Plant Based Diet for Beginners – In-depth How to Guide

So, you’ve decided to try something new and exciting, something that will pay off a hundred fold in terms of your health and well-being? This is fantastic news and the start of a journey that will lead you to not only feeling and looking amazing, but full of energy and with higher protection against disease and sickness in general.

I’m happy for you – I’ve been there myself, and through my own experiences and pitfalls I aim to help make your transition to amazing plant foods as easy as possible with my plant based diet for beginners in-depth how to guide.

Plant Based Diet Benefits and Pitfalls

basket fresh vegetables

Do you get cheesed off with feeling pretty rubbish the majority of the time? It’s the plight of many on the typical Western diet and I was one of them once upon a time, but, in my almost 3 years of eating pretty much ALL plant foods I have seen my energy levels soar and my general health go to heights I have never before experienced.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some plant based diet pros and cons of course, and it did take me a few of learning through trial and error exactly what my body needed in terms of protein and nutrient requirements. But, I got there in the end, and this is exactly why I began this blog; to take the hard work out of it for you so you can get to higher level of health in a faster time.

It’s important to remember that we are all different in terms of the macronutrients we require, as it depends on body size, fitness and exercise levels. I do a LOT of exercises such as weight lifting, swimming and power walking. Nothing too over the top, but much more than the average person, so therefore my body needs more nutrients and amino acids to keep up with the constant demand being put upon it.

Nutritional requirements of exercisers

This is something I learned the hard way in the beginning and was one of those pitfalls I was talking about. I found I stared to actually lose some muscle mass when I first transitioned to eating just plants, and I can only put this down to eating way less protein than when I was eating animal based foods. This, coupled with the fact that I wasn’t putting together complete meals in terms of amino acid profiles could have been the culprit

Plus, I guess the extra stress on my body through my exercise regime again amplified the effects of me not getting enough good quality protein. This by no means has to happen, but it can if you’re not vigilant and take time the time to learn the important basics fist. Even with my background in nutrition, I wasn’t prepared for exactly what this way of eating meant until I tried it for myself and got first hand experience.

Plant based diet for athletes

athletes at olympics

After recently watching the plant based diet documentary “The Game Changers” on Netflix, it has totally changed my perception to another level again about the plant based diet. If you haven’t seen it, then do your best to as soon as you can because if you are still in any doubt about this lifestyle, then rest assured, after watching this mind blowing program you won’t be.

In this program the makers have researched many athletes of all kinds eating plant foods and have discovered that plant eating athletes are not only getting their best times ever with this diet, but some are also doing it at an age when previously it was thought impossible.

You’ve got one of the strongest guys in the world who looks like an ox and has the strength of an ox, an olympic cycling athlete who won medals at the ripe old age of 39, and a guy who ran over 2,000 miles in 40 odd days ALL ON PLANTS!

Yes, perceptions are changing FAST, and plant based diet foods are being served absolutely everywhere as the world demands them more and more, so exciting times are ahead.

How to put together a Nutritionally Complete Plant Based meal

It’s absolutely vital that before entering into this healthful lifestyle you know the basics of food combining and putting together a complete meal. This means understanding the value of complete plant based amino acids, low GI carbohydrates, healthy fats, fruits and vegetables.

You’ll find that you will learn as you go along – it’s a journey, and by the time you’re a year down the line you’ll be a plant pro, whipping up healthy meals at a moments notice from bits and bobs left in the cupboard. AND, you’ll know exactly how to order in restaurants that don’t have plant based options.  

In the beginning, you may find eating out or family dinners can be one of the hardest things about plant based eating, but fortunately now that veganism has exploded and become much more popular worldwide it means most restaurants, and even fast food chains are keeping up with the demand and putting out new and exciting plant based menu’s.

 The whole foods plant based diet

olive oil

A lot of people are asking me the difference between what is a plant based diet and a “whole foods” plant based diet and it’s pretty simple really. Whole foods by definition, means anything that hasn’t been extracted from it’s original and natural source.

This means plant foods such as isolated protein powders, oils, sweeteners and sugars including syrups such as maple, agave, and brown rice syrup; plus, many of the meat-free burgers, sausages, hams, cheeses, and myco-protein products are often out of bounds.

My advice, if you’re starting out this may become over-whelming for you, so to make things easier you may wish to take advantage of these easy and fast products whilst you are learning to find healthier versions. It’s better to do it this way than to give up quickly due to lack of knowing what else to eat.

If you do wish to go straight in with the whole foods diet then I applaud you, and you will find recipes EVERYWHERE online to help you accomplish this. But, you may want to go somewhere in the middle like I do and eat mostly whole foods, with a little bit of oil such as coconut or olive here or there to make life easier. But, I would definitely stay away from ALL refined sugars as much as possible if you want to get super healthy FAST!

