Yay, this is an awesome step towards an incredible journey of revitalising and replenishing your body, from the inside out. My goal and intention of this page was to create easy, accessible information to help you begin a healthy, sustainable plant-based lifestyle. This is a holistic approach to true health and vitality, it's about re-discovering different ways to feed your mind, your body and your soul as you work towards achieving the ultimate goal of optimum health and vitality.
Throughout this page you will discover basic information on ways to adopt a plant-based lifestyle, what to expect, food essentials, kitchen tools and recommended resources to help further your knowledge. You can also visit my list of FAQ here for more info. Have fun and enjoy this process of learning and rejuvenation!
Before you begin..
Below are some ideas to help you to set up for success, before you dive in!
Educate yourself as much as possible as this will help you to understand why you are making this incredible change in the first place and what your body requires to function at it's best.. At the bottom of this page, you will find a list of recommended books and documentaries to help you further your knowledge.
Clean out your pantry and get rid of all that packet and processed food full of names and numbers we can't even pronounce half the time! Your goal is to try and eliminate processed and artificial foods. Remember, these foods are extremely detrimental to your health. However, understandably when living with others or those who have a family, this can be a little trickier therefore it may need to be more of a gradual change.
Be prepared at home. Having your home stocked with fresh produce and plant-based staples is a key factor in your success. Find your local weekend markets and stock up! Buying in bulk is a great way to save money. For example, finding big bargain bags of ripe spotty bananas - simply peel them, chop them up and freeze them in an airtight container. Making your health a priority over other unnecessary purchases is a key factor in making this lifestyle affordable, especially when you consider the price of dairy and meat!
Keep it simple. Our bodies actually like simplicity! The more simple I keep my meals, the better I feel. Try not to overwhelm yourself by creating and preparing gourmet meals everyday (unless of course you wish to). Keeping it simple and easing into this new way of eating can help to make the transition easier for you. However, it is also important to be consistent in making healthy meals even on the days you feel like binging and as time goes on, the more you will grow to love every bite. Your taste buds will eventually change and you'll no longer crave those acidic foods you once thought you could never live a day without!
And most importantly - have fun! Enjoy this process and have fun discovering new ways to nourish your body. Follow like minded people who inspire you, there are some incredible blogs and instagram accounts with beautiful recipes and ideas to help give you the inspiration and motivation you may need! And finally, always remember a positive attitude goes a long way!
Ideas on how to switch to a plant-based diet
As with anything, there are different ways to approach things depending on ones goals and intentions. Some people may benefit from diving straight in while others work better by taking smaller steps.. Either way, try to set yourself a realistic goal and work towards achieving this the best you can. This is a fun learning process and the switch to plant-based doesn't just happen overnight, it takes time to learn and adapt to a new way of eating and preparing food. It's normal to have setbacks or 'bad days', just try to enjoy the ups and downs and everything in between and always remember, every day is a new beginning and the journey you are on is amazing!
A good way to begin is to start by increasing the amount of plant-based food you eat, while decreasing the amount of animal products and processed food. You could do this at what ever pace works best for you.. This could be over a number of days, weeks or even months.
If you work best by taking a step by step approach to things, you could simply start by choosing one plant-based meal per day to replace with your usual meal. When you feel ready, increase this to two plant-based meals per day and eventually aim for one full plant-based day... week and then month.
For example, you could start by replacing eggs on toast for breakfast with a large, hearty fruit smoothie. The next day/week lunch could be replaced with a big plant-based salad or buddha bowl and in the evenings, begin to choose the plant-based option first before committing to the cooked/processed or animal portion of your meal. As time goes on, your taste buds will change and you may begin to crave the plant-based food over the processed. Before you know it, you would have achieved your goal of becoming fully plant-based!
