Getting Started with a Plant-Based Diet

Connect Healthy Tips Getting Started with a Plant-Based Diet

A plant-based diet doesn’t mean a plant-only diet. You can still eat meat or dairy occasionally. If you follow a plant-based diet, you usually eat foods that come from plants. Plant foods include vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans, grains, seeds, legumes, and oils.

A Plant-Based Diet Equals a Healthier You

A plant-based diet has been shown in studies to improve overall health and prevent chronic diseases. Plant-based diets offer all the necessary protein, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals for optimal health, and are often higher in fiber and phytonutrients.

Popular Plant-Based Foods

Some popular plant-based foods are:

  • Vegetables that you can eat raw or cook like broccoli, carrots, and cauliflower
  • Salad, spinach, kale, avocado, and other vegetables normally eaten cold
  • Vegetables that can be found in cans or microwaveable steamer bags like corn or green beans
  • Sweet potatoes, small red potatoes or baked potatoes
  • Rice, barley and other grains
  • Chickpeas, lentils and beans
  • Any fruits — apples, pears, bananas, berries. There are so many to choose from, pick your favorite!
  • Tofu — you can eat this cold on a salad or cooked as a main dish
  • Popcorn, whole grain cereal, oatmeal
  • Bread — think toast in the morning, baguette with lunch, or garlic bread for dinner. Just choose a whole grain option.

Tips for Sticking to Your New Diet

It might be intimidating to start a new, plant-based diet, but a slight change in your mindset will help you get started. Keep the following things in mind if you want to try a plant-based diet:

  • Meat doesn’t have to be the main part of a meal. Try to think about your favorite vegetable as the main course and, if you include meat, use it as a garnish or side.
  • Find inspiration for new recipes. There are plenty of websites and online resources with tips and recipes to get you started on a plant-based diet. Or visit your medical library to check out a book about cooking with a plant-based focus. See some suggestions below.
  • Eat lots of vegetables. Try to fill your plant with as many colors as possible. Prepare vegetables at the beginning of the week so you have them already cut up for snacks.
  • Choose good fats. Fats in olives, nuts and nut butters, seeds and avocados are good places to start.
  • Eat fruit for dessert. Try freezing your fruit to make it even sweeter. Avoid using any artificial sweeteners, and eventually your taste buds will change so that overly sweetened desserts won’t taste as good to you.
  • Get your family or a friend involved. Start the diet with a friend and share recipes. Take your kids shopping and let them pick out a vegetable to add to that night’s dinner. Challenge your spouse or partner to try the diet with you. Things are always easier when we have a team to support us.

Learn More at the Health Information Center

Your medical library is a good place to start for resources to help you if you decide to try a plant-based diet. The Health Information Center is a library with information and books you can check out, including the following:

How Not To Diet: The Groundbreaking Science of Healthy, Permanent Weight Loss by Michael Greger, MD

Whole New You: How Real Food Transforms Your Life by Tia Mowry

Healthy Fats, Low-Cholesterol Cookbook: Delicious Recipes to Help Reduce Bad Fats and Lower Your Cholesterol by The American Heart Association

The Health Information Center is staffed by medical librarians and certified health information specialists. The Health Information Center can do research on any health topic and get the results to you for free. Contact them at 865-305-9525 or They are located on the first floor of the hospital. In addition to health information, you can find computers, printers, and a quiet place to take a break. Becoming a library member is free and only requires a picture ID.


Monday-Thursday, 8:30 am-9 pm
Friday, 8:30 am-5 pm
Saturday, 9 am-5 pm
Sun 1 pm-9 pm


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