So you've been thinking about trying a vegan diet. Or maybe you already follow a completely plant-based diet and want to make sure that you are getting enough variety into your diet. Look no further! We surveyed a team of experts, sampled a few goodies, and read through some studies to bring you these tips to make being vegan easy and healthy—and yes, it includes ice cream and chocolate, plus plenty of healthy-but-delicious recipe inspirations.
101 Healthy Vegan Diet Tips
1. Learn the basics. For those who are ready to dive into plant-based living a little deeper, there are a ton of resources and products to get you on your way. "The website forksoverknives.org provides hundreds of easy to prepare, delicious and healthy, plant-based recipes that anyone can master," says Dr. Patricia Thomson, Food as Medicine Summit & EXPO and TS Wellness founder. "Another website, www.pcrm.org, not only provides recipes but a wealth of factual resources to help the beginner understand the basic premise of adopting a plant-based lifestyle."
2. Binge-watch vegan documentaries on Netflix. Just a few of the streaming channels offerings: Forks Over Knives, Game Changers, What the Health, Cowspiracy and Vegucated.
3. Tap into the documentaries' resources. Not only do plant-based documentaries have tips on switching to being vegan lifestyles but many also offer recipe and meal ideas on their websites and social media pages. The Game Changers website has a whole "Food" tab on with information about nutrition and recipes. Forks Over Knives has an app filled with vegan-friendly recipes. And What the Health offers virtual meal planning services.
4. Start small and build from there. Making the switch cold turkey can be overwhelming so feel free to ease in. "Start by adding one vegan meal to your menu each day. Once you have that down, add in another meal until you're eating 100% vegan meals," says Stephanie Dreyer, a plant-based meal-planning expert.
5. Meal prep. "Meal planning is important to help you stay on track. It also helps for busy days when you won't have time to spend in the kitchen," explains Lisa Cheplak, the Chef Program Manager and Nutrition Chef for Green Our Planet, a Las Vegas-based non-profit conservation organization and creator of the nation's largest school garden program.
6. Make a big pot of something. Cook ahead for the week by making a big batch of beans, quinoa, rice or lentils.
7. Arm yourself with vegan breakfast ideas. Experiment with smoothies by adding greens like kale and spinach, as well as your favorite fruit and chia seeds for protein. "Try a bowl of quinoa/oatmeal topped with nuts, fruit and almond milk," says Cheplak.
8. A few vegan lunch go-tos could be a leafy green salad with a rainbow of color from carrots, bell peppers, celery, tomatoes, garbanzo beans, and a simple lemon vinaigrette. Or maybe a vegetable wrap made with hummus.
9. Embrace Mason jar salads, Cheplak suggests. The possibilities are endless.
10. Stock up on vegan cookbooks. A few we love: The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone, Super Natural Cooking by Heidi Swanson, Vegan for Everybody by America's Test Kitchen.