Cafe Binge’s Guide to Plant Based (Intuitive) Eating
Plant based eating. Tips, tricks, advice. Here we go!
It’s been almost a year and a half now, that I’ve been eating an almost exclusively plant based/vegan diet. And over the course of these 1.5 yrs, I’ve found so much joy in food, in what I choose to consume and support, BUT I’ve also been so extremely hesitant to talk about it! When I first transitioned to eating this way, I would seriously get a heavy gut when an Instagram friend would DM me asking, “Wait… are you vegan now?” Because 1. I hate pushing my “shoulds” onto others. For the reason that I hate when others do it to me. Don’t project your shoulds and rules onto me, man! 2. I never want the way I eat to cause patterns of shame, comparison or modeling, based off of my diet. I’m of the mindset of “you do you, and I’ll do me!” Right? Let’s just all stay in our lanes and allow each other to live intuitively. What’s best for me won’t be best for everyone. And 3. I don’t like talking diets. And I don’t like diet labels (vegan, paleo, keto, blah blah blah…) I don’t believe they work and I think they promote shame and a yoyo weight loss/gain.
You guys know I hate dieting and the diet culture—this is something I’ve gone over in my podcast episode “My Intuitive Eating Journey.” Listen to that episode to hear more about my years of intuitive eating & how that first translated as a diet of absolutely ZERO FOOD RULES, which meant I consumed tons of overly processed gas station “junk food.” By having no off-limit foods I put food shame to rest and also didn’t gain weight, however I did eventually get sick. Which is when my real intuitive eating kicked in. The wise, soul-level part of me (that we each have) that knows how to best nourish and heal our bodies. My intuition lead me to a plant based lifestyle. It healed me and changed my life. I can honestly say that. It healed me and woke me up. Woke me up to my soul, to the soul-part of all life.
Your intuition may not lead you to the same conclusion that I arrived at. Maybe it works for you and you thrive! Maybe you eat vegan for a while, and your intuition leads you to eat meat medicinally every once in a while. Maybe you still like eating dairy, meat, eggs and just don’t feel healthy without—whatever! Know there’s no judgment from me. You do you, boo. I trust your intuition will guide you. We each have our own version of truth and I have absolutely zero interest in trying to persuade others to believe my version of truth.
Intuitive living means following your own truth and rejecting other’s rules. It means looking within for the answers. It’s realizing that YOU ARE that wise guru you’ve been searching for. It’s understanding that all the truth you need is within you. You get to follow your own rules!
A little problem that I see arising, is when we fail to go within. When that feels too scary, we don’t do the work of quieting our noisy minds down and really learning to listen to that wise, infinite part of ourselves. Instead of going within, we look to others to show us how to live. We want rules. We want to be shown. We see an attractive, ultra fit model and religiously copy everything she’s doing. We see our friend lose weight and we follow her meal plan meticulously, hoping we’ll lose the weight and finally feel worthy. We see so many conflicting diets and health messages and our busy mind is trying to figure it al out! Other’s conflicting rules just causes us to be internally conflicted. This isn’t living intuitively. Go within! Meet your Higher Self. She’s waiting. That infinite part of you will show you the way to health and happiness—its holding your blueprint.
But for those of you who feel led to eat a plant based diet, those who have messaged me asking for tips, this post is for you! A plant based diet is resonating with lots of people right now! Which is exciting. But it’s a total lifestyle change that goes against everything we’ve been taught. It goes against traditions and familial patterning. It’s relearning how to eat and how to FEEL in our bodies. I know a lifestyle change can feel so daunting. It can feel huge! But mama, there’s no need to get lost in it! Remember first and foremost, that if you’re truly living intuitively, you will not get lost. Just trust that part of you! It’ll lead you back home to yourself. Promise.