Starting your plant based journey

chopping vegetables

It’s been a couple of years on this journey for me, and what started out as a bit of a detox type experiment has led me on a path that I will never look back from; why? Because cutting out inflammation promoting animal products, and eating whole plant foods (not vegan junk foods, of which i’ll speak more of later) has changed my life and transformed my health more in ways I never though possible, and once you’ve been to this pace of elevated health and vitality, then trust me, you will never want to go back.

It did take me about 3 attempts of plant based before I stopped craving meat and dairy, and it was only on my third attempt that something just ‘clicked’ and I knew I had changed something inside of me for good. I can still remember that ‘clicking’ now, strangely enough; almost like my body was talking to me and telling me what it did and didn’t want anymore. Strange, but true!

The 90/10 Rule

The key is to NOT beat yourself up if you give in at times, and just keep going at it. After all, you’re trying to change a lifetime of conditioned and habitual thinking patterns around food, patterns that your mind isn’t going to give up without a fight so just go easy on your poor self.

That’s probably the number one rule that I also impose upon myself too, because if you try to be perfect straight off the bat then you will more than likely fail. I find sticking to a 90/10 rule works fine: 90% good stuff, and 10% leeway for those things you really enjoy and don’t want to give up, and why should you?

10 Awesome Plant Based Diet Benefits

Here are some of the truly amazing things I have noticed about my body and health that I have noticed since eating a mostly whole foods diet. These benefits will help you understand exactly why I’m sticking with it for good and why I will never go back to feeling sluggish, lethargic and bloated. Uggh! Seriously, why would I?

1. MORE ENERGY

jumping for joy

Yes, I definitely have more energy than EVER! This did take a little trial and error at first, but these days I rarely get that mid-afternoon slump or feel like I can’t be bothered to exercise.

In fact, I now have the energy and impetus to do all the things I wish to do in my life without even thinking it will be a chore, which includes writing this blog to help others to see how simple it is to live out the life of their dreams too.

2. CLEAR SKIN AND SPARKLING EYES

This is one of the major things you will notice very quickly; big changes in your skin tone and texture. My skin is so soft now it’s actually like a baby’s bum, and my eyes are definitely clearer and brighter; so much so that people comment on it – a lot!

You may say that this is due to eating a lot more antioxidant rich fruits and vegetables which comes naturally with the plant based lifestyle, but it really isn’t just that, as I ate the same amount of veggies when I was still eating animal products. It was when I stopped eating animal products that the real magic began to happen, and if you do watch ‘The Game Changers’ you will see the exact science behind this.

3. FEELING LESS BLOATED AND PUFFY

And I mean less bloated all over! In fact, I didn’t even realise that I was always slightly bloated until suddenly I wasn’t, but now I can see the difference and others can too, so it’s definitely not my imagination. I’ve also noticed the same in some of my friends who after seeing what it did for me, have followed suit and tried this amazing diet for themselves. Oh the satisfaction!

4. BETTER SLEEP

woman sleeping in bed

You will sleep better when you have adequate nutrients in your body, and you will get those nutrients with ease through the eating of lots of fruits and veggies. Also, on a healthy plant based diet you will automatically be cutting down on sugar and refined carbohydrates, and that in itself will help to keep your blood sugar more stable, which studies show can have the benefit of much deeper and better quality sleep. And this one benefit alone will obviously have a huge and positive impact on your health and whole life experience.

5. FEWER ACHES AND PAINS

As animal products can contribute to inflammation, you may very well notice that you have fewer aches and pains than before, especially arthritic type pains which can be caused by chronic inflammation.

Though research is still being done, it is thought that chronic inflammation may well be one of the root causes of certain diseases, therefore we should all be trying to eat more plants for this reason too.

I personally, notice the anti inflammatory effects of a plant based diet mostly after a hard workout, when I think I’m going to be aching like hell the next day but in fact don’t. I would even go so far to say that I hardly ever feel a thing these days no matter how hard I workout, or if I do it passes quickly; and this has ONLY been the case since my change of diet. Of course, this super quick recovery time is also great in terms of not only being able to exercise a lot more, but also in being more productive in general with every other aspect of my life.

6. LESS SICKNESS

I’m talking coughs, colds and viruses mostly. Put it this way, I haven’t really been sick in the last 3 years, so I’m presuming there must be a connection to what I am putting in my body, as it’s the only thing that makes sense. Sometimes I may feel a bug or something trying to get a grip on me, but it always seems to be gone the next day, which means my immune system must be stronger than ever and fighting infections off before they even take proper hold.

7. LESS, OR NO PMS

I suffered chronic PMS symptoms before changing my diet, but they are SO much better. And I never though anything could change that! In fact, I don’t even know when my period is going to come these days, as I get barely the mood swings or pain I was used to; whereas before I needed a whole box of pain killers just to get me through this time of month. Again, I’m certain this is more than likely down to my anti inflammatory plant based diet.

