Updated: Jan 7, 2020
So you've made a new year's resolution to start a plant based diet. Or to eat more plants. Or to transition from vegetarianism to veganism. Great!!!!
Not to be a downer, but as we all know, the chances of sticking to our new year's resolutions are slim at best. In order to help you achieve your plant based new year's resolution, I've compiled 5 tips to help you stick with it for the long term.
1. Know your why
Knowing the reason why you've decided to go plant based (or eat more plants) is one of the first things I focus on when coaching clients on how to thrive on a plant based diet. For me, knowing my why is the one thing that has enabled me to stick with a plant based diet. Whether it's animals, the environment or your health, knowing your why will help you stay the course. Read more about finding your why here.
2. Keep it simple
Just like any new diet or program, if it feels difficult following that diet or program, sticking to it is going to be much more challenging.
The trick is to keep it simple.
Think of what you usually eat, create a plan that is similar but substitute the protein component.
For example, if one of your regular meals is a stir fry, keep having that stir fry but replace the animal protein with plant protein like tempeh. If you like curries, replace the animal protein with legumes, like chickpeas or lentils.
Don't make the mistake of just leaving the protein out. You'll end up feeling tired and revert to a meat diet in no time. Make sure you are getting good quality carbohydrates as well like quinoa, brown or wild rice, legumes and lots of vegies.
3. Have fun
Keep things simple but add some flair as well to keep things interesting.
Try new recipes.
Try new restaurants that have plant based options on their menu.
Try new foods.
Go to a workshop to learn new ways of preparing food. (If you're in Brisbane, Asja Svilans has a great workshop coming up in February / March. Find out more here.)
If it's fun, you'll want to keep doing it!
4. Maintain a balanced diet
The last thing you want is to start feeling tired or weak because of your new diet. A common mistake made by people starting on a plant based diet, is to just leave out the animal protein. You must replace that protein with good quality plant protein. Think beans, nuts, seeds, protein-rich grains like quinoa, wild rice and oats plus protein-rich vegetables like spinach, broccoli, peas and kale.
Some will replace the animal protein with fake meat products. These products can be ok from a transition perspective but they're not going to give you the best nutrition that a plant based diet offers. Stick with whole foods - the less processed the better.
Make sure you're getting adequate amounts of protein, unrefined carbohydrates and good fats. As a general rule, you want to aim for 15-25% of your daily calories from protein, 45-65% of your daily calories from unrefined carbohydrates and 20-35% of your daily calories from good fats.
And don't forget your vitamin and mineral-rich foods like broccoli, spinach, kale, mushrooms, avocados, nuts and seeds, pumpkin, carrots, sweet potato, red peppers, asparagus, lentils and beans.
5. Go slow and be kind
Last but definitely not least.
Go slow and be easy on yourself.
If you're a meat eater wanting to start a plant based diet, try cutting out one animal food at a time, for example, red meat. Try that for a few weeks, then cut out chicken, then fish, then dairy, then eggs.
Making the decision to go plant based is one of the best things you can do - for your health, animals and the environment. You're amazing for making this choice. Now be kind to you, and take it one step at a time. If you fall off the wagon so to speak, that's ok. Tomorrow's a new day.