How to Start a Plant Based Diet

12 TIPS TO GET YOU GOING

Take step after step into your new life with this easy to follow advice and see amazing results in no time.

Tip 1 – What’s your motivation?

Since you made your way to our website, you are probably in a stage of your life where you are ready for some major changes. Now, just take a second and become very clear about the goals you want to achieve by hopping on this plant-based lifestyle. What is important to you?  Maybe you want to get rid of some kind of disease or just long for an increased amount of energy and mental clarity – it doesn’t matter. Check out some documentaries to see what’s possible Write it down on a sheet of paper for this will keep up your focus and motivation in times of doubt.

Tip 2 – Eat a lot of food

This is something you will have to get accustomed to. You really have to up your quantities when switching over to a plant-based diet, since it’s less calorically dense. This is true especially when you focus on whole foods. So, load up on baked potatoes, quinoa, beans, salad, and fresh fruit! Eat to your heart’s content and never deprive yourself. This isn’t about ‘everything in moderation’, it’s about living abundantly off the good stuff. Over time, your body will get used to these kinds of volumes. Aim for at least 2000 calories a day. A wonderful tool to track your nutritional intake down to the macros, minerals, and vitamins, is cronometer. After a while, you can just rely on your natural hunger and satiety cues.

Tip 3 – Surround yourself with plenty of healthy foods

Browse your kitchen in search of any food that isn’t beneficial to you and either toss it or give it away. Don’t keep it just because you’ve already bought the food and think it’d be a waste not to use it. Help yourself change your ways by always buying heaps of fruits and vegetables, potatoes and rice, beans, or nuts, so you’ll always have them on hand in case you’re getting cravings for unhealthy food. Starches like whole grains and potatoes, pumpkin and legumes are your number one source of energy, so make sure you always have plenty of those within reach. They have a pretty long shelf life which makes them very convenient.

Tip 4 – Prepare for being on the go

When you’re on the move, there are most likely going to be stimulants and temptations in the form of animal-based and processed foods around you. In this case, it’s really crucial to be prepared by either having a full stomach or some kind of snacks on hand. Bring along your favorite fruits, nuts, bars, and energy balls for a snack. Brin rice salads, wraps, and whole-wheat sandwiches for a proper meal. But there’s surely nothing easier than carrying along a few bananas or apples. They are literally nature’s fast food and will nourish you in an instant as soon as you feel a little enfeebled and in need of some fresh energy. Luckily, most places offer decent plant-based versions, too!

Tip 5 – Make Food Swaps

Our advice is generally to take a gentle approach and slowly but steadily add more plant-based foods into your diet. We don’t restrict, we replace! Swap some of your favorite junk for a healthy alternative. For instance, you could use avocado instead of butter, tofu instead of chicken, and black bean burgers instead of beef. In order to make healthier plant-based choices, have dates instead of white sugar, make whole grain instead of white flour spaghetti and have fruit as a snack etc. Increase the amount of healthy vegan ingredients in your meals until you’ve crowded out the bad stuff.

Tip 6 – Start with a plant-based breakfast

It is super important to start the day with something healthy, energizing and uplifting. Breakfasts are also the easiest meals to veganize. Some great ideas are pancakes, a large bowl of fruit, chia pudding, a delicious smoothie, some oatmeal topped with fruit, granola bars or savory options such as tofu scrambles with potatoes or avocado toast. There are a lot more vegan breakfasts out there! These types of plant-based foods will inspire you to move on to a healthy vegan lunch, which is the next meal you can tackle. Once you feel confident in your fully plant-based breakfast and lunch options, move on to dinner. Continue until you have all meals and snacks transformed into plant-based ones.

