Going Plant-Based: Transitioning To A More Plant-iful Lifestyle

Have you ever thought about going vegan? Or just thought about how eating more vegetables could benefit you? I have. I think about it all the time. I’m not sure going 100% vegan would be right for me, but I know that this year I’m focusing on eating whole foods and plant-based.

With the 2011 documentary Forks Over Knives, we saw a trend in people giving up beef, chicken, and ice cream, and picking up plants. The food and health industries have embraced this plant-based lifestyle change in the last eight years, and more and more companies are introducing plant-based products.

Fast Company predicts that 2019 will be “meatier than ever” but without the animal protein. We already have faux-eggs from Just Egg that mimic the scramble but leave behind the risk of salmonella from uncooked yolk.

We have the food lab, Beyond Meat, working tirelessly to bring meaty textures to burgers made of beets and pea protein among other ingredients, and give you the joy of having a big mac with extra mac without the cholesterol or fats found in a beef burger. And if you’re a big meat lover, Beyond Meat has you covered in a variety of ways: Beyond Chicken, Beyond Sausage, Beyond Beef…whatever you’re craving, they seem to create it! I’ve even heard of talk about plant-based fish products. There is no limit to what we can do with plants if we put our minds (and our best food scientists) to it.

What is a plant-based lifestyle?

So, here we are introducing the plant-based lifestyle. What does that term even mean? It seems that while Veganism still exists for eco and animal-rights warriors who want to identify with their mission as well as their meals, those who are focusing on their health without wanting to take on all that comes with the vegan lifestyle have adopted the term “plant-based.”

Living and eating “plant-based” seems to allow a little more flexibility, basing your meals on plants and adding on as you go.

According to Health Line, the Whole-Food, Plant-Based (WFPB) diet is more of a lifestyle than a diet, and it focuses and encourages eating whole foods, centered around plants, and minimizing refined foods such as processed sugars, enriched white flours, or processed oils.

Plant-based means focusing on plants but not limiting yourself, if you want to have the cheese or add the cream to your coffee. Finding what works for you to feel your best is key. Some people eat no meat but will consume eggs or fish, while others cut out all things animal.

For me, I feel best with a little bit of animal protein—a little chicken, turkey, or eggs here and there, while predominantly consuming fruits, veggies, and legumes. The important thing to remember is that food is fuel and what works for one person might not work for the other.

Adopting a Plant-Based Lifestyle

So what does this mean for you? How can you join in? People are getting more creative. People are letting their passion for food and flavor connect with their desire to feel good and focus on their health.  

Are you interested in trying this plant-based lifestyle? Even if you’re not ready or not looking to fully commit to all-plants-only, there are so many ways to incorporate more veggies into your life.

Here are some tips for how to get started:

1. Go with how you feel.

Every body is different, so every body will react differently to different foods. For example, I feel great when I eat protein from tofu or pinto beans, but high-fiber low-calorie cauliflower makes me feel sick because my body can’t digest any of the cruciferous family of vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli, kale, cabbage, etc). That’s ok! I may not be able to enjoy cauliflower “rice” but I can enjoy other veggies with great gusto.

2. Feed your body.

Do you find yourself still hungry after breakfast, or when you’re trying to fall asleep? Then you may not be getting enough protein. I realized if I eat a meal that is carb-heavy, I feel satisfied for a few hours and then I’m ravenous before I fall asleep. I started snacking on nuts (I love raw almonds!) and adding hemp seeds and chia seeds to my morning oatmeal for extra protein, and I’ve curbed the hunger-monster.

3. Invite newness into your life.

This is the perfect time to try new things: vegetables you’ve never heard of, spices that are hard to pronounce, or even a recipe that involves more than a few pots and pans. I still haven’t perfected my pronunciation of turmeric but I can make plant-based creamy turmeric risotto with my eyes closed.

4. Travel the globe.

You don’t have to leave the state or the country to do this…try testing out different restaurants from different cultures and cuisines. While the Japanese are known for their beef, they’re also known for rice dishes filled with gently sauteed vegetables and rich flavors.

5. DIY.

Did you know you can “Do It Yourself” when it comes to most meals? Moving to plant-based doesn’t have to mean spending more of your money.  For example, I learned I was intolerant to dairy milk I thought I’d have to shell out money forever on almond milk and oat milk that was filled with shelf-stabilizing ingredients, until I realized I could make oat milk myself. It’s quick, easy, and pretty empowering!

Need an extra helping hand to get started?

Try a plant-based food delivery program, such as Purple Carrot or many of the other meal-kit services out there which customize to specific diets, like Green Chef or Terras Kitchen. Their recipes are all plant-based, and pre-portioned, cut, and prepped so you just need to follow the instructions provided. And bonus, once you  

For more resources on plant based lifestyles, peruse online resources such as Forks Over Knives, Plant Based Dietitian or UC Davis Integrative Medicine. Just remember, not all internet blogs and websites are created equally. While the intention is there, the research and facts may not be. For the most informative resources, look for websites written by dietitians, nutritionists, or work cited with real studies and research.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or a health professional, I’m just passionate about feeling good and eating good food. Before you change your diet drastically, it’s always best to talk with your doctor or a health professional to make sure you’re doing what’s best for your body and needs.