My Advice on Moving to a Plant-Based Lifestyle

Jillian HarrisAdvice, Food, Life, Vegetarian29 Comments

Jillian Harris Advice for Moving to a Plant Based Lifestyle

Morning loves! Day in and day out I get questions on my vegan (ish) journey, the questions range from how I’m doing with it, to how to get started for someone who is looking to switch to a vegan lifestyle to my favourite documentaries, recipes and cookbooks so today I’m going to share ALL of that with you!!

My Experience

Let’s start with where I’m at with my journey … Welp. I’m not going to lie, it’s been a bit of a struggle over the past years and I haven’t been consistent with it! I certainly don’t consider us to be vegan but we definitely eat about 90% plant-based in our home … so I guess that makes us plant-based … or, vegan-ish, if you will!

Just like anything, some days I’m super amped and motivated and totally kick ass with the whole plant-based lifestyle and some days I’m not, some days it’s just easier to eat real cheese and have my coffee with regular cream. I compare it to my relationship with the gym … some days I eat salad and workout and other days I eat a cupcake in my underwear while holding down the couch. You win some, ya lose some, right? Wrong! It’s not really not a matter of “winning” and “losing” it’s a matter of being aware and mindful and giving it your best shot! I try not to beat myself up over the days where I “fail” because sh*t happens and as Harry Truman says “Imperfect action is better than perfect inaction”, thanks, Harry. I owe ya one.

To be honest, I find the whole vegan thing super confusing … and I feel like there is a lot of pressure to do it “right” and be strict with it but that’s not how I look at it. I’ve come to realize that it’s important to be educated about the food we consume and to put that knowledge to some good use! Yes, there are times when our household eats meat, granted, it’s not very often, but when we do I always source it from a  small, local, organic, farm! Also, while I’m on this topic, I should also mention here that as ‘organic’ farm isn’t always the best … (I know, just to confuse you even more!!) it’s important for it first to be a SMALL, LOCAL farm but also important to be FREE RANGE! In the end, it’s important how the animals are fed… for, example cows might be grass fed, but they should also be grass finished. If you’re confused, your local Farmer’s Market is always your best bet!

I ALWAYS get the question; “Where do I begin?” and I get why people ask that, they ask because we are bombarded with information and sometimes it can be SUPER overwhelming, so my advice would be to start SMALL, make little changes in your household such as “Meatless Monday’s” or swap our your butter for vegan butter … then move on to your coffee creamer and milk … it’s those small actions that will eventually lead to bigger actions and more knowledge! Secondly, educate yourself, watch a documentary, read some blogs, the more you learn, the more you’ll know!

For those of you who email or private message me wanting to know more about making the change to a plant-based or vegan lifestyle, I would recommend watching the following documentaries and testing out some of my fave vegan recipes and products! Hey, it’s a start, right??

Documentaries to Watch

If you want to learn more, I would recommend watching some of the documentaries I’ve listed below, these are a few that I’ve personally seen but if you want a more extensive list, make sure to check out Erin Ireland’s faves!

  • What the Health
  • Food Inc.
  • Cowspiracy
  • Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead
  • Food Matters

Recipes to Try

There’s nothing better than playing around in the kitchen and creating something DELISH!! If you’re just starting your vegan/plant-based journey here are a couple recipes of mine that you should give a go!

Jillian Harris Advice for Moving to a Plant Based Lifestyle

Products to Taste

Below are some of my favourite vegan products and brands, if you’re new to the game these are the items I would recommend swapping out in your fridge!! It’s taken alot of trial and error over the years, especially to find a yummy vegan cheese! If you want to learn more about dairy alternatives, check out my latest post here!

Vegetarian/Vegan Meat

Vegan Dairy Products/Brands

Jillian Harris Advice for Moving to a Plant Based Lifestyle-2

Cookbooks to Buy

I absolutely LOVE cookbooks and generally find most of my inspo flipping through some of my faves with a glass of wine in hand! If you want to pick up some great vegan cookbooks, these are some of my top picks!

Jillian Harris Advice for Moving to a Plant Based Lifestyle

There you have it! I hope this helps to answer some of your questions!!

xo

Jilly

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29 Comments

  • This may seem like a silly question, but when you make trips to Trader Joes from Vancouver, do you take a cooler for the cheeses and fake meats to stay fresh? or are they ok without…even in this heat? Wanting to make a trip soon, and don’t want to have it go to waste!

