Easy Ways to Add More Plants to Your Diet
Add More Plants to Your Diet (Easily!)
Considering a plant-based diet, or simply adding more plants to your current diet, can be a bit overwhelming. Maybe you are worried about a lack of protein, healthy fats, or even vitamin B12. You could be nervous about what this new way of eating will mean for your Chipotle runs, and your Friday pizza nights. Here are three ways to make this transition painless, by focusing on nutrition, replacing nostalgic foods, and exploring flavors.
1. Pulses Are Your Friend
A common misconception people have about plant-based eating is that it lacks the necessary nutrients like protein and fats to get them through the day. That's where particularly nutritious members of the legume family, pulses, come into play. They’re the dry, edible seed within the pod of many delicious plants. From chickpeas to lentils to bambara beans, pulses are a crucial and indispensable part of any plant-based diet. They become even more important when meat is cycled out of the diet, due to their high protein density, fiber content, complex carbohydrates, and iron. These superfoods also work to lower cholesterol, whereas many meats, such as beef, cause the opposite.
2. Animal-free Dairy
Whether it be a cold glass of milk with your breakfast, or some fresh parmesan on your favorite pasta, dairy is one of most widely used ingredients in global cuisine. It can also be one of the most difficult animal-based food sources to part with because it’s long been a necessary component of sweeter foods—desserts like chocolate cakes and churros—and partly because it has taken so long to develop plant-based alternatives that actually rival dairy products in taste, texture, and price.
But good alternatives do exist, and the food science community has been diligently working to create an entirely new world of dairy alternatives with a wider range of flavor profiles and nutritional benefits. Perhaps not surprisingly this food category is growing much faster than traditional dairy. Companies like Grounded Foods and Ripple are using healthier superfoods like oats, cashews, peas, hemp, almonds, peanuts, soy, rice, and coconuts to create milks, cheeses, and baked goods that are even better than their aging dairy counterparts, with none of the suffering. Broaden your horizons, and fear not: churros still exist in the plant-based realm!
3. Veggies, Meet Seasonings
Oftentimes, people switching to a plant-based diet find themselves missing the savory and umami flavors of meats. They find many plants to be bland or earthy in flavor, which leads to cravings that can crack commitments. And while experimenting with the earthy flavors found in peas, rice and oyster mushrooms can bring the umami flavor we all crave to the table, sometimes a little extra help is called for. Innovative brands such as Flavor God offer vegan, non-GMO seasonings like “bacon” and “pizza” that match all of the flavor that animal-based foods have to offer, with none of the negative impact. Add a dash to your grilled veggies or quinoa bowl and you won’t be disappointed.
The transition to a plant-based diet can seem intimidating, but diving in and embracing the challenge will reveal an exciting new world of flavor possibilities. In fact, exploration of plant-based options leads to discovering more unique flavors, more nutritional benefits, and more direct alternatives than animal-based foods. Removing or reducing animals from your diet can leave you feeling like you have fewer options, but in reality it’s far from limited.