We've all been there. The temptations mount up and the foods you can't eat are beckoning you louder than the ones that are on your list of what you should be filling up on when following a plant-based approach. Whether you're on day 1 or day 21 of your plant-based eating journey, there are ways to stay on track that will be fun and fruitful and not draconian or make you feel like you're depriving yourself.

Here, the Editors of The Beet share our top 5 tips for success. Because between us we have decades of being plant-based (or vegan) in our approach to food. But like all mortals, some days are easier than others when faced with cheesy pizza, chocolate chip cookies, or our favorite sushi. Try these tips that work for us, to stay healthy and on track! And be sure to share YOUR secrets for success, on our Facebook page.

1. Watch Forks Over Knives, The Game Changers and What the Health.

This personal film festival is enough to make anyone not want to go back to eating meat and dairy, since, between these three documentaries, you will learn that plant-based eating is healthier for your heart, can improve your stamina and recovery time as an athlete, and will keep you away from harmful elements like hormones in your food that can increase your risk of some cancers.

The fact that so many people watch Forks Over Knives and change their lives on the strength of that documentary alone shows how powerful this knowledge can be. Anyone who needs a refresher, or an initiation, to this kind of eating, will be blown over by any of these movies.

The Game Changers follows plant-based athletes as they train on the protein that grows from the earth -- and build bodies as strong as any in their sports. What The Health follows the trail from farm to doctors' offices as we learn what really goes into the animal product we eat and how it messes up our bodies. Watch them again and again, any time you need a little extra motivation.

2. Focus on All the Foods You Can Eat and Love. Hello, Avocado Toast.

We love to point out, while sitting in a favorite Mexican restaurant, noshing on guacamole and chips, a margarita and ordering rice and beans, that some of our favorite foods are already plant-based, and fairly healthy at that. When going plant-based, rather than feel deprived when a friend orders the sushi, put yourself into a mode of veg-seeking-machine, ask the waiter or waitress what rolls are veggie-packed, and order favorites like vegetable tempura and edamame, plus miso soup and anything else that has a medley of veggies. Check out more foods you can eat, from your favorite meal rotations!

3. Stay Positive, Stay Strict, and Stay the Course! You'll Feel So Much Better!

Some people are better off giving themselves a little leeway, starting slowly and ramping up. Not us. We found that it's easier to see a plant-based whole food approach as an all or nothing proposition, since eating a little cheese here, some eggs there, and a piece of fish when you want to "cheat" leads to a slippery slope -- and an upset stomach. Once you go plant-based, your body transforms the micro-biome to support this kind of eating, and you don't have the bacteria or compounds in your gut to actually metabolize animal products. That's a good thing. The more you stick with it, the better you will feel, and the easier it is to see you eating as binary -- there just is only fiber-filled foods that are good for you and will make you feel better every time you eat -- not bloated or inflamed or sleepy afterward.

For this approach, you have to tell yourself: I am a plant-based eater. I don't eat animal products. Nothing with a face a mother or a daughter. This is how one person we know put it: When you do it for ethical reasons, it's easy. Whatever your motivation, if it's to be healthy for yourself, then treat yourself to the healthiest food you can find, and that's plant-based, whole foods full of fiber that fill you up without weighing you down. Know this: Only you can take the best care of yourself, and to do so, be a plant-eater, day and night.

4. Easy Swaps Like Nutritional Yeast for that Parmesan Cheese Taste

  • Swap out parmesan cheese in favor of nutritional yeast for a cheezy, nutty taste.
  • Swap out mayonnaise for avocado spread, hummus or vegan mayonnaise.
  • Swap out dairy milk in favor of non-dairy milks like almond, oat, hemp, coconut or flax. Click here for The Beet's favorite options.
  • Swap out whey protein powder  in favor of plant-based protein powder 
  • Swap out butter for coconut oil or other non-dairy butter alternatives. Here are The Beet's favorites.
  • Swap out ground beef or minced meat in favor of seasoned lentils.
  • Swap out honey in favor of agave syrup or maple syrup.
  • While baking, swap out eggs or egg whites in favor of applesauce, flax or chia seeds or aquafaba, the liquid leftover in the can after draining chickpeas.
  • Swap out heavy cream for coconut cream.
  • Swap out chicken broth for vegetable broth. 
  • Swap out dairy cheese for non-dairy cheese. Here are The Beet's favorites.

5. Learn to Cook a Favorite Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner Recipes. And Add a Snack!

Cooking plant-based can be daunting, especially when you've been cooking with meat and dairy your entire life. One of our favorite tips for success is to master three simple, healthy dishes: breakfast, lunch and dinner dish. After a busy day, it's a great feeling to know that you can fall back on these recipes and cook a quick, healthy dish with few ingredients. It doesn't need to be complicated! For example, your go-to could be granola, almond-based yogurt and fresh fruit for breakfast, which is super easy, filling and delicious. For lunch, learn to cook a hearty meal that travels well, such as a pesto pasta or a hearty chili. For dinner, it doesn't have to get more complex than a veggie stir fry. Don't overthink this! Creating and arming yourself with simple recipes is an effective way to save money, time and stay on track.

Check out the Reality Bites stories of our recipes and others from around the plant-based world, tried, tested (and tasted) by our own recipe lover, Claudia Leopold, and send us your Reality Bites when you make something and photograph it and report back on how it went.

Got a tip of your own to share? Is something working for you? Had over to The Beet Facebook page and let us know your best tips or tricks for staying on track!

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