So here are my 11 tips for beginning the journey of plant based living:
- Start Slow. Don’t jump into the cold water all at once. That can be shocking and you’ll want to get out! Maybe wade in up to your knees first. Focus, not on eliminating, but on ADDING more plants to your diet. If you eat meat/dairy every single day, choose three days a week where you consume only plants. If you eat animal products daily, choose one meal a day that is 100% plant based. Start slow. Work your way up. I did NOT do this, hahaha, I jumped in all the way on day one, solely because I was so sick and knew it would quite literally save me. But there is so much wisdom and no shame in a slow start. Too much too fast can burn you out.
- Stop focusing on what you “can’t” have. That’s a rule. And I don’t do rules. Instead, get excited about all of the incredible HIGH VIBE food you’re going to start eating. Things you’ve never tried! Get excited about how good you’re going to feel. Get excited about the new recipes and restaurants you’re going to try. Your world is expanding! And that is exciting. **A good thing about vegan/vegetarian eating, is that recipes can’t use the taste of meat as a crutch. They have to hold their own! Even before switching to a plant based diet, I loved a vegetarian menu solely because the food TASTED better. It had way more flavor. Plant based eating is EXCITING. It’s full of flavors and ingredients that you’ve maybe never had. Shift your perspective. This is an adventure!
- Don’t buy into the protein myth. I think it’s so interesting that no one cares about the vitamins, minerals… ahem, protein, you’re getting on a traditional diet—like, you could be eating Cheetos and Diet Coke for breakfast and no one bats a single eyelash. But as soon as you switch the way you eat, especially to a 100% plant-rich diet, everyone is up in arms about what you’re consuming. Every plant based/vegan will attest to the truth of this! If I had a quarter for every time someone asked me, “but where do you get your protein from?” I’d have a whole lotta quarters right now. The protein myth is this… we’ve been brain washed into thinking that protein is the most important component in our diets. Protein drinks, smoothies, bars, pancakes, balls, cereal—protein is getting into all of it. And guys, we’re getting way too much of it. 97% of Americans (meat-eaters, vegans, pescatarians) are getting enough protein. We are not lacking! We’re actually getting 70% MORE protein than we need. If you’re eating a wide range whole food, plant based diet, you WILL get enough protein. Protein is important. But you know what else is important? Fiber. Less than 3% of the American population gets enough fiber. And you don’t get good fiber from meat, dairy, or processed foods. What about magnesium? Selenium? Iron? Calcium? Vitamins? There are so many nutrients we’re deficient in. Protein is not one of them. **Watch this clip from an actual doctor, because I am not one.
- Eat the rainbow. Bright orange carrots, mangos and citrus fruits. Purple grapes and magenta beets. Dark green, leafy lettuce, kale, spinach. Black beans and yellow lentils. Punchy red strawberries and tomatoes. Eat the rainbow! There are so many colorful, vibrant plants out there that heal and nourish our bodies! Eating the rainbow ensures that we’re getting a wide range of nutrients. This is key for me in feeling vibrant, high vibe and completely energized! I love avocado toast—but I can’t eat that everyday and expect to be completely nourished. Our bodies need variety! I love to see so many colors, textures and plant varieties on my dinner plate. Give yourself the rainbow.
- Focus not on weight loss, but on healing your body—your ideal weight will follow. Let me tell you something that I’ve learned the hard way—being skinny does not make you healthy. Fitting in a size 0 pant does not mean your body is well. The number on your scale is not a representation of your total health. This is the reason I do not weigh myself, nor do I own a scale. I don’t see any reason we need to weigh ourselves. Instead of focusing on weight loss and using the decreased number on the scale to give you permission to feel better, focus on how you FEEL in your body. Does your body FEEL healthy? Do you feel vibrant? Are you energized after eating a meal or do you want to take a nap? Take note of how you feel after eating. How does your gut feel? Are you bloated? Do you feel heavy? Focus on healing your body with plants and promoting wellness. If true health and wellness is your goal, your ideal weight will follow. I promise.
