What 4 vegans wish they had known before going plant-based—and how they stick with it


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Making the switch to plant-based eating can feel overwhelming. It’s intimidating to think about removing entire food groups from your eating plan. But figuring out how to go vegan (while managing to get all the nutrition you need from plants) isn’t as difficult as it might sound.

If you’re thinking about how to go vegan, you should steal tips from the people who have been there, done that. Vegans learn a lot throughout their journey of plant-based eating, so before you make the change, it’s helpful to know what they wish they had known before making the switch—and how to make the new plan stick.

How to go vegan, according to plant-based eaters with years of experience

 

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1. Whitney English, MS, RDN, of Plant-Based Juniors

What I wish I would have known: Something I emphasize with eating plant-based (that many people don’t realize!) is it doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing. A plant-based diet simply means a diet centered around plants, which can look different for everyone.

How to stick to plant-based eating: I recommend experimenting with new recipes and making plant-based eating fun. While it may seem limiting at first, there are endless possibilities when it comes to making healthy, plant-based recipes. If you aren’t sold at first, give it a few weeks—it takes time for our tastebuds to adjust, especially after eating a lot of processed foods.

 

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2. Nisha Vora of Rainbow Plant Life

What I wish I would have known: I wish I had focused more on all of the good food I could eat on a vegan diet instead of what I couldn’t eat. I had always been cautious of certain “unhealthy” foods, but when I went vegan, a whole new world of wholesome yet delicious and satisfying foods opened up to me. Instead of forcing myself to eat chicken breasts and eggs because I thought they were healthy protein sources, I now happily enjoy eating creamy lentil curries, rich bean stews, and crispy tofu.

How to stick to plant-based eating: Find ways to cook outside the box and maximize the flavor in each dish you make. I’m not the kind of vegan who can eat salads and smoothies all day and feel satisfied, so recreating favorite comfort foods and building hearty and flavorful yet wholesome dishes keeps me excited. For instance, risotto is one of my favorite comfort foods, so I’ve learned how to make it just as creamy and indulgent without using butter and cheese. Or brownies. I’m a fudge brownie gal all the way, so I spend time experimenting with ingredients and quantities to recreate incredible brownies without using eggs.

 

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3. Ana Alarcon of AnaGoesFit

What I wish I would have known: At the beginning, I’d love to have known about all the recipe books out there (there are so many to choose from!) and the amazing vegan community—especially locally. So many people are vegan, and I didn’t even realize it. I also wish someone would have guided me on cooking different meals. It can be tricky at first, but you get used to it.

How to stick to plant-based eating: Start by making your favorite meals vegan. That way it’s you’ll instantly have a collection of options you can easily make without overthinking things. Also, work on building a group of vegan friends that support you—it makes a massive difference.

 

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4. Remy Park of Veggiekins

What I wish I would have known: I wish I would have known that a vegan diet could look different for everyone. Before going vegan, I believed the stereotype of eating salad all day was the only way to be vegan. Of course, after jumping in myself, I realized there are so many ways to be vegan. It could be vegan pizza and salad one day, and a raw wrap another. Had I known this, I would have probably been interested in making the transition much earlier. People don’t realize you can eat just about anything—you just have to put a vegan twist on it.

How to stick to plant-based eating: The number one reason why I love the way I eat—and why I’ve stuck with it—is because it feels good. Making the switch to a vegan diet was the first time I really felt a noticeable physical difference in the way my body felt and my energy levels. Knowing that I’m making ethical choices every time I eat also makes every meal that much better. This compassionate lifestyle has helped me learn to become more compassionate toward myself, and most importantly, it’s opened my eyes to the way small changes can have an incredible impact on myself, the environment, and the animals.

Here’s what a dietitian has to say about some popular alt-meat brands:

This diet lets you go mostly plant-based without *totally* ditching burgers. Then get to know the plant-based nail polish that’s coming to a drugstore near you.

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