6 Foods to Help Transition to a Plant-Based Diet
The most common question I get asked is "how do you make the transition to eating less animal products?"
The answer is... YOU JUST DO IT! ☺
But really. If you sit and ponder "how will I live without x" or "what about when I go to y" then the transition will never happen.
For those who have been debating making this transition or would like to start out slow (which I recommend especially if you are coming from an omnivore diet), I have some tips for you.
These are my TOP 6 FOODS that helped me (and continue to help) transition to a 100% plant-based lifestyle.
1) Bananas: This food is a staple to many people in the vegan/plant-based community. Why? They are higher in calories, are incredibly versatile, and offer great health benefits. A few of my favorite things to use bananas for are smoothies (duh!), banana 'nice cream, and baking! Did you know bananas make a great egg replacement in baking things like brownies? #nowyouknow
2) Oats: Oatmeal has been a necessity in my diet for years now. It is said to be good for milk production for nursing moms but it is also filling and helps provide energy to start the day. Oats, like bananas, are high in fiber. They are nutrient dense (hello, antioxidants!) and can be used in many different ways.
3) Potatoes: Anyone else grow up believing that potatoes were "bad carbs" and that you should NOT eat them regularly? When people talk about unhealthy people they typically say "oh, they're on a meat and potato diet". (implying it's a fatty, unhealthy, veggie-less diet) I believed this for YEARS. Truth is, potatoes are a GREAT source of so many vitamins, minerals, antioxidants...ALL kinds of stuff! The problem is not the vegetable itself...it's what we so commonly put on it. (Butter, sour scream, and cheese) Don't hesitate to eat potatoes (white/purple/sweet). We love ours baked with a little avocado dip or cashew cream. FACT: Potatoes actually have more potassium than bananas. BONUS: They are super inexpensive!
4) Avocado: Ah avocados. The trendiest of the foods. (next to Kale I'm sure...) Now, avocado is a great option during the transition to plant-based because it can help fill that need for something creamy that cheese often gave us. I love avocado with pasta, on toast, or on its own. It also provides healthy fats which is great for brain development in children and can actually help lower cholesterol.
5) Broccoli: This is one of my favorite foods right now. Not sure why, but I love it! The reason I have this on my list as a transition food is because it is versatile for so many foods. We snack on it a lot (bake it in the oven with a little oil if you want + pepper, salt, and red pepper flakes or garlic) and have no guilt with eating as much as we want. This is on the Forks Over Knifes "eat freely" list. <-- Go check it out!
Here are some recipes to try: Lemon Garlic Roasted Broccoli or Broccoli Mushroom StirFry.
6) Quinoa: Quinoa is an AMAZING protein packed food that is filling, can replace meat in a lot of dishes, and is great for you! We use it in place of meat for tacos, to add to salads, eat on its own, mix into hummus for added protein for kids, and so many other ways.
Here are some of my favorite quinoa recipes: Quinoa Sweet Potato Bowl and Crispy Tofu Quinoa Tacos!
7) BONUS: The key to transitioning to a plant-based diet is eating things you LOVE. You should eat your favorite FRESH & WHOLE fruits and veggies in abundance. (Not dried as those have more sugar) If you LOVE strawberries and bell peppers, stock up on them and eat them whenever you want! Don't feel guilty. One thing I love about this lifestyle is that when you're eating whole foods, you don't need to worry about how much you eat. Just eat until you are satisfied. <3
As I close out this post, I want to remind you that I am not a medical professional. These are my opinions based on my experience and research. I encourage you to consume as many vegetables and fruits as you can on a plant-based diet, with these being some helpful "staples" to add.