Okay, so you’ve decided that learning to eat a plant based diet is in the cards for you. Between what you hear your doctor telling you at every appointment and what you’ve heard rumoured about eating a plant based diet, you’re ready to try just about anything. Or maybe the cost and assortment of your prescriptions is starting to freak you out. Or maybe you’re feeling okay, but you wonder if you couldn’t feel better. Whatever the case, you’ve decided to try this different way of eating.
Old habits are hard to break and we’re all busy with the rest of our lives. And the idea of relearning something as basic as putting a meal on the table three times a day probably feels totally overwhelming in the beginning doesn’t it?
If ice cream is your thing, have no fear!
Here’s the thing though, it isn’t really all that different from what you’re doing now. If you like Mexican food or if you like pasta or if you already include veggies at every meal, you’re part way there already! Of course, there are a few things that are going to be a little different initially. You’ll discover that reading labels becomes a necessity in the beginning. Animal products are in so many of the things on supermarket shelves that there’s sure to be something in there that has moved into the ‘Unacceptable’ column. But the good news is that once you figure out which those are, you just quit buying them. And since they’ve actually figured out how to make a non-dairy ice cream that tastes better than the real thing, you can safely assume that there are substitutes for almost all your other old favourites.
Everything in life has learning curves, and you’ve gotten through them all, right?
Learning to eat a plant based diet isn’t all that difficult. It does have a learning curve but like everything else ‘new’ that you do, it gets easier as time goes by. And pretty soon, you aren’t even thinking about it. It becomes natural and just your way of life. And that’s what this blog is all about, making a new way of life as easy as possible for you by giving you the relevant information that you need. So let’s get to it shall we?
While we know all the amazing health benefits of learning to eat a plant based diet , how exactly do you achieve them? So to jump start the discussion, I asked myself, “If I was just starting out eating only plant based, what would I need to know for optimum health”.
The key points are these:
#1 -DON’T STRESS ABOUT LEARNING TO EAT A PLANT BASED DIET!
Take it a day at a time. You have the rest of your life (and it’s going to be a good one yes?) to get this right. And just like nutrition knowledge is growing and changing as research continues, so will your understanding of the ‘new body’ that you’re creating, continue to grow.
#2 -REMOVING TEMPTATIONS MAKES IT EASIER…
Take stock of the contents of your fridge and freezer. Get rid of the obvious and you’re removing the temptation. No sense in making it easier to slip back into the old habits that you’re trying to leave behind. And maybe you’re in the mood to make a personal statement of commitment to yourself and about yourself. In which case, dump it. It’s the equivalent of deciding to quit smoking and then ceremoniously, standing in front of the toilet as you crush each cigarette and then flush. The symbolism of that act is like an asterisk in your mind and can be the first step in retraining your brain to accept nothing but the best for your body.
#3 -LIKE EVERYTHING, THERE’S A LEARNING CURVE TO LEARNING TO EAT A PLANT BASED DIET, BUT YOU CAN DO IT BECAUSE YOU HAVE A GOAL TO REACH! OPTIMUM HEALTH RIGHT? THAT’S THE GOAL.
Spend a little time actually learning about this different way to be healthier. In a sense, up until now, we’ve only ‘learned’ our health habits from our parents who fed us. Just by virtue of the status of nutrition research that was around at the time, their knowledge was often rather limited. Fortunately, research continues and a really great source of relevant info are the amazing nutrition videos by Dr. Michael Greger. His ‘thing’ if you will, is to take any health question that might be of interest to people who are wondering about nutrition and to look at the studies that have researched it. Then in his videos, he explains in layman’s terms, just what those studies mean to you and me. I go to him constantly for information and ideas on all things concerning learning to eat a plant based diet. His would be a good site to bookmark and use as you’re learning how to do your vegan transition.
