5 tips to eat a more plant-based diet
A plant-based diet has less impact on the environment, is good for your health and has great benefits on your athletic performance. However, a lot of people assume that it is not easy to eat a more plant-based diet.
In this article we give 5 tips to help you with this transition and guide you towards a more plant-based way of eating.
Why is it difficult to eat a more plant-based diet?
Many people find it difficult to eat a more plant-based. Some of the most common reasons for not giving up animal products are:
1. Plant-based eating is too difficult
Eating animal products is such a common thing in our society that it seems very difficult to give this all up.
Most of us are raised with eating meat, fish, egg and dairy and have become accustomed to eating these products.
Fortunately, nowadays, more and more plant-based products and healthy meat-alternatives are available, making transitioning to a plant-based diet food much more convenient and easier to do.
2. Not wanting to eat more plant-based
Many people find that meat and dairy products are an indispensable part of their diet.
This is largely based on habits and taste, but for some people the thought of eating good food without the use of animal products seems impossible.
However, you will find that when you start eating a more plant-based diet that it is not that difficult at all.
3. A plant-based diet is not healthy
People are under the assumption that a completely plant-based diet doesn't provide all the essential nutrients and increases your risk of deficiencies.
However, if you eat a plant-based diet that focusses on a variety of whole, natural and nutrient dense foods, you will get everything you need for optimal health.
4. Plant-based eating reduces your performance
There are still people who think that you will lack certain nutrients (where do you get your protein?) if you follow a more plant-based way of eating.
You don't have to worry about this. There are many top athletes that have made the switch and are recovering just as well (or even better) and performing at their best on a plant-based diet.
How can you eat a more plant-based diet?
Transitioning to a plant-based diet is not that difficult and a lot less complicated than you might think.
Here are 5 tips to help you to start eating a more plant-based diet:
1. Do it slowly
When you have been used to eating animal products your entire life then eliminating all of them from your diet at once can be quite challenging. Your body also needs some time to get used to eating other (plant-based) foods.
The best way to transition to a plant-based diet is do it slowly. Give yourself time to learn to eat differently and to reduce the amount of animal products in your diet.
Do not force yourself to give it all up at once. For example, start by eating vegetarian at first or a Meatless Monday and slowly expand to this to more days per week.
Or, stop eating red meat at first and give up eating chicken and other meat products after a few weeks or months. Once you are on track, you can eventualy stop eating fish, egg and dairy products in this way.
You can also choose to eat 100% plant-based at home and and be less strict when you eat out. This allows you to gradually get used to your new habit and makes it easier to keep going.
2. Stick to the basics
Your body can actually thrive without animal products, if you make sure that you eat enough calories and nutritious plant-based foods.
A whole-foods plant-based diet that consists of lots of (green) vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grains, gives you all the essential nutrients that your body needs. Stick to these basic foods and avoid as many processed foods as possible.
Just make sure that get enough vitamin B12 in your diet, either from a supplement or from enriched products if you no longer wish to eat any more animal products.
3. Replace your meat
Eliminating meat or fish from your diet is not that difficult. It may require some planning in the beginning, but nowadays there is a plant-based alternative for everything.
If you are used to eating (processed) meat products on bread or sandwiches, you can easily replace this with a healthy plant-based option.
Good examples are: all kinds of fruits, homemade hummus, bean spread, nut butters, avocado, grilled vegetables or some fried mushrooms topped with some yeast flakes.
There are many ways to replace meat at dinner. Tofu, tempeh, beans, chickpeas, lentils, mushrooms and nuts are excellent egg and meat substitutes.
- Tofu scramble with stir-fried vegetables (spinach, tomato, peppers, mushrooms), soy sauce and Indian spices.
- Black bean burrito with lettuce, corn, tomato salsa and avocado.
- Curry with lentils, sweet potato and pumpkin.
- Chickpea or bean burger with a green salad and a baked potato.
- Stir-fried veggies with grilled tempé and a homemade peanut sauce.
- Vegetable chili with beans, tofu mince and vegetables, served with rice.
There are also more and more meat alternatives (like meatless beef or chicken, veggie burgers, deli-meats, etc.) available in the supermarket today, making plant-based eating easier than ever.
4. Replace dairy
Dairy products are a good source of protein and calcium, but can be easily replaced when you want to switch to a plant-based diet.
There is a variety of plant-based milks available (soy milk, almond milk, oatmilk, rice milk) and there is even a plant-based alternative to cheese.
Replace your whey protein shake for a natural plant-based protein shake, replace your yogurt or cottage cheese with a soy variety, use almond milk in your oatmeal or make a smoothie with your favorite fruit and vegan protein powder to get your daily protein.
When you start eating a more plant-based diet, vegetables, legumes (beans, lentils, etc.) and whole grains (buckwheat, quinoa, pasta, rice) are the main staples in your diet. This is very different from a typical "Western meal" with meat as the main ingredient.
Therefore try out new things. Japanese, Indonesian, Thai and Indian cuisines in particular have many plant-based dishes.
Experiment with different kinds of vegetables, use more fresh and dried herbs and use google to look for tasty plant-based recipes.
Over time, you will find that you become more and more creative in preparing your plant-based meals.
The majority of a healthy diet already consists of whole plant-based foods. Yet many people believe that it is difficult to eat a plant-based diet.
This is because we often eat what we are used to and it requires some time and effort to learn new things and change our eating habits.
Plant-based eating is actually a lot easier than you might think and with these tips you can take more steps towards a more sustainable lifestyle with a more plant-based diet.
Good for your health, good for the animals and good for our planet!