Plant Based Diet: A Beginner’s Guide

Posted on: September 1, 2012 Category: Guest Experts/ Health & Wellness

Today’s guest post is by Lindsay from Lindsay Loves Veggies, talking about beginning a plant-based diet. I am a huge advocate for a plant-based diet! If you’re thinking about embarking on your journey towards health and wellness, this article is sure to provide you with useful guides to help you jumpstart your healthful diet.

Let September be the month you start taking control of your health, your wellness, your happiness & your life! :) 

A Guest Post by Lindsay Oshel

I want to start out by saying thank you again to Miss Jia Ni for inviting me to guest post over here on her beautiful blog!!!  I’ve just started getting to know her in the last month or so, and she is one of the sweetest, most loving, and inspiration people that I have had the pleasure of talking to.

I’ve been writing a little blog called Lindsay Loves Veggies for almost the last year and a half now.  I started writing because I wanted to spread the good news about plant-based diets.  I share plant-based recipes, nutrition info, and green living tips, with the hopes that other people will want to get on board and live healthier, happier lives.

So, why a plant-based diet?  What does that even mean??

As much as possible, I try to eat a plant-based, whole foods diet.  This means that I keep animal products, processed food, and added chemicals to a minimum.  I used to consider myself a vegan, but dropped the term, because I do eat meat, cheese, and eggs on occasion when dining out.  Vegan tends to imply a very firm restriction of animal products, which is awesome for some people, but ended up being just a bit too strict for my personality. To me, a plant-based diet means vegan with wiggle room.

I eat this way because I believe that it is the absolute best way to nourish my body.  Numerous studies have shown that consuming animal products and processed food leads to serious health problems, including heart disease, diabetes and cancer.  I have also read myriad anecdotal accounts of people thriving, having abundant energy, and feeling generally fantastic due to a plant-based diet.  It seems that once people cut animal products out of their diet and begin eating closer to nature, that all their little ailments seemed to disappear.  Acne, arthritis, IBS, seasonal colds….all that stuff seems to vanish along with the meat and dairy!

This held true with me, as well!  I was tired of spending all winter with a cold that wouldn’t go away, constantly feeling bloated because my food was hanging out in my gut for days on end, and having annoying skin irritations, that I now blame on dairy.  Again, once the animal products went away, so did my health issues!  I’ve never felt better in my entire life.

How did I get started on a plant-based diet?

I first started learning about plant-based diets during my junior year of college, when one of my nutrition classmates suggested that I read the book Skinny Bitch.  While I don’t agree with the snarky, negative attitude that the book has, it is very enlightening as to the health issues and animal rights issues related to diet.  My habits started changing slightly, but I wasn’t quite sold yet.

I began reading healthy living blogs the next year, and started learning more about eating whole foods, like grains, beans, and fresh produce.  Blogs brought green smoothies into my life, which are one of my favorite breakfast and snack options to this day.  I was also finally talked into trading out my skim milk for almond milk.  I learned that cow’s milk is full of pus and antibiotics, and has a tendency to form mucus in the body.  Pretty gross, huh?

After all that I had learned I was still eating a fairly un-healthy diet.  Fast food was still my best friend, and my boyfriend and I were pigging out on junk constantly.  My small frame put on about 15 pounds over the winter of 2010, and I was just feeling lethargic and gross.  Then, miracle of miracles, somehow Crazy Sexy Diet by Kris Carr ended up in my hands.  That book literally changed my life.  By the time I had finished with it, I was 100% convinced to give up animal products and go vegan.  Kris’ incredible attitude and down-to-earth way of presenting information is truly inspiring.  In fact, I still go back and re-read that book from time to time if I need a little reminder of why I do what I do.  She teaches that what you eat heavily impacts how your body is capable of fighting off disease.  Your body won’t be able to thrive and have the energy it should if it is constantly repairing itself from the damaging effects of the food you eat.  It makes so much sense!  I highly recommend her book to everyone!

What do I eat?

My diet consists largely of fruits, veggies, beans, grains, nuts and seeds, with an emphasis on lots of greens and raw foods.  These can be made into millions of exciting combinations! I eat tons of fresh juices, green smoothies, salads, grain bowls, and soups, along with plenty more.

Those who are unfamiliar with the whole vegan/plant-based thing often wonder where we get our protein.  Did you know that all plants have a least a small amount of protein?  Even green veggies pack protein, and beans and grains are especially well-endowed.  Plus, your body doesn’t need quite as much protein as the general population seems to think it does.  In modern societies, you will almost never see someone who eats, who is protein deficient.  On the other hand, excess animal protein causes your body to become acidic, raising your chances of getting sick in one way or another.

A mistake that most people (including myself) make when they go veg, is trying to eat the same way they did when they ate an average diet.  Trust me, it can be easy to be all over the veggie burgers and smothering everything with Daiya (the BEST vegan cheese ever!), but food is so much better than that!  Your tastes change, and soon enough you crave freshness and wholeness.  The processed meat substitutes and the chemical laden junk lose much of their appeal.

