Written by: Janette Mason, CNP
When you are doing your weekly grocery shopping, how many items do you see that are #plantbased? With plant-based alternatives for nearly every type of food imaginable, it can be confusing as to where to start and if it is necessary to go all-in when it comes to a plant-based diet.
As a nutritionist and retired private chef, I am constantly asked if plant-based diets are superior and if one should try to eat 100% plant-based all the time. What I tell my clients is the same as what I will tell you – your body has unique needs individual to you and you alone. As such, there is not one single diet or way of eating that will work for everyone on the planet. With that said, there are a lot of benefits to plant-based diets, and I do think that most people would do better by simply eating more plants. Plant-based does not have to be an all or nothing way of eating, rather I like to look at it as including more whole-food plants to my plate and enjoying the variety of nutrients from structuring my diet with primarily plants.
Research shows that plant-based diets are cost-effective, low-risk interventions that: may lower body mass index, blood pressure, inflammation markers as well as cholesterol levels1.
When you are first starting out in your plant-based journey, going slow and paying attention to how your body feels after eating is a great way to go. As mentioned above, plant-based does not equal only plants. It simply refers to a way of eating that emphasizes the nutrition of plants and a good portion of the diet may be made up of plants.
If you are ready to give plant-based eating a try, here is my 5-point plan to help get you started:
- Choose one meal a day that you will make primarily or solely with plants. Often breakfast is a simple one to begin with. Try a chia-pudding recipe, oatmeal, tofu scramble, or my summer favorite – a veggie packed smoothie with Iron Vegan’s Sprouted Protein.
- Try one plant-based alternative per week. When I first adopted my plant-based way of eating I began with alternative milks, as regularly dairy did not agree with me. Almond milk has a great neutral flavour that goes well with your morning coffee, cereal, and even in baked goods!
- Visit your local farmer's market. This is a wonderful way to get to know the people who grow the food and pick up neat tips on how best to prepare certain vegetables and new recipes.
- Share the love. Host a potluck dinner or picnic and ask your friends to bring their favorite plant-based dish! Enjoying a meal with friends is always an enjoyable time, and with a potluck you will be able to try out a few different recipes and see what flavors really resonate with you.
- Pick up a new plant-based cookbook! The excitement with a new cookbook always brings fresh joy into a kitchen. Learning 2-3 new recipes will help you feel more confident with this way of cooking and may help inspire you to branch out and create some new recipes yourself!
For fresh and fun plant-based recipes, visit ironvegan.ca! There is so much you can do with plants, have fun, and enjoy the process!
- Tuso, P. J., Ismail, M. H., Ha, B. P., & Bartolotto, C. (2013). Nutritional update for physicians: plant-based diets. The Permanente journal, 17(2), 61–66. https://doi.org/10.7812/TPP/12-085