly to tell you if you’d like to join my email list, I’ll send you two freebies.
The first is a list of 8 mistakes you may be making (and how to avoid them) when you plan plant-based meals.
The other is a blank WEEKLY MEAL PLANNER. Click on the blue box here to join my list.
Plant-Based Meal Planning Myths
Busy schedules, lack of recipes, unstocked pantries, “winging it,” and probably most of all, working with the unfamiliar all contribute to these feelings.
But we don’t have a SECOND to waste fixing and eating meals that AREN’T supporting your optimum health.
Let’s power up your meal planning on a plant-based diet today by debunking 5 myths and replacing them with effective ways to make easy meal planning a part of your life. You’ll be armed with renewed enthusiasm and the skills you need to plan and eat plant-based meals throughout the week.
Myth #1: I just need to eat a lot of vegetables.
This won’t work because chances are you WILL get hungry. People often think that a plant-based diet is just about fruits and veggies, but it’s so much more than that: whole grains, legumes such as kidney beans, chickpeas, and soy, starchy veggies like potatoes and yams and some nuts and seeds.
While a meal made with a pile of vegetables can make your stomach feel fuller, if you include a source of protein such as tofu or lentils it will slow down your digestion and keep you feeling full longer. So, for instance, add beans or a ¼ cup of brown rice to your salad, or a salsa-topped yam alongside your steamed veggies.
TAKEAWAY: Plant-based eating does not mean eating only veggies.
Myth #2: You need to be concerned about protein.
Protein has been big in the news over the past few years, and as a consequence, people are confused. It’s true that we need protein along with carbohydrates and fat and the good news is that whole food provided by nature offer ideal amounts of protein. And if we take a look at what nature provides, we see that the amount of protein we need to survive is less than most of us think.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA), our protein needs are only about 10% of our daily diet.
It’s easy to forget that grains and veggies also contain protein. So you really don’t need to worry about getting enough protein on a plant-based diet!
However, if you’re someone who finds yourself hungry after a meal, you may consider adding more plant sources of protein as described in Myth #1.
And if you’ve ever heard that you need to worry about getting complete proteins since only animal sources are “complete,” that too has been debunked. If you eat a variety of whole plant foods, any combination of amino acids (the building blocks of protein) will do. You see, our bodies’ own innate wisdom for combining and using what’s needed of what we eat will make sure we get enough of what we require.
TAKEAWAY: Don’t worry about getting enough protein in your weekly meal plan.
Myth #3: Plan for variety.
Don’t make meal planning harder on yourself than you need to. Eating the same meals on a regular basis is something that most of us do naturally. Think about what you usually eat in a week – you probably have some dietary habits that work for you.
One solution is to create a weekly dinner theme. Within those themes, you can mix it up easily. For example, try Taco Tuesday, Pizza Friday, or Pasta Thursday every week. Then try pesto pizza one week and mushroom artichoke the next. It’s easy to add a little variety on top of your routine.
Making soup every week is a good way to stretch meals out so you have leftovers for lunch or a snack. You can also make a pot of beans each week and turn them into favorites like Black Bean Tacos, or toss them on top of salads. Oh, and salads are the bomb. Cut up lots of veggies and use them in large salads that you eat EVERY day, EVERY week.
What you want is success and making it too difficult for yourself is a bad idea. Keep it Simple Silly as the phrase goes – KISS.
TAKEAWAY: Put variety in the fruits and veggies you use, not necessarily in the meals you plan.
Myth #4: Raw foods are better than cooked.
You may think that raw foods have more nutrition than cooked, but actually, it depends on which ones you’re using. Some foods have more nutrition when they’re cooked and some when they’re raw. Carotenoid-containing foods such as tomatoes, carrots, and corn, for instance, are more nutritious when they’re cooked because their thick cell walls are partially broken down, making the nutrients that are bound to the cell walls more available for assimilation. Mushrooms are also better cooked than eaten raw because the toxic compounds they contain are destroyed. And as recommended by Dr. Fuhrman, eating soup is a great way to hold on to nutrients because they’re distributed in the soup’s liquid.
If you only eat raw foods, you’ll unnecessarily limit nutrient diversity. While you do want to stay away from foods that are fried or BBQ’d at high temps, or overcooked, eating a diet diverse in both cooked and raw plant foods provides the greatest benefit.
TAKEAWAY: Plan your meals with a combination of raw and cooked foods.
Myth #5: Fresh is always better.
It seems logical that if it’s straight from nature, it must be better. However, in today’s world, fruits and vegetables don’t typically come from our local area. Instead, they can come from miles away and sit on the shelf or worse, are treated with chemicals (unless it’s organic) that keep them “young” longer. Fruits and vegetables are typically not picked at their peak of nutrition.
While fresh organic fruits and vegetables are certainly good, frozen ones can be better because they retain greater nutrient value. Pick fresh fruits and vegetables when they’re in season and don’t be afraid to use frozen.
TAKEAWAY: Pick fresh fruits and vegetables when they’re in season and don’t be afraid to use frozen.
BONUS Myth #6: Meal planning is difficult and time-consuming.
OK, I won’t lie to you, starting something new is often more difficult than doing something you’re familiar with – it’s just the way our brains work. Until you’ve created a habit by forming new neurological pathways through repeated use, you’ll be thinking a bit harder. But, just like anything, you will get better at plant-based meal planning, shopping, and preparing the more you do it. It WILL take less time and effort. (And, learning a new skill is very good for your brain!)
But, that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to support this new skill and make it easier. One way is to start with a plan that’s already out there. Many websites offer meal plans, so try your luck with a Google search.
TAKEAWAY: You’ll quickly learn how to plan meals on a plant-based diet and be healthier than ever!
How important is this new skill?
Isn’t it worth the meal planning learning curve to better fit plant-based eating into your lifestyle? In the long run you’ll have less worry and more time to concentrate on the things you love if you plan weekly meals.
Let me know how it’s going for you. Are you ready to get going?
Now that you know the truth about plant-based meal planning myths, I have a FREE cheat-sheet to help you get started with meal planning.
My wish is to help you sidestep any traps that make most meal plans fail, and instead learn how to easily create your weekly plant-based masterpieces.
I’ve been eating a plant-based diet for 5 years now and I’ve made MANY mistakes along the way. You don’t need to do the same.
I’ve compiled a list of my biggest plant-based meal planning mistakes and how you can avoid them.
CLICK below to get my list of 8 PLANT-BASED MEAL PLANNING MISTAKES (and how to avoid them) plus a WEEKLY MEAL PLANNER.