Transitioning to a Plant-Based Diet – Part 3
So what does a “plant-based diet” mean? To me, it means making plant-based, unprocessed foods the mainstay of my diet, and using processed foods to a minimum, only as/when needed. I agree with the studies described in Forks over Knives, and don’t think that animal protein is necessarily the best source of protein for our bodies, nor is it easily digested. I’ve personally found that incorporating plant-based sources of proteins, such as tofu, tempeh (a fermented soy product), legumes, beans and nuts, are much easier on my body and leave me feeling “lighter” and with more energy than I have had in the past. Again, this is my personal experience, but I can vouch for the positive effects of making this transition. In addition, as a society, we seem to eat far too much protein anyway, and we don’t really need that much in our diet on a day-to-day basis.
I think that when we start to incorporate more fresh, wholesome foods into our diet, it reawakens our palate to flavors and aromas that we may have forgotten due to a reliance on heavily packaged and processed foods. In fact, I think that some of the best meals I have had have used minimal ingredients – so that you taste the actual food rather than the mask of fat, sugar or salt around it.
So how do you incorporate more plant based foods in your diet? Well, one of the easiest ways is to substitute and replace packaged and processed foods that you currently eat, with fresh, wholesome foods. For example, rather than having packaged or canned fruits, eat a piece of fresh fruit as a snack or dessert. For dinner, instead of microwaving a packaged meal or ordering take-out, make a quick stir-fry of brown rice, fresh vegetables and a small amount of protein (nuts, legumes, beans). It usually takes less time than ordering take-out, tastes FAR better, and is much healthier than any greasy, salty take-out dish that you might receive. But…it does mean that you have to be prepared for meals at home, and it does mean that you have to plan your grocery shopping. And I think that’s where most people think that they either (i) don’t have time, or (ii) don’t think it’s worth the time or effort to make that investment.
Well, I think it is. Our body will only function well if we treat it and feed it right. And that requires some effort – but if it means a healthier life, more energy, and a healthier environment (which we happen to inhabit!!!!) isn’t it worth it?
So small steps to making the transition might include any or all of the following:
– Buying local or organic foods whenever possible (it’s healthier for the environment, yourself and it helps local farmers.
– Relying less on packaged goods and take-out, and making more meals at home.
– Reducing the amount of animal protein in meals, and adding more legumes, beans, tofu/tempeh or seeds.
– Replacing dairy with non-dairy alternatives (soy, almond or rice milk)
– Adding more fruits and vegetables (organic and/or local whenever possible) to our diet
In upcoming posts, I will try to incorporate some of my own meals as examples of my plant-based meals. But there are also many, many books on the market which have fabulous recipes that are all based on plants. Some of my favorites are Peas and Thank You by Sarah Matheny (who also has a fabulous blog ), The Happy Herbivore Cookbook by Lindsay Nixon (who also has a great blog), and The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone).
Try some of the recipes in these books – you won’t be disappointed, and they might be great place to start experimenting with more plant-based foods in your diet!