Eating more plant-based is easier than you think. Whether you simply are looking to incorporate more healthy food into your diet or are transitioning into vegan or vegetarian, there are plenty of simple habits you can build to make it happen. Any sort of dietary change is most successful if you learn how to experiment and enjoy the process as you go. You can learn to cook new foods and explore tastes you’ve never experienced before. Eating more plant-based is also extremely beneficial to your short and long-term health. Explore these ideas if you’ve been considering eating healthier and need a great place to start.
Do Your Own Grocery Shopping
Grocery shopping on your own is a fun way to save money and explore new ingredients you may have never seen before. Along with stocking your kitchen with nutritious foods each week, shopping for local fruits and vegetables is beneficial in countless ways. You’ll enjoy your meals more if they are fresh and you know your money went to supporting local businesses as well. You can also shop for pre-packaged plant-based meals if you are new to cooking, especially if not knowing how to cook vegan food is intimidating to you. Healthy grocery shopping is the most effective way to control the plant-based options you have available at home.
Be on the lookout for:
- Bulk items like whole grains, seeds, and pastas
- Fresh dark leafy greens such as lettuce, spinach, and kale
- Cheap fresh fruits like apples, oranges, and bananas
Learn to Meal Prep
Meal prepping was made popular by luxury rehab Orange County. Preparing plant-based meals ahead of time is an easy way to practice cooking and save extra time and money on meals. Meal prep is also a powerful way to avoid temptations if you’ve struggled in the past with avoiding unhealthy options. Knowing your healthy plant-based food is ready to eat makes you more likely to choose it. Meal prep also adds convenience to eating plant-based foods at work and while you are on the go.
Easy meal prep ideas to try after grocery shopping include:
- Washing all fruits and vegetables right away
- Peeling and chopping foods like celery, peppers, and carrots
- Making salads in advance
- Batch cooking pastas, rice, quinoa, and other grains
- Roasting batches of veggies like squash, potatoes, and tomatoes.
- Portioning your meals out days in advance
- Making broths, sauces, and gravies in large amounts for freezing
Try New Recipes at Home
Acclimating yourself to plant-based eating may simply require exploration of new meals and ways of cooking at home. Learning how to cook and following easy healthy recipes gives you the skills and control you need to eat as plant-based as you want. Making vegetables taste great and finding your own taste is an experience you can practice over time, with trial and error. If you are new to cooking, buy some exciting recipe books or check out blogs and get to work. There are plenty of alternative ways to make your non plant-based favorites or simply take a new approach to ingredients you already love.
Great staple recipes to try making plant-based are:
- Pasta and sauce-based dishes
- Easy salads with random vegetables you have in your fridge
- Smoothies and juices
- Veggie pizzas and loaded burgers
- Sandwiches and veggie wraps
- Roasted vegetables with your favorite seasonings
Explore Dairy Alternatives
Many traditional meals incorporate dairy products in some way. Unfortunately, too much dairy can provide your body with excess animal fat and processed chemicals depending on which products you use. Transitioning to more dairy-free options allows you to rely on whole plant foods and possibly enjoy health benefits as well. Because it can be a long process to completely go dairy-free, consider taking small steps and making swaps as you go. If you are confused and concerned about learning how to add dairy alternatives to your diet, learn about your options.
Easy non-dairy alternatives include:
- Almond milk in cereals and smoothies
- Soy milk ice creams and coffee creamers
- Organic tofu scrambles in place of eggs
- Ground flax seeds mixed with water for baking in place of eggs
- Cashew cream based cheeses
Explore Meat Alternatives
If you are worried about health effects of eating animal products over time, there are plenty of plant-based meat alternatives available to you. The traditional veggie burger is no longer made of random vegetables smashed together; you can now take advantage of realistic products made from wheat gluten or pea protein that eerily resemble meat itself. Be careful not to eat too many processed meat alternatives as this can be damaging to your health, but these are great for managing cravings as you begin eating plant-based. You can also cook or manipulate whole vegetables to take the place of meat in traditional dishes.
Easy plant-based meat alternatives include:
- Burgers made from wheat gluten, soy protein, or pea protein
- Portobello mushrooms in pasta, burger, or stir-fry dishes
- Pulled jackfruit instead of pork
- Organic tofu in stir fries and noodle dishes
Use Whole Foods as Medicine
Using plant-based eating as a supplement to your physical or mental health recovery process is an effective way to transition your eating habits naturally. Whole foods are high in the vitamins and minerals needed to promote your best health. It is essential to include healthy eating as part of a holistic approach to serious illnesses or addictions. Your body and brain respond best to optimal nutrition, which is easiest to accomplish by eating more plant-based and less animal products or overly processed foods. Thinking about plant-based food as part of your wellness routine is an easy way to maximize your efforts and take good care of yourself.
Use plant food to:
- Introduce herbal supplements into your diet
- Receive most of your essential vitamins and minerals
- “Cleanse” after illness with juice and salads
- Supplement mental or physical health treatments
Making Choices at Restaurants
Making plant-based choices at restaurants may be new to beginners as many places not to offer vegan options upfront. While you may need to research menus and ask for alternatives as you go, more and more restaurants are choosing to offer plant-based dishes thanks to market demands. Ordering plant-based foods can be as simple as making a healthy swap for a menu item or checking with the server before you order, as they can help you with recommendations.
Try these easy alternatives at restaurants:
- Ask for oil and vinegar as your salad dressing
- Ask for mushrooms in your tacos or stir fries
- Ask for veggies on your pizza orders and no cheese if possible
- Ask for tomato-based sauces rather than creams
- Ask for hummus or avocado-based dips and spreads
- Ask for veggie burgers or portobello mushroom burgers if possible
Plant-based eating is completely possible no matter your current lifestyle or dietary choices. You can experience the incredible benefits of eating more whole plant foods whether you choose to go fully vegan or simply experiment with eating more veggies. Remember that you can enjoy the process and take your time learning about alternatives at your own pace. The habits you choose to build can make plant-based eating easier if you work to make it a natural part of your lifestyle. Do your best to create these easy healthy habits as you explore the world of plant-based eating.