8. FEELING HAPPIER IN GENERAL

woman laughing

If you know me (or have read my bio) you’ll know that depression is a demon I have always struggled with – ever since I was a teenager in fact. So severe it was, and so passionate I have been about alleviating it, that it has been the catalyst for my whole life’s journey and study into food and exercise. I guess we all have our cross to bear, and that’s just mine that I help control through my diet.

I haven’t actually had true depression for years, as I’ve always kept it at bay as much as possible by eating healthily and exercising (for me, this has been the ONLY viable long term solution for my anxiety and depression, but that’s just my experience and you would need to check with your doctor before self-diagnosing this serious illness). But, it’s still true that since changing my diet my happiness levels have soared even higher.

Omega 3 oils

Although, I also put my mood down to the fact that I still take high strength omega 3 oils with both the EPA and DHA that are derived from the same plankton that the fish feed from. It is vitally important that you get the supplements that contain the DHA as this is what works specifically on mood.

Most omega 3’s from nuts and seeds does not contain this in negligible amounts to have an effect on mood (I’ve tried and tested it more than once), so make sure you get the algae derived DHA.

Health, Fitness and Mood

woman using dumbells

Depression is a strange beast, you always feel it’s there underlying and waiting to come back to make you feel rubbish again. Keeping your body as fit and healthy as possible, plus keeping blood sugar stable with a low GI diet may give YOU back some control over it. 

I’m not going to lie, I still have times when I feel it could be rearing it’s ugly head again, but I know it cannot get a proper grip on me anymore as my body is just stronger and healthier than ever, therefore my MIND is stronger and healthier too (I made this connection a long time ago). 

So, cleaning the junk out of your body will also clear the junk out of your head much like a detoxification, thus making you feel calmer and happier. You’ll also feel your stress levels dropping, giving you much more control over your life. In fact, you will find it harder to get stressed out no matter what happens when your mood is stable through blood sugar control and low GI eating – it really can be that simple.

9. BETTER MEMORY

Again, I put this down to having less inflammation (and studies show the same), evened out blood sugar, and a more detoxified body in general. I find that my memory is like a sponge now, whereas before my brain fog meant I could forget something as soon as it went in, which was often quite embarrassing. I now am able to learn new things more quickly than ever, so this was yet another MAJOR PLUS of this super healthy lifestyle for me.

10. LONG TERM HEALTH

You can now see just how many valid reasons there are to try the plant based diet for yourself, and these are just the benefits I have noticed so far. Who knows what the future holds as my body heals further.

Can you also imagine what this could mean for long term health and the staving off the top 10 major diseases that afflict 4 out of 5 people as they age – the worst of which are diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, degenerative disease and depression. The natural anti inflammatory foods on the plant based diet may help protect you to an extent from some of these.

Make Small Changes One Step at a Time

Here is a list of the things you can easily start changing today. You do not need to do everything at once, but instead incrementally make small changes every day, week and month until they become habits.  It is vital you consume ALL the foods on this list as much as possible, as you will need all of these food groups to ensure a well balanced diet that contains enough nutrients.

SWAPS

  1. Swap your regular milk for almond, hemp, oat, rice, coconut or soy. You can use these for anything you would ordinarily use cow’s milk for. This will take some trial and error before you find a milk that suits you best, and also one that you prefer the taste of. For instance, I like almond milk in my tea and coffee, and coconut milk in my delicious green fat burning smoothies as the texture is just better like that, but I guess it’s personal opinion. Sometimes plant milk’s will curdle in certain coffee brands and not others; but you can buy barista blend plant milks specifically for coffee lovers that are very close to tasting and acting like cow’s milk.
  2. You will want to check labels scrupulously, as a lot of these milks are sweetened with refined sugars or concentrated fruit juices. And, ideally you should go for the unsweetened versions to keep your sugar intake down.
  3. Swap your ordinary dairy products for the vegan versions that can easily be found in abundance in most supermarkets these days. There are also a good deal of soy and coconut based versions of cheeses, yogurts, butters and ice creams, so you need never go without.  FYI – buying imitation dairy and other animal products is one thing on the list that you don’t actually need to do, as many of them do not offer much in terms of nutritional benefits. Plus, they are not strictly ‘whole food’ plant based. However, they may stand in as a good substitute while you’re finding your feet.
  4. To keep sugars down you should shy away from most shop bought cereals, and instead go for porridge oats, oat bran, or a wholesome homemade protein rich muesli.
  5. Swap meat for tofu, tempeh, seitan, quinoa or pulses as all of these can be added to stir-fries, curries, chillis, or pretty much any dish that you would ordinarily use meat for.
  6. Try to buy and eat foods in their whole form as much possible, rather than fake meats, mycoproteins and all the other newfangled vegan products on the market. They are great when you’re starting out or when you’re really busy, but ultimately you want to be heading towards a whole plant food eating plan as much as possible.

