Holly Bartter explains how to easily incorporate plant-based meals into your life (and why you might consider it this year)
If you’ve browsed the aisles of any major store recently, you’ll have spotted the growing selection of plant-based options and meat alternatives on offer. From high-protein pieces of ‘chicken’ constructed from peas, coconut yogurt or the extensive soy and nut milk choices, there’s never been a better time to dip your toe into plant-based eating.
As 2020 rolls in, many of us will be reviewing our diets and keen to adopt healthy habits. Switching some of your meat, eggs and dairy for a plant-based meal not only benefits your health but the planet’s, and it doesn’t mean living off salad alone!
Here’s a few expert tips for navigating a plant-based menu, whether it’s for a Meatless Monday or a few veggie-focused weekends.
Make it easy
If you’re new to the plant-based scene, don’t over complicate meals by trying to create vegetarian proteins from scratch. Lean on the wonderful frozen or chilled options available and focus your dish around these as a base: think chickpea pasta with vegetarian meatballs, or wholemeal falafel wraps with hummus and plenty of salad.
Better yet, you’ll find that cooking plant-based pre-made options is a breeze! It’s more a matter of warming or pan-frying to your level of preferred crisp and finish, and you’ll find your time over the stove or oven is cut significantly.
If you are craving one of your favourite snacks (biscuit, chocolate or something salty), check out a plant-based alternative instead – there’s a vegan version of almost everything you already enjoy.
Don’t forget your protein
If you’re accustomed to animal proteins, you’ll find your level of satiety will change when eating a plant-based dish, so it’s essential to keep some protein-rich inclusions in every meal to stop you reaching for the snacks later in the day or night. Thankfully, plant-based food manufacturers understand that vegans and vegetarians want to include higher-protein options too, so check the nutrition breakdown on your purchases, and if all else fails, add a side dish of chickpeas with your salad, or mix kidney beans and lentils into a stew, curry or veggie chilli.
Dried fava beans are an easy office snack if you need a plant-based power boost on the go (nuts are a good option but beware of the calorie content with so much fat, so keep it to a handful).
Keep it fresh
The magic of eating plant based is the boost of fibre, cholesterol-free ingredients and all the vitamins and minerals in fresh fruits and vegetables. The old ‘5 a day’ rule is on track, and if you can incorporate raw ingredients into your routine alongside your pre-prepared snacks and mains, you’ll really feel the benefits. Celery and carrots with hummus, an apple with peanut butter or a light green smoothie with apple, kale and lemon sipped on throughout the day are top ways to up your veggie intake in a simple way.
This tip is especially important for those looking to shed festive-season weight. Avoid adding too much oil, dressings, spreads or sauce to your dishes and lean on fruit and veg in its natural form as your side dishes and snacks.
If you want to make a dietary change but want to know more about the vitamins and nutrients needed for a balanced diet, don’t be shy to ask for advice from your local healthcare professional who can point you in the right direction.
About the author
Holly Bartter is a lifestyle and beauty writer, and founder of veganskincare.com.