It’s been almost four years since I transitioned to a plant-based diet. Though there have been times I’ve thrown my hands in the air and quit, I’ve always known this is the best way of eating. It can be a very difficult change to make because friends and family will think you’re crazy and tell you over and over again how they would rather die than give up meat (seriously!). That statement alone should give everyone a clue as to the addictive nature of our SAD (standard American diet).
By adhering to a plant-based diet, I have been able to lose 50 pounds and drop my cholesterol from 274 to 173. I know that sounds too good to be true, but it is possible.
I’ve put together this list to hopefully help make the transition a little easier for those who want to adopt a plant-based way of eating. Over these four years, I’ve learned a few things that keep me on track and make this way of eating easier.
Keep it Simple
I like to keep everything in life as simple as possible, especially food. This is one reason I focus on plant-based cookbooks and recipes versus those labeled as vegan. There are some truly wonderful vegan cookbooks, but when the list of ingredients starts to make my eyes glaze over, I’m out. Multiple bowls and mixtures, oh no. Vegan also doesn’t mean low-fat or no oil, which I also adhere to as much as possible.
My favorite plant-based cookbooks are by Lindsay Nixon, aka the Happy Herbivore. Her recipes are simple and use mostly ingredients found in any grocery store. It doesn’t require an expensive trip to Whole Foods to eat a plant-based diet.
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Dr. John McDougall’s cookbooks are also full of simple recipes that make it easy to follow a plant-based diet.
Another helpful tip is to batch cook so you always have the components of a healthy meal ready. I use a digital pressure cooker to keep things such as potatoes and beans ready to be turned into a meal.
Having potatoes ready frequently saves me because almost anything goes on a potato. To cook potatoes, I place them on the rack in the pressure cooker with a half cup of water and use the manual pressure setting to cook for about 10 minutes, depending on size.
If weight-loss is one of your goals, I’ve found intermittent fasting to be of enormous benefit. Yes, it is counter to the frequent small meals we’re told to consume, but when you consider fasting, it makes sense.
If you’re giving your body a constant small drip of calories, where is the incentive to use your fat stores? Why hunt down that pizza that was stored away last week when you’re having a nice, fresh granola bar right now?
I found that I wasn’t eating breakfast until 8:30 – 9 anyway, so I just pushed my eating hours back. For me I’ve found the hours that work are 11 am-7pm.
Focus On What You Can Have
When people hear that I don’t eat meat or dairy, their first question is then what do I eat, as if there are so few foods left. Focus on what you can have; the options are seemingly endless. Any fruit, any vegetable, any starch (rice and potatoes)!
At first, making such a massive shift might leave you feeling lost but be open to alternatives and prepared to make things work. When I first started following a plant-based diet, I would stand dumbfounded in the kitchen wondering what on earth I was going to make. Now I know how quick and easy things can be and I don’t even worry.
Invest In A Few Good Tools
Following a plant-based diet can be quite economical. I even do quite a bit of my shopping at Aldi! Don’t be afraid to invest in a few tools to make the transition easier and preparation faster.
My favorite tool that I debated on for some time is the Tofu Xpress, but I’ve never regretted that purchase. It is a little pricey, but it is sturdy and does a fantastic job. I didn’t begin to enjoy tofu until I had this tool.
Also, I suggest a digital pressure cooker. I’ve had a Cuisinart and currently use an Instant Pot. For my purposes, both are perfect. The Instant Pot does have a stainless steel pot, whereas the Cuisinart’s pot is Teflon.
It’s Worth It
This can seem like such an enormous shift and it is, but it is so worth the effort. It can drop your weight, cholesterol and food bill.
It can seem scary, but just give it a try. You might be surprised by the results.