Congratulations on making the decision to adopt a plant-based lifestyle. While you’re no doubt feeling excited about the positive changes this will bring to your health and our planet, it’s common to feel a bit overwhelmed, too. If you’ve spent the majority of your life making meat the centerpiece of most dinner plates (not to mention your breakfasts, lunches and snacks), then there’s going to be a bit of a learning curve during your transition. The key is to proactively prepare for the change, rather than trying to wing it.
“I want to emphasize the importance of being kind to and patient with yourself while making a lifestyle change,” says celebrity chef, nutritionist, and reiki master Serena Poon, CN, CHC, CHN. “Please don’t feel that you need to make the shift perfectly or even gracefully. It may take time to shift to a plant-based diet and that’s okay. Once you have been eating a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and whole grains for a little while it will become intuitive and energizing.”
So what are the common pitfalls to diving into the deep end without enough preparation?
Eating vegan junk food.
“One of the main missteps I see when people shift to a plant-based diet is heading straight for packaged vegan food,” says Poon. “These foods are okay in moderation, but a plant-based diet that supports health would have a foundation in vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and legumes, and whole grains.”
Relying on meat and cheese replacements.
“I often see people trying to recreate their previous diet with vegan substitutes,” she continues. “Many plant-based meat and cheese replacements are highly processed, so even though they are plant-based, you would want to consume them in moderation.” Give the dynamic and robust plant- and legume-based diet a try, as you might be surprised by how much you love eating fresh, whole foods.