A Beginners Guide to Plant-Based Eating

Hey y'all!

I started a plant-based diet in January of this year (2017 if you're reading this 100 years from now). My skin has cleared up, my body feels a lot better, and I actually know how to cook now!

P.s. I might be making a cookbook for my readers about all of my fave new recipes!

Even though my mom and boyfriend think I'm a "crazy" vegan, I'd like to think I do an okay job of not pushing my beliefs onto other people. I know how off-putting it can be when someone asks you "omg why are you eating meat???" 100 times a day.

But now I also know what it feels like to be asked: "omg how do you NOT eat meat and dairy???" 100 times a day. Both are very very annoying.

Enough rambling from me though, you're here to learn about how to live a healthier and happier life!

Let's start out with a vocabulary lesson! These are just a few groups I'd like to discuss.

Plant-based : A plant-based diet is a diet based on foods derived from plants, including vegetables, whole grains, legumes and fruits, but with few or no animal products. - source 
Vegetarian : a person who does not eat meat, and sometimes other animal products, especially for moral, religious, or health reasons. - source 
Vegan : a person who does not eat or use animal products. - source

Basically being plant-based and vegetarian is usually just having to do with your diet, whereas being a vegan is a lifestyle. For example, a vegan wouldn't purchase a leather pair of shoes, or use a hair mask that has milk in it. But a plant-based or vegetarian person could choose to do so. A vegetarian also can consume eggs, dairy, and other animal products -- they usually just don't eat meat.

The number one thing about being a vegan is to be educated. There are three main reasons why most people choose to make the switch.

  1. the environmental impacts caused by the meat and dairy industry 
  2. the health effects caused by consuming meat and dairy
  3. the unethical treatment of animals

    For me, it was all about the animals. I won't go into too much detail about my vegan journey, but I'm definitely planning on writing a post about that in the future for those of you that are curious!

    Go cold turkey!
    Going vegan does not have to be stressful! And you absolutely don't have to do it cold turkey (but that's what I'd recommend). If you just went to the grocery store and have a new carton of milk, eggs, cheese, and hamburgers, then please wait until you've used it all or give it to someone else who can instead of throwing it all away. Since the animal has already died, you shouldn't waste it.

    But if you do decide to slowly go vegan I'd recommend doing it in this order :

    1. Start by trying meatless Mondays, then Tuesdays and so on and so forth.
    2. After you've cut eating meat out of your diet, move onto eggs! Make sure to check ingredients on this one.
    3. Last but not least, dairy. Cheese is usually the hardest thing to give up. The biggest recommendation I can give you is to not try to find a replacement until you've been dairy-free for at least a few weeks (it makes it easier because your taste will change). Don't feel bad if you struggle a little bit though...
      • Cheese is addictive, Barnard said, because the dairy proteins inside can act as mild opiates. Fragments of cheese protein, called casomorphins, attach to the same brain receptors as heroin and other narcotics. As a result, each bite of cheese produces a tiny hit of dopamine. - source
    It's seriously addictive, so don't feel like you're going crazy. Just be patient with yourself, and don't give up!!

    Do some research about what to purchase the next time you go to the grocery store (I talk about this further down!) and I'd even recommend planning out your meals ahead of time. That way you know what you need to buy and won't over spend or purchase the wrong thing.

    Save money!
    There's this big misconception that being vegan is expensive or is only possible for privileged people.  That's because most people have the thought that vegans are buying soy "meats" constantly in order to replace meat meals. But in fact, most vegans eat fruits, veggies, pastas, rice, etc! These are actually some of the cheapest groceries you can buy.

    Try new things!
    Don't go into the vegan lifestyle thinking you have to find the perfect cheese or meat replacement. Learn how to make new meals that you won't need either of those things for! 

