Hi love bug,
Today I’m rewinding this track and bringing it waaaaay back to basics.
If you’re brand new to eating mostly plants this is for you, so let’s pass go and collect our $200 (shout out to my fave childhood board game).
This post contains the most frequently asked questions from people who are brand spankin’ new to this way of eating, and super helpful answers to start you off on the right foot. Once you understand the basics, we can swim into deeper waters.
Let’s start with some basic definitions.
Vegan: No food or products (including clothes, bags, furniture, etc..) that are made with animal derived ingredients. No meat, no seafood, no fowl, no eggs, no dairy, no honey, no leather, no gelatin – anything that comes from animals, or is a bi-product of animals is a red light – in every area of life.
Whole Food Plant Based (WFPB): A way of eating that focuses on nutrient dense, whole plant foods. This includes veggies, fruits, whole grains, beans & legumes, and nuts & seeds. When eating Whole Food Plant Based, all processed foods are avoided. This includes oil, refined sugar, refined white flour and any overly processed foods and ingredients, even the vegan ones (yup I’m talking to you vegan ice cream).
Plant Based: This term is interchangeable with “Vegan” and “Whole Food Plant Based”. I’ve heard it used to describe a straight up Vegan diet – vegan ice cream and all, and I’ve heard it used to describe the Whole Food Plant Based way of eating. When you hear something described as “plant based” you can bet your britches that it won’t have any animal products, but it might have oil or refined ingredients.
If you want to dive deeper into Vegan vs. Whole Food Plant Based, here are six blog posts that will help you understand it better.
My transition from Vegan to Whole Food Plant Based
An easy blueprint to help you make the switch to Vegan or Whole Food Plant Based
My take on faux meat
Understanding the difference between Vegan food and Whole Food Plant Based food
A full downloadable list of Whole Food Plant Based ingredients
All about minimally processed plant foods, like soy milk, sprouted bread and tofu.
Now that you understand all of the different shades of plant based, let’s talk about what the hell to eat.
Your food is key during this process.
Whether you dive in head first and make the change overnight or you slowly dip your toes in, your process is unique to you. How you proceed depends on your motivation for making these amazing and life supporting changes.
If you’re doing this for health reasons and you KNOW it’s time to get your shit together, jumping in and making the switch overnight isn’t a bad idea. But if you’re just curious about this way of eating, there’s nothing wrong with adding a few plant based meals in here and there and testing the waters. There is no right or wrong way to do this. Listen to your gut and heart and decide what you want to do. And then do it. Either way, I got you covered.
- You can start with my free Whole Food Plant Based recipe index on my blog. I have hundreds of free recipes that have been tested and approved by thousands of people, (including skeptical partners and kids) and I add a new recipe every week.
- If you don’t want to think about what to cook, join my weekly Plant Fueled Meal Plans for only $20 a month. I tell you exactly what’s on the menu each week, along with a detailed grocery list, batch cooking instructions, and how to throw it all together to make scrumptious meals throughout the week. You get 20 new meals a month and tons of new recipes that aren’t on our blog for only $20 a month – talk about a steal!
- If it’s snacks you’re looking for, I got you covered with my top 10 Whole Food Plant Based snack ideas.
I know this is a lot of information.
My advice is to not overthink it. Pick one recipe and follow along or sign up for the meal plans. Easy as that. One thing that’s really important during this transition is that the food tastes good.
I can’t vouch for anyone else’s WFPB recipes, but I can tell you with confidence that mine are fucking delicious, even if you’re new to this way of eating. That’s because Team Dirty knows the food has to taste good for this to stick.
So what’s happening with green smoothies?
You should be drinking them, my dear! When done right, green smoothies are nutrient powerhouse aces. When I talk about green smoothies I’m talking about a pure nutrient boost in liquid form that you make in your blender, filled with veggies and seeds and berries and even spices and sweet potatoes (sounds weird, tastes delicious).
I’m not talking about smoothies that are prepackaged or fruit smoothies from Jamba Juice or some bullshit place like that. Those are usually filled with sugar and they don’t have a single raw leafy green in them.
I recommend making one green smoothie a day, preferably in the morning to you start your day with a nutrient packed kiss.
Below are a few of my favorite green smoothie recipes.
Beginner Green Smoothie Recipe
One of my fave green smoothies
Super easy and super tasty green smoothie
Frothy Cacao Cooler (this is a treat, but it totally counts!)
Next let’s talk abbreviations.
If you’re in our private Facebook group (which for the love, I hope you are because it’s the BEST), you may have noticed what looks like people writing in secret code. Here’s a cheat sheet that explains these abbreviations. We will continue to add to this as they come up.
So here’s a fact. People are shit scared of soy.
Here’s another fact. There is no reason to be shit scared of soy. Please watch this video of me and Brenda Davis, RD, clearing up this confusing and often heated topic. If you’re not sure what role soy foods should play in your life, this video is your answer. And here’s a hint – if you think soy is evil, you’ve been misled, my dear. It’s actually just a bean. Yup, a regular ol’ bean.
