Looking for how to start a healthy plant-based or vegan diet? Let these four tips be your guide!

Shifting your meal plan to a plant-based or vegan diet can be a daunting task in itself. Whether you’re making vegan friendly changes to become more sustainable or if you’re wanting to change your eating habits to live a more healthier lifestyle, we can all admit that we question ourselves with how to actually start a vegan diet. Where do we begin? Have we thought of everything?

Thankfully, leading dietitian Susie Burrell is here to share some nutritional tips and tricks in this guide on how to make a plant-based diet transition a little easier.

So before you head off to the supermarket, read through these four tips for starting and eating a healthy plant-based or vegan diet. Some delicious recipes are included too!

1. Start Slowly

Whether you’re a meat eater or currently trialing a vegetarian diet, shifting your meal plan to a plant-based or vegan diet can be challenging. But, you need to start somewhere – even if it means a slow shift. If you’re looking to cut down, start by introducing one or two meat-free days in the week and then increase your routine gradually. This will help ease your body through any potential physical or mental effects such as fatigue or mood swings.

Although dietary changes can be controlled more easily at home, when eating out you may be faced with more challenges. To overcome this, even though you may already do so, research restaurant menus to get a better understanding of their plant-based or vegan-friendly options. Here you’ll want to look for dishes that offer a balanced portion of plant-based proteins, carbohydrates, fruits or vegetables.

2. Plan Ahead

For those who choose to be vegan or opt for plant-based foods, it’s even more important to eat nutritionally balanced meals that contain iron, zinc and calcium to ensure your vegan diet is not lacking in essential nutrients that are found in meat and other animal-based foods.

To ensure you’re eating balanced and equally nutritious dishes, we’d recommend planning out all your meals for the week before you head to the supermarket. Your meal plan for a day should include a berry and banana smoothie, some apple slices or raw nuts to snack on, a crunchy cabbage and carrot salad for lunch and, finally, for dinner a vegetable- and nutrient-rich meal like this Plant-Based Spaghetti Bolognese Recipe.

Overall, your shopping list should include as many fresh whole foods as possible. If purchasing packaged foods, be sure to look at the back label and choose 100% natural products that have the least amount of added ingredients. For some inspiration, why not flick through these 5 vegan cookbooks you need in your kitchen.

3. Substitute, Don’t Eliminate

If ‘meat and three veg’ appears regularly on your weekly meal rotation, you’ll need to make sure you’re supplementing the removal of the meat-based protein with a plant-based one. 

Nutritionally rich foods including legumes, nuts, seeds and wholegrains can significantly boost the micronutrient intake of those who prefer plant based eating. They do this by providing a healthy source of fiber, magnesium and Vitamin E that’s found in animal-based food.

Get experimental and make colourful sides and salads that include fruits and vegetables to help keep you fuller for longer. Otherwise, add a carbohydrate like quinoa, beans or chickpeas, a handful of nuts or make a satay dressing with a 100% natural nut spread like Mayver’s.

If you’re looking for some vegan friendly alternatives to throw on the barbecue this summer, try making some lentil patties or tofu satay skewers that come with a tasty peanut butter dipping sauce.

4. Have Fun

When trying any new diet, it’s important to try and have some fun. Remember to enjoy the process and be flexible with yourself while you work through the changes. Trying new fruits, vegetables and legumes that you’ve never eaten or cooked with before is all part of the journey. Just don’t forget to include some plant-based treats too! 

For a sweet treat, why not try this Gluten-Free Peanut Butter and Coconut Chia Buckwheat Parfait Recipe. Apart from being dairy- and sugar-free, this parfait recipe by Mayver’s ensures that our bodies are receiving the energy and protein levels thanks to the peanut butter, chia seeds and buckwheat. Perfect for breakfast or dessert and delectably delicious, this Gluten-Free Peanut Butter and Coconut Chia Buckwheat Parfait Recipe is also great for family or friends who don’t follow a plant-based diet.

Whether it’s a partial implementation or a full transition to a plant-based lifestyle, find out what works best for your lifestyle and, more importantly, have fun trying something new!

Looking to get kickstarted on your plant-based or vegan diet? Let someone else do the hard work thanks to Flave — Australia’s first plant-based meal delivery service. Otherwise why not treat yourself to Leah Itsines Healthy Plant-Based Strawberry Chocolate Recipe. Or, for cocktail hour at home, be sure to try this plant-based creamy liqueur and their espresso martini-like cocktail recipe.

Feature image: Photographed by Ella Olsson. Image via Unsplash.