- Take a B12 supplement. This is the only vitamin that is not supplied by a plant based diet. B12 is a vitamin absorbed by mammals, like cattle, produced by a bacteria in their digestive system. It’s not just vegans lacking in this though—even meat eaters could be short in B12. You can eat foods fortified with B12 or take a supplement and you’re good to go. I take this one (which is a B12 + Folate combo). I place it under my tongue until it breaks down and absorbs.
- Educate yourself! Know your “why.” I’ve read so many articles and watched so many documentaries on plant based living, environmental health & the animal industry. Education was key for me. I started eating plant based because I wanted to heal my body so badly! After the transition I’d never felt so alive! I felt my body heal and I had genuinely never felt so present in my body. I became more in tune. My spirit woke up. This sounds weird, but it’s true! It became so spiritual for me. The things we consume are totally spiritual—everything is. It’s high vibe living! It then shifted and included earth + animal compassion. I learned more about how the environment and the animal industry. I no longer wanted to vote for cruelty and suffering with my dollar. If I couldn’t kill an animal myself, I no longer wanted to pay someone else to do it. Even animals who are grass-fed and aren’t fed hormones are still killed—and there isn’t a humane way to kill. Animals feel fear before they die. They have emotions. And I didn’t want to consume anything that felt fear—animals release fear hormones when they die. You consume that fear. That’s low vibe. I didn’t want to eat dairy, and contribute to an animal being raped, impregnated, so she could produce milk—then have her brand new baby taken away just moments later. What I’m saying is this… know your WHY. Educate yourself about what is on your plate. How did it get there? Is it cruelty free? Does it support a high vibe life? My favorite and most informative documentaries are Food Choices, Earthlings and What the Health & Cowspiracy. (You can find these for free on Netflix or Youtube!)
- Find your support system. For me, this was an online community. My family and friends didn’t and still don’t eat the same way as me. I’ve had so many people tease me, think I’m loony and try to convince me of my wrongness. You’ll hear a lot of grief about it especially when you’re going to a family party or out to eat with friends. Pay them no attention (you’re doing your own rules, remember?). But there are also so many people I follow on Instagram who think & feel similarly. They share information. They share recipes. They offer support. You will be the outlier of your community—this is a lifestyle change that a lot of people won’t understand. Which is ok! Allow people to be. But find a place where people get it—this will be your tribe. I love following Loni Jane, Melissa Wood, Earthy Andy, Erin Ireland & Ellen Fisher. They’re all compassionate, glowy, high vibe people! (+ their recipes are killer!)
- Eat BIG! Plant food is less calorie dense (not that we count calories because I DO NOT), but it takes a larger quantity to keep you full and satiated. I’ve had people message me and say that they’re trying out plant based eating but feel as though they’re not getting enough “oomph” to their meals to keep them full, satisfied and energetic. My answer to them is EAT MORE. Of course, eat intuitively—follow the cues and pings you get. But you need to unlearn rules about food proportions. We, even subconsciously, have these food rules ingrained and put food onto our plates in certain ways that serve these rules that don’t even belong to us. Usually, it’s not enough food. Make your own rules! Let your intuition dictate the rules you follow. Eat more! Eat abundantly. Eat until you’re completely satisfied. Load up on baked sweet potatoes, potatoes, quinoa, lentils, beans, avocado, rice, dates, whole fruits and veggies! Rely on your hunger and fullness cues. EAT when you’re hungry. Stop when you’re satisfied. Eat abundantly and nourish that body of yours! Food is healing. It’s not your enemy.