Let’s talk breakfast.
This one comes up A LOT with new riders on the plant based bus. Turns out, breakfast is actually a lot easier when eating plants than people realize. I wrote a whole post about it here, including breakfast recipes and ideas. This post will clear up your breakfast confusion and give you lots of plant based breakfast solutions.
Bloating, farting and probiotics. Yes – we’re going there!
When you transition to plant based eating, it takes your gut a bit of time to catch up. During this time you will be farty and probably bloated (and if you’re super lucky, both!). Your gut bacteria needs a couple weeks before it can break down all the fiber-rich foods in a way that’s um…more silent and comfortable. To help you through this bubbly transition, read the posts below.
Healthy poop explained
Bloating and farting and how to transition to fiber-rich foods with ease
Tips and tricks to help you fart way less
Balancing your gut bacteria without taking expensive probiotics that don’t do much anyway
Moving on to Oil.
Processed oil is not included in the Whole Food Plant Based way of eating (not even coconut or olive oil).
This one really trips people up like an uneven sidewalk. And I get it – we’ve all heard over and over again how heart healthy olive oil is and how coconut oil can cure just about anything.
Here’s the deal. The doctors and scientists who have been studying and practicing nutrition based science for decades suggest skipping oil completely. Dr. Michael Greger, Dr. Joel Fuhrman, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn – they all agree that oil (again – this is all types, even coconut oil and olive oil) are too overly processed, making the ratio of calories to nutrients a poor choice of fat.
Now of course we need some fat, but we can easily get healthy fat from avocados and nuts and seeds. And when we do this, we get the added benefit of fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals to boot.
Here’s the other thing – oil is not at all necessary for cooking damn tasty food. It might seem weird at first, but after a few weeks of going without, you won’t miss it. And then when you do eat something with oil, it will feel totally out of place and weird in your mouth. Also, doing the dishes when you don’t cook with oil is much faster and easier.
Here are some helpful blog posts about oil that will help you better understand why it’s a good idea to skip it.
Clearing up the confusion about oil
All about the different types of fat
All about saturated fat
Reasons to avoid oil
If you have a big jar of coconut oil in your pantry, don’t fret – all is not lost. Check out the post below about oil pulling. #justwaitforthisawesomeness!
My morning dance
Let’s talk nutrients and supplements.
You know what gets me? You can eat like shit for years and no one says anything about nutrient deficiencies, but the moment you remove meat, eggs, dairy and processed food from your diet, suddenly everyone becomes an expert and tries to school you about protein, calcium and nutrients. Come on! When your start eating healthy, THAT’S when people become concerned? It doesn’t compute.
People who switch to a Whole Food Plant Based diet get WAY more nutrients than people eating a typical Western diet, not to mention tons of beneficial fiber, quality plant protein (yes, plants have more than enough protein), healthy complex carbohydrates and protective phytochemicals. People have been brainwashed to think that if you’re not eating meat and dairy then you won’t get enough protein, calcium, iron, blah, blah, blah. It’s pure sparkling bullshit. Don’t let people fuck with your plant eating game!
The only supplements plant eaters have to take is B12 and possibly vitamin D. There are also some nutrients that you want to be mindful of getting enough of through your food, but you definitely don’t have to stress about not getting enough protein or becoming sickly and malnourished on your plant based journey. You also don’t have to spend a shitload of money on supplements and protein powder. Don’t believe the hype.
Below are some posts that explain more about protein, B12, vitamin D, and the rest of the nutrients that you want to make sure you’re eating enough of.
All about protein and exactly how much you need
B12, D and calcium
Iron, Dha / EPA / Iodine
Dr. Fuhrman and I talk about nutritional excellence
Some people love kitchen gadgets. Some people do not.
I personally do not love kitchen gadgets. I like to get by with the most low maintenance kitchen as possible. You can fancy it up and buy all kinds of things to help you in the kitchen, but you don’t have to (until a few months ago my salad spinner was a $2 buy from a garage sale and was duct taped together). Below are two posts and a quick video that will help you understand that cooking this way is much less complicated than people think.
Helpful kitchen tools one
Helpful kitchen tools two
Video about how I wash and store my greens each week
Detoxing is a bitch. Let’s talk about it.
If you keep hearing about how much energy people have and how awesome they feel after switching to plants and you have NO IDEA what they’re talking about because you have zero energy and you feel like a tractor just ran you over, I got you. There’s actually good reason for this and it’s all about the body processing out toxins. And the more toxins your body has, the worse you will feel – in the beginning. But trust me when I tell you, this will not last long and you will feel better soon.
Below is a post that will help you understand what your body goes through when you detox and why you feel like shit when you’re just starting out on your plant based ways. Before you read it, just know that feeling crappy only lasts about a week (give or take) and as long as you stay the course, you will feel better and have a ton of energy soon. #yougotthis
Read about the body’s detox process here
Getting out of the habit of being a mad scientist with your food. I’m talking combining, portions, counting and ratios.
