Tag Archives: plant based diet

How to switch to a plant-based diet

Untitled-1When I’m giving cooking classes, people often ask me what steps they should take to eliminate animal products, so here are some tips to help you get started.  You can choose your own pace of change – you can start with just one meal or you can jump right in. I encourage you to be willing to experiment and learn as you go. Enjoy the adventure!

Some initial steps to take to cut back on meat and fish:

  • Acquire a vegan cookbook, or find a website with interesting vegan recipes – vegetariantimes.com is a good place to start.
  • Find some new vegan recipes that sound appealing, and buy the ingredients.
  • Try replacing meat and fish with a plant-based alternative in some of your regular meals.
  • Look for vegan options on the menu at your favorite restaurant and try one next time you go.
  • Try a new restaurant – ethnic restaurants such as Mexican, Thai or Indian usually have plenty of good options to choose from.

Once you have a selection of about 10 delicious vegan meals you enjoy, you can rotate through them on a regular basis for the majority of your meals, adding new meals from time to time to increase the variety.

Plant Based foodsSteps to reduce other animal products in your diet:

  • Find one or more plant-based milks that you like and replace dairy milk with them.
  • Try some of the many plant-based yogurts and cheeses, and find some favorite brands.
  • If you’re a coffee drinker, find a non-dairy creamer that you like.
  • If you like eggs for breakfast, try a tofu scramble instead.
  • Explore the “natural” section of your regular grocery store if it has one, or explore a new grocery store near you that has a good selection of natural foods.
  • Check the ingredients of the packaged foods you commonly buy, and start to seek out vegan alternatives.

Speed of transition – How quickly to make the transition is really up to you.  If you’re ready to make the change right away, you can change your diet in just a few weeks. If you have a health concern you’re hoping to alleviate, remember that while a plant-based diet is helpful for several diseases it could take a few months to see significant results.  If you’re changing out of caring about the animals, you start saving them from the first bite.

On the other hand, if you feel like it’s the right thing to do, but you want to proceed at your own pace and just do the best you can, you could try one new meal or ingredient each week and assess how it goes over a year or so.

Consider other family members – If you have other family members to consider when making meals, you may want to have a family meeting to explain your wishes, and ask for their help in making your transition.  Get them on your team! It will be a lot easier for you if the refrigerator and the pantry are only stocked with healthy vegan foods for you to enjoy. If, however, others sharing your kitchen are not open to change, you’ll need to work out a plan based on who’s doing the shopping, who’s doing the cooking, and how much storage space you have available.  Offering to cook for others is a great way to introduce them to new recipes.

Amanda cooking feature 1.1

Amanda gives a cooking class

Learn to cook – It’s fun, healthier and more affordable than the alternatives. Using frozen precut vegetables and fruit, and jars of sauces for flavoring can save time and effort. If you’re not used to doing the cooking, consider choosing some individual frozen vegan meals you can easily microwave to get you started. 

Whatever path you choose is up to you. Don’t feel pressured by others to go slower or faster than you can handle. Vegetarians of Washington is here to help. You may find some of our books helpful in making the change. Say No to Meat answers many questions about why and how to make the transition. In Pursuit of Great Food – A plant-based shopping guide is handy to plan what to buy and choose the best brands and freshest foods. The Veg-Feasting Cookbook provides lots of recipes for every possible meal. If you’re based in the Seattle area, come to our monthly dining events and classes to get ideas and support for your transition, and don’t miss our annual Vegfest.

Keto Diet – the latest fad diet

Keto-FoodsDon’t fall for the latest low-carb diet fad, the keto diet. We told you not to fall for it back when the Atkins diet was all the rage, and we’re telling you the same thing now.  An excessively low-carbohydrate diet which focuses on consuming more protein (Atkins) or fat (Keto), and cuts out important plant-based foods such as whole grains, beans, fruit and root vegetables, has not been shown to be healthy and could have some very dangerous side effects. On the other hand, a whole food plant-based diet has been shown to be healthy over the whole lifespan, to prevent and treat a wide variety of diseases, and to be very effective at causing weight loss, resulting in just as much weight loss as the keto diet. Why take chances? Read more

A plant-based diet can help fight the opiate crisis!

Stomach painWe’ve all heard about the growing problem of opiate addiction in the United States. While there are several causes of this epidemic, one of them is addiction of patients being treated for chronic pain. It turns out that a plant-based, or vegan, diet can help prevent and even treat several diseases that result in chronic pain. Let’s look at a few examples.

Diabetics can develop diabetic peripheral neuropathy which causes pain in the leg that is often severe. It turns out that a plant-based diet can cut the risk of developing diabetes in the first place by more than 75%. For those already with neuropathy, a vegan diet can eliminate pain in over 70% of patients and the results are maintained long term. Read more

Chronic Kidney Disease treated by plant-based diet

Kidneys cartoonHere’s the big news: a plant-based diet helps prevent and treat Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD). This is a big deal because CKD is the 8th leading cause of death in the United States and sucks up 20% of the Medicare budget.

Vegans and vegetarians have a greatly decreased risk of kidney disease. One study showed that vegan have better kidney function than meat eaters. This only makes sense since vegetarians and vegans have much lower rates high blood pressure and diabetes two of the leading risk factors for kidney disease. While this is news to many people and patients, the medical researchers have known this for a long time. Read more

Go on a greenhouse gas diet!

Field of wheat

The world needs to go on a greenhouse gas diet! A recent study from researchers at the University of Oxford found that ditching animal products could reduce your carbon footprint by 73 percent.

Get ready for this. The lead scientist of the study says, “A vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth, not just greenhouse gases, but global acidification, eutrophication, land use and water use. It is far bigger than cutting down on your flights or buying an electric car.”

That’s right! The food you eat is more important than the car you drive, the light bulbs you buy, the insulation in your house and all the other nonfood items you use.

Eating meat is crowding out the planet. In addition to greatly reducing your carbon footprint, researchers found that if everyone went vegan, global farmland use could be reduced by 75 percent. This would be an amount of land comparable to the size of the United States, China, Australia, and the whole Europe combined freed up.

Not only would this result in a significant drop in greenhouse gas emissions, it would also free up wild land lost to agriculture, one of the primary causes for mass wildlife extinction.

The new study, published in the journal Science, is one of the most comprehensive analyses to date into the detrimental effects farming can have on the environment and included data on nearly 40,000 farms in 119 countries. The Oxford report comes on the heels of several other studies showing that raising livestock is a major factor of global warming. Let’s hope people are starting to take notice!

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