With meat and dairy-strong diets being a prime contributor to climate change; pretty much all chronic diseases; and of course to the unhappy, short, brutal lives of animals; it’s no wonder many of us are considering how we might either go plant-based ourselves, or at the very least make a shift in that direction.
For some, it’s not too difficult. I, personally, was not particularly red meat-oriented; I always preferred chicken or fish options; and I never liked milk, so when I went vegan it was not too drastic a change for me.
However, this is a world in which most of us have been encouraged to eat meat and drink milk from a very young age in the belief that it was good for us, so it’s understandable that for lots of us, it’s not so easy making a change.
How can we all, even the most bacon-loving of us, incorporate some changes into our diet, to help us tread lighter, feel better, and maybe even reap a few of the health benefits a plant-based diet offers?
Here are 6 very manageable ways. You can try one of them; several; or all if you’re feeling it:
1. Make sandwich filling an animal product-free zone.
Use a vegan spread in place of butter, then top or fill your bread with mashed avocado, a sprinkle of soy sauce and chopped spring onions; or hummous, sliced tomatoes and arugula; or sliced veggie sausage and sauerkraut, or good old peanut butter and jelly.
2. Have greens (kale, cabbage or broccoli are great choices) and two other colours of vegetables with every main meal.
For example; radishes or red pepper, orange carrots, or purple beetroot. This way you’ll maximise your nutrient intake while crowding out the animal products.
3. Try having vegan breakfasts.
Making the first meal of the day plant-based is a synch. Try plain porridge oats (not jumbo oats, these are harder to digest uncooked) topped with raisins, 2 tablespoons of ground flax seeds, and berries or other chopped fruit; just add non-dairy milk or water and you’re set.
A toasted whole wheat bagel spread with peanut butter and topped with chopped banana and sprinkled with cinnamon is another idea; or throw some chopped spring onions on the peanut butter and pour a few drops of soy sauce on top if you prefer a savoury start to your mornings.
A plain coconut milk or soy yoghurt with any of the same toppings as the oatmeal is another great plant-based start to the day.
4. Have a weekly burger craving? Switch the burger for a portobello mushroom!
Yes, there are some excellent veggie burgers out there, but you’d be very surprised just how good a big portobello mushroom grilled with a touch of olive oil, salt and garlic can taste. Slap it in a whole wheat bun with a couple of slices of tomato, a couple of lettuce leaves and some vegan mayonnaise and you’ve got yourself a rockin’ PLT!
5. Instead of adding cheese or bacon bits to your salads, make them more hearty and substantial with plant food.
Add taste and texture with walnuts, avocado, olives, chickpeas or sunflower seeds for example.
6. Try the Buddha bowl.
Once a week, or as often as you feel you can, make the basis of your main meal consist of a grain or a root veg, and a pulse. Choose from brown rice, quinoa, sweet potato, white potato, corn, beans (any), lentils (any), squash or whole grain noodles or pasta. Add some greens, or a selection of veg if you’re hungry, and a tasty dressing of your choice – miso-tahini for example, or olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
After this you’ll feel pleasantly satisfied, with no food hangover to dread.
Just picking one of these and doing it consistently until it’s become as much a part of your lifestyle as the meat or dairy based habit it replaced, is major. Any shift towards a healthier and more planet-friendly way is more effective and transformative than you think.
Once you’ve incorporated one of these new habits – try another. You might be surprised just how easy these tips are to integrate pretty seamlessly into your daily life.