Recipe for a Healthy Planet

Getting Started

Eat More Plants

Alternatives to Meat and Dairy

When considering a shift towards a more plant-based diet, people commonly worry about where their protein will come from. What they might not realize is that there are lots of great alternatives out there! Beans (a type of legume) are an excellent source of protein. Think lentils, kidney beans, soybeans (tofu, tempeh, miso), pinto beans, black beans… and the list goes on. Nuts and seeds are another great source of protein, eaten whole or as ‘butters’ (almond, peanut, cashew), or ground up, such as tahini (made of sesame seeds), which greatly enhances many dishes.

Another protein source that doesn’t immediately come to mind for most people is whole grains, like whole wheat, quinoa, and popcorn (yes, popcorn!). Some vegetables also provide protein—spinach, corn, tomatoes, mushrooms, and more. Eggs are another strong source of protein (some vegetarians eat eggs; vegans do not).

Check out this handy list of protein sources.

Stocking Your Pantry

Your transition into a plant-based diet will be made easier if you make sure to have certain essentials readily available. Having plant-based protein sources on hand is a great place to start. Since beans are a prime protein source, we highly recommend stocking your pantry with your favorite dried or canned beans. Dried beans take more preparation and planning (they typically need to be soaked and boiled prior to cooking), so if you’re a newbie to beans, having canned beans on hand is a good idea. Dried lentils, on the other hand, do not require pre-boiling or soaking and cook relatively quickly. Tofu or tempeh are good to have in your refrigerator, and both are great for a stir fry. Also be sure to stock up on nut butters and unsalted nuts and seeds (like pumpkin, sunflower, or chia), which can be a quick and easy lunch or snack on bread or tortillas, and are also a helpful ingredient to have on hand for Asian-inspired noodles. Raw or roasted nuts make for a protein-filled snack and are easily sprinkled over cereal, oatmeal, and salad.

Whole grains such as quinoa, farro, and brown rice form the base of stir fries and stews. And of course, all these essentials pair well with fresh vegetables! Start with your favorites, and then on occasion, consider exploring a vegetable you’ve never tried before; you may be amazed at what you’ve been missing! Onions, garlic, and ginger root are great to have in the refrigerator, because quickly sautéing any of them in a little olive oil, or in combination with each other, is an excellent first step when concocting stir fries, soups, sauces, and so much more. Finally, fruit! Fruit is a fantastic snack or dessert, an excellent topping on morning cereal, or a sweet addition to a garden salad.

Sauces make all the difference in a plant-rich cuisine. Have miso, tahini, tamari, and lime or lemon juice on hand, as these will form the base for a lot of delicious sauces.

Menu Charts

If you want to venture beyond Meatless Mondays, creating a weekly menu chart for yourself can take away the terror of “What’s for dinner”?! Pre-planning, at least for dinner, reduces the stress of wondering what to cook, and helps you shop for the foods you’ll need each week. Here’s an example:

  • Sunday: Lentil stew over quinoa or farro with sautéed greens
  • Monday: Stir-fry with brown rice, tofu or tempeh, & veggies
  • Tuesday: Tacos with refried beans, avocado, tomatoes, lettuce, olives, salsa
  • Wednesday: Pasta with tomato sauce & garbanzo or cannellini beans with a side salad
  • Thursday: Minestrone soup or other mixed vegetable soup
  • Friday: Bean burgers with homemade French fries and broccoli
  • Saturday: Homemade pizza with pesto or tomato sauce & veggie toppings

This Veganuary website has good meal planning ideas to further help you get started.


There are many vegan and vegetarian products readily available in large grocery stores and natural health stores that can serve as substitutes for dairy and meat products. Vegan ‘butter’, yogurt made from soy or cashews, and various cheeses made without dairy can stand in for their dairy counterparts if you crave certain flavors or textures. There is a world of possibilities on grocery store shelves and online, so enjoy exploring!

Additional Tips

Here’s a quick article from One Green Planet on plant-based budgetary considerations: “Money-Saving Tips for Eating Vegan on a Budget”

Try this free app from to make sure you’re eating enough of a variety of plant-based foods to ensure proper nutrition: Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen

Want to find restaurants that have vegan options? Download this app to steer you in the right direction: HolyCow free app

Here’s a practical resource on general travel tips if you’re “Travelling as a Vegan.”