By Molly Patrick
Apr 18, 2020
If you’re new to eating a whole food plant based diet, or if you’re just curious about it, you came to the right spot.
First up, following a whole food plant based diet is different from following a vegan diet. While neither include animal based foods or foods derived from animal based ingredients, a whole food plant based diet (WFPB for short) goes a step further and does not include overly processed food like oil, junk food, white flour, white sugar, vegan ice cream, vegan cookies, or any other processed food. It’s worth mentioning that neither a whole food plant based diet or a vegan diet are diets in the sense of restricting calories. The term diet here is used as a description of how someone eats on a consistent basis.
When you eat a whole food plant based diet, you eat whole plant foods and delicious recipes made from these foods on a daily basis.
These foods include:
- Whole grains
- Minimally processed plant based ingredients like tofu, tempeh, unsweetened plant milk, and sprouted grain bread.
Whether your motivation to eat more plants is to boost your immune system and your overall health, drop some pounds, get off your diabetes medication, help protect the environment, or animal welfare, it’s never too late to start, and there are no prerequisites. You simply start where you’re at, and ease into it however you like.
Easing in looks different for different people. You can eat one whole food plant based meal a day, one whole food plant based meal a week, or you can just add some plant based foods into your existing food routine. Alternatively, you can jump right in, switch to all plants, and never look back.
This is your process, and you have to do what works best for you.
I’ve seen people have success with both methods, and it’s entirely up to you. This is your process, and you have to do what works best for you. There is no wrong or right way to do this, it just takes some practice and some patience as you get familiar with new ingredients, new textures, and new methods of cooking.
Whether you want to go all in right away, or slowly ease into this way of eating, here are some tips to help get you started.
Get used to the idea of spending time in your kitchen
You can’t order this kind of food from a restaurant or buy it pre-made at the grocery store. Eating this way requires you to get into your kitchen and cook. You don’t have to be a kitchen pro, but you must be willing to spend some time preparing your food.
As a society, we’ve gotten away from spending time in our kitchens because making our own food is not convenient. But eating out all the time and heating up frozen meals in the microwave isn’t really working for us, either. If you have zero time to spend in your kitchen, it’s time to take a look at your life and rearrange some things. We accomplish what we make a priority. If eating more plant based is a priority to you then you won’t find time to cook, you will make time to cook. If it’s not a priority then you won’t. Easy as that. Either way is fine, just know that in order to do this, your kitchen must be used.
It might take time before the food to taste scrumptious to you
If you’re used to eating lots of processed foods and restaurant-prepared foods, it might take a little while before your palate adjusts and you really enjoy the taste of whole plant foods. This is because processed food and restaurant food is loaded with salt, sugar, and fat, and any foods that aren’t as stimulating as those foods will taste bland and boring.
The more plant based food you eat, the better the food will taste, until one day you’ll be walking along, and BOOM! You get hit with a salad craving. It totally happens!
Get your kitchen ready with some tools
You don’t need a ton of fancy kitchen gadgets, but there are a few things that are worth purchasing because you will use them often.
- A decent blender // I used a $20 blender from Target for years. I now have a Vitamix that I love, but my $20 blender did the trick when I could not afford a Vitamix.
- Sharp knives // you just need a few knives that you keep sharpened; trust me, sharp knives make a huge difference.
- Instant Pot // this will save you time in the kitchen. I could not imagine not having an Instant Pot.
- Food processor // you won’t use this daily, but when you need it, you will really need it. A food processor is perfect for hummus, bean burgers, walnut parm, and for chopping and dicing veggies.
Serve some fruit and / or veggies on the side with whatever you’re eating, plant based or not
It doesn’t matter what you’re eating, just throw some fruit and / or veggies on the side to up the nutrient density of your meal. Having eggs and bacon for breakfast? Fine! But throw some apple slices on the side. Having an avocado sandwich for lunch? Cool, add some celery sticks and red pepper slices on the side. Eating some brown rice and stir-fried veggies and tofu for dinner? Awesome! Add a few carrot sticks and berries on the side and call it a day. Adding fruit and veggies on the side of your meals is a super-fast way to fuel up on nutrients and fiber. And when it comes to nutrients and fiber, more is definitely better.
Here’s an example of what I eat in a day
The only way to eat healthy plant based food is to put healthy plant based food in your mouth. That’s it. Try not to over complicate it. Here’s an example of what I eat in a day:
- 7am-ish // A glass of warm water
- 9am-ish // Hippie Breakfast Porridge. I eat it cold and make it with different types of whole grains and lentils each time I make it. I add fruit, raisins, nuts, and unsweetened soy milk.
