First off, welcome! We’re glad you’re here and looking into how to get started with a plant-based diet.
If you’ve seen any of the dozens of documentaries out there supporting plant-based eating, you know that science shows changing your nutrition is a powerful way to live longer, help the environment, and reduce your risk of getting sick. You’ve likely already determined your “why”. Now, let’s honor your reasons why with a solid plan for how to start a plant-based diet.
First, a definition. Plant-based means food that comes from plants and doesn’t include animal ingredients such as meat, milk, eggs, or honey. But, plant-based doesn’t mean you have to eat boring food at all! In fact, it’s simply the addition of amazing, nutritious, and delicious plants, like local, organic greens and ripe fruits and veggies that will kickstart your plant-based diet as a beginner.
Phone a friend (we’re your friends, too!)
The best way to start is to have a plan or to know someone who is plant-based already. If you have someone in mind who could share a helpful hint or two come mealtime, reach out and ask them their thoughts. If you are new to the plant-based scene and riding solo, you always have like-minded friends asking the same questions you are on pro-plant podcasts and on discussion boards. If you like to watch and learn, head over to our Wicked Kitchen YouTube channel. Or you can explore plant-based recipes right here on our website.
Start with adding more plant-based options to every meal
When you think about it, you probably eat a lot of plant-based foods already. Bread, rice, vegetables, fruits…start by adding more of these foods to your plate. This one baby step can make a massive leap toward your goal. Minimize effort and maximize flavor by simply adding a leafy green to your current plate. From spinach to kale to Swiss chard, greens can be part of every meal. Or turn your sandwich into a Dagwood by adding mushrooms, lettuce, avocado, and tomato all at once. Add finely grated vegetables like carrots, zucchini and beets to meatballs, tomato sauce, or even chocolate baked goods. Not only do you boost the color, you bump up the nutritional profile too.
Pick one night a week to eat plant-based restaurant food
You don’t have to convert to full-on veganism (that is, a diet that doesn’t include any animal products) to enjoy an occasional plant-based meal. Make it a fun, adventurous night with friends or a partner to explore some new cuisine. Try a fully plant-based restaurant. Or go for Indian food, which is often plant-based. Chinese restaurants also have plenty of plant-based options. Dine-in or out, your choice. Either way, just pick one night a week and let someone else make your plant-based dinner that evening. Call it Wicked Wednesday! Or whatever night works best for you.
Swap out one animal-based product at a time
At home, the easiest way to get started is to swap foods you already eat for plant-based alternatives. Instead of dairy milk, use oat milk, almond milk, or soy milk. Instead of butter, use plant-based butter. You can also find plant-based cheeses like Miyoko’s mozzarella, Kite Hill ricotta, and Follow Your Heart Parmesan. Try plant-based yogurt too. Kite Hill is amazing. Instead of eggs, use a plant-based egg alternative like Just Eggs. Instead of beef burgers, try our Wicked plant-based burgers. Instead of sausage, try our Wicked plant-based sausages. Instead of chicken, go for plant-based chicken (you can find it in the freezer aisle of most grocery stores). With these quick and easy alternatives on hand, you can simply cook what you already know.
Stock your pantry with more plant-based foods
Peanuts, almonds, tortilla chips, salsa, pasta, rice, vegetables, fruit…keep your pantry full of plant-based options. That makes it easier when it comes to snacking, throwing together a salad, or making a dish of pasta. You don’t always have to prep and cook a complicated recipe. Breakfast can be as simple as a bowl of oats topped with blueberries, almonds, and maple syrup. Lunch can be a ready-made vegetable soup with toasted sourdough bread and plant-based butter. Dinner can be a warm bowl of 5-Ingredient Rigatoni With Rose Sauce. Get inspired to use up the ingredients you have on hand with our Wicked Kitchen recipes.
Supplement as needed
Nutritionists agree that plant-based diets can provide most of the nutrients you need for optimal health. If you go 100% plant-based, there’s only one nutrient you really need to think about: Vitamin B12. Plant-based foods are chock full of other vitamins and minerals but it’s a little harder to find this one. No worries. Just take a daily supplement. Better yet, Vitamin B12 can be found in seaweed, shiitake mushrooms, and fortified foods like many kinds of cereal, soy milk, and especially nutritional yeast, or nooch as we call it. This dry pantry staple has a cheese-like flavor and we sprinkle it into sauces and soups for both flavor and nutrition. It’s the secret ingredient in our killer Nacho Cheese Sauce.
How do I actually cook plant-based meals?
If you cook at all, you probably already make plant-based meals. Ever made spaghetti with tomato sauce? That’s plant-based! All you need to do is expand your horizons. Make more plant-based recipes. This website is full of them. If you’re new around here, you may not know that we also have a whole *FREE* cooking class series for kids (and big kids), full of plant-pushin’ inspiration and ideas for you to get confident and have fun in the kitchen as a family. However you like your recipes, Wicked has a channel that can help you learn how to start a plant-based diet and get your friends and family involved too.
When you get into cooking more plant-based meals, you’ll likely have questions, ideas, and more. Share your process and your progress with us on our Wicked Kitchen socials. We’d love to hear about what’s working and what needs work. We’re here for you! Join our mailing list to stay in touch, hear about new recipes, and get a *FREE* copy of our Mushroom Manifesto, volumes I and II. In those free cookbooks, you’ll learn all about cooking mushrooms as meat. Yes, we pioneered the seared mushroom steak and it’s friggin’ delicious!