THINGS TO ADD IN

It’s always important to keep your meals balanced with proteins, low GI carbohydrates, and healthy fats as they will fill you up for longer this way. Below are lists of each category to help you get a picture of how to combine them together.

In the below plant based diet food list I have only bothered mentioning the healthy stuff, as eating junk won’t give you the results I have been raving about in this post, and I don’t want it to look like I’m telling fibs. There are, of course, lots of vegan junk foods such as crisps, fried food, chips, sweets, all refined carbs, free sugars and confectionery, but I definitely wouldn’t recommend these too often if you want to feel the true benefits of whole  plant foods. Remember the 90/10 rule!

Just to clarify, some of the foods on this list contain fats, carbs and protein all together in the same food, and this is the reason they may be written in more than one section.

HEALTHY FATS

  • Olive, coconut, flax, sesame and avocado oil (not technically ‘whole foods’)
  • Avocados
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Whole coconuts
  • Quinoa

PROTEINS

  • Soya, and soy beans
  • Seitan
  • Tempeh
  • Legumes such as baked beans, chick peas, lentils, sweetcorn, green peas, pinto, cannellini, kidney, butter, borlotti and black beans.
  • Wholegrains such as granary bread, buckwheat, spelt, brown pasta, brown rice, millet, amaranth, and quinoa (these are both proteins and carbohydrates in one, but ideally should have another protein source from the list with them to get adequate amounts).
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Some vegetables are higher in proteins, such as broccoli and avocado.
  • Protein powders such as hemppotato, rice, pumpkin, sunflower and pea protein. You can buy soy protein powders, but I would not recommend consuming too much isolated soy (especially in a protein powder form) as it is high in plant estrogens and there is some evidence that they can mess with human hormones, usually only in women. But you don’t need to be too concerned about this if you aren’t using soy every day; plus it is a great nutritionally compete food if you buy organic and use in moderation. Again, protein powders aren’t considered whole foods plant based, but I feel the need to use them myself.

CARBOHYDRATES

  • Wholegrains such as granary bread, buckwheat, spelt, sweetcorn, brown pasta, brown rice, millet, amaranth, lentils, pulses and quinoa.
  • White, red, purple, new, and sweet potatoes.
  • Pumpkin and squashes.
  • Vegetables such as parsnips, yams, beetroots and carrots.
  • High sugar fruits such as bananas, pineapple, mango, grapes and papaya.
  • Fat burning dried fruits.

FRUITS AND VEGETABLES

  • Every day eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables, especially nutritionally superior leafy green veg. These should make up a big bulk of your diet as they are full of anti aging and disease fighting phytonutrients, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
  • Take a shot of one of these powerful green superfood powders every day, as they really push your health to another level (I’m talking extremely ‘glowy’ skin level). And if you can’t (or won’t) get enough greens down you, then this is the perfect way to make up for it. 
  • Don’t forget to add lots of herbs and spices to your food as they all contain other nutrients and detoxifying elements that you may not find elsewhere. Turmeric, coriander, parsley cinnamon, cardamon and ginger are among the healthiest. 

Plant Based Diet Meal Plan Examples

BREAKFASTS

blueberry yogurt granola

  • For breakfast, you can make green smoothies with avocado, banana, spinach and nut milk. Or any other combination of fruits and vegetables – just be sure to add a little healthy fat such as sugar-free peanut butter, chia seeds, or avocado for smoothness and nutrient absorption.
    You can add frozen fruits straight into your smoothie for convenience, plus they will also give you that cold, frothy milkshake texture that is so delicious. Sliced, pre-frozen, really ripe banana works just great for this as it tastes like ice cream and has a sticky, gooey texture. Heaven!
  • Either smashed avocado and tahini on toast, or sugar free peanut butter on sourdough is the perfect low GI, filling breakfast.
  • Add berries, nuts, and seeds to porridge or granola, with a sliced banana on top.
  • Having a low carbohydrate protein powder shake in the morning will help keep you full, AND will also keep your body in fat burning mode after fasting through the night. It’s also a great idea to do this if you wish to burn fat and build muscle at an accelerated rate.

LUNCHES AND DINNERS

homemade lentil soup in bowl

  • Make soups and stews from a mixture of root veg, greens, a protein such as lentils (or another legume), plus herbs and spices. You can literally make endless combinations of soups and stews using this basic recipe alone.
  • Make huge salads with lots of greens, grated carrot, chunks of avocado, sweetcorn etc, and sprinkle with some toasted nuts and seeds.
  • Bean and chocolate chili – sounds weird I know, but I make this every week and it lasts me days. It’s a chili made of mixed beans such as kidney, chickpea and butter beans, with a few chunks of dark chocolate added. This really makes a difference to the depth of flavour, and is a good replacement for meaty stock cubes; if not better – just try it and see!
  • Roasted root veg such as parsnips, beetroot, squash, onions and carrots, on a bed of highly nutritious quinoa with some steamed broccoli on the side. My favorite way to roast veggies is in a little coconut oil and balsamic vinegar for sweetness, then tossed with herbs and spices such as vegetables bouillon, paprika, garlic, rosemary, thyme and sage. 

