6 Tips for a Plant-Fueled January Reset

January is Veganuary … a perfect way to kick off the year with a plant-fueled reset for your body. Whether vegan-curious or a veteran of plant-based eating, ZENB is encouraging an increase in your plant-based intake as a great way to super charge 2023. Our Veganuary blog series has gathered tips, trips, and insights from experts who are focused on plant-based lifestyles.

For those of you that have been curious about the vegan lifestyle, Veganuary is a great way to give it a try. A full plant-based diet can help optimize gut health, reduce risk of all major chronic diseases, and even help people achieve high level performance when it comes to being active. Now is a great time to see what plants can do for you in 2023.

Here are six tips to make your vegan experience go smoothly.

1. Start by adding more plants

I know this seems obvious, but hear me out. If you're new to a vegan lifestyle, it can be helpful to gradually incorporate more plant-based foods into your diet. This can help your gut microbes get used to the change and make it easier to stick with. There is absolutely no problem taking a small first step by adding more plant foods to the foods you already eat versus eliminating animal foods right away. Consider incorporating more veggies in your sauces, swapping wheat pasta for a protein-packed pasta like ZENB’s single-ingredient pasta made from yellow peas, or adding more leafy greens to your sandwiches.

2. Take a Family Focus

Chances are you have a family or live with people you call family, so don’t go it alone! Get those you love most on board as it can make things much easier. A properly planned vegan diet is extremely healthy for any age and stage. If your family has children under the age of 18 and especially under the age of 10, keep in mind that these maturing bodies have different needs, like more carbohydrates and healthy fats. Keep in mind that plant-based diets are high in carbs, low in fat, and rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, which is great for kids when planned properly, and is perfect for the more athletic adults in your family too!

3. Whole plant foods are key

There's no need to get overly complicated with your vegan meals but steer clear of highly processed vegan foods from your local grocery store, no matter how convenient. Doing your best to buy whole food plants versus highly processed vegan substitutes is ideal when it comes to your gut health and beyond. Thankfully, there are convenient high-quality items for quick vegan meals that are packed with nutrients, like ZENB Agile Bowls featuring quick-cook pasta made from whole yellow peas. All you need to do is add hot water.

4. Complement your lifestyle

Whether you know it or not, much of your food is supplemented with key nutrients: milk, grains, livestock, among others. We call this fortification. Even before you try Veganuary, we recommend you “complement” your high-quality vegan diet with key nutrients like B12, Vitamin D, and Algae Omega 3s to ensure your body is getting the optimal amounts of these extremely important nutrients.  

5. Experiment with new ingredients 

Vegan cooking can be a great opportunity to try new ingredients and flavors. Don't be afraid to experiment with different plant-based proteins, grains, and vegetables to find what you enjoy. Your local farmer’s market or the produce section of your local grocer are super easy ways to see what is in season and I guarantee you will see some type of plant food that you have never tried. Bonus: if you ask the farmer or produce manager, they will probably share their favorite way to prepare your new plant food selection. 

6. Don't be afraid to ask for help

If you're feeling overwhelmed or unsure about how to make the transition to a vegan or 100% plant-based lifestyle, don't be afraid to ask for help. There are many resources available, including cookbooks, online resources, Registered Dietitians, and support groups that can provide guidance and support. It is always wise to have a guide on a new journey.

Whether you are doing Veganuary for health, the environment, or consciousness for all living creatures, it can be a time of great discovery and wellness. As I like to say, the more plants you eat, the more likely you are to Heal with Each Meal.

James Marin, RD, EN, is co-founder of Married to Health and the first 100% plant-based SIBO/IBS nutrition program. Married to Health is an integrative dietetic practice which brings together the best in medical nutrition therapy to bridget the gaps in health maintenance, disease prevention and disease reversal, when possible. James is a founding member of the ZENB Plant Council.

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