The secret’s out! Plant-based diets are helping more people than ever lose weight and live healthier lives. Maybe you started with Meatless Mondays, and now you’re looking for ways to dive a little deeper into the plant-based lifestyle. This 21-Day challenge will keep you moving in the right direction.
The concept of a plant-based diet is simple. Avoid processed and animal-based foods. This includes meat, fish, eggs, dairy, liquid oils (like olive oil, coconut oil, and butter), refined flours and sugars, processed foods, sweets (like candy bars, cookies, and cakes), and sweetened drinks (like juice, soda, and tea).
If you didn’t already know, a plant-based diet is different from a vegan diet. Vegans avoid all foods that come from animals, including meat, dairy, eggs, and honey. But plant-based eaters take it a step further. They cut out the additional sugars and processed foods which don’t add much nutrition to your diet. Instead, a plant-based diet focuses on healthy, whole foods.
The plant-based concept is simple, but the list of forbidden foods probably sounds overwhelming at first. What foods are left to actually eat? It turns out there are plenty! You’ll be surprised to find this diet is easier than you expected. And the benefits are incredible.
Whether you’re hoping to lose weight, lower your blood pressure, decrease your risk of heart disease, or reduce your carbon footprint, plant-based diets can help you work toward your goals.
Here are some simple tips for beginning this 21-day journey:
Tip # 1: Plan Ahead
Any new decision regarding your health deserves some planning. If you want to start a workout program, you find a program, make a schedule, get the proper equipment, and focus on your mindset. Without a plan, you’re going to struggle. That’s just the reality of being human.
This 21-Day Challenge works the same way. You need a plan. Take a few days and brainstorm the foods you typically eat. Start with something easy. Are there foods you often eat that are already plant-based? Apples, sweet potatoes, beans, rice, nuts, and hummus. These are probably foods you already enjoy. Add them to your meal plans for the next three weeks.
Can you swap some ingredients in your favorite meals to fit them into your new, plant-based lifestyle? Swap a beef patty for a veggie burger with Neat’s Original Mix [https://www.amazon.com/neat-Plant-Based-Original-Gluten-Free-Substitute/dp/B00JE0PWR8]. Replace your regular sloppy Joes with Loma Linda’s Sloppy Joe meal starter [https://www.amazon.com/Loma-Linda-Blue-Plant-Based-Non-GMO/dp/B071S8K8V7]. Or try Neat’s Southwest Mix [https://www.amazon.com/neat-Plant-Based-Southwest-Gluten-Free-Substitute/dp/B075ZVY4CP] in your taco salad. Having a foundation of familiar and delicious foods will make this new diet easier to manage and stick with.
As you prepare for your 21-day journey, make a grocery list and stock up on everything you need. Don’t forget to add some easy-to-grab snacks, like fresh fruits and mixed nuts. When hunger strikes, you’ll want something super convenient. Otherwise, you’ll fall back into old habits. Preparation is the key.
Tip #2: Focus on Flavor
As you start your 21-day plant-based diet, focus on flavor. When the food tastes good, you’re more likely to stick to a new diet. There’s nothing worse than sitting down to a disappointing meal of unappetizing food.
Jazz up your bowl of spaghetti squash with homemade meatballs, made with Neat’s Italian Mix [https://www.amazon.com/neat-Plant-Based-Italian-Gluten-Free-Substitute/dp/B00JFTZ5BG]. Add freshly minced garlic and a sprinkle of Italian seasoning for a more flavorful meal. These little changes will make a big difference in your plant-based eating experience. You’ll be happy to stick to your new diet when you enjoy the food in front of you.
Tip #3: Try Something New
No one wants to end up in a food rut. Eating the same dish over and over is mind-numbingly boring. Staring at the same veggie burgers for the 4th night in a row will surely start to drain your soul.
Variety is the spice of life, right? Seek out new recipes. Try something you’ve never heard of. There are so many mouth-watering dishes out there waiting for you to try.
In fact, cultures around the world have a variety of plant-based meals that will blow you away. Shake up your weekly routine with a delicious, new recipe. A plant-based diet is a great way to connect with cultures around the world. It might even inspire a new vacation destination.
About the Food
The best way to start a plant-based diet is to focus on eating as many whole foods as possible. Foods like fresh fruits, veggies, nuts, beans, and whole grains are full of the vitamins and minerals your body needs to thrive.
In fact, research shows a diet filled with plant-based foods can help you lose weight, lower your blood pressure, decrease your risk of heart disease, and prevent type 2 diabetes. You’ll feel healthier and have more energy.
