Recently, we gave you ten reasons why now is the perfect time to try a plant based diet. So it only seems fair that we give you some advice on how to go about it. I’ve pulled together my top ten tips to ease the transition. But remember, these are stressful times – so don’t beat yourself up if there’s a lapse or two along the way.
By Simon Bell, Co-Founder of Immaculate Vegan
1. Start small
Challenges like Veganuary where you give up all animal products overnight work for some people, but sometimes the best way is to start small and make gradual changes. Maybe it’s meat free Monday, maybe it’s making vegan lunches from scratch now you have more time at home. Know that whatever changes you make will have a positive impact.
2. Embrace experimentation
You might be worried that going plant-based will leave you floundering for recipe ideas after a lifetime spent building up a repertoire of go-to dinners. But embrace the challenge and seek out ingredients and flavours that are new and exciting. It’s also the perfect time to indulge in takeaways so order away and get inspired by the vegan restaurants in your area.
3. Have a clear out
One of the best ways to start your plant based journey is with a good old fashioned clear out, especially now we’re all at home for the foreseeable future. It means you can get going with a clean slate and remove any temptation lurking in your cupboards. Then, simply put everything you no longer need in a box to be donated to your local food bank – for the UK, visit the Trussell Trust website to find one near you.
4. Keep reminding yourself why you made the leap
Whatever your motivation for going plant-based is, that’s what you need to focus on. If it helps, write out a list of your reasons and pin them to your fridge. Re-read the books that shaped your view, re-watch the documentaries that inspired your decision, talk to friends who’ve already gone plant-based. Reminding yourself of your reasons will keep you on track.
5. Ask for help online
Now more than ever, there’s a wealth of information online to help you. And when you’re starting out, Google and vegan apps are invaluable. In seconds, you can find out how to bake cakes without eggs, where to buy vegan chocolate locally, how to choose a plant-based milk – and so much more. It’s also a fantastic way of connecting with other vegans for advice if you don’t have other vegans in your social circle already.
6. Work on perfecting three or four simple recipes
We said earlier that this is a great time for experimentation, which is true, but we also know sometimes you want to be able to whip up a tasty meal without thinking twice. So do your research and find three or four recipes that are based around cheap, readily available ingredients. Whether it’s a couple of hearty pasta dishes or a cheat’s curry – these are the dishes that you can batch cook and turn to after a long day!
7. Lower your expectations
This might sound a touch negative, but it’s all about adopting a way of life you can sustain. There are lots of success stories about people hitting their goal weight after years of trying, health issues clearing up, energy levels peaking and so on. But try not to expect transformative changes overnight. There are many, many health benefits to a plant-based diet, but it will take you time and patience to reap them. Aim for steady progress and you won’t be disappointed.
8. Stick to fresh food as much as possible
Going vegan isn’t a guarantee of a healthy diet. Technically, you could live off Oreos, Diet Coke and Gregg’s famous vegan sausage rolls – but your body probably wouldn’t thank you for it. Be wary of turning to processed cheese and meat substitutes that are convenient but low in nutrients and high in saturated fat.
9. Set yourself challenges
For those with a competitive nature, it can be really helpful to set challenges. It could be something as small as making a vegan meal from the contents of your cupboard, it could be cooking a vegan roast dinner, or it could be making your first ever vegan cake. If you can make it fun, the more likely you are to enjoy your new diet and overcome any hurdles it poses.
10. Celebrate milestones
Going plant-based can be a big change, and it’s one that deserves to be celebrated! So think of ways to mark every milestone you hit. Maybe you treat yourself to a takeaway from your favourite vegan restaurant, buy yourself some new cookbooks, or invest in a vegan-friendly new outfit. There’s also a lot of vegan champagne on the market these days ; ) So cheers! And good luck.
Cover image by @oatmeal_stories
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