There are many good reasons to increase the amount of plant foods in your diet. Maybe you want to lose weight, or ward off certain diseases, or dramatically boost your nutrient intake; or maybe you want to move away from eating animal foods for ethical reasons. Either way, by easing into it slowly, you have a better chance of it creating change that sticks!
Here are 5 easy ways to make the transition to a plant-based diet:
- Pick a day to start and add more plants to your plate. Your first step is to commit to the transition. If your plate previously was filled with about 30% plant-based foods, aim to double that. Each week, increase the percentage by 10% until you are filling your plate entirely with wholesome plant foods. Include nuts and seeds as a beneficial source of healthy fat and protein.
- Cut out animal foods you didn’t really eat (or enjoy) anyhow. After all, if you never ate pork, it’s easy to eliminate that from your diet without feeling much impact!
- Invest in some good, easy, and practical vegan cookbooks. Or, scour the web for recipes that sound delicious and jive with your lifestyle. There’s no shortage of material on the subject, so camp out in the cookbook aisle of your favorite bookstore until you find 2-3 books that make you drool. When you are in the transition phase, you may want to check out Mark Bittman’s bestselling book, VB6, which stands for “Vegan Before 6 pm,” in which he features vegan and veggie-forward flexitarian meals to get you started on your path (see “Related Links” for a link to Bittman recipes).
- Stock your kitchen with whole, healthy plant foods. Don’t fall into the trap many vegetarians and vegan do by adding lots of processed foods to your diet—just because they don’t contain animal products doesn’t mean they are healthy (especially if the ingredient list is full of words you don’t recognize or can’t pronounce!). Shopping at the farmer’s market and focusing on the bulk section of your organic grocery store should give you everything you need to successfully go vegan! And you’ll find it’s a LOT less expensive than buying pre-packaged entrees and snacks.
- Find support by connecting with others. Seek out blogs and online groups dedicated to healthy vegan lifestyle. Or, find a coach who can support you on your journey. You don’t have to go it alone! Join our community at InteractiveHealthSystem.com to get more support and valuable tracking tools.
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Mark Bittman Flexitarian Recipes