Going more plant-based with your meals doesn’t need to be complicated. Consider these tips to jumpstart the process.
It’s not news that eating more fruits, vegetables, and other plant foods is good for our health, but many of us are still not eating close to the recommended daily servings (5-9 servings a day of fruit and vegetables). Besides personal health, a plant-based dietary pattern can save you money on groceries, and help protect the planet and animals used for food.
Getting started doesn’t have to be complicated and you don’t have to overwhelm yourself or change everything overnight. Here are a few ways to get more plant-based meals into your weekly rotation.
1. Make a Plan
You’ve probably heard the saying “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Planning ahead will ensure that when meal time comes around and you’re getting hungry, you’ll know what you’re making and have your ingredients at the ready. Planning your meals at least a couple of days ahead of time will prevent you from grabbing take-out or eating chips and salsa for dinner because that’s what’s in your kitchen (guilty).
Meal planning can be as simple as writing out what you’ll have on your calendar or notepad, and then making a grocery list of the ingredients you need from there. Or you could print out meal planning sheets or use an app to keep track of everything. If you’re just starting out with plant-based meals, pick one meal a day or one day a week to eat plant-based and increase from there once you’ve accomplished that goal. Meatless Mondays are a popular way of helping people eat plant-based at least one day a week. There are also plant-based meal planning services available. Explore them and find what works best for you.
2. Make Plant-based Versions of Your Favorites
Plant-based food often has the stigma of being unsubstantial “rabbit food” or entirely different to what most people are eating but that isn’t the case. Anything omnivores eat, plant-based eaters can eat, too, with some simple substitutions. Are tacos your favorite?
Swap lentils, veggie crumbles, seasoned tofu, or beans for the usual meat and top with cashew sour cream or guacamole. Think about your current favorite meals and how you can make satisfying meat- and dairy-free versions. Get creative on your own or use cookbooks or recipe sites for inspiration.
3. Stock Your Fridge & Pantry
As you use up your current stock, buy plant-based versions of your usual staples, like plant-based milks, cheese, ice cream, mayo and other condiments. Know that plant-based versions usually won’t taste 100% the same as animal products. For some, it may even taste better, while others may require allowing more time for their taste buds to adjust.
Try different brands and flavors until you find one that you enjoy eating. Keeping convenient foods stocked will help you throw together quick meals. Convenience doesn’t have to mean ultra-processed, either. Having pre-washed salad greens, canned beans, nuts, seeds, tortillas and wraps, your favorite condiments and dressings, and fresh and frozen vegetables and fruit can make whipping up plant-based meals fast and simple.
4. Take a Vegan Cooking Course
In person or online, there’s no better way to learn than by hands on cooking. Check your local businesses and community center for vegan cooking classes, or look up an online course. And if you’re really serious about mastering your culinary skills, you can get a professional certification in plant-based cooking through Rouxbe!
5. Host a Plant-Based Potluck or Dinner Party
Having the support of friends and family can make plant-based eating easier and more fun when you open up others to new foods. Try having a theme like vegan BBQ, holiday foods, dishes inspired by a favorite movie or show, a regional cuisine. There is no limit to your creativity with this!
Whether you intend to eat 100% plant-based or simply up your plant food intake, it’s never been easier to get started.
Go ahead, and plant a healthy life for you and the planet!
For more plant-based inspiration, head to the original article.
HEADER: KEVIN MCCUTCHEON
Angela Wortley, RDN is a private practice Registered Dietitian based in Michigan. She specializes in plant-based nutrition to help her clients feel their best, as well as to prevent or manage chronic disease. She has a special interest in helping women with fibromyalgia live well with this painful condition.