- Get creative at RESTAURANTS. You don’t have to just eat a salad or french fries (though, these two things can absolutely save you if there are ZERO vegan options). Call ahead, ask the restaurant if they have any vegan offerings. Or check Yelp! When I first transitioned to a plant based diet, I’d get nervous when going to dinner with friends because I didn’t want to be that girl! The difficult diner. I made sure I was prepared, by calling ahead or checking the menu online, and felt so much relief knowing which menu items were plant based or could be made plant based. (*Most places know what “vegan” means, so I typically use that word, not plant based when asking.) I can still get embarrassed asking the server what vegan options they have, but here’s the thing, you’re paying them for food made to your liking. I’ve found that chefs can make you a 100% plant based dish, just be super clear with them. Chefs are prepared to know how to make a vegan dish, especially nowadays! Ask for things to be taken out of the dish and replace them with something else you love. For example, on a burrito, I’d ask for the cheese to be removed and ask for guacamole or extra fajita veggies to replace it. I’ve also created entire meals out of sides, like roasted veggies and avocado, and asked for tortillas or bread, then made my own tacos/bruschetta, etc. Or I’ve asked for pasta noodles, olive oil, lots of fresh herbs, crushed red pepper + S&P, to make my own pasta dish. Get creative! Don’t be embarrassed. Eat the foods that make you feel so good! I love the app/website Happy Cow, which tells you all the vegan options nearby, or how to make a dish plant based. (I have the best luck with vegan food at Thai, Indian, Mediterranean or Mexican restaurants). **I’ll do an instagram post or two on restaurant eating, because I have so many tricks and tips in this area!
- Eat Intuitively, with compassion. I’m going to keep repeating this. Maybe it’ll sink in! Intuitive eating is compassionate. It’s never shame or rule-based. Which means, that if you are eating 100% plant based and wake up one day with this insatiable craving for eggs or a burger—let your intuition guide you without shame. When I started this journey, I never said I was doing it for life. It wasn’t a “diet.” Which made it a little offensive when I had people asking me frequently, “So how much weight are you wanting to lose from this diet?” To which I replied, “None. Absolutely zero.” I never said it was a diet. I never said I was doing it for life. Which is maybe why I don’t describe myself as a “vegan.” I’m just me—an infinite intelligence, a spirit having this human experience—that’s it. Just me. No labels. No tags. Just me, living intuitively. I always said, if I wake up one day and want meat, I’ll eat it without shame. Which happened! This past January (2019) I was going through an incredibly difficult, soul-crushing, stressful time. And I woke up one morning wanting Chick-Fil-A. I ate it that day. I felt a little sick after, but hey, I’m not playing the shame game! Even though I don’t want to contribute to animal suffering, even though I fully agree with a plant based lifestyle—I choose compassion for myself and others too, as well as the animals. I more than anything, choose intuitive eating. Know that we’re not perfect and it’s ok to have compassion for ourselves, without shame. Trust what your intuition tells you. Be gentle and kind with yourself. You will not receive judgment from me! You do you—then let others do the same. I think a reason people don’t resonate with the vegan message, is because they feel shamed. Vegans are compassionate beings, but sometimes forget to have compassion for all humans, too, as well as animals. Compassion for all, no matter how they choose to eat! If this lifestyle completely resonates with you and changes your life, still have compassion and acceptance for others who it doesn’t resonate with. If your spouse/family/friends don’t believe in it, hold true to you and allow them to hold true to themselves.
Now, here are a few my favorites! Hoping these will help you along your plant based path. Continue to explore, discover and educate yourself! Get to know your body intimately and the food you put on your plate.
(Each bolded orange word is a link!)
Recipes: (a few of my faves!)
Rawnola (cereal alternative + smoothie bowl topper!)
The BEST green smoothie.
My most played Heavy Metal Detox Smoothie. This one changed my body! (I sub coconut water for OJ! And change the proportions. I do 1 frozen banana, 1 c frozen wild bluebs, 1/2 c coconut water, sea dulse, 1/3 bunch cilantro, 1 tsp of spirulina & barley grass juice powder). Do as you like.
The BEST award winning banana-based smoothie .
Flat Tummy ‘Superfood Burcha’
If you miss eggs, try a tofu scramble! I love a scramble with veggies, in a breakfast burrito, or on top of toast. This “Super Eggy Scramble” recipe is YUM. The *secret ingredient for eggy tasting tofu is using a tiny bit of Himalayan Black Salt a.k.a. Kala Namak.
