When anyone chooses to eat a more plant-based diet, meat and dairy are typically two of the first foods to go. Sure, fish, eggs, and poultry are right up there too, but due to all the health risks associated with meat and dairy such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, digestion issues, and inflammation, meat and dairy seem to be the most justifiable options to give up for good health. If that’s the case for you during your transition into a more plant-based diet, we’d like to help you out. There are some simple survival tactics in the kitchen that can really make things much easier when you’re giving up traditional favorites you once loved. Milk-based desserts, cheesy dishes, hearty breakfasts and dinners, and desserts can all be made without animal ingredients.

The benefits of eating plant-based options in exchange for meat and dairy is that if you choose mostly whole foods to make your recipes with, you’ll feel so much better and be surprised just how your taste buds can adapt quite quickly. If you’re worried about nutrition, don’t fret; you can get plenty of calcium and protein from plants, and don’t even have to resort to faux meat products at the store to eat a plant-based diet you love.

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Check out these tips below to inspire you and show you just how easy it is to “survive” without meat and dairy your first week without them and for the long haul!

1. Stock Your Kitchen for Success

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So you’ve made the choices to eat more plant-based. Great! Now, it’s time to go shopping. Don’t worry — we won’t ruin your grocery bill; you don’t need to buy a bunch of fancy ingredients unless you just want to and have the money to do so. Stock up on the following foods and buy what looks good to you: fruits, vegetables, leafy greens (kale, spinach, collards), whole grains (brown and wild rice, oats, quinoa, etc.), beans (black, red, navy, etc.), legumes (lentils, green peas, chickpeas), raw nuts and seeds (almonds, cashews, hemp seeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, ground flax seeds), avocados, fresh coconut or coconut butter, and some of the following if you like: teas, coffee, spices, nut butters, non-dairy milks and yogurts, organic soups, vegetable stock, mustard, hot sauce, baking chocolate, and cocoa powder.

This will give you a well-stocked fridge and pantry that will set you up for complete plant-based success! See How to Create a Plant-Based Kitchen You Love for even more tips.

2. Pick Out Some Recipes

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Before you can start to enjoy plant-based foods and not miss the meat or dairy, you’ll need some inspiration to “get things going.” Most no one who makes the transition just decides to do it, rolls into the kitchen like a star on the Food Network, and whips up a gourmet vegan meal with ease and style. There may be some, but for the most part, all of us have had a little inspiration to move us into the kitchen a little quicker. So pick out some easy recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and dessert. This will allow you to see not just how delicious plant-based foods can be, but also show you how others are doing it too so you don’t feel alone or out of the loop!

Check out our recipe section, look at books online (there are always so many new vegan books coming out!), talk with people at your local health food store for ideas (they’ll love sharing them with you!), take a look at our Plant-Based Nutrition Guide for recipes and book suggestions, and feel free to join in on conversations our Facebook page for even more ideas. Remember, there’s always a ton of recipes out there just waiting to be made. Look to those for inspiration and you’re already off to a great start!

 3. Take it One Meal at a Time

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Trying to overhaul your entire day’s worth of eats in your mind can be exhausting, so try just taking things one meal at a time. You’ve already got your arsenal of recipes in tact, so take a deep breath — most of the mental work is done. Now you just have to get into the kitchen and try what has inspired you. Don’t worry if it doesn’t come out like you expected at first, or revel in the delight that happens when each dish turns out to be even more delicious than you had hoped. Can we let you in on a little secret? Plant-based foods are actually very easy to prepare, AND, they’re also more exciting than meat and dairy-based dishes because there is so much variety!

Check out our tips to make a dairy-free breakfast, easy lunches, and hearty meals without the need for meat, dairy, or any other animal product for that matter. Whatever you need, we’ve got you covered!

4. Note the Changes

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Each day during your new journey, try noting the changes you start to see in yourself. This is a great way to stay inspired and also a good way to troubleshoot any issues you might have. For example, if you don’t particularly enjoy a dish, or if you do, you can be sure to write it down and note any changes (if any) that you’d like to make. This tip is also handy to track your progress for motivation. Each day, remember the reason you’re doing it and push forward to go at it one more day. Watch a movie if need be, read an article here our site, look at more delicious food, spend more time with animals, or remind yourself of some things about your health you’d like to see improve or that you want to prevent. Whatever it takes, noting the changes can make a huge difference, so give it a try!

5. Continue and Learn

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After the week is over, or as it’s coming to an end, try to continue to learn about the benefits of a plant-based lifestyle, how to cook without meat and dairy (or other animal foods if you wish), and continue to eat that way if you can. Whether you go plant-based for life or just for a season, we encourage you to keep doing it as long as you can and as long as it keeps you healthy. Always remember that whole foods are the best options when it comes to filling your diet with plant-based options, but don’t beat yourself up if you need to buy store-bought products at first. This isn’t a race to be a perfect eater; it’s about continual learning, growing, and changing our lives (and the lives of others) for the better. And all that starts with a curious mindset and the food we put on the table.

For even more tips, see How to Eat Vegan All Day Without Even Realizing It for seamless way to work plant-based eating into your day without much hassle at all.

Now, let’s head to the kitchen shall we? 

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Lead Image Source: How to Get Enough Protein While Eating Meat, Dairy, Soy, and Gluten-Free