How do I go plant based?Published: 20/02/2021 by Samuel Anthony
After the biggest veganuary to date, becoming plant-based, or vegan, is easier than ever. There have been more studies conducted into the benefits of plant-based and, on top of this, in restaurants and shops finding vegan options is now commonplace.
This short guide will teach you how to transition in the way thats right for you, as well as the pros and cons of transition methods.
Why Go Plant-Based in 2021?
There are more reasons than ever to go plant-based, and your reasons will be personal to you.
For many they go plant-based for the planet, others to achieve fitness-related goals, and others
for ethical reasons. Some go plant-based to reduce inflammmation and improve general health where
others retain processed, sugary foods and pay less attention to health.
Either way, you are already here for a reason. Whatever that reason is, I will help you answer the simple question "how do I go plant-based" with articles and recipes for you to explore.
Some quick facts
- "Plant-based diets reduce food’s emissions by up to 73%" according to research at The University of Oxford 
- "Eating plant-based helps reduce our risk of suffering from cancer and other diseases" - PETA 
- "Humans and livestock outweigh all vertebrates combined" - we now consume animals at such a rate we are affecting natural population balance. 
How to Go Plant-Based
Going vegan this veganuary? Have you considered what veganism truly means when compared with plant-based?
Going vegan is great, but many do not realise how vegan refers to a lifestyle and not just a diet. Vegan refers to actively reducing the use of any animal products, including clothing and material choices, products around the house, car tyres, honey and eggs, any animal derived foods including meat, and so much more.
Plant-based however may be the easier, more approachable, first option. This is a dietary choice to limit the consumption of animal products with the goal being to consume none. However, this is far less strict.
Top tips for going vegan...
- Take time, do not expect an overnight lifestyle change
- One goal at a time, if you wish to ditch meat, drop one at a time
- If you initially feel worse, do not be alarmed, your body is changing
- Your guts may be a little confused, but they get stronger longer term!
- Discover new food types and cuisines
- Learn to cook!
- Prepare your options for special occasions
When it comes to making the change there are several methods for transitioning to vegan, plant-based or whole-foods plant-based. The method that will work best for you is one which will be easy to implement to your current lifestyle, with as few restrictions as possible to avoid slip ups. On that note, it is very important that you don't beat yourself up for those days where you do eat something you perhaps wish you avoided. Do not give up, accept the meal you have eaten and work towards better decisions.
Many have successfully switched overnight to plant-based. However it must be said that this is by far the hardest method.
If we have been eating foods with different nutritional profiles (e.g. higher in sugar, fats and highly-processed) and make any nutritional switch, there is a chance that it will take our digestive system and the microbiome time to adjust. Meaning, you could experience very short-term malabsorption issues if this is an overnight switch.
To make this clearer, if we eat fibre we employ fibre-eating bacteria to help us get nutrients from that food. Without fibre, they deplete in numbers without food. Therefore, it may be wise to gradually increase fibre to encourage repopulation in our gut of these fibre-eating bacteria. Else we risk introducing foods we cannot properly digest initially.
This can explain why many who choose this method can experience the worst effects.
From gut disturbance to mood changes there are many reasons that unless you are determined to experience short-term side-effects while your body adjusts, it may be wiser to slow the transition down.
This method seeks to gradually replace, not remove, animal products from our plates.
In short, we must not simply remove calorie dense animal products without seeking to replace them with an alternative.
Realise that meat is high in calories and, albeit a relatively harmful source, it is a source of protein. So when switching to plant-based we must replace the calories and protein with beans, pulses, nuts, seeds and other plant foods.
Gradually replacing your foods one at a time allows a slower transition than the overnight cold turkey method.
Month one: focus on milk and cheese.
Month two: focus on removing all dairy products, includng eggs.
Month three: choose one fallback, like chicken or fish, and limit meat consumption.
Month four: highlight remaining animal products in your diet and replace them.
Timings and methods will ultimately be up to you. You may find one week at a time is comfortable for you. But the aim is to ultimately limit animal products to none.
Animal-free days ('meat-free monday')
Some are finding that going 100% plant-based is too much of a change for them right now. Which is understandable when we look at the addictive foods that form much of the standard western diet.
However, a day or two a week of plant-based can still make an enormous difference.
When we consider the catastrophic land, soy and water requirements to produce meat, even one meal can save as much water as a continually running shower lasting longer than 6 months.
So this method should in no way be discredited, even though it does not exclude harm/impact as far as is possible to animals, it does make a bigger change than most would think!
For those wishing to experience the health benefits, I would have to recommend this method to be treated as a stepping stone or starting point as it still allows for processed, sugary foods, meat and dairy.
Start with Pesc/Vegetarian
Another option is to hop through diets heading towards plant-based.
Starting with a standard western diet. Then shifting to pescetarian (no meat, but still eating fish). Then trying to vegetarian with dairy still on the menu. Then eventually to plant-based/vegan.
Again, this can be a great way to keep the change gradual and allow for smoother transitions in gut bacterial composition.
How to Go Vegan: Supplementing
Supplementing on a vegan diet will vary from diet to diet. If you manage to eat a range of foods
from as many food groups as you can, with as much colour variety as possible, high in fibrous fruits
and vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, retaining natural organic soil... I could go on...
My point is, complete nutrition without any supplements is hard, vegan or meat-eater. B12 is supplemented to animals before being fed to humans, so meat-eaters can get some... but many nutrients like B12 are seriously lacking in our diets and impacting our health...
Is vegan always healthy?
Quality of dietary choices, higher in fruits and vegetables and lower in sugars and processed foods, result
in a health-promoting diet. Not going vegan.
Vegetable Fat: vegan!
Doesn't sound like a healthy meal does it? Thats why we must realise that a healthy diet is more than just going vegan or plant-based but also involves more whole plant foods.