5 Tips To Transition Into A More Plant Based Diet

Jillian HarrisDinner, Food, Life, My Heart, Vegetarian11 Comments

There are all types of diets out there and tons of different kinds of eaters. As I learn more about becoming plant-based I have come to realize that it’s not as much about putting a label on “what I am” … but instead to care about and be aware of what I’m putting into my body and how my choices affect the environment and living beings. If you are surprised that I am a plant based, girl check out my  first “coming out” blog here … and learn about why I made this choice in the first place …. If you’re not really sure if you want to start eating a plant diet, then check out this balanced diet, it will help you gain muscle and get leaner.

I am still learning and experimenting to find what I personally like as alternatives to meat and dairy products, and while our household has eliminated 90% of our animal products, I don’t define myself as vegan (or even Vegan-ish because I’ve realized that term is VERY VERY sacred lol)

As usual, I like to put a little disclaimer out there saying that “I am not telling you or suggesting you do the same as me … these are only my opinions and what I’ve been learning along the way”!!! BUT, in the last year, I have done my farm visits, I have read some books, watched many documentaries and through the internet have seen A LOT of horrible things that I had NO idea were going on in the food industry. What I hope to achieve from this blog, is a desire for you, my readers, to learn more and educate yourselves on what works for you, the animals AND the environment, resulting in making you feel great and hopefully changing factory farm standards and reversing some of the disastrous environmental issues that are occurring as a result of this industry.

(ps these blogs scare me so much because this is SUCH a controversial topic, so please be kind with your rebuttals if you have any!)

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The transition to going plant-based isn’t easy and at times I feel like the odd man out, it’s by far the biggest sacrifice I’ve ever made in my life but one that I am SO proud of. Some days I feel like yelling “LOOK MA! NO MEAT” hahah!! Every day I make new and exciting choices and find alternatives that I am proud of. Last night I turned my FAVOURITE bolognese into a vegan version and even made an amazing vegan version of Justin’s Cesar salad dressing! We both LOVED it and I was beaming all night!! (recipe below)

Another prime example … on the weekly drive from Kelowna to Vancouver I get FAMISHED about half way. The smart me would have packed a lunch but “sorry I’m busy!” … I found myself driving past Mc. Dicks… A&W … and remembering the taste of a salty greasy cheeseburger … Instead – I challenge myself to stop at Booster Juice, asked them to make me a vegan grilled wrap, and a banana coconut smoothie with vegan protein. Afterwards, I feel great for SO many reasons. My body is full with good fuel for me and babe, I’m eating all plants and no animals were needed for my relish meal. And guess what … I’m full!

Ok so … if you can’t give up meat or simply don’t want to … that’s ok too!! I’ve learned in my many rants that not everyone is where I am at and accepting that has been a challenge. Everyone also has different perspectives on the topic. I still don’t like the idea of ANY animal dying for me, no matter how ‘humane’. People close to me still say “that’s what they are there for” … (WAHHH NOOO LOL) I want to guide everyone down my path but I know that’s not realistic.

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So, if you want to make SOME changes … Here are 5 of my SIMPLE tips to transitioning into a more plant based diet:

1. Eat LESS animal products at a higher quality. Nature’s Fare is a great place to find this type of meat … they do the research for you and only carry companies that meet a high level of standards. They only choose ethically raised animals with no medications, hormones, fillers, or MSG. And the dairy is organic first and grass fed when possible. So IF you are still needing meat & dairy in your diet … this is the kind you want to be eating. You are what you eat and a healthy happy animal is ultimately better for YOU in the end.

2. WASTE LESS. Right before this journey I signed up for a course to make my own cheese. It was on my bucket list and I was SOOOO excited. I’ve always wanted to live in the pioneer days and couldn’t WAIT…. but to be honest the process sickened me. I realized it took 8 litres of milk to make a few measly handfuls of cheese. I kept thinking about HOW much milk it took to make cheese and all the cheese I had wasted in my life. A mama that has to give up her babe for that cheese. A mama that has to unnaturally milk for years for that cheese. I made a vow then, to never waste animal products again. No cheese, no egg, no steak … throwing away animal product has got to be the most disrespectful thing of them all. If your gonna kill it, eat it. (I’m getting rant here … sorry!)

