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The Ultimate Guide to Eating a Plant-Based Diet

By Tina Stinson

This guide provides a step-by-step process for adopting a plant-based diet. I hope it’s helpful, and congratulations on doing something healthy for you and positive for the planet!

Stop eating animal products.

Eating plant-based means avoiding all animal-based foods—and that can be challenging. It’s all about reading labels and learning what those mystery ingredients are. 

Head to the fridge and the pantry. 

Go through everything and start reading labels. If you don’t know what it is, look it up. It’s always good to know what you’re putting in your body—you might decide you don’t want to consume it.

That task is a lot easier with a whole-food diet.

What’s whole food? Food that grows from the earth. Food that’s unprocessed or minimally processed. Food that doesn’t have an ingredient list. 

Eating whole foods is key.

It’s the most important step for improving health with a plant-based diet. My energy levels skyrocketed when I started eating more real food. Eating whole foods is easier than you think—and you will feel so much better. 

Plant-based isn’t the same as a vegan.

“Plant-based” is about diet. “Vegan” is about diet and lifestyle. According to the Vegan Society, “Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.” For example, vegans avoid wearing leather and fur, and even eating honey.

Start with a few staple plant-based recipes.

Think of some of your favorite meals, then look online or in cookbooks for plant-based replacements. Finding recipes that are similar to ones you already like will make you more comfortable with the change. Make sure the recipes aren’t too difficult and that the ingredients are readily available. Pinterest has some great plant-based recipes.

Learn how to replace animal products.

There are so many dairy replacements in the grocery store right now. Start testing them out! Keep in mind, however, that plant-based cheeses, butters and condiments can be highly processed. So if the goal is to improve your health, use those products sparingly, and consider not using them at all.

 Ease into the transition with these techniques:

  • Eat plant-based one day a week (“Meatless Mondays”).

  • Eat plant-based Monday through Friday and take a break on the weekends.

  • Eat plant-based for one meal a day, then add more meals over time.

  • Start with plant-based dinners (or breakfasts or lunches) and transition to the other meals over time.

These are just a few ways to ease into a plant-based diet, which lets you learn and adjust. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Take your time.

Replace animal-based foods gradually.

Don’t throw everything out at once and spend a fortune on new plant-based items. Replace animal-based foods as they run out. (Unless you’re a “cold turkey” person—then go for it. Donate what you don’t want and go shopping!)

Find the “why.”

Figuring out your reason for going plant-based is the first step to reaching your goal. So ask yourself, Why is this transition important to me? How will I feel when I get started?

For more help making the switch to a plant-based diet, visit

Tina Stinson is a certified life coach, holistic health coach, and culinary nutrition instructor. For more information, or to set up a complimentary call, contact her at 315-726-0318 or visit


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