No one said you have to be vegan in order to reap the benefits of plant-based foods. At least that’s my philosophy. Incorporating plant-based meals into your diet can lead to so many health benefits while also being easier on the environment. Check out my top 5 tips for transitioning to more plant-based meals for the non-vegan!
Why I incorporate more plant-based meals into my day…
People have different reasons for getting on board with the plant-based movement. It could be animal cruelty, a concern for the environment, health reasons or just curiosity. For me, my journey to more plant-based meals started by happenstance.
After a 30-day smoothie challenge, I started seeing the benefits of adding more fruits and veggies into my diet. I had more energy, my acne was clearing up and I felt so much healthier from the inside out. Not long after I started working in a local juice bar as the creative behind the food menu. By default, I was experimenting a lot with plant-based, mostly raw foods!
Related post: How to build a healthy smoothie in 5 simple steps
Since drastically transforming my diet to include more nutrient-dense foods (which are naturally plant-based) I continue to see improvements to my energy levels, radiant skin and an overall lighter feeling.
Plant-based for the “non vegan”
I strongly believe that you don’t have to be vegan in order to reap the benefits of plant-based foods. These benefits include: healthy weight management, decreased risk of heart disease and other life-threatening diseases, lower blood sugar levels, increased energy, clearer skin and improved digestion to name a few. I personally am not vegan, but do notice a difference when the majority of my diet is made up of fruits, vegetables, beans/legumes, whole grains and nuts/seeds.
I find that non-vegans are often concerned that they are going to miss out on meat or not feel full after a plant-based meal. This is why the majority of my recipes and cooking classes are plant-based – to introduce you to a new way of looking at foods and combining ingredients together to make a simple, yet satisfying meal that taste delicious (without the meat and cheese!).
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Whether it’s Meatless Monday, one meatless meal a day or going all in with the plant-based movement, we could all stand to get more of these foods on our plates.
My top 5 tips to transitioning to more plant-based foods for the non-vegan
Start small. No need to do a drastic overhaul overnight. Start small by incorporating one meatless meal a week, or going meatless until dinnertime. Or maybe you need to start even smaller by just adding more plant-based foods onto your plate. Instead of making meat the star, move it to the side and create more room for plant-based foods!
No need to do a drastic overhaul overnight. Start small by incorporating one meatless meal a week, or going meatless until dinnertime. Or maybe you need to start even smaller by just adding more plant-based foods onto your plate. Instead of making meat the star, move it to the side and create more room for plant-based foods!
Change your expectations. There won’t be a meatless substitute for all of your favorite foods, so don’t even try. Coconut bacon? It’s just not the same. Ooey gooey mac and cheese? Nope. Not unless you load it up with the processed, fake stuff. The goal here isn’t to create a plant-based version of your meaty favorites. It’s to try a different way of combining foods onto your plate that can be equally as delicious and satisfying.
Related recipe: Roasted vegetable tortilla pizza
Balance your plate with fiber, protein and healthy fats. These three nutrients are the key to satisfying hunger and keeping energy levels up. Protein is the very nutrient that will help fill you up and can be found in many plant-based foods, despite what you might think. Beans, lentils, nuts, seeds and whole grains are all fantastic sources of plant-based protein.
Did you know that 3 Tablespoons of hemp seeds equals 10g of protein? Say it ain’t so!
Keep it whole. There is such a thing as junk food vegan and a nutrient-dense plant-powered plate. If your goal for incorporating more plant-based foods into your diet is for health reasons, then stay far away from the processed stuff. It’s not about “going vegan”, it’s about the nutrient density of foods, and processed vegan replacements won’t get you there. I’m talking about the meat substitutes and vegan cheeses that have a laundry list of ingredients, many of which are unrecognizable or fragments of whole food sources. A great example of this is “soy protein isolate”, a derivative of the whole soybean.
Experiment with different flavors. Flavor is what gives food life! Experiment with various flavors, cuisines and fresh herbs. Adding a little bit of “umami” to the plate will give you that mouthwatering savory sensation that you would otherwise get from meat. This can be achieved through savory spices, mushrooms, tomatoes, soy sauce and balsamic vinegar.
Interested in incorporating more plant-based foods into your diet, but you’re not quite sure where to start? Check out my book SIMPLY SWAPPED Everyday that has over 75 simple and delicious plant-powered recipes in it!