3 Simple Tips to Help Ease the Transition Into Plant-Based Eating
I won’t pretend that giving up my go-to breakfast of Greek yogurt, Grape-Nuts, and berries was easy. I won’t pretend that it’s easy to go to steakhouses for friends’ birthday parties and forage together a meal out of side dishes and requesting “can you please use olive oil instead of butter?” to the waitstaff. I won’t pretend I don’t get a little sad walking past the ice cream stand in Central Park wishing there was a vegan version of my beloved childhood favorite, the Strawberry Shortcake popsicle.
I will, however, tell you this piece of good news: Going plant-based can be way easier—and more delicious—than you ever dreamed. Here are my favorite pieces of advice that helped make the shift a breeze.
1. When you first start, challenge yourself to try new foods each week.
This piece of wisdom came from a friend of mine who had recently graduated from a plant-based culinary school. Whether its tempeh and papaya or cashew-milk based ice cream and nori snacks (not together), turning my vegan journey into a fun opportunity to incorporate new foods into my diet kept me on my culinary toes. Some you might not like (try as I may, I just can’t get into dairy-free cream cheese), but you’ll be surprised at what a world of foods opens up to you.
Another cool side effect of this quest: As you cook with new foods like jackfruit and jicama, you’ll watch your cooking skills get a serious boost.
2. Follow a plan.
I am 100% sure I could not have made it through my first month of vegan eating without sticking to a plan. Soon, you’ll get meal prepping and your new go-to breakfasts—turns out, my Greek Yogurt bowl had nothing on oatmeal and chia seeds with frozen berries, cinnamon, and maple syrup swirled in—down to a science. But in the early stages of your plant-based lifestyle, adhering to a plan is key.
Here at The Beet, we can’t think of a better place to start than our 21 Day Plant-Based Challenge, which gives you all the tools you need to succeed from recipes and vegan FAQs to motivational quotes from celebrities and our editors' tried-and-true tips.
3. Got a craving? Sleep on it.
As I adjusted to plant-based eating, I found myself regularly craving pizza, bagels with cream cheese and lox, and salmon sushi platters galore during those first, fresh weeks. That’s why I instituted a rule: If I’m really craving, say, pizza, I can’t order it tonight for dinner, but I can order it tomorrow.
Psychologically, my brain felt comfort in knowing the option was there if I waited until tomorrow, and nine times out of 10, the craving had dissipated come morning. On the rare occasion, it didn’t, I’d treat myself to whatever food I was craving, but as time went on and my vegan cooking repertoire (and favorite take-out spots!) expanded, the spaces between these “cheat nights” grew longer, until they all but faded away.
Have you recently started following a plant-based diet? What tips did you find most helpful in adjusting to the change?