Transitioning to a plant-based diet

March 26, 2019

By: Crystal Kwan, MPH, registered dietician, Huntington Hospital

Following a plant-based diet can be a healthy approach to meal planning, and can be done in a simple step wise fashion. A whole foods plant based diet includes foods in their whole unprocessed form, which includes vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds and small amounts of healthy fats.

  1. Start with meatless meals you already cook at home: This can include meals like black beans and rice, whole grain pasta with marinara sauce, or lentil soup and salad.

  2. Experiment with new simple recipes: Recreate a typical dish by replacing the animal protein with a plant-based protein. Examples include chili with beans and lentils, black bean burgers, vegetable lasagna, or a tofu and vegetable stir-fry.

  3. Consider your protein options: We can meet our protein needs from plant-based sources, including beans, lentils, soy products (tofu, edamame, soy milk), nuts/seeds, and certain whole grains and vegetables. For variety, try meat substitutes such as seitan and tempeh.

  4. Add more vegetables and fruits to your meals and snacks: Try to have at least 1 serving of vegetable and fruit with your main meals. A colorful plate of vegetables and fruits means a diet rich in antioxidants and fiber, protective nutrients that offer a wide range of benefits.

  5. To flavor your foods without animal products, include umami ingredients. These include fermented products (soy sauce, miso paste, aged cheese) and are naturally in foods such as tomatoes, mushrooms, seaweed, peas, corn, onions, tofu and edamame.

For more information about nutrition tips and advice, please visit: https://www.huntingtonhospital.org/nutrition

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