Banana bread overnight oats. Overnight oats WIN. I love this recipe, but I also play around with other fruits, seeds and plant milks.
Veggie-packed (ultra flavorful) sandwich c/o my Insta friend Christina. We made this sammy everyday for like 2 weeks. It’s that good.
Chickpea salad sandwich that’ll knock your socks off. Everyone who tries this LOVES.
Crowd pleasing caesar salad. The chickpea croutons & nut cheese crumbles are absolutely 100.
Favorite way to bake tofu! I always add garlic + cracked pepper. And more nooch than recommended, because I love that cheesy flava!
Noodle-free Pad Thai (this is INSANE + all veggies). My husband loves this more than regular Pad Thai.
Quinoa taco meat. This is a real thing. A good thing. Good in tacos, burritos, nachos or a big burrito bowl.
My FAVE cauliflower tacos. **You can basically put any roasted veggie in a tortilla + add some delicious sauce on top. Tacos are plant based gold.
Roasted Jackfruit tacos. Jackfruit = the vegan pulled pork. F’real. I love jackfruit on top of BBQ pizza, too!
I put this Magic Green Sauce on everything. Tacos, Buddha bowls, sandwiches, roasted veggies. All of it.
If you’ve ever had a Yumm Bowl, you know how good the sauce is. This Bitchin’ Sauce is identical. Layer brown rice, tomatoes, lettuce shreds, black beans, baked tofu, olives, onion + this sauce in a bowl!
Plant based eating does NOT have to be expensive. If you know how to cook brown rice, soak and cook beans and lentils + roast some veggies, you’re good to go! Especially if you get dried beans and rice in a bag and make them yourself. CHEAP. If you buy vegetables in season, they’ll be less expensive and better for you! I love this NY Times guide for cooking beans and lentils (soaking them first helps SO much with digestion). And THIS recipe for chewy, fluffy brown rice is soooo good. For roasted veggies, use high heat (425-450 degrees)! I like cooking them on this parchment paper or one of these silicone baking mats. Give the vegetables some space so they can crisp up. Overcrowded baking sheets will take longer. I use a tiny bit of oil, then use a combo of seasonings with some favorite spices (my most used are garlic powder, S+P, smoked paprika, smoked chili powder, truffle salt, cumin or curry powder). You’ll find your favorite combinations with practice!
Tahini sauce for basically everything.
The only hummus recipe you need
Feta cheese that tastes 100%
Ranch dressing, without mayo
Deconstructed sushi bowl. This one is NUTS.
Red lentil chili. Favorite soup/chili. Hands down.
Thai curry is such an EASY plant based comfort food. I adore this yellow coconut curry w/ mango or this vegetable-packed red curry. SO GOOD.
Hearty Seed Bread. This recipe is similar to the Trader Joes Norwegian Crispbread. It’s full of delicious healthy fats and an incredible nutty flavor. I LOVE cutting this bread a little thicker, then piling on avocado, lemon zest (use this zester), nooch + Himalayan salt and black pepper. For this recipe, I find most of the ingredients at Trader Joes, except the Whole Psyllium Husks, which I find on Amazon.
I love watching recipe roundups like THIS & THIS & THIS from my favorite food bloggers/Youtubers. (SO much good stuff. Watch! They’ll make you want to move to an island and live off of fresh fruits and smoothie bowls.)
Store Bought Goods: (For the links that take you to a company’s website, type your zip code in the store locator section to find the products near you! Most can be found at Whole Foods.)
Favorite mozzarella “cheese” for pizza. I like the regular & the smoked, which is delicious on BBQ pizza. (Their butter and cheese spreads are also good!)
Favorite parmesan cheese (that tastes JUST like the real stuff)
Favorite almond based cream cheese (I love the chive!) Love on bagels and sandwiches!
