To celebrate Veganuary, in this blog, we will be exploring plant-based diets and discussing tips on how to incorporate more plant-based foods into our diets.
Plant-based diets are diets which exclude all animal products and focus completely on plant foods, this can range from veganism to flexitarianism.
Plant based diets are growing in popularity for several reasons such as the associated and perceived health and environmental benefits, animal welfare and religious beliefs.
Interestingly, recent studies have found that those who consume more plants have a lower risk of chronic diseases, better brain health and something we need in the frosty winter months- a better-supported immune system.
Similar to any diet, the key is to ensure it includes variety and is nutritionally well-balanced but enjoyable too! However, with that in mind, for anyone following a plant-based diet, it is important to plan your meals to ensure you are getting all the essential nutrients needed for your body to function. As it can be difficult to obtain certain nutrients, especially when following a vegan diet such as:
- Omega 3 & 6
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin B12
Top tips for enjoying Veganuary and incorporating more plant-based foods into our diets:
This is one of my favourite things to do to get prepared for the week ahead.
Planning your weekly meals is a great way of ensuring you are including a variety of foods, which makes your plate colourful and appetising whilst providing you with key nutrients your body needs to function and thrive without the need for further supplementation. Not forgetting the extra bonus that it can also help reduces the waste of food items you will not use.
Make simple swaps
Swap meat for plant-based proteins such as delicious lentils, beans, and pulses.
This is another great way to save money as they are inexpensive as well as great for our health. As they are lower in saturated fat, high in fibre, source of iron whilst counting towards your 5ADAY. What’s not to love?
Simple swaps I like to do at home to help reduce meat consumption are adding lentils & mushrooms to my family’s favourite spaghetti bolognaise or sweet potato & black beans to chilli con carne.
I promise this does not hinder the integrity of the dish! It makes it more nutritionally dense, colourful, and definitely more flavoursome.
Worried about missing meat?
Do not worry, try adding ‘meaty flavours’ to your meals such as soy sauce and mushrooms or ‘meaty textures’ such as aubergine.
Worried about not consuming vital minerals and vitamins?
Double-check food and drink labels and look for those that are fortified with Vitamin B12, D, Iodine and Calcium. It is also important to check the labels as not all plant-based foods are healthy and nutritious, keep an eye out for salt and sugar levels.
Why not try and go meat-free once a week? If you have already incorporated this, push the boat out and try for two days a week!
A fantastic way to start is tailoring one of your favourite meals and who knows- you might incorporate the change as a part of your lifestyle going forward.
Overall, enjoying veganuary and incorporating more plant-based foods into your diet can be delicious, and good for your health as well as our planet.
Do not forget to check out the Vitality “5 days on the Veg” Pack for more hints, tips, and delicious recipes to try at home.
Further reading and resources.