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6 Steps To Switching To A Plant-Based Lifestyle

Just remember, it's a transition, not a marathon.

So you’ve decided you want to make the switch to a vegan lifestyle. Congrats! Going from consuming animal products (in your food and/or in your home life) to plant-based products sounds daunting, but it doesn’t have to be a difficult transition.

A little planning goes a long way, and if you consider your lifestyle choices an ongoing journey you’ll feel less pressure to do a complete overhaul right from the get-go.

My decision to eat plant-based evolved over time. It began out of an interest in my health, and soon expanded to include ethical reasoning and more recently environmental concerns.

I’m still in the process of “greening” my home and improving my culinary skills, and I’m constantly educating myself and doing my best to make healthy decisions.

But, I’ve been doing this for a while, and have a few tips I can share to going vegan. Here are some of my favourite ways to make the switch to a primarily plant-based lifestyle.

WATCH: How to make vegan meatballs. Story continues below.

Find inspiration in recipes

I find plant-based cookbooks and blogs beautiful and inspiring — sites like Oh She Glows, Joyous Health, and Hot For Food are among my go-tos, and I love exploring new faves like Love And Lemons.

When I find a recipe I like I’ll add the ingredients to my grocery list and try to replicate it. I follow several healthy food social media accounts like Detoxinista, where I get a lot of inspiration for new plant-based recipes; Candice Batista is inspiring for green living, and Organic Bunny is great for plant-based makeup and beauty products.

Bring actual plants into your home

If you’re gonna go plant-based you may as well enjoy some actual plants, right?

House plants do such a great job of helping us connect to nature and for me, the act of tending to them can be a form of meditation — they add beauty to our home and I love seeing new leaves grow! And you may as well bring some house plants into the office, because research shows that when employees are near plants (such as on their desks), they’re less stressed.

Bonus: some house plants, like succulents, require little maintenance and are great for kids, who can learn how to take care of them.

Do your research

When it comes to your health and the health of your family, you need to educate yourself to make good choices.

Understanding how and where to get all the nutrients you need from plant-based sources is important, and familiarizing yourself with ways to incorporate new foods and ingredients into your diet is particularly helpful.

Reputable websites like One Green Planet, Well + Good, and Mind Body Green (they also have a podcast) are easy, free ways to access helpful information. Government health websites are also a great, reputable resource.

Research can also be practical, like where to buy the best quality turmeric or what items to purchase in bulk, or how to incorporate nutritional yeast (a vegan’s best friend) into your cooking.

WATCH: Health benefits of nutritional yeast and how to use it. Story continues below.

Research will also help you understand which ingredients to avoid, and with practice you’ll be reading labels like a pro.

Shopping at places that have already done the legwork is helpful. Get to know your local health food store; chances are the staff are excited about health and wellness and can help you navigate your vegan discoveries.

Make your home kitchen a test kitchen

Eating out can get expensive really fast, and preparing meals at home is a fun and economical way to get excited about your new culinary journey.

Play around and see what works best for you; I have yet to perfect plant-based pancakes from scratch, but I found a wonderful mix that nails it every time.

You can also make many of your conventional household products like all-purpose cleaners and room sprays. Here’s a handy guide to making your own vegan household cleaners.

Check in with professionals

Before you decide to switch to a plant-based diet, check in with your GP for their advice, as they can chat with you about how it will affect your health, what nutrients you will need to pay attention to and where to get them from, and point you to resources.

I also see a naturopath and am constantly messaging experts on social media; I have no shame in politely asking for advice on anything from chia pudding to the best non-toxic bathroom cleaners.

Chatting with other like-minded individuals is a good way to expand your vegan network. You never know, maybe someone will call on you for tips in the future!

Swap slowly and don’t get discouraged

Making the switch to a vegan lifestyle is an ongoing journey. Don’t get discouraged if you experience setbacks; the point is that you’re inspired to make changes that you feel are healthy for yourself and/or your loved ones and that’s a great place to begin.

Meatless Monday is a useful tool when beginning the transition to plant-based eating; you can start by committing to eating one plant-based meal a week and then go from there.

You can use the same idea with your household and beauty products: swap them out one at a time. Tossing out your entire stash of makeup is wasteful and pricey, but making one-off changes as you buy new products can be fun and rewarding.

You can often try samples before you buy, so look at this as a fun and way to familiarize yourself with plant-based products before taking the leap.

You got this!

20 Ideas For 2020 is our series that explores easy ways to take action on the ideas and changes you may have already been thinking about.

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