Plant-Based Made Easy
Hi bb’s! I feel like I get SO many questions about transitioning to and sustaining a plant-based diet, so I figured it was time for a full blog post for ya 🙂 Before I get into this post I want to thank my friends over at Forks Over Knives, LLC. for sponsoring this post!
Watching the Forks Over Knives documentary was definitely a turning point for me on my journey to becoming plant-based, so I am honored to be partnering with them! ♥ I also think it’s important for me to say that I am in no way suggesting you change your diet or trying to push a plant-based diet on ANYONE! Anyone that knows me personally knows that I am what I like to call a “respectful vegan”.. I am not going to shame you for eating meat and I will not disown you as a friend if you have a different diet than me. That just ain’t my vibe. Which is also why I love Forks Over Knives.. they’re never preachy and they have awesome resources for you not matter what type of diet you eat. If you ask me about it then I will happily share my opinions, tips and views, but otherwise I take the low key plant-eater approach: to each his own! We all have the right to eat what we want, I am just sharing what I know and what works for me.. as always I encourage you to read this post with an open mind – take what you like and leave what you don’t!
MY JOURNEY TO BECOMING 100% PLANT-BASED
Let’s first get clear about WHAT being plant-based is: a plant-based diet is simply one that is based on whole food plant sources like fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grains. I have been fully plant-based for 3+ years now ( I honestly don’t even know when it exactly began because it was such a natural progression for me), but my journey didn’t just begin 3 years ago; I have always had a weird feeling about consuming animal products. I grew up in a meat eating, milk drinking, egg scrambling household, but for some reason little me just was not having it. Eggs freaked me out, chicken grossed me out, and I refused to drink milk (unless it was hidden in my favorite funfetti cake of course 😉 ) Luckily my mom let me be my own person and eat what I wanted (bless her), but it’s really interesting to me that even as a young girl I had an aversion to eating animals. Weirdly enough I did like bacon (I am and always will be a salty savory gal at heart) but after going to see the movie Babe in 1995 and learning what bacon was and where it came from I quickly had a change of heart. I left the theater crying and proclaimed I would never eat bacon again. Can you just picture it, 6 year old me hysterically crying, like snotty red faced hyperventilating crying, leaving the theater telling my mother that I was going vegetarian. I distinctly remember stopping at the cardboard display of Babe that was by the exit of the theater, and I literally got on my knees while whaling crying so I could hug the little cardboard pig…. I’m pretty sure my mom had to carry me out.
Over the years I would selectively eat animal products, somedays I felt like it, but most days I didn’t. I did love cheese and fish and ate those frequently, but meat was never a consistent part of my diet, and eggs.. well eggs just freaked me out and the thought of eating them made me sick (unless they were hidden in something like pasta or cupcakes.. on their own was a always a no go!). If I didn’t think about what I was eating it was much easier to eat it but the moment I would get a mental picture of what I was eating it was game over. For example: my mom had these really pretty ceramic rooster plates and one time she served me lemon pepper chicken on the rooster plate and I got freaked out and couldn’t eat the chicken lol. After the Babe incident I was strictly (and proudly) vegetarian for some time but… ya know, I was a kid so I’m pretty sure I forgot about it at times.
This mostly anti-animal way of eating stuck with me until my early 20’s. Once I moved out at 19 I rarely ate meat as I never bought it or cooked it at my apartment, and if I did eat it it had to be of good quality and “look right” if it looked weird or was on the bone I just couldn’t do it. I have no idea why or what my reasoning behind this way of thinking is, I am just a very visual person and that’s just how my brain works. In my early 20’s I began dating someone that ate a lot of meat and over time watching him eat meat I started to incorporate it into my diet, but it wasn’t long before something ticked in my brain and I lost the desire to eat it again. It’s hard to explain but the best way I can put it into words is this: it grossed me out. I couldn’t eat it without picturing the animal and once I did it just straight up grossed me out.
It’s hard for me to say exactly when I went fully plant-based because like I said above, it was a such a natural transition for me for the most part. Cutting out meat was easy, it was cutting out cheese, fish and dairy products hidden in my favorite condiments and treats that took more effort. I remember hearing about people that were vegan and thinking that was so extreme, that I could never give up a charcuterie plate, pizza and/or sushi… but here I am living without them (well kinda.. I still eat versions of them that are made from plants!) and thriving!
First I cut out meat after a series of meals that I just couldn’t stomach. Then I started to cut back on fish because I just wasn’t in the mood. Then one night I randomly decided to watch the Forks Over Knives documentary and after that everything changed. I was so beyond grossed out that by the end of the documentary it was official: I was going plant-based. It really wasn’t that difficult for me once I realized where the animal products were coming from and how the consumption of it was affecting the planet. In the beginning the most annoying part was people giving me a hard time about it, but once I stopped caring about what other people thought it got a lot easier.
I often times get asked about my health and whether I am getting what I need solely from plants and the answer is yes! I have gotten a full blood panel done each year for the past 3 years and all of my vitamin levels, hormone levels, protein levels and blood levels have been perfectly normal, and better than most. Not all plant-based diets are created equally though. There are a lot of things that are technically plant-based that are not healthy for you (processed foods, refined sugars, fake meats etc.) so my rule of thumb is this: center your diet around unprocessed whole food plant sources like fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grains, and you will reap all of the benefits of this simple way of eating! Speaking of benefits….
