Friends, I have a long list of things I wish I could sit and write down. One of those is every recipe I’ve ever created, and another is how to feed your family healthier, and how to eat more plant-based meals. I’m starting in on this giant list with this topic. I get asked this several times per week. So here are my tips on how to eat more plant-based meals!
How to Eat More Plant-Based Meals
NOTE: I’m going to gear this towards families, since that’s who I usually get this question from. “How do I feed my family more vegan meals?” Or, “How do I start to eat healthier?” If you don’t have a family, just try to take these tips and use them for yourself. Hope they’re useful to you!
01. Take Baby Steps
I went vegan overnight but that isn’t how many people do it. It was very easy for me to make the switch, but I was married, so I had to compromise a lot. I also had to think about someone other than myself when cooking, so if you have a family and you want them to go on this journey with you, it’s probably better to slowly make changes. My husband was used to eating a certain way, then one day I completely rocked his world by going vegan.
You don’t want to scare your husband, significant other, or children away with your newfound changes, so my advice? Start with one night a week. Call it Meatless Mondays. I had to really acclimate my husband to getting used to certain meals without meat. He’d been conditioned all his life to think most meals needed to be served with meat. I talk more about protein in the human diet below, so scroll all the way down to see that.
Anyway, the best thing you can do it take it slow – choose two nights a week that you’ll cook only plant-based. Try to leave out the meat in your spaghetti sauce and use broccoli and bell pepper in place of it! It eventually becomes the new “normal” there’s just a transition period. If you have kids and they’re confused just explain exactly what you’re doing. What your goal is. “We want to eat healthier so that our bodies can be nourished; some of these meals may seem new to you, but some will still be familiar.” Leave it at that! Kids are resilient. It may take a minute for them to warm up (or a few weeks, but eventually they will!)
02. Set Goals
So set a goal for yourself. Two nights a week for the month of May. Then in June, try three nights a week and so on! Don’t try to do it all at once, because when you aren’t able to meet that high standard, you’ll get frustrated and revert back. The goal here is slow and steady!
03. Plan Out Your Meals
Meal planning is super important when you’re trying to eat healthier. Planning is half the battle. I find that trying new recipes is more realistic if I’m able to look up recipes, gather ingredients and shop for what I need for each meal versus buying the same old meals I usually get every week.
I usually just write out the days of the week Monday-Sunday, and write out every single breakfast and every single lunch. Dinners too, obviously!
Some of my favorite site to visit that help me plan out yummy, nutritious plant-based meals are Minimalist Baker, Hot for Food, and Oh She Glows. Follow them on Instagram too for inspiration. I find if I follow healthy eating accounts, I start to crave the food I see on there lol. Advertising at it’s finest! (eyeroll)
04. Replicate Meals You Love
Another easy tip for eating healthier foods is trying to substitute ingredients in foods/meals you already like. For example, I love pizza. I make pizza at home now instead of eating a frozen pizza or a Costco pizza like I did growing up. We make veggie pizzas with whole grain crust, tomato sauce (pureed with black beans for added protein; see recipe for black bean pizza sauce here) and cover it with veggies and yummy cashew cheese sauce!
I also mentioned the spaghetti option. You can use veggies instead of meat in your spaghetti but cook it how you normally would. Things like tacos are easy to replace too. We love “quinoa meat” tacos, or “lentil” meat tacos. Lentils are so high in iron, fiber, and protein… and honestly to me, they taste exactly like beef without the animal or risk of heart disease! Eating plants is just a good habit to get into, so even if you aren’t full on vegan or even vegetarian, eating less is great!
05. Season Your Food
My non-vegan husband said this was the game changer for him. I wasn’t ever that great at seasoning my food until a couple of years ago. My husband was not a fan of my vegan dishes in the beginning. They were bland, tasteless, and just overall bad. I knew there had to be a way to make it work though. I kept trying, I followed recipes, and eventually got really great at cooking/seasoning. It was a learned behavior though. I love cooking now, but it took me around two to three years to get good at it (and I’m still no chef) but I know some basics. It just takes a little time, dedication, determination, and practice.
I didn’t grow up cooking. My family didn’t really cook; we were extremely poor and lived off of Burger King and random frozen pizzas and other unhealthy junk. It wasn’t until my post-college years that I started to fully understand nutrition and it took becoming a mother for me to really take it seriously.
