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Switching to a Plant Based Diet (For Beginners)

September 15, 2016

Maybe you’re a fan of Meatless Mondays, or enjoy a plant-powered meal from Green Bar now and then, but when you’re really ready to take the plunge, what’s the easiest way to make the switch to a plant-based diet?

Michael Pollan was famously quoted saying, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants,” and we couldn’t agree more! Follow these tips to ease on over to the meatless way of life.

First, know before you go. What exactly is a whole-food, plant-based diet?
According to our friends at ForksOverKnives.com, “a whole-food, plant-based diet is centered on whole, unrefined, or minimally refined plants. It’s a diet based on fruits, vegetables, tubers, whole grains, and legumes; and it excludes or minimizes meat (including chicken and fish), dairy products, and eggs, as well as, highly refined foods like bleached flour, refined sugar, and oil.”

Well that sounds scary…but never fear, we’re hear to break it down a little further. The good news is that a plant-based diet doesn’t mean you’ll be eating only vegetables. Actually just eating vegetables is a major no-no (and one of the reasons many people drop this lifestyle like a hot (sweet) potato!).

Start looking at your meals differently and opening your mind to the idea that items that used to be side dishes will be taking center stage on your plate.
Your main source of energy is going to come from starch-based foods like sweet potatoes, grains, corn, and peas—so don’t just push these gems to the side anymore. You should also get acquainted with some healthy meat alternatives like tempeh, edamame, tofu, and seitan. Learning how to flavor and cook these alternatives will make the transition to a plant-based lifestyle much easier (and tastier too!).

Get to know Legumes. Le-who? Legumes!
Legumes, more commonly known to you and I as beans, lentils, lupins, peas, and peanuts, are a significant source of protein, dietary fiber, carbohydrates, and dietary minerals, yet they contain very little fat, sodium, or cholesterol. Basically, legumes are le-git, and surprise, they’re your new best friend.

Start slow and build from there.
As with anything in life, it’s important to just take the first step. If you can begin by incorporating 2-3 meatless meals into your weekly routine or replacing one ingredient or pantry item at a time, you can eventually grow from there as you become more comfortable with plant-based recipes. [Pro-Tip: Check out the One Ingredient Chef, he is awesome and makes it SO simple to make ridiculously delicious plant-based meals.]

We’d love to hear from you along your journey to plant-based nirvana, hit us up at @greenbarkitchen or in the comments below!

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