    There are a ton of different Netflix documentaries (yay!) so don't think you have to spend hours searching the internet for movies to watch. A lot of these movies cover all three topics of why to go vegan, but I sorted them into what their main points are to make it easier!
    • Environmental Impacts
      • Cowspiracy
    • Health Impacts
      • Fat Sick & Nearly Dead ( 1 + 2 )
      • Food Choices
      • Forks Over Knives
      • What the Health
      • Vegucated
    • Treatment of animals - these are usually graphic
      • Earthlings

    If you're interested in watching real life people who live a vegan / plant-based lifestyle, then definitely check out this list of vegan youtubers!

    Pinterest - If you don't already have an account, stop what you're doing and make one right now. Pinterest is my go to app for whenever I want to cook, find new products, or just get inspired! I have two specific boards for my vegan lifestyle : vegan eats and vegan sweets.

    Is This Vegan? - I use this app whenever I'm feeling too lazy to check ingredients. It works about 85% of the time, which can be frustrating. But I definitely do recommend downloading it if you're just starting out. It's surprising to find out what foods may actually contain animal products.

    vegan mac and cheese potatoes acai bowl recipe

    Can we be real here for a second? Before I switched over to a plant-based lifestyle, I didn't know how to cook...like at all. I could boil pasta and that was about it. But when I changed my diet, I found myself searching Pinterest for new recipes at least once a day. 

    tikka masala vegan recipe
    Vegan tikka masala
    I've already covered my grocery staples (plus a free printable checklist!), but there are so many yummy options to eat! I think a lot of people are worried that they won't be able to find things that they can eat, but it honestly couldn't be easier.

    You don't have to shop at Whole Foods in order to get healthy foods! In Texas, my local grocery store is Kroger. There are TONS of options there in the health foods section! But now that I'm in Alabama, I shop at Walmart and Publix. Walmart is great for weekly shopping, but I usually make a trip to Publix to pick up a few special items whenever I run out. They have tofu,   vegan sausages, and frozen acai packets!

    vegan almond milk butter cheese sour cream dairy free
    A few simple switches to make quickly are purchasing non-dairy milk, yoghurt and butter! Even Walmart carries all three of these things. Also I swear that Earth Balance Butter tastes exactly like real butter and you won't even be able to tell a difference.

    As I mentioned in my post earlier, I think I'm actually going to create a cookbook of all my favorite recipes that I've learned how to make! If you would be interested in that, definitely let me know in the comments below because I want to keep my readers happy.

    I personally haven't read any books about becoming a vegan. I mostly relied on videos because I'm a visual person (kind of ironic I write a blog..) But cookbook and blogs count, right?

    The Oh She Glows Cookbook

    The Super Easy Vegan Slow Cooker Cookbook

    I've recently been listening to podcasts while I work on blogposts or whenever I fly. It's a lot more interesting to me than listening to music actually! I've listed a few of my favorite plant-based people to listen to! 

    I hope that this post helped you and gave you some useful tips for your new plant-based lifestyle! If you continue making the right choices, your body will thank you and you'll see so many improvements in no time.

    If you have any other tips, please leave them below! I always love getting advice from y'all!


    1. Love this!!! I am soooo impressed when people go vegan overnight! For me it was a year long process and I'm sooooo glad I'm on this side of the journey!!! This is a great guide to help get started!!

      1. Thanks so much for your kind words Terry! I do think it's difficult, but you're so right that it's better on this side! :)

    2. Hey Sarah, this article is really cool and I love how you split it into different sections. Good to know there are some vegan musicians as well. :)

      1. Thanks Laura! :) It's a lot of information so I tried to make it as easy as possible to digest without being overwhelmed!

    3. I went vegetarian last fall, and while I could never go vegan (I need eggs), I do try to limit my intake of dairy. I found an amazing vegan cheese from Go Veggie!! And I've been using almond and coconut milk for almost 6 or 7 years now. And I just started switching to non-dairy yogurt!

    4. This is such an awesome guide! My husband has been vegan for almost 9 years now and I've been on and off vegan for most of my life. I like to believe one day I'll switch to full vegan full-time.

    5. Love this! Would so check out your cookbook :)

    6. Wow I really like your blog !! keep these post going! I'm not vegan but I love to try new recipes and have vegan cook books :)!!