The Basics: Getting started on a plant-based diet

I’ve been very impressed and inspired recently by friends who are coming to me with questions regarding a plant-based diet, wondering about my transition, and how to go about starting their own.

I’ll tell you, nothing pleases me more.

I’ll start by saying this,

Cooking vegan is super affordable, easy and delicious.

There is nothing to fear.

Learning to cook plant-based is all benefit with zero negatives.

It was the best decision I have ever made and so I wanted to drop a few select tips for those who are considering making the transition.

Let’s get started in the kitchen.

Veganize your favorite meals immediately. Anything and everything can be made vegan.

We. have. it. all.

IF anyone is worried they will have to go without – worry not, I promise you we have all the delicious pizza, burgers, tacos, burritos, pasta, sandwiches, soups, wraps, stews, roasts, and guess what else?


Yes. Beer is also vegan.

Just make sure to check first!

In fact, a plant-based diet offers a greater variety of all these foods and the vegan versions are often better.

You just need to veganize them….

and it doesn’t have to be fancy….or… it can be SUPER fancy.

That depends on you, Fancypants!

Here are some recipe blogs to get you started with a variety of different styles of cooking

The Minimalist Baker 

Hot for Food

Vegan Richa

It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken

Personally, I eat a carb-heavy, whole food, plant-based diet with some additional processed foods like Gardein, or  Field Roast, once in a while as a treat. 

I try my best to avoid processed foods because

a. they’re not as healthy

b. are more expensive

c. create more waste

However, when transitioning, having omnivorous friends over, or just for the plain old love of how delicious they are, these foods are a tasty and convenient option that do a great job of mimicking the real thing.

If you have access to Beyond Meats Beyond Burger, then all the better.

Make an investment in yourself and get an instant pot, a blender, and a food processor.

Feel free to piece these together over time but this is a sound financial decision that will save you $$$ on groceries, utilities, plus countless hours cooking, which you can then apply to other money-making endeavors. Plus everyone loves smoothies.

Start buying unprocessed rice and grains in bulk.

Always have them in the house.

Start buying dried beans, legumes and pulses, also in bulk.

Learn how to cook these from dry. This is where the instant pot comes in. Pro Tip: 1 cup of chickpeas with 2 cups of water in an instant pot can cook from dry in 55 minutes on high pressure. I recommend buying a variety of beans, pulses, and legumes so that you always have options and can get creative.

Always have leafy greens and bright colorful fruits and veggies in the fridge.

In my fridge at any given time are the following ingredients: Kale, Chard, Collard, Spinach, Arugula, Cucumber, Bok Choy, Cabbage, Chinese Napa Cabbage, Cauliflower, Daikon, Carrots, Zucchini, Tomatoes, Avocados, Zucchini, Eggplant, Red Yellow & Green pepper, Rice, Beans, Tofu, Tempeh. Seems like a lot of food, right? Well, it is! And my grocery bills for a week hover around 25 or 50$ Pretty spiffy.

Batch cooking will make your life easier, save you time and keep hunger-related stress down.

Take an hour or two out of your week and batch-cook some beans, cut up your veg, make some brown rice, roast some taters, bake a lasagna, pack it all in Tupperware and have it ready. You never know when you’ll have a snack attack.

Bring food with you wherever you go.

Get ready to start bringing lunch and having snacks with you at all times.  It’s my preference to have delicious starchy things mixed with lots and lots of greens. I find this keeps me energized and satiated. Something like this would do and in total it cost about 2.50$

Have an open mind and enjoy the adventure.

I often hear exactly this “Rene, I’ve tried vegan cheese and it’s just not the same”

This is true and that’s entirely the point!

Like anything else, some products are better than others.

They can’t all be zingers.

For the record – vegan cheese is always improving. I personally recommend Chao, Nuts for Cheese, Main Vegan Deli.

Don’t be too hard on yourself.

There will be some cravings, slip-ups, pressured social situations, perhaps some bouncing back from vegan to flexitarian, to vegetarian, up to a level 5 vegan.

Then one day your taste buds will adjust, your cravings will be gone and you’ll feel better than you ever have before.

You’ll have researched the meat & dairy industry and seen the horror it creates.

You won’t miss cheese.

Friends, feel free anytime with questions, or to ask for resources, info, anything you need.

Use the comment section below to drop your own tips and tricks and I’ll see you at the next meal!

René Benoit

I love all things Toronto. V-Food. Parks. Bikes and Real Estate. Follow me on Instagram