Plant Based Diet for Beginners - How to Guide
So you’ve decided to try something new and exiting? something that will pay off a hundred fold in terms of your health and well-being? This is fantastic news and a big step, and I aim to help make your transition as easy as possible for you with this plant based diet for beginners ‘how to guide’.

In my year of eating a pretty much a 99% plant based diet, I have seen my energy levels and general health go through the roof. But, and this is a big BUT, it did take me some months of learning exactly what my body needed in terms of protein and nutrient requirements for me to get to this level.

However, we will all be different in this respect, for starters my needs may be different to yours as I do a lot of exercise such as gym, swimming, and power walking. Nothing too over the top, but much more than the average person so therefore my body needs more nutrients to keep up with the demand being put upon it.

 

PUTTING TOGETHER A ‘COMPLETE’ MEAL

putting together a complete meal

It is absolutely vital that before entering into this new way of eating that will (and trust me on this one) make you feel fantastic, you will most definitely need to know the basics of putting together a ‘complete‘ meal. This means protein, low GI carbohydrates, healthy fats, fruits and vegetables.

You will find that you’ll learn as you go along, it’s a journey and by the time you are a year down the line as I am you will be a pro. You’ll be whipping up meals at a moments notice from bits and bobs left in the cupboard, and you’ll know exactly how to order in restaurants without being too annoying.

I say this in jest, but in the beginning this is one of the harder things about this lifestyle, but fortunately now that veganism has exploded and become immensely popular, most restaurants and even fast food chains, are keeping up with the trend and putting lots of delicious plant based meal options on their menus.

 

BENEFITS I HAVE NOTICED SINCE GOING PLANT BASED

It’s been a year 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 causing animal products has changed my life, and transformed my health to another level.

It did however take me about 3 attempts at this way of eating before I stopped craving meat and dairy, and it was only on my third attempt that something just ‘clicked’ and I knew it was for good this time.

They key is to not beat yourself up if you give in at times, just keep plugging at it – after all you are trying to change a lifetime of conditioning around food, so you have to go easy on yourself.

Here are some of the truly amazing things I have noticed about my body and health that have changed since eating plant based. These benefits will help you understand exactly why I’m sticking with it for good and never want to go back.

 

1. MORE ENERGY

a plant based diet has given me energy for life

Yes, I definitely have more energy than EVER, im not even kidding you! This did take a little trial and error at first, but these days I never have that mid-afternoon slump or feel like I can’t be bothered to exercise.

In fact I now how the energy and impetus to do all the things I wish to do in life, which includes writing this blog to help others see how simple it is to live out the life of your dreams!

 

 

2. CLEAR SKIN AND SPARKLING EYES

This is one of the major things you will notice very quickly also. You will see 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.

You may say that this is due to eating a lot more fruits and vegetables, but it 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.

You may laugh at my choice of term but I really cannot find another way to explain these changes. It really is a great feeling, almost as if you are feeling how you were designed to feel, strong in body and mind, vital, and full of energy. You probably need to experience it to properly understand what I mean.

 

3. BETTER SLEEP

Eating a healthy diet means better sleep

This one I noticed very quickly, but more so because I also naturally cut down on the sugar and refined carbohydrates when I started this way of eating. This keeps blood sugars stable, which seems to have the benefits of much deeper and better quality sleep.

If you think you may have trouble cutting down or quitting sugar then this post will be really helpful to you and I highly recommend you check it out before you commence your plant based lifestyle ‘Quitting Sugar in 6 Easy Steps’

4. LESS BLOATED/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. I can see the difference, and so can others 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 with a plant based diet themselves.

 

5. FEWER ACHES AND PAINS

less inflammation means less pain in joints

As animal products are mostly inflammatory you will notice that you’ll have fewer aches and pains than before, especially arthritic pains which are caused by chronic inflammation.

Chronic inflammation is also the root cause of many other illnesses and diseases and we should all be trying to eat more of an alkaline, plant based diet for this reason alone.

I notice this the most after a hard workout when I think I’m going to be aching like hell the next day, but in fact I don’t. I would go so far as to say that I hardley ever feel a thing even after a hard 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 great in terms of being able to exercise a lot more and just be more productive in general.

 

6. LESS SICKNESS

I’m talking coughs, colds and viruses – put it this way, I haven’t been sick in the last year so there must be a connection. Sometimes I may feel something trying to ‘get to me’ but it is always gone by the next day, so I’m presuming my alkaline body and immune system are fighting it off before it even gets a grip.

