How to Become Plant-Based, Step-by-Step

A mindful guide to Ahimsa-style eating

A woman sits in a serene meditation posture on a hilltop overlooking a grand foggy landscape at surise.

Here are some practical steps to help those considering the transition to a plant-based lifestyle.

Step 1: Feel the pull to go plant-based (or vegetarian or vegan).

Perhaps you’re one of those weirdos who truly cares about animals.

Perhaps you’re a bleedin’ heart liberal who doesn’t want to see the earth suffer and die along with the billions of innocent creatures the meat industry breeds and ruthlessly kills each year.

Call it a pull, a spiritual calling, or a transmission from Higher Self.

Something brought you here.

So unless you’re reading this just to be contrarian, you’ve already completed step 1.

Step 2: Decide to Stop Eating Meat and Animal Products (or to eat way less of them).

These movies can help with that.

This decision is about personal health, and also relates to the yogic principle of Ahimsa, or nonviolence.

Yogis tend toward being vegan, vegetarian, or plant-based at a higher percentage than the rest of the population. 

This is due at least in part due to our yogic values.

If you don’t like seeing animals killed and hurt before you, then you won’t like what goes on in slaughterhouses.

If you are sensitive enough not to enjoy killing living things, (example: I usually prefer to shuffle bugs outside rather than squish them,) you probably also don’t enjoy it when other people kill living things on your behalf.

Each time meat or dairy are consumed, a person is complicit in, or actively condoning, the suffering and exploitation of a voiceless sentient being.

Each time we eat meat, we are helping the industry to line up the next animal that didn’t ask for a torturous death.

Non-human beings don’t have a voice.

They have no way to say “no thank you, we’d rather not have this tragic earthly experience at the hands of humans, we prefer a life of peace.”

It is up to us as humans to determine how nonverbal beings are treated by our, more powerful species.

When a human chooses to eat meat or dairy, it’s a vote to allow factory farming to keep on keepin’ on — exploiting helpless, sweet living creatures for its own gain.

Once you simply decide to minimize your consumption of animal products, you’re well on your way to becoming a vegan, vegetarian, or plant-based human.

Step 3: Remind Yourself of Your ‘Why’ When Things Get Tough.

Family BBQs, holidays, trips to restaurants and movies… these situations can be tricky to navigate.

(Although, I recently discovered that delightfully, one of my favorite indulgences — movie popcorn — is, in fact, usually vegan!)

Sometimes the smell of cooked meat can be tempting.

Sometimes the desire not to draw attention to ourselves or be thought of as weird, or not fun, seems easier than defending our choice.

Contrary to common carnivore lore, most vegans/ vegetarians/ plant-based humans don’t want any extra attention and actually hate it when meat eaters “grill” us on why we are not going for the bloody burger, like everyone else.

Sometimes it will be super tempting to cave.

Don’t.

A very helpful mantra is: “I’m just hungry.”
 

As soon as you’ve eaten your fill of delicious plant-based fare, the desire to ingest another mammal’s muscle, fatty tissue, and/or glandular excretions will leave you.

Keep reminding yourself of your reasons for going plant-based and repeat your mantra.
 

If it helps, you can make up your own mantra; which might work even better for you.

Why?

Because only you know your deepest reasons for choosing the plant-based lifestyle.
 

Step 4:

Keep a stash of plant-based food with you at all times so you won’t give in to a moment of famished weakness.

This sort of goes along with Step 3, but it deserves its own segment.

To sustain a plant-based lifestyle, you really have to plan ahead.

Yes, yes, I get it.

Vegans, vegetarians, and potential plant-based humans, are often creative / artistic / empathic / yogic types.

We don’t necessarily find delight in rigid little boxes of structure.

We tend to prefer a spontaneous, free flow to our lives.

Not saying all plant-based humans are like this, but many are.

Well, dear compassionate free spirit, you can handle this.

You just need to plan a little bit.

Do it for the animals.

Do it for the earth.

Do it for you.

Keep simple lists of what you need.

Keep these lists in the notes section on your phone, so you don’t even have to bother with paper.

Prep large batches of food that can sustain you for a good part of the week.

Shop at stores that have a great plant-based selection.

Buy live, whole, healthy fruits and veggies.

Quick, fresh produce prep can be an easy part of your everyday routine.

Keep a supply of snacks and treats that appeal to you on hand at all times.

By employing these strategies, you won’t be caught off-guard by sudden hunger pangs which can temporarily override your best intentions.

Step 5: Remember B12 and impeccable nutrition through diet

Naturally colorful food often means naturally nourishing food.

Of course, we should eat leafy greens, as well as red, yellow, orange, blue, and purple fruits and veggies. We should seek out a good variety of dried fruits, nuts, seeds, rice, and healthy cereals.

While the aim is to get most of our nutrients from food, plant-based may need a little extra support.

B12 is an important supplement for plant-based humans to take.

I recommend this one:

Make sure you’re getting healthy fats, too; nut butters are excellent sources of fat and protein.

High-quality coconut oils and olive oils provide some of the fats our bodies and brains require to function optimally.

Annual medical evaluations are a good idea to make sure you are maintaining adequate nutrition levels.

Don’t let meat-eaters make you feel bad about supplementing.

Most carnivores have to take vitamins too.

Much of the nutritional content found in meat and dairy is artificially injected into the food supply anyway, which you will learn about as you educate yourself in doing further research.

Step 6: Keep learning and researching.

Here are some great books on plant-based living:

Knowing that vegans do have to wrangle with specific nutritional concerns, it’s smart to read as much as you can about it, and to consult with a supportive doctor or nutritionist.

If you are pregnant, nursing, or raising your children as vegans, you must be especially rigorous about the nutritional aspect.

When I was pregnant, I ate some meat and dairy.

I hadn’t been vegan prior to becoming pregnant; I’d been ovo-lacto vegetarian.

I switched back to having meat while pregnant because I was afraid of inadvertently harming the development of the tiny human in my womb by missing some key vitamin in my diet.

I am not sure how I would handle pregnancy today; times have changed and more plant-based foods and information are available.

I am more knowledgeable than I was then.

Pregnancy, nursing, and raising a family are seasons of life where being vegan or plant-based can affect more than just the person choosing the diet.

I personally believe it can be done safely, but if you’re pregnant or nursing, or raising kids vegan, and you’re not positively 100% expert on plant-based nutrition, please consult with a medical professional.

Wherever you are presently on your vegan, vegetarian, or plant-based journey, never stop learning and researching!

I’ve had vegan friends tell me, it gets easier over time.

As in your yoga practice, trust yourself and do what feels right for you.

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Lumina Loveday is a yoga teacher, meditator, wife, and mom to three humans and two rescue dogs. At the age of ten, Lumina was given her first typewriter as a gift from her grandparents. It was a big, clunky Underwood. To write her first “books”, she had to press the keys really hard, but she didn’t mind. Perhaps Lumina’s grandparents, who were avid readers back in the 20th century, had a hunch about her writerly tendencies. Lumina lives with her family in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Lumina’s new book, Breaking the Caregiver’s Curse: Rediscovering Joy in Life’s Most Challenging Season, is available on Amazon. The book is free to read for those who have Kindle Unlimited.

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