SNACKS

dark chocolate in trays

  • Hummus and/or sliced avocado on oatcakes.
  • Hummus and vegetable sticks.
  • Coconut yogurt with chopped fruit and nuts.
  • Dried fruit and a handful of nuts and seeds.
  • Dark chocolate.
  • Fruit, especially bananas. 
  • Smoothies.
  • Raw deserts.
  • Vegetable juices and green superfood powder shots.
  • These other low carb snack ideas
plant based diet plan
QUICK MEAL PLANNER

Be sure to get your Protein!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again! You’ll need to be doubly sure of getting enough protein if you are not eating your usual high protein animal products; even more so if you are doing lots of exercise, OR are trying to lose excess weight. Some say you shouldn’t get obsessed with protein and they are right to an extent, but you do need to learn your plant based diet protein sources to be sure you are adding them in enough.

When I first started out I made this mistake, which meant on top of my usual exercise regime I started to LOSE muscle mass – I wasn’t happy as you can imagine! I just wasn’t getting enough protein for my needs, which I have now rectified of course, but that didn’t have to happen if I had understood plant based macronutrients properly.

How much protein do I need?

plant based protein powder

Don’t panic about it, just be sure to add foods from the above protein list with every meal or snack. You want to aim for about 0.8-1.5 grams of protein per 1 kg of body weight, depending on your specific needs, but don’t get hung up on this if you’re not in intense training or a vegan athlete.

BUT, if you are doing lots of training, or even if you’re trying to lose weight, cut fat or build muscle, then you may need to go for the higher end of the protein spectrum. Some plant foods are much higher than others, so please check out this list of the different amounts of proteins in plant foods.

If you do need higher amounts, then you may find this hard to attain just eating plants alone; however, you can easily supplement with a good quality protein powder to boost your intake if you feel you need to. This made all the difference to me when I finally realised that I wasn’t getting enough, so now I just add a protein shake to my diet on the days I exercise and this covers my needs.

Possible Weight Gain

Many start the plant based diet thinking they will naturally lose all their unwanted weight and miraculously obtain the body of their dreams, but often this isn’t the case. You will more than likely go into it without the understanding required to put a complete meals together that actually fill you up; or maybe at first you will just plain be eating too many carbohydrates and fats.

These things can easily happen when you are unused to having to think about your amino acid intake. This is only natural – you’ve been eating super high, bio-available amino acids in the form of animal products your whole life, and therefore you’ve never had to think twice about protein. This means newbies to this lifestyle often skip the meat and dairy and replace it with EXTRA fats and carbs in the form of potatoes, pasta, bread, fries, refined flours and oils, which will of course all make you pile on the pounds.

This is why adding lots of fully rounded plant proteins to your meals will make all the difference. There are 5 plant foods that contain a good mix of all the essential amino acids that should ideally be eaten every day (though not necessarily at every meal). These are:-

  1. SOY
  2. QUINOA
  3. BUCKWHEAT
  4. HEMP
  5. AMARANTH

Fats and weight gain

bathroom scales

You may also find yourself chomping down on lots of nuts, seeds and other ‘healthy’ fats in the belief that because they are plant based they must be fine to eat in abundance. They are – to an extent, but a calorie is still a calorie no matter where you obtain it from, and it still needs to be burnt of as energy if you’re to avoid gaining weight.

Plant based diet and weigh gain is a real thing! Stick to single portions only; and all in moderation. For example, a small handful is a portion in the nut and seed world, due to the fact that they contain such high amounts of fat and calories. And you should always eat them as part of a proper meal or snack and not as an added extra on top.

To get more of a feel for portion sizes and putting complete meals together please try out my one week plan. This will point you in the right direction, and also help you to get used to the kind of foods you should be eating to obtain all the nutrition you need.

Nutrient supplements 

According to Patrick Holford, a long-term plant based or vegan diet will usually require some kind of nutritional supplementation due to the fact that you may become deficient in certain nutrients no matter how healthily you try to eat. These include:-

  1. VITAMIN D – To keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy. Vitamin D derived from food comes mostly from fish, seafood and eggs; and it is very hard for the body to obtain enough on a plant based diet unless you live in a very sunny climate where you are exposed to the sun for at least half an hour a day (sometimes not practical or healthy due to cancer risk).
  2. LONG CHAIN OMEGA 3 FATTY ACIDS – For brain health and mood. Even though many plant foods contain omega 3’s, studies show that the conversion rate of plant based ALA into essential DHA and EPA is between 0-5%, making a specialised vegan supplement essential, ESPECIALLY if you suffer from mood disorders.
  3. VITAMIN B12 – Needed for anemia prevention, mood, brain health, central nervous system health, energy; plus your hair, skin and nails will all benefit from this essential vitamin. Very few plant foods contain vitamin B12; and the few that do are chlorella, spirulina, certain mushrooms, fortified nutritional yeast, and other specially fortified foods (even then, you probably won’t be getting enough even if you do eat them daily). This is why a B12 supplement is sometimes vital – even if you only take it every other day or a couple of times a week like I do.