My favorite roasted veggie pizza! I always have one of these in my freezer. It makes impromptu pizza nights with family delicious for me as well. I cook this pie, add Trader Joe’s Vegan Kale Pesto on top + sliced olives + syrupy balsamic glaze on top, too. Maybe even some of that cashew parm I mentioned above! This pizza is goooooo. **Also love putting this truffle olive oil on pizzas. UN.REAL.
Going to a BBQ? These burgers and these hotdogs are INSANE. Especially the sausage. Even meat-eaters love these dogs. (Both Original and Spicy Italian are delicious).
Good news movie goers, most movie theater popcorn is dairy-free. However this is my favorite clean version. Because I like popcorn always. Also die over this Cinnamon Toast version.
Vegan dark chocolate PB cups. The best ever. I have a couple of the mini cups every single night.
Lots of recipes call for “nooch” aka Nutritional Yeast. It gives the dish a cheesy flavor. I LOVE putting it on avocado toast, in vegan mac and cheese & on pizza!
I roast LOTS of veggies. I put them in bowls, tacos, wraps and on top of salads. But I NEVER roast them in olive oil. The smoke point of olive oil is too low (which means it’ll turn toxic when it gets too hot). Instead, I roast veggies with zero oil OR in this avocado oil or this coconut oil. These two oils have a higher smoke point, making them ideal for roasting!
If you need Mayo for sandwiches + recipes, I get Vegenaise. You’ll find it in the refrigerated section at health food stores. I get the Organic Original, but they have a soy-free version, a grapeseed oil version + TONS of flavored mayos (sriracha, roasted garlic, pesto, etc).
Also, Braggs Liquid Aminos. In lottsa plant based sauces and dressings. Salty and savory.
Need a salad dressing but don’t have time to make? These Chosen Life dressings are a great pantry staple! Love the Chipotle Ranch & Lemon Garlic.
These fermented sauerkrauts. SO good. If you love pickles you’ll love this stuff. I put it in salads, on avocado toast, in Buddha bowls. Such a good alternative to dressing.
I love Mexican food. I love these grain free tortilla chips. **Some Costco’s carry them! (Also, their tortillas are so so good! Also, they have vegan cashew queso cheese that’s DELISH).
For avocado toast & sandwiches, I love finding a local organic bakery and getting a hearty loaf of sourdough bread. Which, guys, sourdough has so many live enzymes! It’s such a digestion helper! OR I love getting Ezekiel GF bread, like this GF & Yeast Free Multi Seed Rice Bread.
Hippeas. Like Cheetos, but better and cleaner and plant based. Love the White Cheddar & the Sriracha flavors.
Indian Vegan Masala. These little packets are a lifesaver sometimes!
Heavenly Hunks. Vegan organic dark chocolate treats that taste like cookie dough. Costco used to have these. Might still?
My favorite dates (which are plant caramel, straight up caramel!) are Rancho Meladuco. Quality + absolutely worth the price. I love to savor these! If I’m making Rawnola or a raw bar recipe, I use Costco dates!
LaraBars. My favorite snack on the go! Best flavors are Lemon Bar & Cherry Pie.
Glow Inner Beauty Powder. I LOVE this in smoothies.
Collagen (vegan) Inner Beauty Boost. *Most collagen powders/supplements are NOT plant based.
Garden of Life plant based protein powder, vanilla.
Truvani Plant Based Protein Powder, chocolate.
Moon Juice Blue Beauty Adaptogenic Protein Powder
Plant Based Cookbooks:
Everyday Cooking by Minimalist Baker
Vegan Comfort Classics by Lauren Toyota
The Plant Power Way by Rich Roll & Julie Piatt
Thug Kitchen: Eat Like You Give a F***
Vegan for Everybody by America’s Test Kitchen
You guys, I hope more than anything these tips are helpful, not triggering. This isn’t a diet. This is intuitive. Remember, you know best for you! If anything I’ve said doesn’t resonate with you, chuck it! Follow your own unique blueprint. As always, if you have any questions, reach out. More than happy to help in whatever capacity I’m able to.