  • Amanda Turner  • 

    Thank you so much for this! We are now vegan and looking for recipes etc. The link for the tofu wrap goes to a different recipe. I’ll check back for it because I can’t wait to try it! Love you and your little family ❤️

  • My husband and I recently went vegan after watching What the Health. My concern is after reading how bad soy is, it’s hard to find any vegan product that doesn’t contain soy! I don’t want to replace one bad thing for another. How do you stay away from soy and be a successful vegan?

    • Katherine  • 

      Hi! I have found so much conflicting information about soy, but after doing a lot of research and taking peer-reviewed science into account, I’ve found that soy is safe and actually quite healthy. Studies have found an inverse relationship between soy intake and breast cancer, and women who have had breast cancer who eat soy while in remission are much less likely to get cancer again! I’m vegan and feel totally comfortable eating soy a few times a week. Don’t be afraid! Much of the fear-mongering comes from the animal agriculture industry itself. Good luck and all the best to you on your vegan journey!! It’s the best! Xo

  • Great post! Please read my comment as totally non-judgmental and just helpful instead, because I believe any step toward plant-based eating is a win for health, animals and the planet. For myself personally, I couldn’t ease into it or slowly make substitutes. I had to go cold turkey. I watched Fat Sick and Nearly Dead, and Vegucated in the same night and the next morning I was 100% vegan. It’s been like that for almost two years. Something touched me and flipped a switch in my brain. I couldn’t see animal products in the same way again. However, for my personality, had I eased into it, I’d never have become full vegan because as long as I’m eating something occasionally I never lose the taste for it. If I have a few Doritos today, I’ll be craving them like mad tomorrow. So if a person shares that trait with me, cold turkey may be the only way to go. I cut it out completely and instantly. The first four weeks were rough as my body detoxed but I stuck with it and I feel so good. I’ve lost 30 pounds, I no longer have skin breakouts, my periods are lighter with less cramping, and I have energy again. I am so grateful to you Jillian for all your efforts to promote a plant-based lifestyle. Even being vegan-ish is a huge step and I apologize on behalf of the vegans who no doubt give you a hard time for occasionally eating animal products. Not all vegans realize you attract more flies with honey than vinegar…. probably because we don’t eat honey. Haha I hope my experience helps some out there who have a similar personality or view on food cravings.

    • This is exactly what happened to me. I read “The China Study” and something in my brain went “click” and I went plant-based whole foods overnight and it has been 1.5 years so far. I haven’t once craved meat, dairy, eggs or seafood because I know too much now 🙂

  • I love your approach because it’s uplifting, positive and real. I have been a vegan for many years but I really believe in loving life and so if there’s a beautiful dish made with meat by someone I love, Imma have some! Who cares, being a vegan even most of the time is going to keep excess weight off, give you 100% of the energy and health possible from your own individual body and fight disease. Your doctor won’t know what happened to your bp and cholesterol, they’ll be so amazing. Plus the food is so good! You get used to the clean, crisp taste of plant foods. If you bite into something hard, you’re like, oh must be a peppercorn–you don’t have to worry about some gristle or other disgusting things in your food. I love the Forks Over Knives approach where you should try for 500 calories per meal. You’ll no longer have to watch calories in order not to gain weight, you’ll literally have to ensure you don’t lose too much. Instead of having 1 banana for breakfast, try for 5. I can’t eat that much, but I often have 3 bananas spaced out through the morning. Anyway, I loved your blog and will save it to try all the links. Thanks!!

  • We are trying the same thing in our house now. Baby steps but you’re right, it’s action at least. This article speaks to me and makes perfect sense. I’ll be referring back to this post regularly. Thanks!

  • Awesome !! Thank you for putting this all in one post!! Very helpful!! gona give it a try!!
    Thank you!! 🤗🍎📚❤️

  • Thanks for posting about going vegan. Our little family of 4 has been integrating vegan foods and meals into our diet over the last month. Sometimes it seems like a lot more work and not as convenient but I’m committed to trying this for my Boys and I. Considering that my 7 year old son’s favorite food is burgers I thought it would be difficult to switch over. Well, according to him it was his third favorite burger ever! 1st place is White Spot and second is The Warehouse downtown Vancouver. I think I’ll win him over eventually though cuz vegan burgers are so tasty if done right! I enjoy sipping my morning coffee while reading your blogs, your site, and insta stories so much. Thanks for the laughs, the info, the inspo, and just keepin it real. I heart you ❤

  • Great post Jillian! I love all your recommendations. I’ve been living the plant-based lifestyle for about five years and it’s so easy now, but I remember what it was like at the beginning – this post is a valuable resource for all those who are interested in learning more. My health improved SO MUH after switching to a plant-based diet! That inspired me to go to school to become a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and now I have my own practice specializing in helping people improve their health with a plant-based diet. If any of your readers are interested in transitioning to a plant-based diet with the support of a Registered Holistic Nutritionist, I’d love it if they visit my website – Flourish Holistic Nutrition.

