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The Beginner's Guide to a Plant-Based Lifestyle


The Beginner's Guide to a Plant-Based Lifestyle

Brielle Merchant


Are you thinking about enhancing the way you eat?

Do you need clarity on what types of diets or eating lifestyles there are?

There are so many labels to describe one's eating preferences and it can get quite confusing.

If you're someone that wants to eat better but is not ready to give up meats, seafood, and dairy products, then a plant-based lifestyle may be perfect for you!

Eating a plant-based lifestyle allows you to still eat meat, seafood, and dairy while keeping your health in mind. 

Eating Plant-Based Includes:

  • vegetables

  • whole grains

  • nuts

  • seeds

  • beans

  • fruits

  • very few animal products (honey, milk, eggs, chicken, turkey, etc.)

A plant-based lifestyle is different than being vegan because it allows you to be flexible about the animal products that you consume. In contrast, a vegan lifestyle completely excludes all animal products. Vegans do not eat any meats, seafood, dairy or other animal products.

Personally, I try to eat a plant-based diet where I buy no meats and very little dairy while grocery shopping. An exception is made during the rare times that I eat out at restaurants. While at restaurants I'm most likely going to order a menu item that includes seafood, meat and/or dairy. I believe that being strict with my groceries, but flexible during special occasions creates balance and clear goals for me. 

You can read about my favorite vegetables and fruits here or a list of must-have vegetables and produce for your grocery list here

Here are some benefits that I have found in eating a plant-based diet:

  • Eliminates bloating

I've always maintained a healthy weight and been considered skinny, but bloating can sabotage any outfit. Everything in your lifestyle should ideally be cohesive. Your eating habits should support your fitness goals, schedule and overall desires for life. I needed a food lifestyle that supported my desire to eat without calorie counting or dieting, but allowed me to wear bodycon dresses, pencil skirts, and other outfits that would easily expose my bloated belly.

It wasn't until I eliminated most dairy products (I tend to enjoy Greek yogurt on a weekly basis) and stopped cooking meats with every meal that I realized my belly no longer experienced bloating. 

  • Feel & look better

Eliminating bloating allowed me to look a lot better in my clothes. As a result, I felt more confident and comfortable. Eating healthy also supported my fitness goals and desire to be more productive throughout each day.

  • Gain more energy 

I was plagued with the itis before I started to eat plant-based meals. At the time, I was in graduate school in the South where delicious, unhealthy foods were available literally 24/7. In fact, I remember once leaving an event at 3 am to be greeted with BBQ ribs with sides included! Mehhh. The south was awesome for providing me with wonderful weather and beautiful outdoor opportunities, but my eating habits were so poor. I was enjoying the health benefits of being able to hike locally each day, I was attending personal training regularly and sometimes I was even eating healthy, but most of the time I was unprepared and had no vision for how I wanted to eat. 


Once I became clear on what my body enjoyed eating and benefited from, I found that I no longer got the itis. I no longer found myself yearning for a nap by 1 pm because although I had worked out hard in the gym, I had followed up the workout with an unhealthy lunch. 

Eliminating 'the itis' was a major game changer. I suddenly had more energy and therefore more hours in the day to be productive.

  • Save money (meat is expensive)

It's weird to me when people say a plant-based diet sounds expensive. Meat is so expensive and rarely goes on sale. It should be a smaller portion of your meals, yet many people eat more meat than vegetables and whole grains. 

In contrast, produce goes on sale ALL THE TIME! Produce can often be purchased for less than a dollar on the pound! There is always vegetables and fruits on sale, but meat is not always on sale and dairy is almost never on sale either. I wrote about some strategies I use to find cheap, healthy foods here. If you need more specific examples of cheap, healthy foods then read this blog post about 10 Cheap, Healthy Foods.

Once you've identified what your eating habits will look like, you'll need to find some delicious recipes that incorporate vegetables, whole grains, and other nutritious foods. Need recipe ideas? Use Affordable Plant-Based Recipes e-book to create delicious foods that are cheap and healthy. 

  • Delicious

Prior to developing a plant-based lifestyle, I probably had 1-2 vegetables and a handful of fruits that I loved. Sure, I'd experience plant-based recipes and be presently surprised, but it was unlikely for me to truly appreciate my plants. 

Now, I enjoy a wide variety of vegetables and push myself to constantly try new foods. Just recently, I fell in love with radishes. They were on sale and I could not remember when I had ever purchased them let alone the last time I had some. I paid less than a dollar for a medium size container of fresh radishes. I was pleasantly surprised and will definitely buy radishes more often. 

Remember: It's called a plant-based lifestyle for a reason. Ideally, the majority of your food intake should be plants (vegetables,  beans, seeds, nuts, fruits, etc.).

Do you live a plant-based lifestyle?

Are you going to start soon?

Let me know your thoughts!

Related Resources:

>> Get free Plant-based meal prep ideas here

>> Read about 10 Cheap, Healthy Plant-Based Foods here

>> Read about How to Find Cheap, Healthy Plant-Based Foods here

>> Grab Affordable Plant-Based Recipes here

>> Read about my favorite produce here