Not only will you be getting healthier, but so will the planet. A plant-based diet helps conserve water, reduce global warming, protect our oceans, and save our rainforests. It’s also a great way to reduce your carbon footprint.
At meal time, load up your plate with lots of colorful fruits and veggies. Add some plant-based proteins like beans, nuts, seeds, and tofu. A protein-packed meal will help you feel fuller longer and keep you energized throughout the day.
As you prepare your meals for the week, have fresh fruits and veggies sliced and ready for easy-access in your fridge. During snack time you’ll be ready and set up for success.
You can do this! You’re taking steps toward better health for you and the planet. That’s something to celebrate.
Need some meal-planning inspiration? Here are some tasty ideas for your 21-Day Plant-Based Diet:
- Banana Almond Vegan Granola [https://www.forksoverknives.com/recipes/vegan-breakfast/banana-almond-vegan-granola-recipe/] by Forks Over Knives
- Tamale Breakfast Bowls [https://www.forksoverknives.com/recipes/vegan-breakfast/tamale-breakfast-bowls/] by Forks Over Knives
- Breakfast Burrito [https://faithfulplateful.com/breakfast-burritos-wfpb-vegan-oil-free-freezer-friendly/] by Faithful Plateful
- Strawberry Avocado Smoothie [https://www.nutriplanet.org/2020/06/silky-strawberry-avocado-smoothie/] by Nutriplanet
- Simple Ginger Pear Green Smoothie [https://www.walderwellness.com/simple-ginger-pear-green-smoothie-vegan/] by Walder Wellness
- Potato Pancakes [https://www.forksoverknives.com/recipes/vegan-breakfast/potato-pancakes/] by Forks Over Knives
- Instant Pot Steel Cut Oats [https://simple-veganista.com/instant-pot-steel-cut-oats/] by Simple Veganista
- Apple slices with almond butter
- Mixed nuts
- Plant-based yogurt with granola
- Roasted chickpeas
- Fresh veggies and guacamole
- Plantain chips
- Fresh berries
- Beefless Stew [https://www.plantbasedcooking.com/recipe/beefless-stew/] by Plant-Based Cooking
- Greek Goddess Bowl [https://minimalistbaker.com/greek-goddess-bowl-30-minutes/] by Minimalist Baker
- Taco Potatoes [https://myplantbasedfamily.com/2013/05/22/taco-potatoes/] by My Plant-Based Family
- Sweet Potato Black Bean Burgers [https://happyhealthymama.com/sweet-potato-black-bean-burgers.html] by Happy Healthy Mama
- Easy White Bean Soup [https://simple-veganista.com/easy-white-bean-soup/] by Simple Veganista
- Oil-Free Hummus [https://pureandplantbased.com/oil-free-hummus/] by Pure and Plant-Based
- Rainbow Salad [https://simple-veganista.com/asian-rainbow-salad-spicy-mango-dressing/] by Simple Veganista
- Dried fruit
- Apple slices
- Mixed nuts
- Celery with cashew butter
- Fresh fruit salad
- Red Bean Curry [https://www.onegreenplanet.org/vegan-recipe/red-bean-curry-vegan-oil-free/] by One Green Planet
- Oil-Free Roasted Vegetables [https://minimalistbaker.com/oil-free-roasted-vegetables/] by Minimalist Baker
- Stuffed Peppers [https://www.plantbasedcooking.com/recipe/stuffed-peppers/] by Plant-Based Cooking
- Spiced Chickpea Stew [https://www.veggieinspired.com/spiced-chickpea-stew/] by Veggie Inspired
- Vegan Burrito Bowl [https://www.veggieinspired.com/super-simple-burrito-bowls/] by Veggie Inspired
- Teriyaki Patties [https://www.onegreenplanet.org/vegan-recipe/teriyaki-patties-vegan-gluten-free-oil-free/] by One Green Planet
- Korma Stuffed Sweet Potatoes [https://delightfulvegans.com/recipe/korma-stuffed-sweet-potatoes-with-a-garlic-tahini-dressing/] by Delightful Vegans
Written by Aftan Hoffer
I’m a self-proclaimed flexitarian, living in Lancaster, PA with my vegetarian husband and our two picky, omnivore toddlers. We’re also a foster family, so the number of chairs around our dinner table can change from time to time. Meals at our house involve a variety of foods, so everyone has at least one thing they’re excited to eat. No one wants a battle at mealtime.