#4 -LEARNING TO EAT A PLANT BASED DIET MUST INCLUDE A B12 SUPPLEMENT
Start taking a B12 tablet. Based on the advice of Registered Dietician, Jack Norris, who also happens to be a vegan, I take 1000 mcg three times per week. B12 is a vitamin that is absolutely a must in every species diet. While the animals usually get theirs from drinking out of natural water sources or eating off the ground, many of them are now supplemented in their feed. So even as they need to be supplemented to thrive, so too do you.
I’m not sure if it’s a comfort to you, but it’s not just vegans who too often are deficient in B12. Health issues, various meds and simply aging, can all contribute to difficulty obtaining B12 direct from your diet. I read a study that included the following table that showed an interesting breakdown of who’s deficient to varying degrees, in B12.
- pregnant women 62%
- children 25-86%
- Adolescents 21-41%
- Seniors 11-90%
- Vegetarians/vegans 68-83%
So don’t be one of the statistics in any studies. Remember to take your B12 and protect your mind and your health overall. Just part of learning to eat a plant based diet and so important!
#5 -STAPLES AND SPICE AND EVERYTHING NICE….Including recipes!
Shop for the Staples on the lists that you can download here. LINK After ten years of doing this and being the kind of shopper and cook that I am, I’ve figured out what the basic ‘must-haves’ are, for a well stocked pantry. Using these plus fresh vegetables, you can produce the kind of meals that’ll keep you happy and satisfied.
As well, over time, I’ve narrowed down the list of spices that I tend to use in my cooking. That Spice List is also included in this download. Because so many of the spices that we use for flavour, also have their own wonderful list of health supportive benefits, I’ve made a note of these for you, alongside each. I think the more you begin to understand how amazing some of the healing properties of these spices are, the more inspired you’ll be to continue experimenting with them. Hey, experiments that are going to absolutely help you be healthier! How cool is that!
And lastly at that link, I’ve included 6 of my personal favourite recipes. I usually do three of these in a particular order and for a particular reason. I’ll make the Seasoned Mashed Potatoes with Creamy Rose Gravy, then the Quinoa with Stir Fried Mixed Vegetables and on the third day I make the Potato Quinoa Patties. You just have to remember on the first two days, to make a little extra mashed potatoes and then a little extra of the quinoa on the second. Those left overs form the basis of the patties. Besides those four recipes, you’ll also get the Yummy Yam Puffs and Vegetable Korma. So be sure to click to get your Free Collection of Basic Pantry Staples, Amazing Spices List and 6 easy, delicious Recipes.
#6 -EASING INTO THE COOKING PART OF THIS DIETARY CHANGE IS EASY TODAY…
In the old days, aspiring artists would be assigned to study the works of the great masters in order to learn their craft well. In this instance, you could say you’re learning a new ‘cooking craft’ and so the best way going forward, would be to ‘study the works of the great masters’. I’ve collected an assortment of amazing recipes on my Pinterest boards. To jump-start your research, here’s a list of links that you can pop over to and check out a few of them. I’m positive you’ll see all kinds of amazing dishes that will inspire you and delight whomever you’re cooking for.
You can either pick a half dozen favourite new recipes, or figure out how to make adjustments to some of your current favourites. And of course, I’ll always be here to help you if you have a question.
#7 -LENTILS OR BEANS OR CHICK PEAS, OH MY….OKAY HOW ABOUT GREEN PEAS?
Just as a reminder, as you’re learning to eat a plant based diet and choosing what to cook, try to keep in mind that as well as veggies, you want to include some form of ‘protein’ source. So dishes that can have nuts, seeds, lentils, beans or chick peas added, are always first class choices. Even green peas are an important legume that helps towards you reaching your days protein needs.
#8 -DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE FAUX STUFF….