If you are ready to dive straight in, simply follow the above approach but at a much faster, day by day pace. You might also benefit from my free 7 Day Pure Plants Challenge including a meal plan and recipes. This was created on the basis of eating raw plant-based and gluten free food during the day with a raw/cooked meal for dinner and snacks consisting of non-processed food such as fresh fruit, juicers, smoothies, nuts and seeds. You could use this as a kick start into plant-based living or simply as a trial to see how you feel. Many people have already benefited from this challenge and chose to continue their plant-based journey even as the week ended. You can download the meal plan below..
An idea to get the whole family involved could be to simply choose one day per week that you all commit to eating fully plant-based! Try to get everyone involved and make it fun by choosing delicious plant-based meals you can all enjoy together as a family. If the whole family begins to enjoy and benefit from this way of eating, you could even aim for two plant-based days per week!
If you prefer to go 100 percent raw or simply begin to incorporate more raw food, start to replace your cooked food with raw fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds at whatever pace you choose.
You could begin this by simply eating raw food during the day and a healthy plant-based cooked meal for dinner - try this for a month and see how you feel! Another suggestion that has worked well for many, is to eat raw food during the weekdays and allow cooked meals in the weekends. Or, perhaps try to aim for a balanced, alkalised diet of 80 percent raw foods and 20 percent cooked foods such as steamed vegetables, soups, quinoa, brown rice etc.
Raw food is the ultimate road to reaching optimum health and vitality in the body. However, it is important to remember that if you are transitioning from a strong diet of animal products and processed food into a 100% raw foods diet, it is recommended that you take a gradual approach in transitioning. This will prevent your body from detoxing at a rapid pace and experiencing heavy detox symptoms. Click here to learn more, including the incredible benefits and what to expect when you transition into consuming a raw, live foods diet.
Helping children transition is a common question I get asked. From personal experience as a mother of two boys, I found taking it slowly and involving my boys in the process, helped a lot in their transition into a plant-based lifestyle. Instead of just stripping everything away at once, I took smaller steps and this approach worked well for my boys. It was more of a gradual change as they slowly adapted to a new way of eating. Educating them was another key factor. This helped them to understand why we were making this big change in our family in the first place. It was also vital to be consistent in making healthy plant-based meals and to ensure they were eating a variety of food for optimal energy and nutrient intake. Finding vegan recipes they enjoyed and involving them in the preparation was a good way to encourage them to eat more as well as ensuring there was always plenty of healthy snacks at home, such as fresh fruit, dried fruit, nuts, bliss balls, homemade nut bars, rawnola and smoothie essentials.
What to expect?
Most people absolutely thrive after switching to a plant-based diet and experience exceptional, life changing health. Some of the incredible benefits I personally experienced and are common among many include increased energy, clearer skin, improved digestion, stronger hair and nails, improved mental clarity (no brain fog), less stress, nil sugar cravings, improved sleep, healing of many health issues and the list goes go on and on! The health benefits are truly phenomenal! On a personal level, many different elements corrected in my body after making the switch to a raw plant-based diet.
Initially, many individuals experience both ups and downs and may feel tired or frustrated as they adapt. This is a normal process, especially in the first few days, weeks or even months. There is no text book answer or one size fits all for everyone. Some people may experience a lack of energy in the first stages while others feel incredible. Either way, if you can endure through the beginning stages, you are likely to come out feeling better than ever!
It is also important to remember that if you are transistioning from a highly acidic diet (lots of meat, dairy and processed foods) into a super clean and healthy plant-based diet (lots of raw fruit and vegetables) you may naturally experience mild detox symptoms. This occurs when one stops overloading their body with toxic and harmful foods. The body will then begin to naturally clean out the many built up toxins so it can begin to heal on some level. Trust in your body, it knows what it's doing! Some of the most common detox symptoms can include headaches, changes in bowel motions, feeling fatigue, skin break outs, muscle aches and pains, flu like symptoms and lack of energy.
Let's talk about food..