7. NO PMS

I suffered chronic nasty PMS symptoms before my plant based diet, but now barely anything. I don’t even know when my period is going to come these days, as I get no mood swings or pain. Before I needed a whole box of pain killers to get me through this time and now I don’t need any. This again, I know is down to my anti inflammatory diet, I’m certain of it.

I’ve also noticed my hormones in general are on a much more even keel, and I rarely get the mood swings like I used to.

 

8. NO DEPRESSION OR ANXIETY

Less depression and anxiety

I’ve always suffered from depression, which has actually been the catalyst of my whole life’s journey with food and exercise, and why I am experienced enough to be able help others now.

I haven’t actually had my depression for years as I’ve always controlled it by eating healthily and exercising (in my opinion this is the only viable long term solution for anxiety and depression, unless you want a lifetime of drugs), but since changing my diet my happiness levels have soared even higher.

 

A Fit and Healthy Body Will Help Beat Depression… IN A BIG WAY!

Depression is a strange beast, you always feel it’s there, underlying and waiting to come back and get you again. Keeping your body as fit and healthy as possible, and keeping blood sugar stable with a Low GI Diet gives YOU back the control over it. 

I may have times when I feel it could be reading it’s ugly head again, but I know it cannot get a grip on me anymore. And if you do suffer from depression/anxiety then I hope this post reaches you, because you need to know that no matter how horrendous you feel right now there is a beautiful light at the end of the tunnel.

Cleaning the junk out of your body will also clear the junk out of your head, much like a detoxification, making you feel much calmer and happier, and you’ll also feel your stress levels dropping. 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.

 

9. BETTER MEMORY

Again, I put this down to having less inflammation, evened out blood sugar, and a detoxified body. 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 now I’m eating plant based, so this is yet another a MAJOR PLUS.

 

PLANT BASED DIET FOR BEGINNER’S

Eating a plant based diet is anti inflammatory and lowers your risk of diseases

I hope you can see now how there are so many reasons to try this way of eating for yourself, and these are just the things I have noticed so far on this diet!

Can you imagine what this could mean for long term health and staving off all the BIG 5 diseases that afflict 4 out of 5 of us as we age, which are diabetes, cancer,cardiovascular disease, degenerative disease and depression. 

The naturally antin-flammatory plant based diet may help protect you in a big way from these and MUCH more.

 

Making 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 until they become habits.

It is vital you consume ALL foods on the list as much as possible, because you will need all of these food groups to ensure your diet is well  balanced and contains enough nutrients.

 

SWAPS

  1. Swap your regular milk for almond, hemp, oat, rice, coconut or soy milk. You can use these for anything you Plants milks are a healthy alternativewould ordinarily use cows milk for. This will take some trial and error as you find a milk that suits you best or that you like the taste of. I for instance, like almond milk in my tea and coffee and coconut milk in my smoothies.
  2. You will want to check labels scrupulously as a lot of these milks are sweetened – ideally you should go for the unsweetened versions to keep your sugar intake down.
  3. Swap your ordinary dairy products for vegan versions. You can easily find these in most supermarkets, and there are a good deal of soy and coconut based versions of cheese, yogurts, butters and ice cream out there, so you need never go without.
  4. Buying imitation dairy/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 the terms of nutritional benefits. However, they may stand in as a good substitute while you’re finding your plant based diet feet.
  5.  To keep sugars down you should shy away from most shop bought cereals and instead go for porridge oats, oat bran or home made granola/muesli.
  6. Swap meat for tofu, tempeh, seitan, quinoa or pulses. All of these can be added to stir-frys, curries, chillis, or pretty much any dish you would ordinarily use meat for.

 

THINGS TO ADD IN

It’s always important to keep your meals balanced with proteins, low GI carbohydrates, and healthy fats. Below are lists of each category so you can start to get a picture of how to combine them together.

I have only listed healthy foods here as that is the whole point of going plant based. There are however lots of vegan junk foods, such as crisps, fried food, chips, sweets and confectionery, but I wouldn’t recommend these if you want to feel the true benefits of a plant based diet.

Some of the foods on this list contain fats, carbs and protein all together in the same food which is why they may be written more than once.

