How to Ease Into a Plant-Based Diet

Susannah Shmurak

by | Read time: 5 minutes

If you‘ve read about all the benefits of a plant based diet but thought going vegan is a little more than you’re ready for, it’s important to understand that transitioning to a plant-based diet doesn’t have to be all or nothing. You don’t have to go 100% vegan at once, or even ever, to get many of the benefits of plant-based eating.

Overhead View of Spread of Colorful Vegetable Dishes to Represent How to Transition to a Plant Based Diet Concept |

If the thought of giving up some of your favorite foods forever has prevented you from eating more plant-based, a gradual shift without giving up those foods you care about most is still a step in the right direction. Slowly working in more plant-based meals and snacks will feel far more doable than suddenly going ‘cold turkey’ on animal products.

Even if you don’t ever go completely vegan, eating less meat and dairy has some major benefits for your health and for the planet.

So don’t let the idea of eating plant-based overwhelm you. Instead, start where you are and slowly make more plant-based choices. Perhaps someday you’ll be eating an entirely plant-based diet, or perhaps you’ll always eat almost entirely vegan.

Here’s how to begin easing into more plant-based eating.

How to Transition to a Plant-Based Diet

Step 1: Take stock of the plant foods you already enjoy

Whether or not you already make an effort to make meatless meals, there are likely many plant-based dishes you already enjoy. Whether it’s oatmeal at breakfast or salads at lunch or pasta at dinner, you probably consume many plant-based foods every day.

Lean into these favorites and create variations, so you have three rather than one favorite pasta dish, for example. Writing out a meal plan for the week can help you see how many of your choices are plant-based and offer direction for making more.

Step 2: Give animal products a supporting rather than a starring role

If you’re not ready to entirely forego chicken, fish, eggs, or cheese, just aim to use less of them, making whole grains, fruits and vegetables the star of the meal and using animal products as an accompaniment.

If you’d normally serve a whole chicken breast with rice and a salad, consider making the salad the main event, and topping it with some high-protein grains and beans, and a little bit of chicken if you’re not ready to go completely meatless. Or make your stir fry with a little bit of chicken and loads of satisfying flavorful seasonal veggies.

Step 3: Replace animal products where it’s easiest

Innovations in plant-based foods have made it easier than ever to shift to a more plant-based diet. Try some of the new plant-based meat and dairy replacements where you can, whether it’s a veggie-based burger, tofu in your stir fry or almond milk on your breakfast cereal. The options for great tasting vegan cheeses and meat alternatives keep expanding as well.

Many soups you love are naturally vegan or can easily be made without animal products. Use a flavorful vegetable soup base and add whatever vegetables, beans and spices you like to whip up delicious soups, whether it’s pumpkin or savory noodle soup.

Not enough time to cook from scratch? Many delicious packaged soups work as well, whether it’s a quick cup of soup to eat in the office or a heat-and-eat soup to warm up on the stove or in the microwave.

Even your sweet tooth can be satisfied with vegan indulgences. Dairy-free chocolate is a healthy and delicious way to give in to a chocolate craving. Try these vegan chocolate chips in your vegan cookie recipe or get some extra protein with these no-bake sunflower butter chocolate bars. Or check out the many options for easy homemade vegan ice cream. This hemp ice cream has 21 grams of protein per serving!

Step 4: Experiment With new plant-based recipes

Whether you buy easy meat or cheese substitutes or make them yourself, there are loads of options for tasty, satisfying meals. Try new recipes to transform your favorite comfort foods to plant-based versions, whether it’s a vegan chili or shepherd’s pie or a homemade pizza.

Or build a beautiful buddha bowl or flavorful noodle bowl.

Don’t forget dessert! When you’re ready to try baking without butter and eggs, here are some helpful tips for vegan baking. Enjoy fudgy brownies, luscious spiced pear cake or chewy chocolate chip cookies.

Praise yourself for what you do rather than berate yourself for what you don’t

Whether or not you ever decide to eat entirely vegan, the plant-based meals you do make will help your diet be better for your health and the environment. Rather than fret over the animal products that remain in your diet, congratulate yourself on all the plant-based choices you’re making.

Celebrate yourself with some chocolatey energy balls  or peppermint chip nice cream!

What about protein and B-12?

The top concern for most people considering a vegan diet is getting enough protein. With all the options for plant-based proteins available, eating enough protein isn’t difficult at all.

Try a delicious bean-based dish like curried chickpea salad or a hearty bean soup, add chia and sunflower seeds to your overnight oats, snack on almonds or peanut butter toast, top salads with chickpeas or other legumes as well as nuts and seeds, and add vegan protein powder to your smoothie.

The other consideration when eating an entirely plant-based diet is getting enough vitamin B-12, an essential nutrient found mainly in animal products. Nutritional yeast is a source of B-12 and adds a yummy cheesy flavor to all kinds of foods. Here are 16 recipes using this versatile ingredient. Nutritionists generally recommend that vegans take a B-12 supplement.

Vegan recipes to inspire you

With so many delicious plant-based foods to choose from, where to start? Check out some of the flavorful, nutritious recipes below and find more in our FREE vegan recipe e-book, Vegan Eats.

Here’s a list of some recipes I came across that looked particularly appealing for you to choose from:

Cashew Cheese Lasagna Roll Ups

Taco Salad with Walnut “Meat”

Vegan Chickpea Soft Tacos

Vegan Wellington with Mushroom Gravy

Creamy Vegan Broccoli Soup

Chickpea Meatballs

Red Thai Curry with Potatoes and Chickpeas

Lentil Spinach Soup

Hearty Nachos with chickpea cheese sauce

Baked Red Lentil Falafel with Lemon Tahini Dipping Sauce

Sunshine Superfood Veggie Soup

Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash

Vegan “Cheese” Ball with Cranberries and Pistachios

Vegan Pesto

Vegan Cranberry Bread

No Bake Pumpkin Mousse Tarts

Vegan Pecan Pie

Featured Products

Pan's Mushroom Jerky Original |
Bob's Red Mill Egg Replacer Gluten Free |
The Daily Crave Quinoa Chips Himalayan Pink Salt |