How to Start a Plant-Based Diet
Switching to a plant-based diet can be an exciting change for some, but depending on why you want to make this change, it could feel a little overwhelming. Many Americans have grown up eating a steady diet of animal protein, often consuming meat at every meal. So, it’s no wonder the thought of giving it up can make some of us feel a little lost and wondering where to even start. If you are thinking about how to switch to a plant-based diet, read on to learn more about how to make this transition a smooth and enjoyable one!
Change Your Mindset
As you approach this change in diet (and really, it’s more of a lifestyle change), it is crucial to keep an open mind about what the reality of this will mean for you. For example, rather than fixating on all the foods you’ll have to give up, think about all the new recipes and foods you’ll get to try and experience throughout this process. Switching to a plant-based diet isn’t, and shouldn’t, be about willpower, struggling, or deprivation, but it will take some time to adapt and discover all that is available to you on your new journey of plant based eating.
In fact, you may find that you don’t even have to give anything up at all when following this plant based meat meal plan! Thanks to a steady increase in plant based eaters, like you, choosing to switch to a meatless lifestyle, there are plenty of compatible alternatives to many popular foods, including pizza, cookies, muffins, chocolate, and even meat like Meatless Farm.
Know Your Reason Why
While switching to a plant-based diet shouldn’t be as much of a struggle as you might have thought, it won’t be without its challenges. So, you must be really clear about why you want to make this change. There are many reasons and benefits for going meatless, including decreased risk of certain diseases, managing blood sugar, lowering your cholesterol, weight loss, compassion for animals, and reducing your environmental impact. Identifying the reason you are making this change can help you navigate the tough times and overcome any challenge you face during the transition because you’ll remember why you are going through the process in the first place. We suggest writing down your reasoning for switching to a plant based diet and stick it somewhere you’ll see it every day, like your fridge or bathroom mirror, to help you stay focused on that reason.
The most common mistake people make when transitioning to a meatless diet is taking on an all-or-nothing mindset. In other words, they believe that they have to completely give up meat, cold turkey (pun intended), right away, or it’s not worth it, and that’s just not true. In fact, it will be a much easier and more enjoyable experience if you start small and gradually reduce your meat consumption over time.
For example, get started by trying the increasingly popular trend of Meatless Mondays. Commit to yourself that every Monday you won’t have any meat and stick to it. Try out new plant based lunch recipes and try to follow a vegetarian diet. Then as you become accustomed to this schedule, try adding one or two more meatless days into your week. Feel comfortable with three meatless days and are confident that you’ve found your footing with plant-based meals? Keep adding more meatless days gradually until your whole week is meatless! Not only will you enjoy this process more than trying to give meat up all at once, but it is a more sustainable way to transition to a plant based diet.
Focus on Progress Not Perfection
Similar to and building off our last point, it is so important to recognize that the experience of transitioning to a plant-based diet is a process that is unique to every individual that decides to give it a try. So often, people will find themselves having been meatless for several days straight, a week, or even a month, then have meat and think that all of their progress is ruined, so they call it quits. But that’s just not true! For some, going completely meatless indefinitely just isn’t a realistic or desirable option. That doesn’t mean their efforts in being plant-based part of the time is wasted as they can still receive many of the health benefits and reduce their environmental impact significantly as a result. So, find what works for you and your lifestyle, not what you think plant-based should look like. If going completely vegan seems daunting, follow a vegetarian diet majority of the time until you no longer crave real meat.
At this point, hopefully, how to start a plant-based diet is far less complicated than it may seem. All it requires is an open mind, a clear goal, small changes, and continued progress to make a difference for you personally and for the greater good!