  • Do you find some of the products you use to replace no -vegan items are unhealthy? I’ve read a lot of the ingredients on some of the vegan or nondairy items and I sometime feel it’s not the best choice. What are your thoughts ?

  • Thank you for sharing!! I’ve always been curious about a vegan diet/lifestyle. We’re always looking for ways to improve our health and basic well-being. I have a few of those cookbooks already, so I feel like I’ve got a foot in the door!

  • Great post, Jill! Question for you ladies… has anyone who has become a vegan completely lost their period along the way. I started eating vegan July 17th, 2017 and haven’t had my period since. And nope! Not pregnant.

    • I’ve tried replying to you twice but it isn’t working. Yes, I lost my period for almost three months as I detoxed. They slowly came back but thankfully they are a fraction of the intensity I used to suffer with. My flow and cramping has reduced amazingly since I became vegan.

  • Hi!

    Thank you for those useful information!

    I am trying to switch to plant based and I am wondering if there are any supplement that must be taken for example vitamin B12 or D?

    What would your recommend?

    • People who follow vegan diets should take vitamin B12 supplement and/or find foods that are fortified with vit B12. Of you’re outside in the sun during the summer/sunny days your body naturally produces vitamin D. I would recommend taking vit D during he cold winter months to make up for the lack of skin exposure to the sun 🙂

    • If you use an awesome vegan powder like Vega All in One nutritional shake in your smoothie, combined with a fortified almond milk, that should be all the B12 and D you need. I had to supplement my iron, though.

  • So moving to a plant based diet with nut allergies is really hard. Any advice? Seems like you have to use way more soy to replace almond milk or almond butter, etc on top of using soy as a meat replacement. Any tips?

    • We are a plant-based family and my youngest is allergic to peanuts, walnuts and pecans. Stick to soy milk and replace nut butters with a seed butter like “Sun Butter”. It’s also very easy to make your own seed butters with a food processor. Also, other beans/legumes are a great replacement for tofu or tempeh if you are getting tired of soy-based foods.

  • Awesome post! Thanks for sharing! I myself am also in the process of switching to a plant based diet. I’ve been making small changes along the way but it’s only been about 8 months. I find it very difficult to make the sudden switch but I think any small change is one step closer both for my health, our environment and of course the animals. Another big hurdle to the nutritional switch is also being gluten intolerant, but slowly making it work for me.
    You should also check out the blog emilieeats.com. She’s on Instagram too! Another one of my fav vegan bloggers!

  • Thank you for this! I love your philosophy on eating a whole, plant-based diet but not kicking yourself in the butt for slipping up. I recently read a book titled How Not to Die by Michael Greger. He has a similar philosophy to you. His book provides undeniable, science-based evidence on why a whole, plant-based lifestyle is the best lifestyle, period. He goes into detail about how this type of diet prevents early mortality and can reverse many diseases. The things you learn from his book are mind blowing. I highly recommend it.

  • Can you recommend any yummy vegan cheese products that are also nut-free?

  • Stephanie  • 

    We recently watched What the Health and Forks Over Knives and began the switch to plant based the next day. We try to eat completely plant based on weekdays and eat freely on the weekends. Meat has surprisingly been the easiest to let go, but dairy is in so much more than I realized. I appreciate your plant based insta stories and recommendations, they’re really helpful!

  • Hey Jillian,
    I’m new to tofu and I was under the impression you always have to press it but your recipe does not mention that so do I not need to or is this recipe coming after the press ?
    Thank you !

  • Thanks Jillian! It’s definitely not easy, but it’s very worth it!
    I think the hardest part of the transition is travel!

    I just returned from a girls weekend in Nashville… thankfully the beers were Vegan! But that was about it when we were dining out (which was every meal)…

    For me, plant base just makes everything better. I feel better, I look better, I feel fantastic about not harming animals. win/win/win/win

    Please keep up the plant-based-vegan-ish ista’s and blogs!!!

    Have a great weekend
    Amanda Savage xoxo

    • Travelling vegan, especially in the states, is so difficult . I am currently in Montana and the only thing remotely close to vegan at the restaurant was a salad with chicken, bacon, eggs, ranch, cheese and croutons. I ended up with iceberg lettuce and tomato wedges!!

    • I’ve just decided to make the switch for myself and family of five. Trying to switch my toddlers is going to be a challenge, I’ll ease them into it. Any advice on convincing a meat-loving husband to change? I’m thinking I’ll ask him to give me three months and then let him decide after seeing the results…