3. TRY PLANT BASED. Especially when eating out there are always ways to modify a sub, wrap, dish to make it plant based. Instead of making a meal around the “meat” try making a meal around the “plants” … vegetables SHOULD be the most important part of the meal!!! You will be surprised what a little rice, beans & salsa or hot sauce will do to a dish! I thought I could never live without bacon and cheese but I am very alive and feeling AMAZING!!

4. Find AFFORDABLE SUBSTITIONS! Almond Milk, Soy Milk (which has gotten a bad name but after consulting with dietitians and my doctor, it is totally healthy in moderation like any food!) peanut butter, soy protein powder, coconut milk yogurt, veggie ground instead of ground beef or mushrooms instead of meat. The list goes on and on, there are tons of great substitutions!

5. SNACKS & NUTS … snacking is very important when you are transitioning into a more plant based diet. It might be harder for some to get used to not eating as much protein which is where nuts come in. Nuts, lentils and beans will be a great place to start to fill that protein void that you might feel like you’re missing when reducing your meat consumption. After my last visit to Nature’s Fare I fully stocked up on a ton of different snack options that I’ve never tried before. Some of my favourites were Lentil Snaps, Kale Chips (I know you can make these at home, but I never get around to it), nuts and of course …. local fruits and veggies!!! All of these keep me going throughout the day and stomp any meat or protein cravings that might pop up …
vegan-bolognese-and-parmvegan-bolognesevegan-bolognese-jhVegan Bolognese

Ingredients: 
1/8 cup of olive oil
1 pound of chopped brown mushrooms OR 1 package of veggie round ground
1/4 cup of nutritional yeast
1 can of tomato paste
1 tsp of crushed fennel
1 tsp of dried oregano
1 tsp of dried thyme
2 cloves of crushed garlic
1 cup and a 1/2 of chopped carrot
1 cup and a 1/2 of chopped celery
1 cup and a 1/2 of chopped white onion
1/2 cup of dry white wine
1 large can of organic diced tomatoes
1/2 cup cashew cream or almond milk
1/2 cup vegetable stock
1 tbsp white vinegar
fresh chopped parsley for garnish
1/4 cup of vegan parmesan (there are some really great options out there)
1/2 box of spaghetti

Directions:

    1. In a large frying pan with a splash of olive oil cook the onion, mushrooms, celery and carrots until soft and translucent
    2. Add tomato paste, garlic, fennel, oregano,  and thyme. Cook until pan starts to brown. Deglaze with 1/2 cup of dry white wine. Let simmer on medium while you get to the next step!
    3. In one large stock pot add large can of diced tomatoes, vegetable stock, nutritional yeast and vegetable mixture.
    4. SIMMER ON LOW/ MEDIUM for about 30 minutes and at this point cook your pasta! I love regular spaghetti but a rigatoni would do.
    5. Add parsley, salt & pepper, and the vinegar (the vinegar is very important as it helps brighten the flavours).
    6. In the end, add the cashew cream or almond milk!

I always like serving pasta or spaghetti with a salad … my favourite is with Justin’s Kale Caesar. I recently made it vegan and it was SO good Justin didn’t even know the difference.

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Captain Kale Caesar Salad

Ingredients:
1/4 cup Olive oil
1 tbsp White wine vinegar
2 tsp Dijon Mustard
1/2 tsp Worcestershire
2 cloves Garlic minced
2 tbsp Vegan Parmesan (you can buy this at specialty grocery stores)
2 tbsp Veganaise (or eggless mayonnaise)
1 full Lemon squeezed
Salt & Pepper
Coconut Bacon (if you like … it’s SO good)

Directions:
1. Mix and shake all ingredients together and add more lemon or vinegar at the end if necessary
2. Garnish with croutons (or tomatoes like last nights) and coconut bacon if you’re using it AND vegan parm!!!
3. And there you have it … a meal that’s sure to be a crowd pleaser! Enjoy!!
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Follow me on Pinterest for some more great plant-based options! Do any of you have other tips for people transitioning into a more plant-based diet?? Let us know in the comments below …

xo
Jilly

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11 Comments

  • courtenay  • 

    What brand of coconut yogurt and coconut bacon to you use? Still looking to find my fav !

