5 Tips for Becoming More Plant-Based, According to a Non-Vegan

The word “vegan” can sound daunting, and maybe even a little basic, since veganism has become one of the most trending topics on social media. The thing is, it does not have to be such a big, consuming subject and there are easy steps to work it into your daily meals. I have discovered that becoming plant-based is a process and can be done at your own speed. Creating a more vegan diet does not mean all you eat is kale and quinoa. There is such an array of substitutes that can turn your favorite meals into plant-based ones that will benefit both the environment and your health. Here are five tips that I, a plant-focused eater, have found to be helpful: 

  1. 1. Taking baby steps is okay!

    One of my biggest tips: do not quit meat and dairy cold turkey. This is very difficult and will make it hard to sustain plant-based meals. Instead, take it step by step. Slowly start to incorporate more meatless meals into your routine. For a while, my family did “meatless Mondays” which slowly turned into a majority of our meals being meatless. This slower process made it easier to transition as well as created a fun activity of trying out different vegan or vegetarian recipes.

  2. 2. Eat the cheese if you want it!

    Cravings are normal, and it is so important to listen to your body. If there is a day you are craving cheese or a burger, let yourself have it. This does not mean you are a failure or quitter, it just means you are doing your best and becoming fully vegan can be a very challenging process. I am a big fan of cheese and giving up my pre-dinner cheese boards (my sister and I have perfected the artistry of the perfect cheese board) was something that I did not want to do. There are a variety of vegan cheeses that I have tried but none compare to real brie or cheddar, so when I am really craving it, I let myself indulge in those things. Again, at the beginning, think more plant-focused instead of committing to going fully vegan. This already makes such an improvement for how you feel and also for the environment, which could definitely use fewer consumers of meat and dairy. 

    Another way to help with cravings is by finding vegan foods that taste like the real deal. Look up vegan restaurants near you, or make up some recipes of your own! For me, my favorite vegan bakery has every pastry in the world and definitely satisfies a sweet tooth craving while staying plant-based. I also have found a vegan restaurant that has such an array of vegan meals from pizza to “burgers” to mac n’ cheese, all of which are absolutely delicious. I have brought people there who are non-vegan and they cannot even taste a difference. Finding your favorite vegan spots really helps for those craving days.

  3. 3. Find your substitutes

    Contrary to popular belief, being vegan does not mean you eat a piece of lettuce for every meal. There are so many substitutes that help so that you can still have all of your favorite foods. This is also a fun part of the process: finding different ways to recreate non-vegan meals. Personally, I use all almond milk products instead of ones with regular milk. This not only makes your body feel better with the absence of dairy, but I also think it tastes a lot better! I have also been loving Beyond Meat, a plant-based meat company from Los Angeles, which is practically the home of veganism. Beyond Meat has great alternatives for burgers, sausage, taco meat, and more. It tastes and looks very similar to regular meat—I had this as a substitute at many summer cook-outs and never felt like I was missing out. Vegan cheese is definitely the hardest to find and it can be a hit or a miss, but the best brands I have found so far have to be Kite Hill or Miyoko’s. These are just a few out of the many substitutes you can find!

    food in containers
  4. 4. There are ways to be plant-based on a budget

    Many people do not try out a vegan diet because of how expensive it can be, but you can also start a plant-focused diet on a low budget. Thankfully, being vegan is very common now, so any grocery store should have plenty of non-dairy and meatless items. A tip for grocery shopping: do most of it at your local grocery store where things will be cheaper. Then, if there are specialty items that are only at Whole Foods or a healthier and more expensive store get one or two staple items there. This will help you stay on a budget!

  5. 5. Find the importance

    Being plant-based is so much easier when you believe in what you are doing. Write down a list of why you want to do it. Whether it is to help the planet, your skin, your mood, or all of the above, it is important to know why you are doing it. Writing it down in a physical list gives you something to go back to when you are having trouble keeping it up. Also, personally, I just love writing lists and it always helps to get thoughts on paper.