Eating a plant-based diet simply means eating more plants.
No matter where you are, or what you eat right now, you can eat more plants.
Of course, your goal should be to eat predominantly (and, ideally, exclusively) plant-based all the time, but you’ll likely have a transitional phase, and it starts with eating more of the stuff that the Earth has so deliciously and naturally provided.
A few terms that are floating around represent a similar style of eating, yet they’re all distinct. That doesn’t mean you have to label yourself and stick with only that way of eating; these terms describe different ways of eating and help you understand what kinds of food choices fall within a certain category.
Also, this breakdown can help you understand how a plant-based diet fits into the bigger picture.
Plant-based: This way of eating is based on fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds with few or no animal products. Ideally, the plant-based diet is a vegan diet with a bit of flexibility in the transitional phases, with the goal of becoming 100 percent plant-based over time.
Vegan: This describes someone who doesn’t eat anything that comes from an animal, be it fish, fowl, mammal, or insect. Vegans refrain not only from animal meats but also from any foods made by animals (such as dairy milk and honey). They often also abstain from purchasing, wearing, or using animal products of any kind (for example, leather).
Fruitarian: This describes a vegan diet that consists mainly of fruit.
Raw vegan: This is a vegan diet that is uncooked and often includes dehydrated foods.
Vegetarian: This plant-based diet sometimes includes dairy and eggs.
Flexitarian: This plant-based diet includes the occasional consumption of meat or fish. “A little bit of this and a little bit of that” — said with no judgment, of course!
Making sure you have the right ingredients in your kitchen when starting (and maintaining) a plant-based lifestyle is essential to making delicious food at home and sticking to your plant-based goals. Always keep these must-haves stocked:
Vegetables: Choose a wide variety of colorful veggies on a regular basis, along with leafy greens like kale and collards. Basically, don’t stick to just one color all the time!
Fresh fruit: The same color rule applies here; however, also choose fresh fruits that are in season (hint: berries aren’t fresh in the winter!).
Whole grains: Become familiar with different grains in their whole forms. Experiment with ones like kamut, spelt, quinoa, and oats. You can also get breads and pastas made from these grains.
Beans: Explore the diversity of beans. Chickpeas, kidney beans, black beans, and lentils are easy to cook with, and they’re loaded with protein too.
Healthy oils: Stock up on oils like olive oil, flax oil, and coconut oil. They all come in handy for different occasions and can be used in everything from salads to baking.
Nuts and seeds: Keep a variety of nuts and seeds on hand. Almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and hempseeds are good essentials. They make great additions to breakfast oats or smoothies and are a quick snack.
Other extras: Get ahold of basics like maple syrup, Dijon mustard, tamari (natural soy sauce), almond butter, sea salt, and apple-cider vinegar.
The process of transitioning to a plant-based diet can be as big or small a deal as you want to make it. It’s just about how you approach it and want to make it happen. You have to have a desire to eat better, feel better, and live longer.
Here are some ways you can maintain your motivation and increase your knowledge about eating a plant-based diet.
Read books on plant-based living.
Watch videos on healthy eating.
Talk to other people who eat this way.
Make a list of all the reasons plant-based eating appeals to you.
Go out for some good plant-based meals at restaurants to get inspired.