There are many reasons to eat more plant based. Apart from ethical benefits as no animals are harmed, it’s also better for the planet and often it’s healthier too. Eating plant based means that instead of animal products like meat and dairy, you eat foods from plants and trees. In general, plant based foods have lower CO2 emissions than beef and dairy. In this blog post I’m sharing 10 tips to eat more plant based and I’m showing you that eating plant-based doesn’t have to be boring or tasteless. You can eat a lot more than just fruits and vegetables, trust me!
1 Start with veggies
Some people think of the meat or fish product first when they start thinking about their dinner. And then they pick carbs and vegetables to match the meat or fish. I suggest you start with the veggies. So think of one or more vegetables that you want to prepare and then think of a dish that goes well with it.
You can also start with your carbs of course. So think whether you want to make potatoes, pasta, rice, couscous, quinoa, wraps, etcetera. And then think about the filling.
This way of thinking makes it much easier to eat plant-based.
2 Use margarine instead of butter
There are so many easy swaps that you can make if you want to eat vegan. Just swap an animal based product for a plant based product. My favorite example is butter. It’s so easy to swap butter for margarine. It’s just as tasty; I’m sure many people wouldn’t even tast the difference.
You can use margarine to spread on your sandwich, but also for baking cakes and even for frying your vegetables or veggie-burgers in a pan.
Click here for my 3 homemade margarine recipes.
3 Search online
When you’re new to eating plant-based, Google might be your best friend. Or even better: Ecosia, the search engine that uses their profits to plant trees. I find search engines very helpful if you’re trying to find out if a product is plant-based or if you’re in need of some urgent vegan information like ‘which chocolate is vegan?’. Tip: most dark chocolate bars don’t contain any milk products.
4 Vegan blogs
Speaking of online, there are many vegan bloggers out there ready to help you in your search of a more plant-based lifestyle.
Here you’ll find vegan recipes but also many tips to live plant-based.
Some of my favorite Dutch vegan bloggers include Lisa Goes Vegan and Squatcilla. A few personal favorite vegan bloggers that write in English are
Oh She Glows and Blissful Basil.
And of course I’ve also shared many vegan recipes on my website.
5 Skip dairy
The first step to eating more plant-based might be to skip meat and fish, but there’s another step you’ll have to take: skip dairy. For some this might be quite a challenge. If you’re already eating vegetarian, you might find most vegetarian dishes at restaurants containing cheese. If you’re eating at home, it’s relatively easy to skip dairy. I swapped my skimmed yogurt for unsweetened soy yogurt for example. I use margarine instead of butter. And instead of cheese on my sandwich, I use hummus.
If you like cheese as a topping on your dinner plate; try roasted nuts instead!
Going out for dinner in a regular restaurant might be challenging when you want to eat plant-based. Luckily more and more vegan restaurants are opening up and most of the other restaurants now know what vegan is (a few years ago some would still use dairy if you asked for a vegan meal).
The app Happy Cow lets you search vegan(friendly) restaurants in your area or a city of your choice. It also shows restaurants that serve meat but also have a few vegan options.
Join a community that focuses on plant-based living. It’ll give you tips and inspiration and it’s also a great place to ask questions.
In the Netherlands the Vegan Nederland Facebook group is quite large and some cities even haver their own Vegan Facebook group as well.
Facebook is also a great place to search for vegan events. There are many plant-based potlucks and barbecues being organized. I’m sure there’s one near you as well!
Like my Facebook page to stay up-to-date about my new posts.
8 Slow transition
If you’re a frequent meat-eater it might be too big of a switch to go plant-based all of a sudden. A slow transition probably works better. So try to skip meat for a few days first and then try to eat vegetarian. Slowly you can scratch more and more plant-based products from your diet. The easy swaps like taking margarine instead of butter are great to start with. And don’t be too hard on yourself, every little step is progress.
9 Stay healthy
You can’t just skip all animal-based products from your diet and still get all the nutrients that you need. So it would be good to read about which plant-based foods contain essential nutrients like protein, iron and omega. Tofu, beans and lentils are often great products. And you might find yourself eating more vegetables than before if you switch to plant-based, which is always a good idea of course.
Vitamin B12 is almost impossible to get out of food if you’re not eating any animal-based products, so it’s good to take a supplement for that.
To eat plant-based is one thing, but if you really want to live more sustainable and animal-friendly you might want to change a bit more. Where the term ‘plant-based’ is often solely used for food, the term ‘vegan’ is used for the whole lifestyle. Wool and leather for example aren’t vegan products. In this field you’re also lucky that it’s getting more and more common to stay away from animal-based products. There are vegan purses from Matt & Nat and even Dr Martens has created boots with vegan leather.