Tip 7 – Educate yourself

The media, advertisements, and self-proclaimed specialists are doing a great job in confusing people and leading you away from the simple truth: eating whole plant-based foods is the kindest, healthiest and overall best thing you can do for yourself, other and the whole world. Prepare yourself with knowledge so you don’t have to question your new lifestyle time and again! Buy or rent books like Reverse and Prevent Heart Disease, The Starch Solution or Whole. There are also amazing documentaries like Forks over Knives, Food Inc. or Hungry for Change. This will also motivate you and makes you remember why you’re doing this.

Tip 8 – Find likeminded people

It’s always easier when having some company to share your struggles and success stories with. You can even inspire and help each other out, maybe facing similar challanges or having the same goals. Search in internet forums and facebook groups for people who are on the same journey as you and connect with them. Check out Meetup to find awesome folks in your area and arrange a plant-based potluck party. Make sure to follow us around social media like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+. You can subscribe to our Newsletter and get a free email course in transitioning to a whole food, plant-based diet! We’d love to help you out, so be sure to just get in touch

Tip 9 – Equip your kitchen

There lots of gadgets out there to simplify your kitchen-concerns in the plant-based food world. The absolute basics are a solid and not too small cutting board, a good quality knife, a nonstick pan and pot as well as some type of blender. If you’re fully dedicated and want to indulge in this way of living, a few more tools might come in handy. A non-stick pan is something we use almost daily, on top of other pots, and our rice cooker. Some other helpful utensils are a food processor and a pressure cooker or slow cooker. Make sure you get a glance at our dedicated page for essential kitchen appliances, where we go a little more into detail.

Tip 10 – Gently creating new habits

Be loving and kind to yourself. If you haven’t reached your goals yet or feel like you’re not doing things perfectly, don’t beat yourself up. Keep your dreams and visions in mind and work towards them, but accept where you are right now and take it step by step. Your thoughts have a bigger impact on your perception and reality as you might think. It all just comes down to creating new habits so this feels like second nature to you. Putting yourself down or under pressure brings along a spiral of negative beliefs and events, so don’t forget about the big scheme of things and adjust your expectations according to your own pace. When you become your biggest fan and supporter, your possibilities will be endless.

Tip 11 – Keep things fun & exciting

Once you have dabbled in vegan waters and tried to make plant-based versions of your favorite meals, you can take it one step further. Nobody wants to stick to a diet which only consists of 4 different meals! There are probably quite a few plant-based meals you’ve never even heard of or foods you haven’t tried. During your next visit to the supermarket, pay attention to all the types of fruits, veggies, beans, lentils, grains, nuts and seeds and choose one or a few that look interesting and which you have never eaten before. Browse the internet for ideas on what and how to cook amazing dishes that you can implement as a weekly dinner option. And if you’re more of a snacky convenient type of person: so many packaged food options these days are plant-based.

Tip 12 – Make a solid commitment

Now that you have created a solid foundation for your plant-based lifestyle, it’s time to make a commitment. Choose a few weeks or a month during which you’ll try to put everything into action and really follow through. Clean out your kitchen or kitchen space, have all kinds of plant-based staples on hand, keep your list with you favorite plant-based meals and snacks around, and enjoy every single bite! Maybe watching some fellow vegans on YouTube could get you some additional inspiration and help you feel less alone. We’d like to off you to join our private Facebook group for personal support, too. It’s only when you decide to make this happen that this transformation will take place and you’ll be able to recognize all of the amazing benefits of living this way.

How to become truly successful


Jumping into the cold water and going 100% whole food plant-based overnight may work for some, but it takes a lot of willpower to stay on track. The change can be so overwhelming that many fall off the wagon after a couple of days and head back to animal products and junk food. Of course, this is highly dependent on where you come from. The change won’t be so bad if you are already on a diet that is rich in fruits, veggies, grains, and legumes.

Both our own experiences and stories from countless other people in the movement have proven time and time again that a gentle approach to changing one’s diet is much more sustainable. Because we want you to succeed and reach your own personal goals, we put together these simple but powerful tips to help you on your journey, as well as a free 6-part course where we give you even more guidance and hands-on advice.