The goal is to eat 100% plant-based. So basically food derived from plants but with no animal products, including a variety or fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, grains and legumes. Try to aim for as many raw fruits and vegetables as possible as this is vital in your success to robust health. Eighty percent raw foods and twenty percent healthy cooked foods is a goal you could perhaps work towards, when/if you feel ready. You can find recipes on my website by clicking here and on my instagram @rawandfree or by following some of your favourite vegan accounts, blogs, apps, e-books and cookbooks. And remember to stay tuned for my new e-book with 80 + easy and delicious recipes.
I would also suggest you read and research about gluten. Gluten can create many digestive challenges and have many negative effects on our health.
My absolute favourite produce and pantry staples include a large variety of fresh fruit and vegetables! Bananas, dates, avocados, mangoes, oranges, berries, grapes, watermelon, lemons, limes, carrots, beetroot, spinach, sprouts, sweet potato, almonds, cashews and hemp seeds are some of the things I always like to have at home!
Bananas, avocados and sweet potatoes provide good calories and avocado, olives, nuts and seeds provide great essential fats. Grapes and lemons are the most detoxifying fruits! Coconut water, pure maple syrup and dates are my favourite natural sweeteners. Greens such as spinach, rocket, sprouts, collard, kale and broccoli are fantastic for salads (as well as iron, calcium and protein) along with red and green onions, carrots, beetroots and a lemon or lime to squeeze over! Fresh herbs such as basil, parsley and coriander add amazing flavour as well as ginger and garlic.
Cashews make the most creamiest dips, sauces and dressings as well as staples such as apple cider vinegar, coconut aminos, sesame oil, olive oil, whole grain mustard etc.. Dates, figs, shredded coconut, nuts and seeds are perfect for snacking on and making bliss balls or rawnola. Aim to always have frozen bananas in the freezer as these are perfect for making smoothie bowls and ice cream.
Depending on how raw you wish to go, millet and quinoa are the most alkalising, gluten-free grains and are also great for baking bread. You could visit your local health food store (and even in many supermarkets) for a wide range of gluten-free grains, breads and legumes if you wish to eat these. Bulk bins are perfect for buying pantry staples in smaller amounts or for trying new things.
There is almost always a vegan substitute for anything! For example, nuts or hemp seeds are great for making milk. Cashews add that thick and creamy texture to anything and make a perfect substitute for cream or sour cream. Chia seeds make an amazing pudding or 'chia egg' which can be used in baking and nutritional yeast is perfect for making vegan parmesan cheese or vegan 'mac n' cheese' and adds a delicious cheesy flavour to many dips, sauces and dressings. Many people use tofu or tempah (I personal do not eat soy products) falafel, beans or legumes as a meat substitute for meals such as stirfrys, bolognaise, buddha bowls or wraps.
Another key factor is to ensure you eat enough food! Many people make the mistake of not eating enough when they first switch to a plant-based or raw food diet and can become hungry and frustrated! You will need to eat much more than you would normally eat to provide a sufficient amount of calories and carbohydrates for sustained energy. Listen to your body, eat when you feel hungry and eat until you are full and satisfied! Remember this is not the kind of food that will send you to the couch 5 minutes later with a sore tummy. This is real and wholesome food and will provide you with everything you need when eating a variation in adequate amounts.
The protein controversy..
This is one of the most common topics of discussion when one is contemplating a plant-based diet and is a question I get asked almost on the daily... But what about protein? Where do you get it from? For that reason, I have decided to discuss this topic.
Understandably, we have a natural tendency to ensure our bodies are getting enough of what we need to attain a healthy lifestyle, which is why many people are often fearful that a plant-based diet may not provide a sufficient amount of protein needed for optimum health and function of the body.
Protein is important for building, growth and repair and of the 22 amino acids, there are 9 that are labelled essential. Essential amino acids are the ones that cannot be synthesized by the body and must be provided by the food we eat.
How much protein we require is a controversial topic. From everything I've read and researched so far, I don't think anyone can pin point a precise recommendation for optimal health in each individual person. However, the common guideline suggests that a healthy adult should consume an average of 1 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight. It is also important to remember that the body does not use protein for energy! Carbohydrates and oxygen are what we use for energy which predominately come from fresh fruit and vegetables. Another interesting fact is, if we take a look at mothers breast milk, the levels of protein are reasonably low considering this is the food nature created for a tiny newborn baby to grow at an extremely rapid rate!
