If you’ve been looking for a way to jumpstart your health, be kinder to your body, and help the environment all at the same time – then this is it. Embracing a plant-based lifestyle isn’t hard – there are tons of great foods out there waiting to be discovered. So, let’s talk about why veganism is so great, as well as some quick tips to get you started.
Plant-based Health Benefits for People
You don’t have to look hard to find good reasons to embrace a plant-based lifestyle. For one, you’ll get more nutrients, period. This benefit increases the more you include fresh, whole foods (rather than processed) into your daily diet.
Since a plant-based diet is higher in fiber and lower in calories and saturated fats, it can lead to healthy, sustainable weight loss. This is even if you don’t count calories and eat until you are full (making healthy choices, of course).
Also, it’s better for your body. A plant-based diet can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, certain cancers, lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, even prevent the development of diabetes and arthritis. Awesome!
For a wonderful primer on the health benefits of a plant-based diet, take a look at our Plant-Based 101.
Plant-based Benefits for the Planet
Our choices are no longer just about us, what we choose to consume can also have a sustainable impact on our ecosystem. While you can certainly reduce carbon emissions by making other choices, such as driving an electric vehicle, plant-based eating can help you make an immediate change by reducing your carbon footprint.
One major contributor towards climate change is methane gas, and a big source is animal gas. The fewer animals we raise for meat, the less negative impact those animals will have on the environment.
In addition, meat production takes a lot of water; in fact it takes on average 2400 gallons of water to produce one pound of meat. When you consider that ½ of the water in the United States goes to meat production, you can see how reducing your meat consumption can help conserve water.
Getting Started with a Plant-Based Diet
You can get a good start with a plant-based diet with just a bit of planning. If you try to just “wing it” you’ll either find yourself hungry and reaching for an unhealthy snack or reverting to old habits.
Use a cookbook like The 22-Day Revolution Cookbook to find delicious recipes to start with. Spend an afternoon each weekend preparing and putting aside a few make ahead meals, soups, or slow cooker meals for the week ahead.
I’m passionate about veganism because it allows me to exercise kindness toward animals and the planet while also taking care of my body. I’ll be sharing tips, grocery shopping strategies, product recommendations and simple vegan cooking hacks to kick-start your culinary adventures.
Many people choose plant-based diets out of concern for animal welfare, but nowadays there are many more who explore veganism as a means of protecting the planet and for health reasons. It’s an exciting time to be meal prepping, planning and grocery shopping as a vegan eater!
My grocery list shifts with the seasons, but the backbone is always the same: a produce haul, some pantry staples, vegan proteins and some snack foods and beverages. With the list below, you’ll be able to put together wholesome, meal-worthy vegan salads (I add tofu, beans or another protein to my salads for extra staying power), grain pilafs, hearty bean soups and/or chilis, whole grain breakfasts and on-the-go snacks (my favorites are trail mix or pieces of fresh fruit with peanut or almond butter).
There are more plant-based product options than ever, but my grocery game plan hasn’t changed much since I went vegan 3 years ago. I make whole grains, legumes and vegetables the cornerstone of my diet, and I rely on a couple of time-saving products to fill in the gaps. Eating this way saves me money and ensures that I stay focused on whole ingredients as much as possible.
2 bunches dark leafy greens
3 seasonal fruits (such as grapefruit, orange or pomegranate)
3 seasonal vegetables (such as cauliflower, dark leafy greens or winter squash)
Alliums (3 onions + 2 heads garlic)
1 bag prepared salad mix
365 Everyday Value® Organic Whole Grain Bulgur Wheat
365 Everyday Value® Organic Long Grain Brown Rice
365 Everyday Value® Organic Italian Farro
365 Everyday Value® Original Instant Oatmeal or Oats & Flax Instant Oatmeal
1 bag lentils
2-3 cans of 365 Everyday Value® Organic Cannellini or Garbanzo Beans
Canned tomatoes and tomato sauce
Vegan refried beans
Sprouted grain bread or tortillas
Whole grain pasta
1 bag 365 Everyday Value® Organic Shelled Edamame
1 block extra-firm tofu
1 block tempeh
1 package seitan
1 vegan meat of choice
Snacks & Beverages
1 jar nut or seed butter like Justin’s Nut Butters
1 bag dried fruit of choice or simple vegan trail mix
1 bag nuts or seeds of choice
Vegan snack bars (such as GoMacro MacroBars or Square Organics Organic Protein Bars)
1 carton nondairy milk alternative
REBBL Organic Coconut-Milk Elixirs
Once you settle into a plant-based cooking routine, you’ll be able to modify this list to suit your tastes. Add some of your favorite fresh or frozen vegetables to the produce list. If there’s a condiment or seasoning you love — such as tamari, sriracha or other hot sauce — be sure to keep it well stocked in your pantry. Vary the whole grains, legumes and protein options as often as you can, so that you take in plenty of variety.
No matter what, your local Whole Foods Market can help support and provide inspiration for the vegan journey ahead. Happy shopping!