Potatoes and other vegetables.

Beyond Veganuary: 11 Top Tips for Sticking with a Plant-Based Diet

‘Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution towards a vegetarian diet.’
Albert Einstein.

Peperamis, Ginsters, Chickstixx, Cheesestrings and packets of Matteson’s Fridge Raiders. If you leave the small matter of how you nourish your miracle machine to the last minute, this might be your snack-list in a Western world of vending machines, service stations, corner shops and duff takeaways. You deserve better.

The prospect of an animal-free diet for a day – let alone a month – might seem like an ordeal at first, but if the plants are calling to you, you might be dipping into Veganuary. Go for it. Some people will make long-term changes. Others won’t be ready to. Here we share our top tips for making lasting changes towards to a plant-based diet.

1. Commit to learning
Embarking on a journey of re-education means being a student. It means taking on board new information and applying it. Have you switched off already at the thought of having to try? Well, give yourself a chance! With food consciousness comes a whole raft of new ideas about not just food – but other things too. By committing to learn you’ll see the swiftest improvements to your food knowledge, your cooking skills, your motivation for health and you’ll find making the right food choices a doddle. You might be surprised about what else you learn about too.

2. Stock a good pantry
When your mum used to put vegetables in the pressure cooker it was awful, right? Soft, tasteless mush leached of colour, flavour, mineral, vitamin or texture. Bad vegetables would drive anyone towards eating a cow. There is another way but you need some essentials to work from. You’ll need a tasty oil for salad dressing and a good cooking oil with a high smoke point. Good salt, pepper, herbs, spices, vinegars – an intelligent larder. Beans, grains, nuts, seeds, vegetable stock and maple syrup or agave. If you have these things in your cupboard, you give yourself a fighting chance of surviving beyond Veganuary with plant-y-foods.

3. Ditch the microwave
Nothing has ever tasted better because it’s been in a microwave. Ever. Create some space in your kitchen for real food and put that silly cuboid in the garage. Better still, give it away to someone you hate who may be more interested in a weirdly radiating, 1940’s, radar technology, fear-box. It’s no place for food. A commitment to a microwave is a commitment to harrowing, grey slop. Move on. If you’re struggling with this revert to 1.

4. Soak 
It seems fashionable these days to have dry goods like green lentils, rice, chick peas, mung beans, pearl barley, split peas and these sorts of things in Kilners on shelves. It’s not just for Instagram. You can eat these things. If you want to eat conscious, cheap, healthy, in measured portions and get your fibre and protein from plants – this is a great step forward. Soak the right amount before you go to bed and set your intention to eat right the next day. Nothing will give you a better sense of well-being than when you’ve thought ahead about what goodness you’ll be eating in the proper measures tomorrow.

5. Go Indian
Roughly 30% of India is vegetarian. For inspiration of how to eat tasty plant-centric food, look no further. Rice and dal together offer a complete range of proteins, nobody does bread better than India and Indian food has been adopted around the world as some of the tastiest and most satisfying there is. Learn how to make a simple curry from scratch with a base of onion, ginger, garlic and spices and you’re on your way to a world of food discovery.

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6. Have high-protein go-to stuff
The biggest misconception is that you have to consume meat in order to get enough protein. You don’t. Tempeh, kale, seaweed, tofu, broccoli, peas, oats, nuts, seeds, rice, pearl barley, lentils, raw balls, peanut butter, bread – these are all excellent sources of protein. Switching from animal products, you will need new sources of regular protein and/or to shift your perception of where you get your protein from. Build your new repertoire of recipes around these sources of protein.

7. Give yourself the very best
For us here at The Mat Movement, it’s not about cutting out animal products as much as taking control of our diet and making the tastiest, healthiest food we can. You’re not missing out, you’re making a positive change. Reject bland, mechanically reformed, hormone injected, over-salted, highly preserved, factory, tinned, fake, colourless and outright grim food. Reject any food that doesn’t sit right with the way you feel about it. Instead, embrace colourful, abundant, fresh, low fat, well-seasoned, healthy, balanced, exciting food made with love and all of the best intentions of happy nature.

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8. Bridge
If, like me, going vegan seems just inconceivable at first attempt – bridge. Maybe hold on to eggs, cheese, fish or a combination. That initial shift will mean that you have a need to engage with your diet and work on some new recipes without a full rejection of old patterns which can be very hard to drop. Once you’ve gone without beef and chicken for a while you’ll start to realise how unimportant it was. Losing the eggs and cheese will then be an easier next step.

9. Don’t believe the protein myth
The myth that a plant-based diet means you’re a pale, skinny wimp has been absolutely de-bunked. You can get all of the worldy goodness you need from a diet that doesn’t require animal products. Don’t believe anyone that tells you otherwise. Here’s what vegan ultra athlete, Rich Roll eats in a day.

10. Take a test
People seem so preoccupied with protein these days. It’s not all about protein. We all need a good varied diet, which of course includes proteins but also contains carbohydrates, a wide range of vitamins and minerals, fatty acids, water and all the colours of the rainbow. If you fear that you may be missing an element of your diet, it’s less likely to be protein you’re missing as some other element. If you have a concern, why not take a test? Here at The Mat Movement we sent our hair off for analysis to see what foods suit us, what doesn’t and what we’re missing. It seems I need to eat less soya and more Brazil nuts and Collette has a host of intolerances. This education has helped is to re-find our balance and set a course for a more suited diet with some science behind us for good measure.  For a hair sample analysis speak to our friend, Hebe at Health Synergy.

11. Get Your B12
B12 is mainly found in animal based food but it’s a vital nutrient and you’ll miss it if you’re not careful. The only reliable sources of B12 for vegans are from foods fortified with B12. So get stuck into your fortified breakfast cereals, Vegemite, nutritional yeast, fortified nut milks, fortified breads and for obvious reasons meat and dairy substitutes are usually B12 fortified – but check the labels. Or take a supplement.

We want to make a conscious decision about how we fuel our beautiful bodies and we want to make sure great food is available when we’re ready to eat. Making good choices for our consumption takes a level of engagement and it doesn’t happen over night.

This doesn’t mean that moving towards a plant-based diet is too hard. For sure, it means that there is a period where making changes takes a little thought and consideration. However, once you’ve fallen into the habit of eating in a new way, you’ll feel it’s a breeze, just like any new challenge. Soon, making good plant-based food will be as easy as any other way of food prep.

Please check out our recipes for some inspiration. We are adding new recipes all the time. If you have any queries then we’d be very pleased to hear from you.

Thanks for reading and good luck with any changes you may be making with your diet.

Pete


We offer beautiful, plant-based food on retreat.

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