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5 top tips on transitioning to a plant-based diet

Transitioning to a new diet can be overwhelming. Here are our five top tips to help you transition to a plant-based diet.

Some say that transitioning to a vegan or plant-based diet is one of the most beneficial things you can do for your health and the environment, but it can also seem overwhelming.

Like anything else, the best way to start is with small, simple changes. You may fancy your chances of transitioning to a plant-based diet overnight, but the transition can be made simpler by having a plan and working towards smaller goals along the way [1].

How to start a vegan and plant-based diet
 

  1. Start with plant-based research

What’s your reason for starting a plant-based diet or vegan lifestyle?

Whether you are going vegan because of animal welfare, the environment, or your health, it’s a good idea to have a look into the facts and other peoples’ experiences of going vegan.

Knowing why you’re making changes can help you stick to them.

Researching the benefits of going plant-based can help by:

  • Teaching you about the nutrients and vitamins you need.
  • Understanding other people’s stories and experiences who have begun a plant-based diet.
  • Providing you with delicious and nutritious meal plans and food inspiration.

Veganuary, PETA, and the NHS websites are all great places to start your research journey.

  1. Try vegan days

Changing behaviour is tough and requires a lot of commitment. According to a 2009 study, it takes, on average, 66 days for a new behaviour to become automatic [2].

To make a behaviour change, it is recommended to break your goals into smaller chunks. Going meat-free for one day a week can help in the transition to becoming a full-time vegan or vegetarian.

Studies show that healthy thinking and behaviour are synchronised to the week, with Monday being the day people are most open to trying healthy behaviours [3].

In 2009, Paul, Mary, and Stella McCartney launched a not-for-profit campaign, called Meat Free Monday [4]. The campaign encourages people to have at least one plant-based day each week and they share quick tips and amazing recipes as part of the campaign.

According to a study by Brighton and Sussex Medical School and Meat Free Monday, meat-eaters who engage in Meat Free Monday over a long time are more likely to change their diet to vegetarian or vegan. More than 30% of people who engaged with the programme for five years or more stopped eating meat [5].

To help you transition to a plant-based diet full time, start with one day a week and then move up to two, then three days, until you have completed a full week. Once you have completed a full week, it will be much easier to complete a full month. And, before you know it, you will have been plant-based for a whole year.

  1. Substitute animal products with plant-based alternatives

Reducing your meat intake doesn’t have to mean you miss out on your weekly favourites. You can simply substitute the non-vegan options for vegan-friendly alternatives. You can find most alternatives in your local supermarket, either in the plant-based or free-from section.

Plant-based alternatives:

  • Soya based products
  • Pea protein-based products
  • Mushroom based products
  • Vital-wheat gluten-based products

Less processed plant-based options:

  • Lentils
  • Mushrooms
  • Tofu
  • Tempeh
  • Seitan

Tempeh ‘Bacon’ Recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 100g Tempeh
  • 1tbsp vegan-friendly Worcestershire sauce
  • 1tbsp Soy Sauce
  • 1tsp paprika
  • Sugar-free maple/golden/agave syrup

Method:

  1. Slice the Tempeh lengthways into 3 pieces roughly 1cm in thickness.
  2. Mix the rest of the ingredients into a bowl until well combined.
  3. Dip the Tempeh in the mixture until covered.
  4. Fry in a lightly oiled pan for 10 minutes.
  5. Serve with your favourite cooked breakfast accompaniments.
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  1. Eat whole foods over processed foods

As we’ve mentioned, substituting animal products with plant-based alternatives is a good start. But, choosing whole foods as much as possible can keep your diet more balanced.

For a healthy vegan diet, the NHS recommends [6]:

  • Eat at least five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day.
  • Base meals on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta, or other starchy carbohydrates.
  • Have some dairy alternatives, such as unsweetened soya drinks and yoghurts (choose ones fortified with B12 where possible).
  • Eat some beans, pulses, and other proteins.
  • Choose unsaturated oils, spreads, and eat in small amounts.
  • Make sure you drink plenty of fluids.

Eating more whole foods can help you improve your health and lessen the risk of health conditions such as heart disease [7].

Most vegan whole foods, including beans, lentils, and pulses, are naturally high in fibre. Foods that are high in fibre will leave you feeling fuller for longer can aid in weight loss and may reduce the risk of obesity [8].

You can find more information on nutrition and veganism in our plant-based diets and nutrition blog.

  1. Follow vegan accounts to find inspiration

Instagram and Pinterest are filled with accounts dedicated to posting vegan recipes. Having some of these accounts come up in your news feed can be beneficial in your transition.

Vegan social media accounts can be educational and helpful. Seeing others who follow a plant-based diet full-time can help you feel less overwhelmed and provide you with much-needed food inspiration.

Here are some Instagram accounts to help you get started with easy, quick plant-based meals:

  • @weareveganuary – The Veganuary Instagram page is the place for all things vegan. They share anything from reasons to become vegan, to recipes and top tips for transitioning to a plant-based diet.
  • @madebyblitz – Calum makes vegan food easy, tasty and in under 20 minutes. If you’re looking for quick and easy recipes, then look at his Instagram. He also has his made by blitz website, which is full of recipes.
  • @fitgreenmind – Maya creates the most amazing, nutritious and delicious vegan recipes. If you’re looking for replacements for your usual meals, then this is the page to follow. From baked oats to black bean brownies, she’s got you covered.
  • @radhidevlukia – Radhi is a plant-based recipe creator and promotes conscious living. She has some amazing tips tricks and tasty recipes and has an amazing website full of tasty recipes called ‘Conscious Cooking’.

 


References:

  1. https://www.peta.org.uk/living/10-tricks-to-help-you-switch-to-eating-vegan/?utm_source=PETA%20UK::Google&utm_medium=Ad&utm_campaign=1020::gen::PETA%20UK::Google::s-grant-dsa::::searchad&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI45mu1bjR8gIVRuztCh3X4QMWEAAYASAAEgJQKvD_BwE
  2. http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.695.830&rep=rep1&type=pdf
  3. https://clf.jhsph.edu/sites/default/files/2019-02/healthy-monday-report.pdf
  4. https://meatfreemondays.com/
  5. https://meatfreemondays.com/one-in-three-meat-free-monday-participants-turn-veggie-after-five-years/
  6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24504358/
  7. https://meatfreemondays.com/why-it-matters/
  8. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28728684/
  9. https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-weight/why-we-need-to-eat-carbs/