There is a lot of news these days around the benefits of a plant-based diet. The latest from the World Health Organization (WHO) states that for optimal health outcomes, no more than ten percent of our calories should come from saturated fats, which are found in most animal products (meat, dairy) and trans fats, which are found mainly in processed foods. The WHO further states no more than one percent of our calories should come from trans fats. For those of you who, like myself, grew up in a time where a steak with a blob of butter on it was considered the height of good dining, this is quite a shift in thinking. So what are some changes you can make to improve your diet without completely switching over to veganism (which is a great choice for some people, but not for the majority of people firmly ensconced in a traditional North American diet)? Here are some tips for moving gently toward a more plant-based diet:
- Add one more fruit and one more vegetable serving to your current daily menu; this could mean taking an apple and some carrot sticks for a snack, or having berries on your cereal and a salad with your lunch. Most of us tend to eat more vegetables at our main meal, and often none at the other two meals.
- Try a vegan recipe once a week. There are many good websites with plant-based recipes, encompassing most cuisines including African, Thai, Indian, and even Greek and Italian.
- Add chickpeas, black beans and lentils to stirfries, salads and even smoothies for a protein punch with plenty of fibre and other nutrients.
- Substitute tofu or smoked tofu for meat in spicy foods such as Thai curries or chili; tofu takes on the taste of whatever is cooked with it, so these are good ways to ease into tofu if you have not enjoyed it previously.
- Try non-dairy milk alternatives such as cashew, almond or rice milk. Look for “fortified with calcium and vitamin D” to ensure you are getting some of the essential nutrients found in milk.
Check out the Good Sense Nutrition FB page for links to recipes and other info!