When I say the phrase “plant based diet,” what comes to mind?

Grass? Salads? Carrots?

Consuming a plant based diet is SO much more than just eating salad.

And it is not as overwhelming as you may think.

When I have conversations with individuals who want to transition to a plant based vegan lifestyle, I typically hear how difficult it must be to abstain from eating animals (and animal “products”). In reality, however, it is not as challenging as one may think.

Here is a guide that I have sent to many people I have helped become plant based.

I hope it is helpful!

What I typically recommend is thinking about what you currently eat.
For example, let’s say you have cereal for breakfast. You would look at the ingredients on your cereal box to ensure it contains no dairy or honey. You would then add a plant-based milk (Almond, Oat, Cashew, Soy, Rice, Hazelnut, etc).
If you like to have waffles in the morning, there are certain brands that are plant based. I typically buy my children Vans brand. It is also gluten free.
Pancakes can be made using Bisquick. Use the plant milk and unsweetened apple sauce instead of eggs (I use unsweetened applesauce for baking and for anything that requires eggs. It is a binder. Not the only one, but the one that I use the most).

A delicious substitute for eggs is Just Egg.
It is made of mung bean and can be found in a jar that you would shake and pour into a pan with a little vegan butter and some seasonings/vegan cheese/veggies etc. It makes great omelets! You can also make a tofu scramble (there are many recipes for this on You Tube.).
There is vegan bacon as well. I like Uptons Naturals Seitan Bacon or LightLife brand bacon.

For lunch, think about what you enjoy eating.
There are plant based versions of deli meats. Two trusted brands are Tofurkey and LightLife Smart Deli Slices.
You can get vegan pizza or make it yourself. Daiya and Amy’s are two brands that have tasty vegan frozen pizzas.
I am personally a fan of making my own pizza.
I make the dough (store dough making kit) and then roll it out, season it, add pizza sauce, vegan Daiya Cutting Board Collection Shredded Mozzarella and other toppings such as veggies, vegan sausage etc.
There are vegan burgers that are excellent as well! Beyond Meat brand and Impossible Brands are the best as far as taste.
However, the Gardein and Boca brands are also really good and are a little healthier for you.
Beyond Italian or Hot Sausage is another winner.
You’ll find all of these in the frozen food section… Usually near the other animal “products.”

And it is the same concept for dinner (as above).
Remember that pasta, rice, beans, other legumes, veggies, fruits, 100% whole wheat bread, potatoes etc are all plant based.
Whole wheat breads/pastas (there is a chickpea pasta that is really good and has that extra protein), brown rice, quinoa, couscous.. and other grains are a staple.
Do not forget to include nuts and seeds as they offer healthy plant omegas as well as healthy fats.

Here is a list of the best brands of plant meat substitutes:
Beyond Meat
Morning Star **look at the ingredients bc some of their foods are veggie and not vegan**
Field Roast
Uptons Naturals Seitan
Boca (check ingredients- one of their burgers has milk)
Daring brand chicken
Target has their own plant based brand that is good and less expensive

Best vegan egg:
Just Egg
Block of tofu to make tofu scramble

Best cheese:
Daiya Cutting Board Collection (great melted!)
Field Roast Chao
Follow your Heart parm (to put on pasta)

There are LOTS of delicious vegan yogurts and ice creams
Even Breyers and Ben & Jerry’s has non-dairy ice cream
If you want to eat plant based in restaurants, I recommend checking the menu online first.
A good resource is the Happy Cow app that you can access on your phone and will point you in the right direction to restaurants that have plant based options or are completely plant based.
it is important to take a vitamin B-12 supplement.
It is not uncommon for individuals to have an issue with Vitamin B-12 absorption. However, vegans definitely have to make sure to supplement.
If you are not in the sun, Vitamin D is also an important vitamin to take. 42% of the US population is Vitamin D deficient. If you take a vegan multivitamin, you should be all set with your recommended daily amount. If not, you can order vegan Vitamin D from Amazon or elsewhere.
I generally take a vegan multivitamin so I do not take Vit B -12 or D separately.

*I am not a doctor or nutritionist, however, I have been vegan for several years and have done approximately 2 years of plant based nutrition research with The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. If you have any specific questions regarding diet or supplementation, please contact your physician.*