Bored of beef? Tired of turkey? Whether you’re giving up meat and animal products for health, ethical or environmental reasons, it’s a big step and can be a huge lifestyle change – especially if you are used to eating a lot of meat.
This article will show you how to start a plant-based diet and quit meat, fish, dairy and eggs for good!
What is a plant-based diet?
A plant-based diet is not necessarily a strict vegan lifestyle, although they have a lot of crossovers. Most people consider plant-based diets to be eliminating meat, fish, dairy, and eggs, although some people may focus on reducing rather than eliminating.
How do you start a plant-based diet for beginners?
Here is an easy guide to a plant-based diet for beginners. It suggests substitutions for meat and animal products, so you don’t need to go without!
- Meat – there are lots of meat substitutions on the market nowadays – brands will vary depending on the country. You could also use tofu and tempeh, which are both rich in protein. There are some excellent sausages and burgers on the market now, such as the delicious Beyond Meat burgers.
- Fish – tofu is often used as a fish replacement, served with seaweed or capers to give it a fishy taste. Make sure that you press the tofu with a press, such as this one from Tofubud. This helps it absorb all the flavors.
- Milk – it is easy to buy milk alternatives all over the world. Soya is probably the most popular, but oat milk is one of the most sustainable.
- Eggs – These are potentially the hardest to replicate. Tofu is often used to make scrambled eggs, but there are also dedicated vegan eggs that can be used. In recipes, try using bananas, apple sauce, or flaxseed as a binding agent to replace eggs.
- Cheese – there is a lot of vegan cheese on the market, but it is probably the most difficult thing to replicate. If you are struggling to make the switch to plant-based cheese, we recommend going without cheese at all for around three weeks to give your tastebuds time to forget the taste of dairy cheese.
- Chocolate – lots of dark chocolate naturally does not contain dairy. There are also plenty of brands serving vegan milk and even white chocolate nowadays too.
- Other dairy products – substitutes for yogurt, ice cream, and all other dairy products exist and often taste just like the real thing.
- Baked goods – there are plenty of dedicated vegan bakeries selling plant-based baked goods, and you’ll find options in large supermarkets as well.
How to get protein on a plant-based diet
“But where do you get your protein from?” is a question that plagues people on a vegan or vegetarian diet. Many people consider a diet without meat to be deficient in protein – however, this isn’t the case at all. Protein is in a surprising amount of plant-based foods, including the following:
- Beans and pulses – like kidney beans, baked beans, lentils, and chickpeas.
- Nuts and seeds – such as peanuts and brazil nuts. Nut butters are also a great source of protein!
- Leafy green vegetables – remember how much Popeye loved his spinach?
- Tofu and tempeh.
- Many meat alternatives will have protein in them.
Find your favorite vegan substitutes
Going vegan does not mean going without. You may need to try a few different substitutes to find your favorite that tastes like the real deal, but it is certainly there! Nearly anything can be veganized nowadays – so when you first stop eating animal products, make a list of the food that you cannot live without and then work out how you can make them plant-based.
What is the best plant-based cookbook for beginners?
Part of the fun of beginning a plant-based diet is learning how to cook new foods – and finding out that you don’t need meat to do so! Going plant-based is the perfect reason for a cookbook overhaul, and here are some of our favorites.
- BOSH books feature delicious recipes that are all based on the food staples that you know and love. They have a few different books, so whether you’re looking for healthy vegan recipes or recipes that are quick to make, you’ll be spoiled for choice.
- Deliciously Ella books include wholesome plant-based food that will nourish your body. She has a strong emphasis on health throughout her work, so these are an excellent option for health-conscious new vegans.
- Five Ingredient Vegan provides delicious, budget-friendly, simple recipes.
With increasing numbers of people adopting a plant-based way of life, and supermarket shelves full of vegan and vegetarian food, there has never been a better time to reduce eating meat, dairy and eggs. Hopefully, this guide has shown you how simple it really is – and how you shouldn’t have to miss out at all just because of your dietary choices!