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10 Tips for Shifting to a Plant-Based Diet

By Jasmin and Mariann — October 31, 2011

We had an amazing weekend, and the highlight of it all was that we had the opportunity to talk to a wonderful, engaged, and inspiring audience at the fantabulous Boston Vegetarian Food Festival. This is the VegFest to end all VegFests, with a huge room full of terrific vendors and a packed house of thousands of veg-heads and veg-head wannabes. What an experience! (By the way, in case you couldn’t tell, we are having an ongoing love affair with VegFests, as is evidenced in the “VegFest Mash-Up” video we recently made for VegNews TV).

Here we are presenting at the Boston VegFest (Mariann on right, Jasmin on left).

Our talk, which was entitled, “Shifting to a Plant-Based Diet: Techniques and Tips for Your Walk on the Green Side,” consisted of our top 10 tips for making this life-saving and life-expanding shift. We thought we would take the opportunity to share a brief recap of those tips on today’s blog entry. Since Tip #1 has to do with finding great resources, reposting our tips is also an opportunity to share the links to those resources.

We’re sure that most of you have additional tips to share (any list, including ours, inevitably is only a starting point). We would love it if you added your tips to the comments section on the blog. As a thank you for commenting, we will randomly select one of you to receive a free copy of Dr. Michael Greger’s newest DVD, “Latest in Clinical Nutrition: Volume 6 (we reviewed Volume 5 on a recent podcast). Leave a comment with your tips between now and Nov. 7 at midnight EST, include your email address when submitting the comment, and we’ll let you know before Nov. 15 if you’ve won. (And be sure to catch Dr. Greger on our current podcast episode — your mind will be blown!)

But we digress.

Here we go with our Top 10 Tips for Shifting to a Plant-Based Diet:

10.Understand All the Reasons.

Whether you are primarily motivated by your health, by environmental and food sustainability issues, or by your compassion for animals, learn everything you can about all these issues, and how they intertwine in a way that is so powerful that it demonstrates that, without a doubt, shifting to a plant-based diet is our evolutionary destiny.

9. Understand Why Individual Action is so Important

It’s so easy to think that this problem is so big — and I am just one small person — so it doesn’t matter what I do. NO! That is false thinking. When you change your behavior, you influence so many more people than you realize. You need to choose: Do you want to be part of the problem, or part of the solution?

8. Find and Use “Transition” Foods

You don’t have to give up anything you don’t want to give up! There is a cruelty-free alternative to every animal product you can possibly think of. Find foods that are reminiscent of the ones you love, and relish a delicious marriage of your most precious food memories and your healthy, compassionate future.

Jasmin and her jazz hands.

7. Learn How to Get a Decent Meal at a Non-Vegan Restaurant

Never never never settle for a green salad and french fries. Check the menu, call ahead, and hang in there until you get something yummy!

6. Learn How to Add Vegetables to Your Diet*

Vegetables are actually delicious (!) and so good for you that it’s impossible to quantify, and impossible to replicate in a supplement. If fresh are too much trouble, use frozen, but no matter what, eat your veggies, and then eat some more. Once again, your Mom was right. Vegetables are where it’s at. (*This is Mariann’s favorite tip.)

5. Find and Foster Community*

Meet-Ups, vegan drinks, on-line circles, pen pals. However you do it, make new vegan friends. You may think you are the only vegan in town, but we promise you, you are not. We’re everywhere, our community is growing every day, and you want to get on board. (*This is Jasmin’s favorite tip.)

4. Learn How to Handle “Humane” Meat Questions

Sure, one reason you’re vegan is because you don’t want to take someone’s life just to satisfy your appetite, no matter how so-called “humanely” they were treated. But when this issue comes up, don’t forget to explore some of the other issues. Be compassionate, but don’t let someone who brings this up walk away without gently asking them about what their standards really are and how they know they are being followed?, whether they boycott factory farming?, what about land use issues?, do they know that milk and eggs, regardless of how small the farm is, are rooted in the exploitation of reproduction?, etc., etc., etc.

Mariann singing the National Anthem. (Kidding — she’s just presenting…)

3. Plan Ahead for Holidays and Family Get-Togethers.

‘Tis the Season. Bring good food and bring enough, ’cause everyone is going to want some. As Mariann likes to say, the single most effective thing you can do for animals is provide delicious vegan food.

2. Don’t Feel the Need to be a Spokesperson

Thanks to Carol J. Adams for this one. Being an advocate for compassionate eating is wonderful, but you can do it on your own terms and when you think people are really open to hearing your answers. If they are just using you as a way to dissipate their own anxiety about their destructive eating habits and aren’t actually interested in hearing you, you don’t have to engage. Just let them know that you are happy with the way you are eating. Period.