Thank you for reading this post and supporting Zestforever and the plant based movement. I hope you now have a greater understanding of this amazing, planet friendly way of living, and if you implement any of my strategies then I would love to hear how you get on, so please be nice and drop me a comment below.

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Stefanie Taylor
Plant based eating is set to EXPLODE in 2019; not just for health reasons, but also to help keep our beautiful planet thriving. I have lived this healthful lifestyle for over 2 years, which is the reason why zestforever was born to share my experiences, trials and errors, how I overcame them, and how to turn to this lifestyle in such a way that you will thrive too.

I have studied, tried and tested healthy foods, superfoods and diets for over 25 years, but nothing has come close to giving me the buzz of wellness that plant based eating has. To expand my knowledge further I have also studied and worked as a Sports Nutritional Advisor, Nutritional Therapist, and Clinical Weight Loss Advisor - all of which can tie in with the plant based diet.

This website is not intended to treat or diagnose any medical diseases or illnesses. It's merely meant as a way of showing you how to boost your health through the eating of more nutritious plant foods in place of junk foods.

I am grateful for your support, and I hope that the tips and guides you find here will help to guide you on your own plant based journey.

24 thoughts on “Plant Based Diet for Beginners – In-depth How to Guide”

  1. Wow, there are so many benefits of going plant-based. I love how you list tips on how to swap out foods to make the transition and you list food ideas to add to your diet. There are many different food choices, I love that you provide them all. I am going to slowly change more of my diet this year to help with my IBS, so this post came at the perfect timing for me. Thanks for the info!

    Reply
    • Hi Melissa, yes the benefits of going plant based are truly immense and I hope that you try it to see for yourself. In fact, I’m hoping that many people have made it their New Years resolution to start eating more healthily as I believe it will make the world a better place.
      If you have IBS (like I did before) then changing to this kind of diet will completely change your gut flora over time and help alleviate your symptoms. I find that I still suffer it every now and then, but it so much better than it was so it’s well worth it for this reason alone.

      Good luck on your plant based journey and if you ever need more information then please feel free to ask at any point.

      Reply
  2. Hi Stefanie,
    This post is packed with a wealth of information. I have been vegan for about two years and have lost 60 lbs in 1 year. I will visit your site to learn more. Thank you for your passion.

    I noticed that there are a couple of &nbsp near the top that need to be corrected to properly be served by the server.

    The only other thing I noticed is that your menu is pushed all they way to the right.
    I normally see them left justified.

    The banner lemon image is great!

    Thanks again for your post!

    Jesse

    Reply
    • HI Jesse, I’m really glad you are a vegan and have been for two years as you must feel great and understand the benefits as I do. Yes you should take a browse through my website as there is always more to learn. I myself am learning so much every day, but mainly because I research so much for my website.

      I appreciate your comments about my website but not sure what you mean by ‘a couple of &nbsp near the top. What does that mean, I am a newbie and don’t understand tech speak unfortunately. Could you please elaborate more. And which menu is pushed to the right? The main top menu or the side widget thing? Thanks for your help. I have commented on your bike post but I took the link off your comment as I heard this is not good for SEO so sorry about that. Thanks

      Reply
  3. Wow, there is so much benefits JUST from going plant based. I may have to try this out since I’ve been having trouble getting to sleep lately. I now know what to do thanks to your amazing guide for newbies like me! I also like that there’s no depression or anxiety. If I can prevent those as much as possible I’ll be over the moon.

    Cheers and have a great day.

    Reply
    • Hi Brandon, I am so glad my guide has helped you. I can honestly say that all of those benefits on my list are true to the word and I was shocked myself when I started to get them. When I went plant based it started out as an experiment and I never dreamed in a million years I would feel as good as I do.

      I call myself plant based instead of fully vegan because I still take omega 3 fish oils as these really do help with the whole depression/anxiety side and if you suffer from these I recommend you take them too alongside a plant based diet. The thing is that plant based omega 3’s such as flax oil don’t have the same effect on depression as the fish, but fortunately I have heard on the grapevine that there is now a version of omega 3 that is derived from the plankton that the fish feed on (which is how they make their omega 3), and so this may be the future.

      Reply
  4. I can ensure that those benefits are very common when someone decides to switch to a plant based diet- I have felt all the same!

    Thanks for making so abundant guide for beginners, wish that I have found it when I was in the beginning. Had to figure it out all by myself, but luckily got it all just in time!

    It just makes me so happy to see that there are so many people who are promoting plant based diet, since it is something that the world is moving to.
    Future is plant based!!!!