  • Thanks for these tips! They are super helpful. I’ve been working on transitioning to a plant-based diet for what feels like forever and I find that I feel super nourished, but there’s always a time every few months where I have serious cravings for chicken and seafood for about a week, and then it goes away. Have you had any experience with this or any tips for helping with those cravings? Also, totally making that bolognese! It looks delicious!

  • AtlantaShopGirl  • 

    Great post Jillian, thanks for sharing! I have been vegan-ish for over 30 years. I have noticed that thru the years, so many of the people that I know who have continued to eat the typical American diet are getting sick, serious and otherwise. It’s hard to imagine me eating any other way. Yes, it was extremely hard to adjust at first and you are correct, it is a controversial subject but I couldn’t be happier with the way I feel after all this time. So congrats to you for making the change! Oh, and your bolognese looks amazing!! 🙂

  • Danielle Needham  • 

    Thank you so much for sharing Jillian! I have just started trying to change my diet to plant based as well and it is definitely difficult, but like you, I beam with pride every time I make something delicious where no animal products were used! It is a great feeling!
    I was raised eating meat with basically every single meal, so it is a difficult transition. I also have an 11 month baby at home and I started this when he was just born. It is super hard to make such a big change as a brand new mom so I haven’t fully adopted the diet.. YET. I find a lot of the cooking takes me so much more time just because I am not as familiar with ingredients or doing mostly everything from scratch, but I am slowly learning!!! I know it is a hard conversation to put out there as so many people are quick to respond so negatively when you bring up anything about vegetarianism/veganism/animal rights…but you are doing an amazing job and I LOVE reading about it on your blog. It is an inspiration for me and many others to keep trying!!

  • Shella Gardezi  • 

    Great advice. I love your recipes. I find the simulated meats are kind of a starter food. I used to eat them a lot, but since I learned more about cooking, I rarely use them unless I’m going to a bbq. It’s a good idea to create a database of recipes. That way you will have some on hand that don’t take a loom time or require a laundry list of ingredients.

  • Good for you for sharing despite all the crap people gave you over your initial posts… I haven’t bought or cooked meat in a few years and I am trying really hard to eliminate dairy (cheese is my only crutch, I haven’t eaten any other dairy for years)…. your suggestions are great, but I have one for you! The snacks that you like (lentil snaps, kale chips, etc) – keep a stash in your car! You can also keep some shelf stable fruit like apples – depending on how hot it gets up in K-town…

    So happy to see you and E, both with such big platforms, sharing all your suggestions, recipes and tips! And both keeping those wee buns of yours nourished and loved 🙂

  • Gabby M.  • 

    Thanks so much for the post! My boyfriend and I began moving to a more plant-based diet in January. It’s been hard sometimes to change my way of thinking of what a ‘meal’ truly is. Dairy may be my next task, but the cheese part is hard. I admire you for talking about your life choices even if others may give you flak for it!

  • This is a great post! I’ve been a vegetarian for over 8 years and I’ve never felt better! I do incorporate fish into my diet, sometimes, however I feel like I only eat it so people won’t give me the awkward look, or to avoid that long discussion about how eating all vegetables isn’t good for you, or “you don’t eat enough protein” when I probably have more protein now than I did when I ate meat.
    Over the past 7 months I’ve eliminated eggs all together and minimized the amount of fish I would have in a month. I’m pregnant and I feel better than ever! Thanks for being an inspiration to work harder on being healthier and happier! Xo

  • Tracy Michelle Forde  • 

    Love this!! I went plant based until I had my uterine tumor removed…a month after surgery I went back…but I feel so yuck!! I am trying hard to get back to it! I feel SO much better/healthier when eating these foods as a lifestyle! Thank you for sharing these recipes! Never knew you were plant based!! So cool! Thanks for posting! Feel encouraged and challenged to try some new recipes!!
    Tracy in Texas!

  • A plant-based diet is the future. Although I have little doubt that many will be dragged “kicking & screaming”, into it.

  • You Rock Jillian!! Great article 🙂