But don’t overdo it either! The alternative’s to chicken strips or fish sticks by Gardein or other companies are terrific. Or the various deli slices and non-dairy cheeses are wonderful in sandwiches. But keep in mind, they are more expensive than the beans and such that I mentioned previously. And while they are entirely made of plants, these kinds of foods usually have a lot of sodium. So for those reasons, don’t make them foundational in your new way of eating. Instead focus on the whole foods that you can prepare in your own kitchen.
#9 – EAT A LITTLE MORE AS YOU RELEARN YOUR REQUIREMENTS…
Be prepared to eat a little more food as you’re learning to eat a plant based diet. So often I hear of people being hungry all the time. It’s not enough to just leave the meat off your plate. Plants have a lot of water in them so they digest faster than meat. So in the beginning, add a little more stir fry or casserole or an extra Yummy Yam Puff to your plate. But don’t get crazy either and go back for seconds and thirds! You don’t want to sabotage yourself right? You’ll learn soon enough, just how much you need.
LEARNING NEW HABITS IS CERTAINLY A TEST!
Now you’re bound to have some frustrating days. That’s totally understandable because you’re unlearning old ways and at the same time learning a bunch of new ones to replace them. Keep in mind, that easy and familiar as your customary way of cooking is, when it comes to your health, it’s not serving you well. That may even be one of the reasons that you’ve decided to give this transition to learning to eat a plant based diet, a try. So plan for a month at this and then re-evaluate. And if you’re liking some of the changes that you’re seeing in your body and how you feel, then you can easily continue for another week and then another…..
WHEN WE’RE YOUNG, WE FAIL TO UNDERSTAND JUST HOW BLESSED WE ARE…
It seems as though one of the blessings of youth, is the powerful effects of a youthful life force that helps us power through even bad lifestyles that include really bad food choices. There seems to be a point though, when even that natural vigour begins to fail and little issues begin creeping in.
OH MAGIC PILL! WHERE ARE YOU?
That’s usually about when you start looking at the vitamin aisle of your supermarket, in hopes of finding a ‘magic pill’ that will help. Or maybe your doctor gives you your first prescription that should fix whatever is ailing you. And the first prescription leads to the next…
OR MAYBE, FORGET THE PILLS, YOU’LL TAKE THE PLANTS
Or……you switch to learning to eat a plants based diet. And eating like this, you begin to lose weight, the chronic inflammation that most live with begins to subside and your arteries begin to clear. Some of the health issues that you’ve been struggling with, begin to improve and maybe, hallelujah, maybe some even disappear. Who knows, you might be one of the many that I’ve read incredible success stories from!
DON’T YOU LOVE YOUR OWN FLASHES OF BRILLIANCE!
So if you’ve decided to give this a serious try, then how brilliant are you! I love it when I hear about folks who decide to be proactive about their own well being. That is so cool, and yes, I do love it! Because I know that you are going to benefit big time.
But if you’ve read through this and still aren’t quite sure, then here’s a suggestion. Give it a month. One solid month of learning to eat a plant based diet only and then an honest appraisal of how things are going with the way you feel. How’s that sound?
Anyway, enough of all this. To save you the time of going back to look for the download to the Staples & Spices & Everything Nice Guidelines , I’ve provided it again. This will get you my List of Basic Staples to have in the kitchen, the List of Spices and their various health benefits as well as six Easy Recipes to use those staples and wonderful spices in.
So share your thoughts my dears and let me know what you think. In the meantime, be safe, be kind and enjoy your day wherever you are!
As always, I will remind you that I’m not a medical doctor. I’ve spent the last 20 years focusing on and learning to ‘grow’ my own health however. And that’s what I’m sharing here. All of it based on my own experiences and also the things that I’ve learned from the real experts! Those are the researchers and doctors who’ve seen the actual patients, worked in the labs and write the medical reports that are sprinkled throughout these posts.
My goal is to motivate and help you find your best way to live a healthier and more peaceful life. But I suggest strongly that you talk over any changes in your routines, with your doctor. This would include changes to your exercise routines and any medications you might be taking or other supplements as well as dietary changes.