 

HEALTHY FATS:

Extra virgin olive oil is a healthy fat

PROTEINS:

  • Soya and soya 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).
  • 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 (you can buy soy protein but I would not recommend eating isolated soy, especially in a protein powder form as it is high in plant estrogen’s that can play havoc with hormones, in both men and women)

avocados are a source of protein and healthy monounsaturated fats

CARBOHYDRATES:

  • Wholegrains such as granary bread, buckwheat, spelt, sweetcorn, brown pasta, brown rice, millet, amaranth, lentils, pulses and quinoa
  • Potatoes and sweet potatoes
  • Pumpkin and squash
  • Vegetables such as parsnips, yams, beetroot and carrots
  • High sugar fruits such as bananas, pineapple, mango, grapes and papaya
  • Dried fruits

dried fruit is a high carbohydrate food on a plant based diet

 

FRUITS AND VEGETABLES:

a plant based diet is highly alkaline and anti inflammatory

  • Eat every day a rainbow of fruits and vegetables every day, especially leafy green veg. These should make up a big bulk of your diet as they are full of anti aging, anti cancer, and disease fighting phytonutrients, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
  • Take a shot of green powder every day as it really pushes your health to another level. My favorite is Dr. Schulze’s Super Food Powder as it is just the most awesome green powder I have tried and tested.
  • Don’t forget to add lots of herbs and spices to your food, they all contain huge amounts of other nutrients and detoxifying elements that you may not find elsewhere. Turmeric, coriander, parsley cinnamon, cardamon and ginger are among the best.

 

HOW TO ADD THESE FOODS TO YOUR EVERYDAY DIET

 

BREAKFASTS:

  • For breakfast you can make green smoothies from 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 coconut oil, peanut butter, chia seeds or avocado.
    You can add frozen fruits straight into your smoothie for convenience: they will also give you that cold, frothy milkshake texture. Sliced frozen ripe banana works just great for this as it tastes like ice cream.
  • Smashed avocado, or sugar free peanut butter on sourdough or granary toast is the perfect low GI filling breakfast.
  • Add berries, nuts and seeds to porridge or granola with a sliced banana.
  • Having a low carbohydrate protein powder shake in the morning will help keep you full, AND keep your body in anabolic (fat burning) mode after fasting through the night. Good for burning fat and building muscle.

 

LUNCHES AND DINNERS:

  • Make soups and stews from a mixture of root veg, green veg, a protein such as lentils or another legume, herbs, spices and a splash of olive oil. You can literally make endless combinations of soups and stews.
  • Make huge salads with lots of greens, grated carrot, chunks of avocado, sweetcorn, and sprinkle with some toasted seeds.
  • Bean and chocolate chilli – sounds weird but I make this every week and it lasts me days. It’s a chilli made of mixed beans such as kidney, chickpea and butter beans with a few chunks of dark chocolate. This really makes a difference to the depth of flavour and is a good replacement for meaty stock cubes. Just try it and see!
  • Roasted root veg such as parsnips, beetroot, squash, onions and carrots on a bed of quinoa and some steamed broccoli.

 

SNACKS:Smoothies are a quick and healthy snack

 

For more on how to lead a healthy life and how to slash your chances of disease and illness then I highly recommend you read my ‘Ultimate Guide to a Healthy Lifestyle’. This post offers advice on other aspects of healthy living, and more importantly how you can easily incorporate healthier alternatives into your everyday life. Feeling great has never been so easy!

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Categories: PLANT BASED DIET

Stefanie Taylor

I have studied nutrition for many years, and have since discovered that a plant based diet has been the most beneficial to my health and body. I have more energy and zest for life than I have ever had and this website is dedicated to helping others who wish to know more, and start out on this lifestyle.

16 Comments

Melissa · 01/01/2018 at 12:56 am

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!

    Stefanie Taylor · 01/01/2018 at 12:37 pm

    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.

jesse · 01/01/2018 at 2:06 am

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

    Stefanie Taylor · 01/01/2018 at 12:31 pm

    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

Brandon · 01/01/2018 at 6:51 am

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.

    Stefanie Taylor · 01/01/2018 at 12:16 pm

    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.

Melissa · 01/01/2018 at 11:48 am

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

    Stefanie Taylor · 01/01/2018 at 12:07 pm

    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?

Sarah · 01/01/2018 at 2:09 pm

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…

    Stefanie Taylor · 01/01/2018 at 3:10 pm

    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.

Trevor · 02/01/2018 at 5:27 pm

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

    Stefanie Taylor · 03/01/2018 at 10:20 am

    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.

Philip · 27/01/2018 at 9:00 pm

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.

    Stefanie Taylor · 28/01/2018 at 11:03 am

    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.

Lace · 27/01/2018 at 9:41 pm

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.

    Stefanie Taylor · 28/01/2018 at 10:34 am

    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

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