If you’re keen to make a positive change but worry that the time needed will outweigh your initial enthusiasm, we’re here to tell you how to transition to a plant-based diet quickly and effectively.
We’ll forgive you if you read the title here and assumed we were trying our hand at a little ill-advised clickbait, but you really can make the switch from omnivore to vegan in a couple of days.
How? With some proper planning, good advice and transparent sharing of mistakes.
Start with some research
If you’re thinking about turning vegan, you’ve probably already done some preliminary research into the lifestyle and decided it could be for you. Look a little deeper and make sure you are fully committed before you spend any money at the supermarket. Things to really think about include if you have time to cook more, whether you will be relying on processed foods and readymade plant-based meals, what your local supermarket has in stock and any pre-existing health conditions.
It’s so easy to just leap into a new way of eating with little or no prep, but this will usually end in disaster. We want to reiterate that if you have known health conditions, it can be a good idea to discuss your plant-based plans with your GP. They aren’t always very supportive, but should be professional enough to be honest if your plans won’t exacerbate your illness. After all, a vegan diet might have been shown to lower your risk of heart disease, but that’s not to say it is right for everybody.
The one thing you might be tempted to do is to start macro counting. Don’t feel that you have to, because let’s be totally honest here — how many omnivores bother, unless they are fitness fans? If you want to use an app to work out how many grams of protein, carbohydrates and fats you should be aiming for, go right ahead, but don’t be fooled into thinking that we all do this. Spoiler alert: most of us do not. Sensible eating, moderation and a little of what you fancy is a far easier way to embrace any new dietary style.
How long do you need to spend researching? That’s a ‘piece of string’ question, but really, with all the info that’s about now and the increasingly mainstream acceptance of plant-based diets, thanks to things like Meatless Mondays, you’ll be able to get a good handle on what it’s all about in a couple of hours.
Prep your kitchen for a seamless transition
As they say, failure to plan is planning to fail and if you’re serious about waving goodbye to animal products, then you literally need to get rid of them. This will be nice and simple and won’t contribute to any food waste, if you have friends or loved ones that eat meat, as you can simply give them your unwanted products and once you’ve performed your initial exorcism, you can get to the fun part — planning your first plant-based big shop.
Fruits and vegetables will obviously be on your list of must-haves and yes, we absolutely include potatoes in this (we do not fear the carbs!), but you’ll need to stock up your cupboards too. Healthy food options include grains (brown and whole if you like the taste), legumes and seeds but we aren’t food snobs here, so grab the pasta, noodles and all the easy foods you love too. You can make the switch quickly, but long-term change will only happen if you make it easy on yourself at the start and enjoy the process.
One substitution that might take slightly longer than a weekend to get right is milk. Though some people are lucky enough to find a product they love right at the start of their journey, it can be trial and error to get the perfect hot drink addition and barista-style plant-based milks aren’t often as great in cereals, so you might need to find a few different drinks for various applications.
Take our advice and write yourself a shopping list of all the essentials you know you definitely don’t want to forget.
Revel in your shopping trip
You know how the big food shop can often seem like a real chore? Well, your first plant-based haul should be an enjoyable experience that you really take your time over. You’ll have your list of essentials, but outside of that, why not try a few new things? To ride the wave of your enthusiasm, get excited about food and buy the weird and wonderful ingredients you’ve always glanced at but never tried before.
You never know what you’ll end up buying every week afterwards. Tinned jackfruit? Why not! Dried chickpeas? What’s the harm? If these different purchases mean that you’ll be open to experimenting with your meal plans, it’s got to be worth a go.
A bonus tip is to do your big shop on a Friday evening. This means that you’ll be able to wake up on Saturday, fully ready and prepared for two uninterrupted days of plant-based living.
Stop wondering how to transition to a plant-based diet and focus on when to
Finally, pick a start date and stick to it. Avoid a weekend when you know you’ll have a family event or be expected to eat out somewhere, so you can enjoy the switch with a positive mindset and zero external pressure. 00:01am on a Saturday could very well be the beginning of the rest of your life.
A genuine interest, good prep and a little perseverance are all it takes to transition to a plant-based diet. So, what are you doing this weekend?