If you’re a plant-based diet beginner, it’s likely that you feel some confusion about what a plant-based diet is. Because of this, adopting a plant-based diet can feel like a mishmash of truths and half-truths smashed between two slices of organic wheat bread.
In this post, we’ll look at what the most common type of plant-based diet is. We’ll also make some recommendations for starting a plant-based diet. Finally, we’ll examine some of the most common mistakes that the plant-based diet beginner makes and offer some recommendations to correct them.
For the Plant-Based Diet Beginner: What is a Plant-Based Diet?
In diet circles, there’s a spirited debate going on about plant-based diets. Some people say that a plant-based diet is a vegan or vegetarian diet. Others say that a plant-based diet is what Harvard University calls a “plant-forward” diet.
In this case, plant foods, like large dinner salads, steamed vegetables, and nut-based cheeses, take center stage in the diet, but other foods, like fish, are also allowed. For the plant-based diet beginner, such debate only adds to the confusion, making it difficult to figure out how to eat a plant-based diet.
However, for the purpose of this article, we will narrow down plant-based to say this: It’s a diet where a person derives all their nutrients from plant-based sources, preferably organic if possible. This can include fruits and vegetables, grains, nuts, and seeds. For some plant-based eaters, it can also include healthy fats, like coconut oil and avocados.
If you still feel confused, then do reach out to or visit the local organic restaurant. These pros have spent a lot of time refining what it means to eat a plant-based diet and can offer you some guidance on what that might mean for you.
Where to Start with a Plant-Based Diet as a Beginner?
When you’re ready to change your lifestyle, you can often feel tempted to jump in both feet first. However, for most people who adopt a plant-based diet, easy does it is the best way to go.
This is particularly true if you’re used to a highly-processed diet. Going plant-based can cause detox symptoms in some people as their bodies start cleaning themselves of accumulated toxins.
That’s why many plant-based diet coaches recommend starting with maybe one plant-based meal a day or with adding more fruits and vegetables without making any other changes in the diet, at least at the beginning.
Another thing to try is to adapt some of your favorite recipes, taking them from animal-based to plant-based. Maybe you’ll try a vegan mac and cheese dish or a bean burger instead of a beef burger. This shows you that you can still enjoy many of your favorite foods but with healthier ingredients.
Common Mistakes Plant-Based Beginners Make
Aside from starting too fast, there are some other common mistakes that you might make as a plant-based diet beginner. Knowing what they are can help you be more successful in your transition to your new diet.
Here are our tips for easing your way into your new eating lifestyle.
- Read the labels on the plant-based food you eat. One common mistake that new plant-based eaters make is eating food that’s way too processed. Technically, it’s made from plants. However, the ingredients may have just as many additives as their non-plant-based counterparts.
Going plant-based ideally makes you more healthy as you add more and more fresh fruits and vegetables to your diet. We do understand that some of these foods make eating no meat a lot easier. In this case, we recommend that you save the more processed foods for a once-in-a-while treat as you transition into your new diet.
- You’re unwilling to try new foods. Anyone who adopts a new way of eating is essentially adopting a new lifestyle. In your case, as a plant-based diet beginner, this means allowing yourself to try new foods that you wouldn’t normally try. This can be intimidating.
One way to make it an adventure instead of a chore is to try out the local vegetarian or vegan restaurant around the corner.
Doing this gives you a psychological boost for a couple of reasons. First, for most people, going out to a restaurant is a treat. People will often try things in a restaurant that they wouldn’t make for themselves at home because it’s kind of part of the adventure.
Second, adopting a plant-based lifestyle involves investment in new foods and ideas. That feels overwhelming, especially for beginners.
Going to a plant-based restaurant isn’t a huge investment. It’s one meal. And how you change your eating habits often comes from taking it one meal at a time. Consider your trip to the neighborhood organic vegan restaurant one of those meals.
- You don’t plan your meals ahead. If you’re not used to cooking plant-based meals, then you’re probably not going to do very well whipping something up on the fly. Your current favorite foods have specific ingredients, which contribute to the overall taste of the recipes. So, too, do plant-based recipes.
However, because going plant-based requires you to cook from scratch, you may not have all the necessary ingredients you need to make the dishes that are part of your new diet. It’s during these times that the temptation strikes to just give up the new diet altogether, because it seems too hard to maintain your new vegetarian or vegan lifestyle.
If you plan your menus ahead of time and have the necessary ingredients to cook them, then you have a better chance of sticking to your new diet.
Final Thoughts on Adopting a Plant-Based Diet
Becoming a plant-based eater requires some forethought. You must learn to cook with different ingredients, read the labels on your food, and be willing to try new foods. While this process can take a while, particularly if you do it gradually, it’s likely that you’ll find that it’s one of the best moves you’ve ever made. Your health will change in ways you can only now begin to imagine.
For more tips on how to incorporate more plant-based recipes into your diet, don’t be afraid to stop by your local organic restaurant for some new inspiration!