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The Beginner's Guide to a Plant-Based Diet

 Plant-Based Diet
Plant-Based Diet

Looking to get healthier this week? One of the most tried and true dietary lifestyle changes is still amongst the most popular: It’s all about going plant-based!

Not only is reducing your meat intake in favor of more plant-centric foods awesome for your health, it’s also fantastic for the environment. Of course, like any dietary change, there are plenty of misconceptions and myths surrounding what it means to incorporate plants into your everyday life and the supposed “problems” with giving up meat.

We’re here to give it to you straight.

What Does It Mean to Be “Plant-Based”?

There’s a lot of debate in the community about what makes a diet “plant-based.” Some say it’s a commitment not to consume any animal products whatsoever, while others say it’s simply an emphasis on eating whole plant foods and ridding the body of processed foods and artificial sweeteners. What experts agree on is that even making small plant-based changes to your diet is beneficial to your health.

A plant-based diet is based on fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds, vegetables and legumes. The more veggies and clean snacks (hello, gr8nola!) on your plate, the less room for processed foods and animal products.

For many people, going from eating meat at least one to two times per day to consuming a diet primarily consisting of fruits and vegetables may be difficult, but luckily there are plenty of ways to ease into a plant-based lifestyle.

Why Should I Consider Going Plant-Based?

The rate of chronic disease, like diabetes and heart disease, is much lower in countries where most people eat a plant-based diet.

Additionally, some of the biggest benefits include improved gut health, clearer skin, increased hydration, weight loss and weight maintenance, boosted energy, better digestion, lower cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar and improved mood.

How Can I Become More Plant-Based?

Changing your diet to be more plant-based can feel overwhelming, but there are a few easy steps that can make the leap easier, like swapping foods in your grocery cart and trying new staple recipes.

Add to Your Shopping List
  • Fruits: Stock up on favorites like apples, pears, oranges, berries and bananas.
  • Leafy greens: Say hello to romaine, arugula, kale and spinach.
  • Colorful vegetables: Load your plate with broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, artichoke hearts, eggplant, peppers, spaghetti squash, mushrooms and zucchini.
  • Whole grains: Check out quinoa, barley, oats and brown rice.
  • Nuts and seeds: Munch on cashews, almonds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, pistachios and hemp seeds.
  • Legumes: Make room for beans and peas.
  • Tubers: Add sweet potatoes, cassava and yams to the mix!  
  • Clean snacks: Stack your cart with snacks that are minimally processed, like dried fruit (without any added sugar or sulfites!) or gr8nola, which is free of dairy, soy and refined sugar.

Try New Recipes

Eating a plant-based diet doesn’t have to be boring! A couple of beginner suggestions:

Keep in mind that one of the keys to a healthy plant-based diet is focusing on whole foods. Stick to those instead of fruit juices or processed breads and cereals.

Start With Small Changes

You’ll be amazed at how many plant-based versions of your favorite recipes are out there! Going plant-based gives you a chance to get creative about your meals and develop your staples, whether it’s your favorite gr8nola over a smoothie or dairy-free yogurt, or a veggie you always want on your plate.

A few easy starting places:

  • Meatless Mondays are a chance to devote one day per week to a plant-centric diet. And hey, maybe after a few weeks you can add Tofu Tuesdays?
  • Eating vegan before 6pm helps you commit the bulk of your meals during the day to unprocessed plants.
  • Changing your entire meals might be difficult, so start by swapping that bag of jerky or M&Ms for clean snacks like your favorite flavor of gr8nola, sliced fruit with nut butter, veggies and hummus, or a handful of nuts.
  • Try a new food every week! If you aren’t ready to take foods out of your diet, commit to adding a new veggie to your line-up on a regular basis. Those brussel sprouts are a little less scary when they aren’t the only thing on your plate.
  • Don’t forget about frozen fruits and vegetables. They’re gr8 to have on hand in a pinch. (Love us a smoothie bowl!)

So, what are you waiting for? Consider joining the plant-based revolution today.

Looking for more reasons to try veganism? Check out our blog on the benefits of a plant-based diet for you (and the environment).