My favorite dinners are simple meals like quinoa, beans, broccoli,  and hemp seeds, with a splash of tamari over the top.  Most of my breakfasts are funny looking green smoothies and juices, but I wouldn’t have it any other way!  I just feel better, mentally and physically, when I eat nourishing, plant-based foods.

Tips

Eating a delicious, healthy, plant-based diet can be really easy.  Here are some tips to make it even easier:

+ Keep good food in your kitchen.  This one is super important.  If it’s not in your fridge, you aren’t going to eat it.  There are two really good methods for keeping stocked up:  1) Buy enough produce, grains, beans, and whatever else you might need, so that you can randomly make whatever you’d like throughout the week.  Or, 2) Make a meal plan at the beginning of the week, then go out and buy all of the ingredients you’ll need.  Just don’t forget about snacks!

+ Take advantage of the bulk foods section.  I loooove the bulk foods section of the grocery store.  That’s where I buy all of my grains, nuts, seeds, dry beans, nutritional yeast, dried fruits, etc.  You’re much more likely to find raw nuts and seeds, and less common grains in bulk than packaged in the aisles.  Plus, you save lots of money on packaging and branding by buying bulk.  Put that hard earned money towards something a little more exciting, like pricier superfoods or a juicer!  (Okay, maybe that’s just exciting to me. ;))

+ Do prep-work ahead of time.  Take a free day and chop veggies, cook up a bunch of grains and beans for the week, make some bars to have for snacks.  Do as much as possible ahead of time, and you won’t have to compromise as often because you “just don’t have time to cook”.

+ Spice it up!  Keep plenty of spices, and fresh and dried herbs around.  They can take a dish from “meh” to “wow!” in just a couple of shakes.

+ Use your resources.  Don’t try to do this all on your own!  There are tons of books, websites, and blogs dedicated to make the transition to a plant-based diet as easy one.  Some of my faves are Crazy Sexy Diet by Kris Carr, the Thrive series by Brendan Brazier, vegweb.com (for vegan info and recipes), happycow.net (to find veg-friendly restaurants in your area), any cookbook by Isa Chandra Moscowitz, and, of course, don’t forget to check out Lindsay Loves Veggies, for recipes and tips to make a plant-based life easy.

(Image source: *, *)

 

Lindsay Oshel is the blogger behind Lindsay Loves Veggies, where she writes about plant-based food and nutrition, as well as holistic and green living tips.  She is passionate about helping others to lead healthier, happier lives.

Lindsay lives in Seattle, Washington, USA with her boyfriend, Keenan, and her crazy tiny dog, Arlo.  When she isn’t blogging, or working her day job, she enjoys juicing, yoga, running, listening to records, reading, and exploring the natural beauty that the Pacific Northwest has to offer.

You can find Linsay on her: Blog / Twitter / Facebook

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Comments

  1. Great post by Lindsay! I have been very curious about plant-based diets and now I know what all the hype is about. My dad was healed of very painful neruopathy earlier this year using this very diet. So I am a believer just didn’t know how to start. I’m also a fan of Kris Carr, she’s amazing. Love her infectious spirit and wisdom. Thanks for sharing this awesome post.

    • Jia Ni says:

      That’s great Amber! Wow, your dad’s journey is extremely inspiring + just shows how we can heal ourselves with our lifestyle choices. Thank you for sharing. :)

      Hope you got a lot out of this post – Lindsay is great! All the best on your journey to plant based way of eating. Come back and let me know how you do! xxx

  2. Maddison says:

    I am very interested in a plant based diet and of course love the Kris Carr books as well, its what started my interest. Was great having all the information easily laid out for me! Thanks x

  3. Lovely post Lindsay! I’m a pescatarian, and only eat fish on occasion, so would also say that I eat a “plant-based diet” and love it! Your tips are spot on…the man I go every Sunday to the local farmers market and really stock up! Plus, creative use of spices is REALLY what brings a meal together when its all said and done!

  4. Michelle says:

    Hi I have recently embarked on the journey of a plant based diet after watching forks over knives, I’m enjoying eating more healthier and havnt cut out diary and some meat products all tog but am feeling pretty weak, have mild headaches and my head just doesn’t feel right. I read on the net via a doctors post that this is called toxic hunger. I was wondering if you went through the same thing when beginning this new approach to a healthier lifestyle and how long does it last for? Tnx Michelle

  5. AJ says:

    I also made the switch the a plant-based diet this past January. I am down almost twenty pounds and I feel amazing. Even better, I have ditched my high blood pressure and cholelsterol medication. It really works! The tips are great Lindsay, especially the planning ahead – it can all be done when we take the time to take care of ourselves.

  6. Michael says:

    Thank you for the information! Do you know of any apps that are specific to plant-based diet recipes?

    Michael

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