Check out our Free 6-Part Course on a Whole Food Plant Based Diet now for more guidance!
Click Here
27 Comments
  1. Jacquie Says

    I noticed you recommend avoiding ALL OIL including coconut. There is plenty of evidence that coconut oil is very good for you. What is the science behind your recommendation?

  2. Michelle Says

    what would you suggest for salad dressing’s and oils to cook with?

    • Danielle Elizabeth Littrell Says

      For salads my fiance’s family from Peru usually use just lime juice, salt, and pepper on their salads.

      • Alena Says

        Love the idea! Yumm.

    • Alena Says

      Hey Michelle,
      we like to base our salad dressings on tahini which we mix with lemon juice, water, salt and pepper.
      Another idea is to mix balsamic vinegar with some agave and mustard. Many of our dressings are based on mustard which can be mixed with soy milk for a creamy dressing :)
      As for the cooking part, we sautée our veggies in a non-stick pan without any added fluid or use a few tbsp of water / veggie broth. Baked veggies in the oven do well without any oil, only spices. Here is more information on cooking techniques without oil: https://nutriciously.com/plant-based-cooking-techniques/
      Hope this helps!

  3. Sarah Says

    This makes me feel so much more confident in my decision to try a plant based diet, thank you! I slowly want to incorporate more and more whole foods in my diet. the hardest part for me I think will be the lunch and dinner prep for work nights. My boyfriend and I work opposite days too, but he is on board with the change in our food. I work Thursday- Sunday and he Monday – Friday. Any advise?

  4. Patricia Says

    Love love this! I’ve been a vegan for about 8 months now, initially did it for the animals but after doing so much research about it health wise and reading “Whole” which I totally recommend to anyone interested in nutrition – I find that I’m making all those necessary changes to live a fully whole food plant based diet and I’ve never felt better!

    • Alena Says

      Hey Patricia,
      thanks so much for your lovely feedback! Have you joined our free course in transitioning to a whole food plant based diet? We love Campbell’s work, along with other great plant-based experts such as McDougall, Esselstyn, Greger or Barnard. So happy to hear that you’ve been feeling so great since making the switch! Do let us know if you need any further support :)
      Best wishes,
      Alena

  5. diane Says

    All these comments amazing. Thank you! Such kindness and terrific support group!

    • Alena Says

      Thanks for the lovely comment! Yes, it’s a very inviting community here – most of us have been the only plant eaters around and therefore want to connect & help each other out :)

  6. Sabrina Marks Says

    I have just started the plant based diet about a month ago and have not lost any weight. Is this normal?

    • Alena Says

      Hi Sabrina,
      there could be several reasons for not losing weight on a plant-based diet.
      1. You don’t really have any weight to lose.
      2. Your body has to adapt to some hormonal or metabolic stuff first or has to heal.
      3. You eat food that’s too high in calorie density or just drink a lot of your calories.
      4. Your portion sizes are somehow too big (but that’s not very easy when eating whole plant-based foods).
      Feel free to email me with some details so we can look at this a little deeper! Here are some infos for now: https://nutriciously.com/eat-lot-still-lose-weight/
      Best,
      Alena

  7. Marie Salam Says

    I’m curious about not having any oil on plant based diets. What I think I know about vitamins there are very important vitamins that are fat soluble. So, I’ve always believed it’s necessary to have a small amount of a healthy oil daily for that reason. Let me know your thoughts on that . Thank you!

    • Alena Says

      Hi Marie,
      thanks for your question! We get that a lot and will be publishing an article on it soon. The reasons why you should consider cutting out oil are:
      – there is nothing in the extracted oil that isn’t in the whole food it came from
      – it is devoid of fiber, vitamins, minerals
      – all whole plant-based foods have fat, you could sprinkle nuts/seeds on your meals instead of pouring oil
      – it impairs your arteries, weakens your immune system
      – it has a whopping 120 calories per tbsp
      I hope this answers some of your questions for now! Be sure to look out for the upcoming article on this topic :)
      Best,
      Alena

  8. Kelly Bailey Says

    Starting plant based diet today after finding out last week that I am pre diabetic. My fiance and I did Whole 30 in April, he lost 20 lbs, me 7. My questions are these:
    Do you buy or make any type of bread or pita?
    What do you eat for breakfast besides oats and fruit? I ate eggs every day.
    Do I need to take any supplements or vitamins?