BENEFITS OF A PLANT-BASED DIET
What we put into our mouths each day not only feeds our bodies but also nourishes every fiber of our being, down to our cells on a singular level. Ultimately food is what sets us on a path toward good health or disease (PLEASE START CARING ABOUT WHAT YOU EAT! It’s important!). As the saying goes, we are what we eat; and studies show that what we eat, in particular leafy greens and antioxidant rich produce, can help to prevent disease, increase energy levels, and even boost our mood. There have been many studies on plant-based diets and it’s direct and positive effects on our health, so I thought I would share some of the benefits I love most!
1. Protect your heart: Eating a plant-based diet can help lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart disease! In fact, a diet full of greens can actually “turn off” certain genes that make you more susceptible to heart disease.
2. Prevent other chronic diseases: In addition to heart disease, a diet high in fruits and veggies can help to prevent other chronic diseases. Numerous studies have linked plant-based diets to protection from type 2 and diabetes and some cancers. There have been some studies that have shown that even if you have type 2 diabetes, adhering to a plant-based diet can help to reverse the disease and improve blood sugar levels.
3. Longevity and increased energy: There have been numerous studies that show those who follow a plant-based diet may indeed live longer lives! Many people (myself included) report feeling so much more energized on a diet rich in plants and that’s because you are nourishing your body with whole plant-based foods. KALE-YEAH!
4. Weight management: Eat in abundance, eat to feel satiated, nourish your body and enjoy a diet rich in whole foods- this is the way of being plant-based! PS: a study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics evaluated 15 different plant-based diets and found that, on average, participants dropped about 7.48 pounds (and this includes those who didn’t stick to the diets). The high-fiber content in a plant-based diet can lead to feelings of satiety, which helps with weight loss as well!
6 TIPS FOR TRANSITIONING TO A PLANT-BASED DIET
Tip #1: Start slow!
Slow and steady wins the race, ya know what I mean? It can be extremely overwhelming to overhaul everything all at once, so just start out with picking a few days a week and commit to eating fully plant-based on those days! Make a plan and find something that works for you that you can commit to and sustain!
Tip #2: Start with one category at a time!
Like I said above I didn’t go plant-based over night, it was a gradual process that happened over time. I first started with meat, eggs and then lastly dairy and fish. Taking it step by step really allowed me to create lasting change that didn’t feel abrupt or restrictive. Start with one category and commit to cutting it out.
Tip #3: Utilize fun recipes & a good meal planner!
Find and utilize a plant-based meal planner/recipes! Have been LOVING the Forks Over Knives Meal Planner!! I deep dive into this amazing tool a bit more below, so keep reading!
Tip #4: Brainstorm easy swaps for your favorite meals!
Once you start to experiment more with plants you’ll see that you can pretty much re-create any animal-based meal with plants! I love using lentils or mushrooms in place of ground meat and nutritional yeast instead of cheese!
Tip #5: Educate yourself.
Once I took an honest look at what I was eating and where it was coming from it grossed me out enough to not want to eat it anymore. Knowledge is power people!
Tip #6: Give yourself some time to adjust!
Our taste buds DO change with time (I’d say roughly a few weeks!) so give yourself (and your taste buds) some time to adjust to your new diet! Cravings are normal.. like with anything food/taste can become habitual/addictive, so something to ask yourself when cravings come up is this: is it the actual meat or animal product that you are craving? Or is it really just the seasonings and sauces used to make the dish? Most of the time if you ate the dish boiled (have you ever smelled boiled meat? YUCK) with no seasoning you would realize it’s not the meat itself that you are craving.. but the seasonings.. which 99% of the time you could totally recreate with plants sans animal!
FORKS OVER KNIVES: PLANT-BASED MEAL PLANNING MADE EASY
Like I mentioned above, a great way to start experimenting (or even spicing up your current plant-based diet!!) with a plant-based diet is to find a great meal planner and utilize recipes! Even though I have been plant-based for 3+ years and have made thousands of plant-based meals I still love to spice things up a bit and try out new recipes! With that being said, I have been LOVING the Forks Over Knives Meal Planner! Whether you have been eating a plant-based diet for years or are simply trying to weave in more plant-based meals into your regular routine, Forks Over Knives Meal Planner truly makes eating plant-based easy and delicious! Forks Over Knives has worked with leading chefs, nutritionists, and other experts to create a variety of tools to help you adopt and maintain a healthy lifestyle. The Forks Over Knives Diet was born out of the transformative power that whole-food, plant-based eating can have on health and well-being. It is centered on whole, unrefined or minimally refined plant foods and excludes or minimizes meat, dairy products, eggs, and highly refined foods such as bleached flour, refined sugar, and oil.
In addition to the above, here are a few more reasons why I love the Forks Over Knives Meal Planner:
🌿 You get weekly meal plans with delicious whole-food, plant-based recipes that can be made in 35 minutes or less
🌿 Chef-created meals, weekend meal prep guide, and dynamic grocery list are all designed to take the work out of what to shop, prep and cook every week
🌿 New recipes added weekly, plus access to 900+ additional exclusive recipes
🌿 Nut/soy/gluten-free versions of almost all recipes (which I love because I am currently doing nut-free, soy-free and gluten-free!)
🌿 Risk-free 14 day trial (NO credit card required- this was a big plus for me , I can’t stand when companies tell you it’s risk free but require a credit card lol if i need to enter my credit card then it ain’t risk free bb)
🌿 30-day money-back guarantee
🌿 Subscriber-only Facebook group for questions and encouragement (support is so important!)
🌿 The tools they provide include a Meal Planner, Cooking Course, Recipe App, Resources: Recipes, Books and Magazines!
And of course, if you have ANY questions please feel free to leave me a comment below, I am always happy to help in any way that I can!
This blog post is sponsored by Forks Over Knives, LLC. As always, all opinions are my own.