I’m thankful for all that I’ve learned, and thankful for my husband who also has learned a ton in the kitchen. He usually makes dinner these days, and although we eat about 98% plant-based here at home, husband still eats meat and dairy on occasion when we go out. It’s something that he has to ultimately decide he wants to change or not change. I am only in control of myself. I still love and respect his decision, and I’m glad that he’s in full support of our girls being plant-based eaters. He’s a believer in how we eat, because he’s seen how our own child would sit and eat platefuls of veggies literally from 6 months old (Gracie) and now that she’s four years old, she still loves and eats veggies just as much as she did when she was a baby.
Anyway, all that to say, seasoning your food well is what will make it taste better. Try out paprika, chili powder, curry powder, garlic, etc. in your dishes; not just salt and pepper!
06. Aim for serving a fruit + vegetable with every meal.
If you’re an adult, or you’re a parent with children, this is a great rule to live by. Aim to serve one fruit and one vegetable option with every meal. I read somewhere recently (I think it was my Baby Led Weaning book I read for Norah) that we need 4-6 servings of vegetables per day. Not just 4-6 servings of broccoli, but 4-6 servings of purple potato, yellow beets, orange bell peppers, etc. Eating the rainbow ensures that we have several different types of nutrients flowing into our bodies (and our children’s bodies!) So be sure to buy veggies that vary in color.
It can get overwhelming to hear something like this, but the easiest way to do this is to have your staples (berries, bananas, etc.) but try to buy one new fruit and one new veggie a week when you’re shopping.
07. Show kindness and lead by example.
If your husband, kids, friends or family are not supportive, don’t let it discourage you! Try your best to eat as healthy as you can and don’t bash others for not agreeing with your choices or choosing to challenge it. Demonstrate how great it feels to be eating all sorts of nutrient-dense foods that nourish your body, and the rest of the family will eventually follow suit.
MY NUMBER ONE TIP FOR NEW PARENTS?
eat what you want your child to eat.
they’re going to want it if they see you have it. don’t serve them different foods than what you’re eating.
Read my post on How to Get Kids To Be Healthy Eaters here. I share several tips for feeding children.
I could go on and on about this, so I’ll try to keep it concise. Quality, organic animal meat is not only unsustainable, it’s very expensive. If you’re looking to cut your grocery budget, eat more plants, etc., you can easily get protein from plant sources! Don’t feel like arguing with family or friends? Send them this research on protein:
“The National Academy of Medicine recommends that adults get a minimum of 0.8 grams of protein for every kilogram of body weight per day, or just over 7 grams for every 20 pounds of body weight. 
- For a 140-pound person, that means about 50 grams of protein each day.
- For a 200-pound person, that means about 70 grams of protein each day.” (source).
Did you know that 1 cup of chickpeas has 15 grams of protein? How about oatmeal? Broccoli, pasta, potatoes, lentils. All of these things have an abundance or protein, fiber, magnesium, and so many other health benefits! I love reading this article, because it debunks the need for animal protein by showing sample meal plans and how an adult male can easily eat 77 grams of plant-based protein in a day!
Curious about pregnancy and a plant-based diet? Read this article!
I need some kid-friendly ideas and recipes to get more veggies in my kiddos’ diet?
Start by reading this post: black bean pizza sauce. Pizza is one of my favorite way to incorporate veggies. Pasta sauce too! Butternut squash is easy to incorporate when making vegan mac n’ cheese. Our go-to way to get in veggies other than with meals are definitely smoothies. I have tons of recipes here: recipe archives. We also do sweet potato burgers, quinoa cakes, potato and carrot quesadillas (they’re so yummy) and lots of soups which all have veggies in them! This vegan minestrone is a favorite of ours!
How where to get ideas and recipes that are vegan?
How can I make alfredo sauce for pasta without using dairy?
Yes! One word: cashews! Those things are creamy AF, and they’re usually something I have on hand. I’ll soak them the night before in a jar with water and then when it’s time to cook I will blend them with seasoning to create a sauce! Super easy! Click here for the recipe we use.
Do you have any suggestions for filling meals that aren’t purely carb-based?
Answers coming soon!
More protein options without soy?
I rely heavily on nuts and legumes for protein since I don’t drink soy milk or use soy very often. We do tofu scramble every few weeks, but I really don’t like soy that much, and try to avoid processed “meats” and “cheese”. If I am craving those things, however, I do prefer the alternative to the actual thing.
Some recipes I love are lentil walnut tacos, …. to be continued.
I really hope this post about how to eat more plant-based meals was helpful to you! Leave a comment below if you still have questions and I’m happy to add more info as needed!
Thank you so much for your support, and for reading!