1. Find the Best Resources

Here are a few we fancy:

Top Book on Transitioning — The 30-Day Vegan Challenge by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau

Top Health Film — Forks Over Knives (now streaming on Netflix!)

Top Issues Film — Vegucated

Top Helpful Website — Vegan at Heart

Top Nutrition Website — Nutrition Facts

Top Project — Vegan Buddies

Top Vegan News Source —

Top Health Book — Vegan for Life by Jack Norris and Virginia Messina


All in all, the Boston VegFest was a huge success, and we were honored to be a part of it. Be sure to also read the thorough recap of the Fest in the Tie Dye Files (and a super special thanks to Kaitlyn for the flattering words). And also check out the rad article about the Fest on the popular blog for the Boston Globe, (we were interviewed!).

And there you have our Top 10 Tips for Shifting to a Plant-Based Diet. What are some of your tips?

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(11) Readers Comments

  1. October 31, 2011 at 6:09 pm

    I LOVE this list, especially #6 about learning to add veggies to your diet. I continue to surprise myself by actually enjoying eating vegetables especially if they are roasted or topped with a cashew cream sauce. I also make a yummy creamy avocado dressing served over raw salad that transforms greens from boring to amazing.

  2. November 1, 2011 at 11:56 am

    This list is amazing. I am currently celebrating one year of being vegan, and this list is so right on point. My favorite is # 3 - I am the only vegan in my family and I've had to learn to bring lots of vegan food to holidays and parties. For Thanksgiving, I am bringing vegan cornbread and vegan pumpkin pie. I can't wait!

  3. November 1, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    Thanks so much for your recap! Pretty sure I took about 4 pages of notes, complete with vehement underlines for emphasis, during your talk and I'm so glad to have the tips and links in your own words. It was definitely an inspiring and spirited talk, one that was applicable and accessible for new vegans, seasoned vegans, non vegans, and everyone in between. I had a blast meeting you, you're just as bubbly as fun-filled in person as you are in your podcasts! I think my favorite of your tips is to learn to handle humane meat questions. Especially as a newer vegan, these were the questions that stumped me the most. Now I feel well-armed to handle everything thrown my way. As for my own tip: keep an open mind! Quinoa? Promise it's delicious. Chia seeds? Eat them, just do it. Be adventurous and your taste buds and body will thank you.Thanks for the shout out!

  4. November 4, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    The resources that pushed my husband and I over to vegan eating was the documentarys Food Inc, Eating Edition 3 and then I read the Rave Riet. My husband wanted to get off his medications. They made him feel bad and asked me to research. A couple of months after changing our diets, he was able to get off his meds. We also eliminated most sugars and processed foods. We were amazed at how good we felt and looked. We still get questions that in reality many people don't really want our answers to. They are so brainwashed, as we were also, that we need meat and dairy to survive. Hard change to make and occasionally we fall off the wagon. Changing a lifetime of bad eating doesn't happen overnite.

  5. November 7, 2011 at 6:40 am

    This is a great list - and #1 with the resources is especially awesome! You covered everything so well that my tip might be a little out of left field, but I feel that visiting a farm sanctuary really helps to solidify the reasons why one might be interested in shifting to a plant-based diet. Even those of us who didn't start the shift for animal/environmental reasons can benefit from an up-close-and-personal tour of where these animals live now and where they came from or would have ended up in the system. At the very least, even if you're only in it for health reasons, seeing the state of these animals and making the connection of what you're ingesting when you're eating animals and their secretions? I know that there are people out there who think twice after visiting the animals!

  6. Alyx Williams
    November 7, 2011 at 5:15 pm

    Love this list! My tip: Be brave. It is unfamiliar and therefore scary, but try, and we find that it wasn't terrifying, and was actually great. Trying new ingredients or navigating social circles is different, but I've found that the ingredients are amazing, and new social situations can be very rewarding and genuine and beautiful! For #4 (humane meat) I had a recent 'a-ha' moment, so I now say(something to this effect), "I don't remember much from the car collision. I do recall making the decisions on what to wear for work that morning. I do remember being panicked and absolutely terrified!! I truly remember the absolute panic I felt. I don't want to support an industry that profits from anybody's terror. I don't care how 'humane' or 'happy' that animal was. I was happy in my life, but when it comes time to die, it's fucking terrifying!!" That's been going really well. People really think about it.

  7. November 13, 2011 at 12:38 am

    I just discovered this site and it is my new favorite site on the whole web. These tips are so helpful, addressing all of the issues I've faced recently and in the past. I have just committed to this new lifestyle and am shocked at what I can do in the kitchen. I've been vegetarian for years but have counted on my partner for cooking (I usually hate to cook with a capital H), yet I am willing for the first time. I have never been more excited about living compassionately in every way possible. I am loving this site and all that's incorporated into it. Awesome!

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