More Plant-Based Diet Lessons from 2013 (With Links for More Information)

A winter meal of beans, greens and tofu.

Happy last day of 2013! I wrote a few days ago about lessons I’d learned going plant-based this year, and thought of even more things as we head into 2014. Here are more things I remember looking back at my year of eating a whole-foods, plant-based diet.

Go all in: Don’t phase in a dietary change. Get rid of the junk food, even the vegan junk food (fake ice cream, fake butters, fake meat) so that you have no temptations lingering in the fridge or pantry and go clean with the diet. The stricter you are with being plant-based in your food, the better you will feel, speaking as someone with rheumatoid arthritis. Cheating always brought flares. Always.

The sooner you commit, the faster your taste buds will adapt: If you keep dumping a shaker full of salt or tablespoons of oil-based dressing or mayonnaise on your vegetables, you will never learn how they really taste. The first three weeks will probably be the hardest for you; that’s why there’s the 21-day Vegan Kickstart program online. If you can hang on for that long, you are over the food craving/withdrawal hump and probably have a good chance at sticking with it longer term.

Get a stash of good recipes and stick with them at the beginning: Dr. McDougall’s discussion board has a recipe section that contains hundreds of free, easy-to-fix recipes with extremely economical ingredients. Beans, greens, potatoes, canned tomatoes and whole grains are the staples of most of the recipes. Learning this way of eating also means learning to cook again, because you are using raw, not processed ingredients.

Go to cooking school online, for free: A good site to learn this type of cooking by watching someone else do it is Chef AJ’s YouTube channel. I met her in Portland, Ore., this fall, and she’s been a real inspiration to me throughout my journey. She also has written a great book on her own transition that includes her recipes: “Unprocessed,” which you can find at Amazon or most other booksellers.

More good recipe sources:

Forks Over Knives recipes

Engine 2 Recipes

Eat to Live recipes

Happy Herbivore recipes

That’s a good roundup to get you started! All of them offer basic, easy recipes you can do without buying any special implements or exotic ingredients.

Keep inspiration in front of you: I’m betting you are on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest, or all of them. Guess what? All the plant-based movement leaders and proponents are on these sites, too, and they offer daily recipe ideas or links to health articles of interest. Spend some of your down time this winter looking up these people on your social networks and signing up for their free input on your newsfeed, Twitter stream or Pinterest boards.

Get what you need with the budget you have: Tools I use daily include a blender, a rice cooker and my pots and pans. I use a slow cooker about once a week but a big pot on the stove also works for the same recipes. As you go along, you may want to invest in a mini processor to grind up nuts for dressings and sauces. But don’t think you have to run out and get a Vitamix for smoothies or to make blended soups. While that’s a great investment if you can afford it, I still use an Oster blender that was on sale for $19 when I bought it. I’ve had it for a little more than a year and it’s still going after daily use! My rice cooker is a $20 Proctor Silex model I bought at Rite Aid.

Vegan on a budget: Ellen Jaffe Jones has written “Eat Vegan on $4 a Day,” which I’ve read. It’s a really good way to get started on this kind of dietary change on a budget and she breaks it down to cost of ingredients per serving so that you see you won’t break the bank while making plenty of delicious, various dishes.

That said, spend the extra on organic: The taste difference in apples alone is worth the price, but remember that what will help your health is priceless. “Food Beware” is a French film available on Amazon Prime for free viewing, and it made me think long and hard about the importance of organics. Here’s a clip:

Other films that address diet and health: Not everyone comes into this because of an autoimmune disease; the vast majority of people are looking to lose weight, which is a hallmark of plant-based eating. If that’s your angle, you definitely will want to watch the following two films, in addition to “Forks Over Knives.”

“Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead.” Don’t let the title put you off, this is as inspirational as anything you will ever see in your life, I guarantee it. The link here takes you to a free version of the movie on Hulu or other movie viewing sites of your choice.

“May I Be Frank.”  This link takes you to a free version of the film on Hulu after watching an ad. Watch a guy who REALLY has a hard time with change …. change.

Spoiler alert: I got weepy after both of these films, and you probably will too, not from sadness, but sheer happiness for the people in the film, because of what they fight through every day.

With all these links, you should have a wealth of information to get started for 2014! Good luck on your journey, and come back here to visit!

If you are reading this blog for the first time, feel free to check out the archives or better still, subscribe! That way you can follow along to see what happens next year.


My ginger tea today says, "Be well."
My ginger tea keeps giving advice.

2 thoughts on “More Plant-Based Diet Lessons from 2013 (With Links for More Information)

  1. Thanks for this post! (And the earlier one.) My diet is nowhere near as good as yours — especially not during the holiday season — but I’ve made major changes over the past year thanks to your inspiration! Still haven’t succeeded in making any changes to Jeff’s or Elijah’s diets, but there’s only so much one can do. Haven’t watched “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead” yet, but plan to soon.


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