How to Get Started with a Plant-Based Diet

Plant-based diets are great for people looking for a way to cut down on the amount of meat they eat or reduce their environmental impact.

But where to start?

Meatless Mondays for one. Meatless Mondays provide an easy and attainable way to incorporate plant-based foods into your diet because you only have to worry about doing it once per week! Recruit a friend or your family to participate with you to make this new habit a sustainable routine.

Concerned you won't get enough protein if you eat a plant based meal?

Have no fear... plants have protein too! Meat, dairy and protein powders aren't the only sources of protein in our diets. Animal based proteins are considered complete proteins which means they contain all of the essential amino acids our bodies need to function. An incomplete protein will contain some, but not all of these essential amino acids. Most plant-based sources of protein are considered incomplete proteins (with the exception of some foods like quinoa). It is important to eat a variety of plant-based sources of proteins throughout the day to be sure you are consuming all of the essential amino acids for your body.

Here are just a few plant-based sources of protein:

  • 1/2 cup of cooked quinoa contains about 15 grams of protein

  • Black beans contain about 15 grams of protein per 1 cup serving

  • Pumpkin seeds have about 9 grams of protein per 1 oz serving

  • Nuts (almonds, peanuts, etc) have about 6 grams of protein per 1 oz serving

  • 1/2 of firm tofu has about 20 grams of protein per serving

  • Sunflower seeds have about 6 grams of protein per 1 oz serving

  • Soybeans have 11 grams of protein per 1/2 cup serving

  • Tempeh has 15 grams of protein per 3oz serving

  • Lentils have 18 grams of protein per 1 cup serving

Worried you won't stay full until your next meal if you don't eat meat?

A plant-based diet is loaded with fiber to help keep which, in addition to the protein content, will help keep you full until your next meal. You can also add a small amount heart healthy fats, like avocado or olive oil, to your meal which will help with satiety.

How to build a plant based meal!

Fill 1/2 of your plate with non-starchy veggies, 1/4 of your plate with a plant-based protein, 1/4 of your plate with a complex carb like potatoes with the skin or brown rice. The complex carb will give you some additional protein as well! Add 1/4 of a small avocado or 1-2 tablespoons of a plant-based oil to get those healthy fats. Focus on have a protein source + high fiber starchy + fat  at each meal to help keep you satisfied.