Author: Alexandra Andersson
When you decide to switch to a plant-based diet, you will inadvertently change your lifestyle as well. Both of which are not easy to do and are generally not achieved overnight. To support your plant-based transition, the lovely Alexandra Andersson from Fivesec Health has shared her 5 top tips on switching to a plant-based diet gradually, simply, and seamlessly.
Education is key. Don’t worry, I’m not talking about getting back to school. I’m talking about increasing your knowledge and awareness so that you are clear about why you want to start eating a plant-based diet. By watching documentaries such as “What the Health”, “Cowspiracy” or “Dominion” you will gain a better understanding of the positive effects that plant-based eating will have on your health, the animals, and on the planet. You can also access an abundance of credible information on nutritionfacts.org, a non-profit website that publishes free educational content.
Take Small Steps
Lifestyle changes are not easily done overnight. For anyone who is planning to go plant-based, I recommend doing so in your own time. There is no rush and every step is a step in the right direction. As a plant-based diet is very rich in fiber, one place to start is by slowly introducing more plant-based fiber into your diet. This will minimise the risk of bloating and gassiness, which naturally occurs when your gut is not used to this amount of fiber. But don’t worry, your gut will eventually adapt.
Other small steps can include swapping out some of your regular meals to plant-based meals. For example, you could start with a fully plant-based breakfast every morning for a week or two, then maybe you could have a fully plant-based day every week for a period of time and then gradually increase to two days, three days etc. until you’re feeling ready to go fully plant-based.
Easy Food Swaps
It’s not that hard to eat plant-based anymore. Supermarkets have tons of meat and dairy free options. So, why not start simple and swap out your favorite foods for substitutes? An easy swap to start with is to replace cow’s milk with an array of plant-based alternatives, such as almond, cashew, oat or soy milk, which are easily available in supermarkets and cafes. You can even find nut-based cheese alternatives!
Let’s say that you love burgers and fries. Find a plant-based meat substitute for burgers in your supermarket, keep your fries, add barbecue sauce which is often vegan, and there you will have a classic meal turned plant-based! Over time, you will have a better idea of how to make plant-based meals entirely. For example, instead of buying a meat substitute in the supermarket, you could learn to make your own healthy bean patty at home which is both a healthier and cheaper option.
Education may be key, but so is inspiration! When transitioning to a plant-based diet it can be overwhelming. Instead of putting pressure on yourself to create new recipes, start by cooking existing plant-based meals from recipes freely available. You can find plant-based inspiration basically everywhere but my favourites are Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube. On my Instagram @fivesechealth, I share endless amounts of plant-based inspiration! My main focus is on healthy, easy and beginner friendly plant-based recipes.
To make things even easier you could join a plant-based challenge with recipes or you could follow a meal plan. The Fivesec Health app is available on the App Store, which has complete meal plans to follow depending on your personal goals. This can help you to stay inspired with some structure, designed to support you, especially in the early stages of your journey.
Keep Things Fun & Yum
While a plant-based diet is packed with veggies and greens, it does not mean that all meals are salads – unless you want them to be. There are plenty of different delicious recipes that combine legumes, vegetables, greens, fruits, nuts & seeds! For example, if you have a hard time eating your greens, you can hide them in a cashew-based creamy pasta sauce and serve with whole wheat pasta, as demonstrated in the image below.
You can veganize almost every meal out there, so start with your favourite dishes. If you’re into pasta, find plant-based pasta recipes. If you’re into burgers, search for awesome plant-based burger recipes. Many people who are transitioning to a plant-based diet also find a new passion in the kitchen, because there are so many new flavours and new ways of cooking to explore and experiment with.
Most importantly, have fun and create delicious food. To learn more about Alexandra visit @fivesechealth and check out her epic and easy to follow app.