    Melissa

    Reply
    • Hi Melissa, it’s great that you are a plant based eater too! It really is wonderful and this is the reason I promote it, to make others feel great also. You are right about lot’s of people promoting this now, it makes me happy that this is such a big thing and most definitely the way to go for the future, not just for animals but the environment and the whole planet.

      You and I probably had to learn the hard way about this diet, but now there is so much information that makes it easier and easier for people. And isn’t it just fantastic that we can even eat out anywhere now (usually) and have food on the menu we can eat?

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  5. Wow, I havnt read such a great and detailed article about veg diet yet. I highly recommend it to the people who are vegetarian or thinking of becoming one. Keep up great work…looking forward to read more and more from you…

    Reply
    • Hi Sarah, thanks for that and yes, that is my aim, to help people make that transition as smoothly as possible as it can be really hard to know where to start in the beginning. It is all so worth it though and I highly recommend people to give it a try at least, and reap all the wonderful benefits.

      Reply
  6. Hello Stefanie. I understand the benefits of a plant based diet both to myself and the environment. My goal for 2018 is to replace everything in my diet with plant and fruit items. This is a great site and I will be back. Thank you

    Reply
    • Hi Trevor, I’m really glad you like my site, my goal in life is to help others get as healthy as possible as I know it feels so good :-). If you need some help with how to clear out your cupboards and start replacing things then I highly recommend you read my post and if you have any questions or need any more advice then i am always happy to help.

      Reply
  7. Hi Stephanie,

    I love all things that are natural and not been destroyed in being processed or left a long time before being sold.

    You always know the bad veg from the good veg just by the deep green = deep green means it has still much of its goodness left to yield.

    I spent one year planting food in my front garden. People probably thought me crazy, but, when it harvested the taste was far greater and my energy levels were far higher from it – no shop could compete with the quality from a soil that was never sown in the last 25-30 years!

    I would ask one thing though Stefanie – if someone is on a budget, could they still afford most or all the items you detailed in your article? I find ‘healthy living food products’ in shops to be so unreasonably high and often wondered why they are so special in terms of pricing.

    Except for the humus (I just do not like it lol) everything else I could very easily seeing as part of my daily diet. So, for those that still need their burgers and sausages, you should definitely look for ‘QUORNE’ version of these items. QUORNE is a brand name for a fungus but that tastes 90% like the real thing and does very much satisfy that ‘meat-craving’ for your meals.

    I read the whole article and I learned much, thank you for that.

    I am sharing this to a family member, she’s so OTT for healthy living tips lol, and I am sure she’d appreciate it as well.

    Regards,

    Philip.

    Reply
    • Hi Phillip, thanks for your comment, I can see you are very much into the healthy life stlye which is great. I love your story about growing your own vegetables, how fantastic! I really want to try this for myself when I finally get a house with a garden, it is my dream. Home grown vegetables do indeed taste far superior to anything else. I buy organic from the supermarket and have an organic veg box delivered from a local farm every week, but there’s still something lacking taste wise and I think you hit the nail on the head when you said about the soil being over used these days.

      That makes such sense, and reminded me of when I once went around a friends house for dinner, and they grew there own fruits and vegetables, it was just amazing and on another level. The food made you feel alive afterwards and I’ve never forgotten it.

      I googled ‘quorne’, but I’m presuming you mean ‘quorn’ as I can’t find it spelt that other way, it’s is made of soy and often used as a meat substitute yes?. Very popular in the vegan/vegetarian world. Sorry to be pedantic, but I was interested to know if it was a product I didn’t know of ha ha.

      Anyway, yes this can be a good substitute for meat, but I wouldn’t go crazy with it (or any other soy products, especially isolated soy such as you find in soy protein powder) as soy is estrogenic and can disrupt hormone balance in both men and women. It’s all a matter of quality over quantity and I would try and go for the non GMO organic stuff.

      To answer your question about prices then yes, I think you can spend a fortune on the highest quality foods, which is great if you are loaded, but as most of us aren’t I did devise a list of healthy foods on a budget . Hope you find it helpful, and it shows that you can still eat healthily regardless of budget.

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  8. Ooh this is just the push I need to go plant based again. Teetering on the edge for so long but ready now. I’m not sure about soy though, it’s estrogen mimicking I’ve read? I’m weary of it. Look forward to seeing the benefits you speak of. Plant based will surely see off the remaining lbs I want off! Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
    • Hi Lace, I’m glad my post has given you the push you need to go plant based, I promise you’ll never look back. I haven’t! Yes, there can be an issue with soy, you’re right. That is why I steer away from it if it is either in it’s isolated from (such as soy protein powder), or if it is in products such as fake meats etc. If I do have it, as you’ll find it sometimes hard to avoid when you go plant based, then I only have a little, and maybe only in the first half of my menstrual cycle because I’ve been told for me that is when my estrogen drops, and I think it is the same for most women. (but don’t quote me on this). I just find that it works for me.