Now, lets take a look at plant protein compared to animal protein..
Firstly, amino acids are what the body uses for protein. Plants are first hand amino acids, animal products are proteins and must first be converted into amino acids by the body before we can use them.
Fruit and vegetables contain simple amino acids our body will very easily break apart to use, causing no harm in the body what so ever and leaving an alkalising ash. They are a superior (if not the best) form of amino acids for the human body. Animal proteins, also known as complex structures of amino acids or 'second hand' proteins, must first be broken down into amino acids and then grouped together into the sequences our body requires to be able to use them. This process requires a lot of energy and an initial digestive acid called hydrochloric acid which releases the enzyme pepsin. Our bodies will then take what it can use and eliminate the rest whilst leaving an acidic ash in the body. In my opinion, animal protein is simply to high and to acidic for the human body and when one consumes to much of it, it can be damaging in both the colon and kidneys and cause toxemia and acidosis in the body.
Plant-based foods high in amino acids include most plants, nuts and seeds, dark leafy greens (spinach, kale, collards), raw green beans, pea sprouts, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, quinoa and brown rice.
Tools to help you in the kitchen
These are a few of my favourite kitchen tools that I personally use! They help me immensely in preparing food for myself and my family.
Blender - My family and I enjoy a smoothie every single morning and often throughout the day as well! We all have our favourite combinations and love to try new blends! We always snack on smoothies, smoothie bowls and vegan ice cream so having a really good blender is essential in our home. The blender we use and the one I strongly recommend is a Vitamix. They are super powerful, efficient and allow you to easily make an abundance of plant-based foods! Before purchasing a Vitamix, I blew up three other blenders in one year so for me personally, it was definitely worth the money! Visit www.vitamix.com for more info.
- Juicer - A juicer is another amazing tool to have in your kitchen! Juicing has so many incredible health benefits and is another good way to get loads of nutrients in! We juice every single day and my children love creating their own! I have an Omega and we love it!
- Water Filter - In my opinion, a water filter is more of a necessity than a kitchen tool! When drinking water supply straight from the tap you are often consuming many other harmful chemicals such as fluoride and chloride. I believe a good water filter is a must have in any home. You will absolutely taste and feel the difference from drinking pure water.
- Food processor - Another one of my kitchen favourites! Perfect for making things such as bliss balls, rawnola, raw bars and slices!
- Spiralizer - This is a great kitchen tool especially for preparing raw food. It is amazing for creating raw noodles such as zucchini or cucumber!
- Dehydrator - A dehydrated is an epic addition to your kitchen, especially for raw vegans! Amazing for making dried fruit, wraps, crackers, vegetables chips, raw falafel and raw pizza bases.
Recommended books and documentaries
A key factor in anything you begin is to educate educate educate.. When I first adopted a vegan diet, I read as much as I could and still continue to do the same! The more you know the easier it will be and the more you will actually want to change things. Remember, ignorance is bliss. It's easier to just ignore and carry on, but once you learn about the crazy health benefits of plants and what poor diet is doing to our society, you will want to consume as many plants as you can!
Here is a list of recommended books and documentaries that are worth checking out..
- What The Health
- Forks Over Knives
- Fed Up
- Food Matters
- Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead
- Food, Inc
- Simply Raw
- Supersize Me
- Hungry For Change
- The Gerson Miracle
- Diet for a New American
- The Detox Miracle Source Book by Dr Robert Morse, ND (highly recommended)
- The 80 - 10 - 10 Diet by Douglas N Graham
- The China Study by T. Colin Campbell and Thomas M. Campbell
- The Grape Cure by Johanna Brandt
- C-U-R-E by Rosanne Calabrese
- Doctor Jensons Juicing Theorpy: Natures Way To Better Health and a Longer Life by Bernard Jenson
- The Grape Cure - by Johanna Brandt