A plant-based diet can be intimidating to a newbie.
First, let me say that I made all the below mistakes when I began my plant-based lifestyle. A plant-based diet is a big adjustment, even with preparation it can take a long time for thought processes to become automatic and ‘normal’. It took a while before I automatically checked labels and even longer to know exactly what I was looking for each time. Learn from my errors and avoid these common rookie mistakes.
7 Rookie Mistakes to Avoid When Starting Your Plant-Based Lifestyle:
1. Not having egg and dairy replacements on hand. The first rookie mistake people make is thinking that a plant-based diet means simply avoiding eggs and dairy. The same person then goes ‘oh crap’ the first time they go to prepare a recipe that calls for eggs and they have nothing in their pantry. Learn more about being prepared and stocking a plant-based pantry HERE.
2. Assuming other people know about plant-based diets. You’re probably going to have to do a fair amount of explaining to friends and family the first few months of your plant-based lifestyle. Many people think eating plant-based means just abstaining from meat. They forget that it includes butter, cream, milk, eggs, cheese etc. Rule of thumb, bring your own. I always bring my own butter and milks (and sometimes even mains courses) when eating at other peoples homes, it’s just easier for everyone.
3. Not preparing for cravings. There are two things that rookies to a plant-based diet will crave: chocolate and cheese. Be prepared for these cravings by having some vegan or dark chocolate on hand, as well as, vegan cheese. Places like Bulk Barn carry great vegan chocolate bar options and Daiya Cheese can be found at most major grocery stores.
4. Relying on supplements for nutrients. The best way to be successful in your lifestyle change is to focus on getting your minerals and nutrients from food first. I do take some supplements, like iron, but for the most part we work to make sure we get the bulk of our nutrition from food.
5. Forgetting about restaurants. Eating out is a challenge if you go to a ‘regular’ restaurant, especially if you’re not prepared. Before hand, think about how you can adjust a salad or rice dish to meet your needs. Ask your server if they can add nuts or seeds to your dish in place of meat. Another good option is to bring your own salad dressing in case a vinaigrette option is not readily available.
6. Assuming vegan means healthy. One word. Oreos. It’s easy to think you’re eating healthy simply because you’re abstaining from meat, dairy and eggs. But the truth is, it is really easy to overload on things like pasta and bread when beginning a plant based diet. And yes, pasta and bread absolutely have their place in a healthy diet but too much of either is the same as eating a bunch of sugar.
7. Expecting perfection from yourself. Any lifestyle change goes through an adjustment period, and you need to be gentle with yourself. A plant-based and compassionate lifestyle isn’t about perfection or competition. A compassionate and plant-based diet is about doing the least amount of harm. My rule of thumb is if I’m proud of myself and my decisions at the end of each day than that is enough. If I’m not, then the next day is a new day to do better.
What advice would you give to those new to a plant-based diet? Let me know in the comments!