Posted on December 03, 2020 by Kate Halsall
Over lockdown (the first one!) I completed a Vegetarian and Vegan Nutrition Diploma online. I appreciate that this may seem a strange choice given that we have many vegetarians in the team and I have been vegan for 26 years, but I’m always open to new learning! Not only did I learn new stuff about a plant-based diet for body builders, athletes and pregnancy; but it also presented some ideas on how to go more plant-based. And to be fair, this is a question that I am asked a lot: “how can I reduce the amount of meat I’m eating”, “I’d like to try to eat more vegetarian type food” and so on. So to help, here are my top tips on how to go more plant-based.
Eating more plant-based is not as complicated as you think! There are so many veggie and vegan options on menus now, an abundance of vegetarian and vegan recipes, cookbooks and websites to help you with some inspiration. These days supermarkets have entire shelf sections dedicated to “free from” foods (that was not the case when I turned vegan!). However, you have to remember that plant-based does not necessarily mean healthier so you need to understand what you are eating in terms of the nutrients you are getting from the food (are you getting enough protein, good fats, the right types of carbohydrates, essential vitamins and minerals etc). And to some extent you need to remember why you are eating it! Always keep in mind why you were looking to move more plant based and focus on that to keep you motivated.
Plan Your Meals
I’ve always advised people to try replacing 1 meat based breakfast, lunch and evening meal a week and integrating this into the weekly routine. But to do this, you need to know what you are going to have instead, simply leaving it to chance means you’ll have something that leaves you unsatisfied and you won’t do it again! You need to plan and prep. Stock up your cupboards before hand and don’t leave it to making it up as you go along.
It’s Not Just Meat Substitutes and Tofu!
I think that this is often what puts people off the more plant-based food stuffs. For a start there are a lot of processed meat substitutes. These will either help the staunch meat eaters transition to more meat free or disappoint them! Plus they are not entirely healthy (let’s face it, processed food rarely is). But then the idea of Tofu, Seitan, Tempeh – just looking at these can send people running. You need to be prepared to experiment and remember that there are other food stuffs out there! Think lentils and other pulses, think vegetables, think grains – there is so much to chose from!
Don’t Be Put Off Easily
Not all foods are created equal – and this is the same regardless of whether they are plant-based or not! One type of tofu is very different from another. One type of pulse can be easily digested, one may leave you feeling bloated. Aubergines not cooked properly are chewy and awful! You are not going to get it perfect straight away!
So there you have it. Four top tips which you can use just in time to prep for Veganuary!? Only kidding! The take home message here is that if you want to reduce your meat intake, or move more towards a plant-based diet, there are a lot of resources available to help you. You need to prep and be willing to try new things, but overall, it’s not that complicated. Plus I know some great personal trainers who are willing to help!