Going Plant-based? Try These 5 Get-Started Tips
New Year is a reminder that life is full of incredible opportunities waiting for you to grab hold and run with. If one of your get-healthy goals this year is to go plant-based (whether you’re taking the full-time plunge, or adding more plant-based meals to your week), you might be enthusiastic but unsure how to start—much less what to cook. Emma Cutfield (Registered Holistic Nutritionist and Vega Education Manager) has some easy, get-started tips for helping you navigate your plant-based transition.
- Collect RecipesIf you want dietary changes to stick, you’ve got to stay inspired. Having inspiration on hand makes not only grocery shopping easier, but menu planning too. Browse free magazines from your local health food shop or subscribe to a natural health magazine you like; tear out promising recipes and start a binder in your kitchen so you don’t have to dig through back issues when you need ideas. Go through your current recipe books with a new set of eyes, and note, dog-ear or flag the plant-based options (or easily modifiable ones) that make you salivate. Bookmark recipes from blogs and websites, or use an online tool to help you save some inspiration for the next time you’re stumped.We love Pinterest for this! http://pinterest.com/vegateam/recipes/
Rotate Recipes Every 3 to 5 DaysIt may sound odd, but planning ahead can make it easier to improvise. Taking a little time every 3 to 5 days to pre-select recipes you like makes transitioning to a new routine less stressful (eliminating or simplifying the “what to make for dinner” question and subsequent dash to the store for what you don’t have takes a layer off the end of your day) .As a general guide (and to allow for some spontaneous meals out here and there), choose:
- 2 to 3 breakfast or brunch recipes
- 3 mains (lunch or dinner)
- 2 to 3 snack recipes (or whole food desserts)
- On-the-go fuel—such as a plant-based nutritional bar or shake—for unexpectedly busy days
Once you’ve selected your recipe rotation, take account of ingredients you have on hand (leftovers, dried, and fresh), and match this with your recipes to create a grocery list based on what’s outstanding. Or if you’re heading to a local, fresh food market, let what’s in season influence your recipe selection. Here’s a great place to start: http://www.myvega.com/recipes
- Love LeftoversLeftovers are the new fast food! Always check the serving size for recipes and scale appropriately to have a serving or two leftover. Go one step further and pack extra helpings into single serve, heatable containers (oven-safe glass and ceramic are best). Freeze appropriate recipes (plant-based stews, soups, and whole grains freeze well) and reheat them for an easy dinner when you don’t have time to cook. Leftovers filled with fresh, less freezer-friendly ingredients make stress-free lunches the next day.
- Build a Recipe Repertoire One of the hardest parts about changing a food-based habit is finding new recipes to replace the old, comforting stand-bys you could make with your eyes closed and always had a pantry to support. The first weeks of transitioning to clean, plant-based cooking can feel awkward when everything is new. But building a new recipe repertoire will ease this discomfort in time.If you enjoyed a new recipe, make a point to revisit it (again and again!), until it becomes habit to make. When a recipe is essentially memorized, you can grocery shop and meal prep more spontaneously, and find a level of comfort where you can unleash your culinary creativity, make a recipe yours, and experiment with ingredient swaps for variety.
- Socialize! Creating new habits is easier when you’ve got buddies to commiserate with. Whether you’re seeking out inspiration or camaraderie through social media, or meeting up with friends at local veg-friendly restaurants, sharing your experiences with others will help you stay motivated, work through challenges, and celebrate feeling better.