Like most worthwhile things, switching to a plant-based diet takes work. If you’ve been eating vegan for years, you might understand the challenges people face. For those transitioning from a meat-inclusive diet, there will be some hurdles.
As real as all these challenges are, they’re certainly not impossible. Many people have made the change, and this figure keeps rising.
7 Tips for Being Prepared to Eat a Plant-Based Diet
If you want to join them, let’s look at how you can prepare yourself for bumps along the way.
Find Your Motivation
Some folks who switch to a plant-based diet get off to a good start, but struggle to maintain their momentum. The experience can become less enjoyable if feels too difficult.
My tip to help overcome this challenge is to find your motivation.
To do this, you need to clarify your reasons for having made the change.
- Are you motivated to improve your health?
- Did you become vegan or vegetarian because your favorite celebrity did?
- Were you pressured into it by family, friends, or a PETA video?
- Did you change your diet because you know or believe it’s good for you and the planet?
If you aren’t doing it for yourself, you probably won’t stick with it.
Write down your motivation, perhaps on a 3×5″ notecard, and keep it nearby. When your motivation wanes, read these notes to remember your “why.”
Establish A Support Network
If you’re the only member of your family or circle of friends who’s switched to a plant-based diet, you may find eating out is problematic, and not everyone is accommodating or understanding of your new lifestyle. This lack of support can weigh heavily on you, making you feel very alone. You can overcome this by finding a network of supportive people, even if it’s an online community.
By connecting with others, you can share your triumphs and struggles, swap recipes, learn new kitchen hacks, and pick up a few lifestyle tips. The support of like-minded people can go a long way to keeping you motivated and inspired.
There are many Facebook groups following a whole food, plant-based diet. Better yet, encourage your friends and family to eat this way by serving them a delicious plalnt-based meal.
Look For Budget-Friendly Options
A plant-based diet can get expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. See my article, “How to Save Money on a Plant-Based Diet.” If you shop at stores cashing in on the popularity of all things organic and vegan, it will make a considerable dent in your wallet.
Not all the food you purchase has to be organic, and it doesn’t need to come from specialist stores or a farmer’s market. Frozen vegetables, canned beans, tomatoes, and pasta should be relatively inexpensive at your local supermarket. It may not be the ideal touted by countless influencers, and that’s OK. It’s just as good for you!
See my article “49 Plant-Based Recipes Using Canned & Packaged Foods.”
Find Meaty Replacements
Missing the flavor of meat can be challenging, especially if you have yet to discover meaty replacements. You won’t find anything that tastes exactly like meat or has the same texture, but you can find options that come incredibly close.
If you enjoy cooking from scratch, try using jackfruit, lentils, mushrooms (especially portobello), and tofu as meat substitutes.
Keep in mind that vegan replacements for meat can be high in sodium and fat. Instead, make homecooked meals.
If you need good examples of how some of these ingredients can be used, take a look at this recipe for beefless stew, or this one for lentil shepherd’s pie. Other great alternatives include faux meats like No Evil’s incredible oil-free sausages. They’ve been known to fool avid meat-eaters as they taste so good.
Reinterpret Favorite Foods
There’s no denying the strong link between food, memory, and identity. We mark major milestones with meals, include food in religious practices, and celebrate, express, and reinforce cultures and cultural identities through the dishes we serve. There may be times when you feel as though you’ve abandoned your culture after adopting a plant-based diet. This can be a stumbling block.
The good news is that you don’t need to turn your back on the food of tradition, memory, or culture. Instead, you can re-interpret it to reflect your new dietary options.
If you search for vegetarian, vegan, or plant-based versions of foods that are meaningful to you, you’ll find fantastic recipes based on traditional dishes. Think of it as breathing new life into old favorites rather than forgoing a feast.
Use Time-Saving Tricks
Many plant-based diets encourage you to cook your own food rather than purchasing too many processed or instant products. You don’t need me to tell you that cooking from scratch involves a lot of preparation.
The trick to overcoming that challenge is to learn a few time-saving tips.
One of them is to invest in kitchen equipment that can speed up the cooking process. A good quality food processor and a slow cooker/crockpot are indispensable. You can see more of my suggestions in this article, 12 Must-Have Kitchen Tools for Plant-Based Cooking, as well.
Another is to prep ahead. If you have a weekly meal plan, you know in advance what you’ll be cooking every day of the week. This means you can peel, chop, slice, and mince the vegetables and fruit you need ahead of time, then store them in containers in your fridge or freezer until needed.
Get Creative In The Kitchen
If you only know how to prepare a few plant-based meals, you might get bored with them quickly. If that’s the case, the lack of variety can be enough to make you question your decision to change your diet.
Don’t let a limited menu discourage you.
Instead, let it challenge you to get creative in the kitchen. You may need to expand your culinary horizons, but look far enough, and you can find a glut of plant-based recipes. Familiarizing yourself with vegan alternatives or drawing inspiration from meat-free Asian, Indian, and Central American dishes are both excellent ideas too.
Move Forward with Ease
Any life-changing transition is tricky, and changing your eating habits tests your resilience. While embracing a plant-based diet may pose challenges, these tips will help you move forward easily. A whole world of delicious new recipes and taste sensations will open up to you, and you must make the most of exploring it.