    • Lars Says

      Hi Kelly,
      we don’t make bread or pita at home but rather buy whole grain versions of them at the store.
      We usually have oats for breakfast, sometimes smoothie bowls or smoothies, avocado on whole grain bread, scrambled tofu, hash browns, or sweet rice.
      Yes, we do take a vitamin B12 and during winter also vitamin D. These are basically all you need on a vegan diet! Whole plant-based foods are really nutrient dense, so you’ll get everything else you need. We don’t believe in magic green powders or anything, it’s more about the overall diet.
      Hope that helps!
      – Lars

  9. Kathi Says

    We whatched a show on Netflix called What the Health. Any one who feels like crap, and is taking too many pills needs to watch this.

    • Angela M Says

      Me too! Am still exploring this plant based diet but love the way I felt last time I went fully vegetarian. I felt like me, so if this is as powerful I can’t wait to fell like me again!

      • Alena Says

        So glad to read that, ladies! Happy it brought you over to us.
        Feel free to let me know if you need any further support :)

  10. Carole Williamson Says

    I have begun the switch, am 75 and in pretty good health. The last couple of days, on a 1400 calorie plant based plan with the only exception for this week being a nighttime GNC lean protein drink. Anyway I have had shakiness and hand tremors. Is this typical at this age or dehydration?

    • Alena Says

      Hi Carole,
      awesome that you’re making this shift at your age! So impressive. Are you full and satisfied on only 1400 calories? Most people eat at least 2000 calories, especially when being on a whole food plant-based diet. This caloric deficit could be the reason for your shakiness. Other than that, we’re not health professionals and urge you to get checked by a doctor! You might find someone here: https://www.plantbaseddoctors.org/
      We’re not a fan of protein shakes at all, especially those with lots of unhealthy ingredients! Please reconsider. It’s much better to eat whole foods for your calories and nutrients.
      Hope this helps!
      Best wishes

  11. Ana Says

    Hi Alena,
    what do you recomend for someone who is starting on a plant based diet but is also on a more strict calorie diet? 2000kcal a day is allot for me…I’m trying to loose some weight…

    • Alena Says

      Hi there Ana,
      thanks for your comment. For weight loss, you should keep your fats pretty low and only get into a slight caloric deficit. There’s a thing called fat balance which means by reducing your dietary fat and keeping your calories at a reasonable level, your body will get into its own fat for metabolic processes. When I was slightly overweight (170lbs at 5’7) I ate around 1800 calories per day, loading up on non-starchy veggies, potatoes, rice, and some fruit. This helped me lose 50 lbs in less than a year without any additional exercise.
      The beauty of whole plant-based food is that it’s filled with water and fiber and it’s high in carbs which means you’ll be full before you can get enough calories. I ate a HUGE amount of food for these 1800 calories, believe me. You cannot trick your body and eat way too little, that won’t really help your weight loss as you’ll pack on the pounds again. Focus on nourishment and healing! Email me if you’d like further support.
      Best wishes,
      Alena

  12. Hi! I just signed up for the course and am looking forward to gaining more recipes. My spouse and I have been trying out vegan / vegetarian meals for about a month and are totally planning to continue. Thanks in advance for the course.

    • Alena Says

      Hey Liz,
      thanks so much for the comment! We love having you on board :) So awesome that you both want to make the switch together – it’ll be way easier as a team. Let me know if you need any further support and just drop me an email!
      Best wishes,
      Alena

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