      Also, soy can be quite good for post menopausal and menopausal women as estrogen is lower then, but it does depend on the quality of the soy, so I would always go for non GMO organic if I’m going to have it. And the whole beans are great as they are in a more natural form and so they are processed differently in the body.

      As for men, I think they should probably stay away from too much soy because of the risk of man boobs. But the thing is, the worst kind of cheap GMO soy is hidden in so many things, especially junk foods, so it’s hard to get away from. They say men are becoming more more feminised because of this problem now.

      Anyway, good luck with your plant based diet and please let me know if you have any more questions as I am only too happy to help. You may also find these posts interesting to read and

      Reply
  9. Hi there. I’m glad you laid this out for beginners. When I first started a plant-based diet, I didn’t have a guide, so I jumped in with both feet. Oy Vey! I wasn’t accustomed to eating so much fiber! Anyway, I don’t want to be gross on here, but needless to say, my stomach didn’t appreciate it. So, after trial and error, I learned how to replace one meal with a plant-based meal. I did that gradually until I was able to transition to a full plant-based diet. It really is so healthy. Thanks for the article.

    Reply
    • Hi there, that’s awesome you are already following a plant based diet as I know you understand the benefits of it like I do. In fact, you make a valid point about the fiber. If you’re not used to it you can have problems during the adjustment stage; I did too! I may go back and advise people of this in the post or they may be in for a shock.

      It’s definitely a case of trial and error in the beginning, and I had a few issues at first because I wasn’t getting everything I needed in terms of protein considering I do a lot of training, which made it worse. This is what prompted me to do a post with a sample food plan on, so people could get an idea of how they need to put meals together to get all the nutrients they need.

      Reply
  10. I lived all veggie lifestyle once with my Sister and I did feel good, started losing weight, my bowels even became regular, as well as I wasn’t retaining too much fluid with all the water I was pushing in but I’m just a meat lover by nature. So I practice Keto, but for anyone that can live and feel satisfied without a slab of steak from time to time should def. consider this lifestyle. My advice for this way of life: always educate yourself on proper protein substitutes as such has been explained in this article.

    Reply
    • Hi Amanda, that’s cool you lived the plant based lifestyle for a time and felt the benefits. But I understand how hard it can be giving up something that you have done your whole life. This was the issue I faced, but I managed to overcome it on my third attempt and now I just don’t even think about it any more so I guess those days of cravings are well and truly gone for me.

      These’s a lot of misinformation out there about the plant based and vegan diet, and it’s s true that you definitely need to be aware of protein intakes as this is where I came unstuck on my first few attempts. I guess because my body wasn’t getting enough of it and so I ended up going back to eating animal products, but when i got my protein intake sorted I never had a craving for them again. This leads me to believe that maybe it’s the reason why people find it so hard to stick to. Just a thought!

      Anyway, thanks for your comment, it is good to see things from another point of view.

      Reply
  11. I love all this information you provide. I am a vegetarian and I just love the way I feel when I eat healthily. I was very over weight in the past and decided that I want to make a change so I could be around longer for my kids, and changing my lifestyle was the best thing I did for myself. After about a year I lost fifty pounds, and l’m just so happy that I kept it up. I think you share some great information here and anyone who is interested in a plant based diet should consider all the health benefits that come with it. I will be sharing your site with friends. Thanks so much for sharing.

    Reply
    • Hi Jeany, thanks, that would be great if you could share the post as I really do feel that this way of eating makes a difference to people’s lives.

      That’s amazing you lost 50 llbs by going vegetarian and eating healthier. I think at some point everybody has to take stock and look at their diet as we in the Western word are mostly conditioned into eating unhealthy foods.

      Good luck with your future healthy eating!

      Reply
  12. I agree with all these benefits listed. While my diet isn’t completely plant-based, it’s predominately plant-based, and like you I’ll never, ever, ever look back since I started incorporating more plant-based nutrients in my nutritional regime back in 2016. More energy is what really jumped out at me, as I can go into my day job and literally run laps around everyone else in there. It’s an amazing feeling, really. While nothing in this world will ever improve my sleep (I just naturally sleep three to six hours a night, especially in the summer) I can also tell you that I haven’t been sick since 2011. Quite a streak and this is ZERO exaggeration.

    Reply
    • Wow Todd, you’ve had an 8 year run without sickness! That’s unbelievable, and just goes to show the true power of healthy eating and it’s great you have shared this information as it confirms what I already know.

      Yes, feeling so healthy is an amazing feeling and I can definitely relate to that. I probably first got into healthy eating and exercise about over 15 years ago and I can still remember now how fast I got hit by that feeling of pure vitality (I was younger then so that probably made a difference). Still, it literally blew me away that I could feel so good and I have never looked back since. Most people don’t understand that feeling so have no idea what they’re missing.

      Reply

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