I want you to sit down for this because it’s going to sound unreal…
When you eat the right foods there is absolutely ZERO reason to put an ounce of energy into combining ingredients, measuring out portions, counting calories, or worrying about macronutrient ratios.
Allow me to explain.
Most people are used to diets.
They think that getting enough protein is hard if they don’t eat meat.
They’re convinced that carbs are the enemy and starchy carbs are even worse.
They’re used to putting their food into a tracker and relying on a screen to tell them if they’ve made smart eating choices.
For the love of all things good in the world, let’s stop the madness and walk away from the points and charts and diagrams and tracking apps and percentages and numbers and breaking food down to the sum of its parts. And instead, let’s find freedom in the simple act of eating quality food.
Eating like a badass, getting super healthy, and maintaining the perfect weight for your frame has nothing to do with the quantity of your food. It has everything to do with the quality of your food.
I know this is new information to most people, and it takes a while to unlearn what the dieting industry and doctors have hammered into society for half a century. I get it.
There are countless people who have gone through my programs and followed my meals who reluctantly put their trust in me about this and only believed me after they lost weight and kept it off for the first time in their life, got off their medication and found radiant health. So I totally understand if this sounds foreign and totally out of your comfort zone.
Here are some posts that will give you clarity around this and help you understand why counting and measuring your food is actually holding you back.
Why counting calories is pure bullshit
Dieting is a bitch of a cycle. Stop it.
Understanding carbohydrates and low carb diets
And if you still have questions about whether or not you should portion out or meals, focus on macronutrient ratios, count calories, avoid nuts and seeds, and worry about food combining, the answer is no.
Don’t overcomplicate this.
Focus on eating a wide range of whole plant foods (veggies, fruit, whole grains, beans and legumes, nuts and seeds) so that you have plenty of nutritional diversity. And then eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re no longer hungry.
It’s honestly as easy as that. This is all about listening to your body.
Our weekly plant fueled meal plans are hand crafted each and every week with nutritional diversity in mind, so when you sign up you can leave this to me. And if you want a little more guidance on this, I recommend downloading Dr. Greger’s free app, The Daily Dozen (find it in your iOS or Android app store). This will help you make sure that you’re getting enough of all the whole plant foods that you need every day. This app is great for people just starting out. After doing this for about a month, you won’t have to think about it, you’ll just eat ALL the plant foods and be free, happy and energized.
The internet is a noisy place and there’s a lot of bullshit information out there, especially about food.
Sorting out the people and resources you can trust from the people and resources who don’t have your health or best interest in mind is hard, especially when you’re new to all of this. I’ve been working in this industry for well over a decade and below is my list of trusted plant based resources.
Trusted plant based doctors, websites, books and dietitians. Plus the best website to find a plant based doctor near you.
My last and possibly most important piece of advice for you is to not overcomplicate this.
When you start a new chapter of your life, it’s important to be informed and learn the basics of how to navigate your new way of life, but for the love, don’t ponder so much that it stops you from taking any action at all. When you start down the rabbit hole of plant based analysis paralysis, remember my words:
Eat more whole plant foods and less of everything else. This isn’t about avoiding the food you love, this is about learning to love the food you don’t have to avoid.
Go back to this as many times as you need. And in the meantime, here’s a little story about not overthinking shit, or as I like to call it, stop squeezing the cat.
May your plant based journey be long and thriving and may your delicious body reap the benefits. To help you on your journey, be sure to sign up for my Saturday morning emails and join the best private Facebook group on the planet.
Today’s recipe is perfect for all newbies. Seriously, anyone can make these.
Super Easy Bad Ass Black Beans From a Can
Super Easy Bad Ass Black Beans From a Can
ancho chili powder
about 10 turns
diced red onion
cans plain black beans
rinsed and drained (15 oz / 425g each / no salt)
can of diced tomatoes
14.5 oz / 411g
In a small bowl, mix together the ancho chili powder, smoked paprika, cumin powder, cacao powder (if using), onion powder, Mexican oregano, salt and black pepper. Set this aside for now.
Heat a large pan over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add the onion and saute for 6 minutes, adding a splash of water when they start to stick or look dry. Stir in the black beans and garlic, stir and cook for an additional 2 minutes.
Add the water and the spice mixture and bring to a simmer. Cook for 6-8 minutes, until the onions are soft and the beans are heated through. Turn off the heat, add the tomatoes and stir.
Use in burritos, tacos or a bad ass bowl. Top it with Smoky Gouda sauce and prepare for mouthgasm.
Wishing you a happy week. May it be filled with taking action.
Want to get inspired to eat like a plant based boss every single Saturday morning? Sign up for my Saturday Fuckery here and let your love affair with plants begin. You’ll also get my Whole Food Plant Based recipe e-book when you sign up. Smooches, my dear!
Foodography by Christine L June