You’re not alone if your fridge’s crisper is where good greens go bad. Sure, we all know by now that eating mostly plants isn’t just better for our bodies, it’s the healthiest diet for our planet. But we also know that for a lot of us, plant-based livin’ around the clock is so much easier said than done.
Anyone else feel a little FOMO ordering the vegetarian option on the menu? Read on for a few refreshingly realistic tips to help with some of the most common reasons we ditch our plant-based goals.
Plant-based problem 1: You never know what to order at restaurants.
Rethink your notion of “plant-based” as a rigid, all-or-nothing situation, and simply just consider plants the top priority in your meal. Many plant-based eaters still do enjoy eggs, meat, and dairy, so restricting yourself to a vegan dinner if you’re craving fettuccine Alfredo will only make dining out less delightful for you in the long run. Start by shifting the proportion of plant- and animal-based foods on your plate (try going for 80% plant matter and 20% everything else, or think of meat as a condiment!), sub out meat with a veggie option in a dish that you like, and don’t forget to check out the sides if you’re looking for more delicious ways to fill up on plants.
Plant-based problem 2: Snacking on seeds and sliced fruit leaves you hangry.
hen you’re craving a snack post-workout or midafternoon slump, those few bites really need to hit the spot and hold you over until your next meal. Not all snacks will cut it, and we’ll admit: Plant-based snacking hasn’t exactly been known for its irresistible array of flavors and being super filling—that is, until now.
Plant-based problem 3: You worry you’re missing out on certain nutrients.
Your macronutrient intake will vary depending on factors like your gender, weight, and physical activity (and of course, any specific eating plan you’re following). But the key is to focus on a variety of nutrient-dense food sources—use this dietary rule of thumb to help you stay full and satisfied: Fill half of your plate with healthy fats and non starchy veggies (like spinach, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli), one-quarter with healthy protein sources (beans, legumes, tofu, tempeh), and one-quarter with healthy carbs (either from starchy veggies like potatoes and squash, or whole grains).
Plant-based problem 4: Your produce and groceries go bad before you can eat them all.
Boredom is a big culprit when it comes to abandoning a plant-based diet. But see point No. 1: It’s not about eating the same salads and sides all the time, or even overhauling your pantry and fridge. Eat what you love, with small plant-forward goals like going meatless one day a week or doing vegan breakfasts. For inspiration, find a great vegetarian cookbook, or get on social and follow plant-based chefs who cook with flavors you love. Turn your favorite herby ingredients into an all-purpose sauce and slather it on everything from rice to salad to roasted veggies. Find a plant-friendly alternative to swap into your go-to recipes. Embrace meal prep so you don’t have to think too hard about cooking during the week.
Just remember, a plant-based diet is meant to be a flexible way of thinking about nutrition and can fit happily into your current lifestyle with just a few mindful choices. And since you’ll be doing good by your body and the planet, don’t be surprised if these small choices lead to an upward spiral of lasting habits that stick around in the long run.