Embracing the Plant Based Lifestyle
This post has been adapted from the CHFA blog - I love how they outline the health benefits and ease of adapting more of a plant based lifestyle! Find joy in the foods that you consume. Here are 6 tips on how to embrace the plant based lifestyle:
Tip 1: Take a Look at All of the Options Available
When you hear the phrase "plant-based," many are quick to assume that going on a plant-based diet means eating leafy salads for every meal. While we love a great salad, it's important to incorporate a variety of foods into your meals. Whether it's pasta, quinoa or black-bean tacos, you have an abundance of options to choose from, so don't feel the need to swap out everything you love.
Tip 2: Start Your Days Strong With a Nutritious Smoothie
An easy way to load yourself up on a healthy serving of fruits and vegetables is to get into the habit of starting the day with a nutritious smoothie, which will help give you that all-too necessary boost of energy and confidence in the morning. For an extra health kick, there are also a variety of natural health products (NHPs) that you can add into the mix, as well. Here is one of my favourite smoothie recipes for you to try out. Featuring the potent benefits of spirulina, and coupled with quercetin-rich berries and healthy greens, you can't help but feel healthier from the first sip!
1 cup organic spinach
1/2 cup organic raspberries
1/2 cup organic blackberries
1 organic banana
1 cup cashew milk
1/2 cup ice
1 tsp spirulina
Add the ingredients together, blend and enjoy!
Tip 3: Aim for 75%
In your daily meals, increase the amount of fruits and vegetables on your plate over time until you reach your goal. A simple measure of this is aim to cover 75 per cent (or three-fourths) of your plate with fresh fruits and vegetables. This is easiest way to measure your diet, as it will allow you to visually see the ratio of plants to other foods that you're eating.
Some people who are just starting out on a plant-based diet (many of whom go cold turkey) may feel hungry more often. This is because plant-based foods are much more nutrient-dense, which means that they deliver more nutrients with fewer calories. This is one of the reasons that plant-based diets have been shown to help people with long-term weight loss. So, fill that plate up with veggies more often if you need to, in order to compensate and ease yourself into your new diet. You can also curb your appetite by increasing your plant-based protein sources, since protein increases our feelings of satiety (or feeling of fullness).
Tip 4: Protein
A common stumbling block for those who are new to a plant-based diet is a belief that they’re not getting enough protein without meat. The plant world, however, is full of delicious and complete protein sources. In terms of protein, beans, legumes and nuts are staples, especially because they're so easy to toss into a salad. When thinking about transitioning, look at points in your diet where you can swap things out.
You can go one step further by slowly replacing some of your unhealthy snack food vices with better options. For instance, consider replacing your lunchtime bag of chips with nuts and seeds, such as almonds, pistachios and walnuts, which are a great source of protein and help to satisfy that crunchy craving in a healthier way. “Sometimes having that stepping stone is more important than saying it’s all or nothing.”
Spirulina (as featured in our smoothie recipe above), quinoa, hemp seeds, lentils, tofu and tempeh are other tasty and widely available plant-based protein sources.
Tip 5: Prepare a Plan to Go Meatless
Throughout life, your parents, teachers and mentors have always taught you to be prepared — and this is one of the many times to apply those lessons. Planning ahead is perhaps one of the best ways to help you stay on track of and reach your health goals (even beyond just your nutrition).
Remember that switching over to a plant-based diet doesn't have to happen with just the flip of a switch, and there's no reason why it has to. If your plan is to follow a vegan diet, start by cutting out red meats in your first month, followed by white meats in the second month, then fish the third month and so on. Take it slow and experiment by getting creative with recipes, and swap out the meats in your meals for veggie-based alternatives that you like. (For example, some people might find it difficult to give up hamburgers, but marinated, grilled portobello mushroom tops are an amazing swap for the beef or chicken patties.)
If you need motivation, keep in mind that by taking slow and steady steps to increase your vegetable intake, you’re going to be making a significant impact on your health and the environment!
Tip 6: Supplement
It's possible to meet all of your major nutrient needs through a plant-based diet, but many vegans and vegetarians find that supplementing with a high-quality multivitamin or protein powder can serve as a reliable nutritional add-on. Before making changes to your diet and healthy regimen, speak with your healthcare practitioner to see which supplements are right for you.
And these are our tips! Now start out simple by finding some recipes you love, get together with friends, and start enjoying a cleaner, plant-based diet.