- 1pm-ish // either a big salad or leftover Meal Plan food
- 3pm-ish // Green smoothie
- 6pm-ish // Meal Plan food (different all the time so I never get bored)
I try to keep to this schedule, and I always eat until I am no longer hungry (not stuffed and not feeling like I need more food). I do not eat between meals, and I don’t drink anything with my meals.
Find good recipes
There are mouthgasmic whole food plant based recipes and there are whole food plant based recipes that taste exactly like cardboard. I can’t personally vouch for other WFPB recipes, but ours are consistently satisfying and delicious. We have hundreds of free plant based recipes on our blog, and we also offer a weekly plant based Meal Plan subscription and a plant based Recipes subscription (the Recipes subscription is included with the Meal Plan subscription). Whole food plant based recipes are what we do best, but definitely google around and see what’s out there. Whatever you do, hold off on making all your own recipes in the beginning. Start with a solid base and then experiment with your own if you like playing in the kitchen.
Stock your kitchen with the staples
In order to put yummy plant based food in your mouth on a regular basis you must have some staples in your fridge and pantry so you can make the food.
You will be using ingredients that you’ve maybe never even heard of before. Nutritional yeast, ume plum vinegar, quinoa, tahini, and miso paste to name a few. Here’s a list of kitchen staples that will create a solid base of ingredients for your kitchen. Once you have these items you will be able to whip together many whole food plant based recipes. Once you have yummy food made, there won’t be any reason not to eat it.
Add green smoothies into your routine
Green smoothies are a quick and delicious way to get a huge boost of nutrients in one go. If you do nothing more but add a green smoothie to your daily routine, that is a fantastic start! Here are some green smoothie recipes to get you started.
Always have these items ready to go in your fridge and you can whip together a ton of fast meals
- Hummus // sandwiches, quesadillas, on salads
- Chickpea Mash // sandwiches, on salads
- Sprouted tortillas // tacos, burritos, quesadillas
- A yummy cheesy sauce (this one is my jam) // put it on potatoes, pasta and bowls
- Cooked sweet potatoes or white potatoes // top with veggies and pour cheesy sauce on top
- Salad dressing (this is my all-time fave) // salads, sandwich spread
- Washed and dried lettuce and leafy greens // you are way more likely to eat your greens when they are washed and ready to go
- Sprouted bread // sweet or savory toast (see today’s recipe)
- Baked Tofu // sandwiches, salads, bowls, or just to munch on alone
- Nut or seed butter // add to celery or apple slices
- Fruit // eat it plain or on the side with everything you eat
- Cooked rice or quinoa // bowls
- Canned beans // bowls, burritos, on salads
- Walnut parm // sprinkle on pasta, salads and bowls
- Toasted seeds // salad topper
- Hippie porridge // I love this cold with fruit, nuts, raisins, and soy milk
- Sauerkraut // add to sandwiches and salads
Act on your cravings, just eat whole food plant based versions of whatever you are craving
The longer you eat a whole food plant based diet, the less you will crave things like pizza, french fries, burgers, and cake. However, when you are new to eating this way and you start craving junk food, whip together whole food plant based versions of those foods.
Make these bad boys.
Nip that craving here!
Craving Mac and Cheese?
We got you!
Whatever you do, never eat a piece of lettuce when all you really want is a Reuben, or an orange when all you really want is a candy bar. You will only be pissed off and disappointed. Make the healthiest version possible of whatever you’re craving and allow your craving to be satisfied.
When you’re ready to dive deeper into plant based eating and living, check out our CFDG resources that you can’t find anywhere else
Weekly Plant Fueled Meal Plans where we hook you up with a new plan and new recipes every Friday. You can set your portions for however many you want to cook for and everything will be adjusted for you. Our meal plans include our entire database of over 2,000 tested and approved whole food plant based recipes.
If you don’t want to follow a meal plan, check out our Plant Fueled Recipes subscription and never have to search the internet for recipes that may or may not turn out yummy.
If you are brand spankin’ new to eating and cooking this way, check out Kitchen Play where I walk you through the process of creating super simple recipes that you will want to make again and again. This is all about playing in your kitchen, learning some basics, and having fun.
Don’t give up!
If you’ve tried eating a vegan diet in the past and it didn’t work for you, know that a whole food plant based diet is a much different experience. It really is one of the very best things you can do for your health that will impact how you feel on a daily basis. Wherever you’re at in your process, I am cheering you on!
Are you new to plant based eating? What challenges have you had with making the switch? Talk to us in the comments below!
- sprouted bread, toasted
- peanut butter no added oil or sugar
- papaya, seeded and sliced
- raspberries fresh or frozen
- lime, juiced
- Toast your bread and then smear it with peanut butter.
- Add some papaya slices and raspberries and squeeze fresh lime juice on top. Enjoy!
Wishing you a happy week. May it be filled with trying something new.