How to include more plant-based food into your diet

Plant-based meal of a wrap with vegetable filling.

South Africans are used to a culture of eating meat – we love our braais! Despite this, plant-based living is gaining popularity. As a population, we have become more selective about what we allow into our bodies, causing us to make lifestyle choices we most likely never thought we would make today. Some people opt for vegan food based on health reasons and others choose to do so for the sake of more sustainable living – whichever your reason, plant-based eating has several benefits.

You may be considering following a plant-based diet, but not sure how committed you would be and whether you would be able to do it. It’s quite simple – with just a few changes here and there into your current routine, you would be on your way to a healthier you.

Eat more vegetables

Not everyone is a fan of vegetables and some can be quite selective – you may eat carrots but not enjoy eating anything green like broccoli or spinach. Incorporating more veggies into your diet will make you love them and start getting creative with your food. You may not want to eat roasted sweet potato for the third time this week but what if you mashed sweet potato and created a pizza crust with it instead?

Veggies are a healthy part of eating more balanced meals.

You don’t have to go cold turkey

Transitioning to a plant-based diet can take time. You do not have to exclude meat entirely from your diet, especially if you already have meat in your freezer. The last thing you want is to be wasteful. Slowly adding alternatives over time will help you ease into a meat-free lifestyle. There are lots of vegan and soy meat on the market that you can try out as well. Several brands have become innovative with their products and offer vegan cheese that is made from soybean – or you could make your own cheese as well – the secret ingredient is nutritional yeast! Switching up common foods with substitutes will make your transition easier. Try plant-based butter that is made with the nourishing goodness of natural ingredients such as coconut oil, avocado oil and olive oil.

Have a meat-free Monday

If you are used to eating meat every day, then consider choosing one day in the week where you eat a vegetarian meal. Once you’ve gotten used to that, you can start incorporating more days within the week where you eat a vegan or vegetarian meal. Ensure these meals contain beans, whole grains, and vegetables which form part of a balanced diet and help keep you fuller for longer.

Eat fruit for dessert

Everyone loves dessert, and it may be easy to indulge in a pastry or ice cream. Unless they’re vegan, remember the goal. Curb sweet cravings by eating a juicy piece of fruit – watermelon is refreshing and fresh strawberries with dairy-free cream can be such a treat!

Browse through plant-based recipes for added inspiration on what to cook for you and your family. As a tasty and nutritious breakfast option, try this quick and easy granola made with goji berries, cranberries, Flora Vegan fat spread and other delicious ingredients.

Eating plant-based does not have to be difficult. Move at a pace that works for you and soon enough, you will discover that each day eating more plant-based meals gets easier.

The Gardener