How to go plant-based and why?
Have you heard the term plant-based? Of course, you have! “Plant-based” seems to be the new buzz-word. As a parent, you always want the best for your family. At Montagu, we want the best for all of you and our families. That is why we’re taking a look at plant-based eating and what the fuss is all about.
Plant-based eating, in short, is a holistic, whole foods approach to healthy eating.
Why choose a plant-based diet?
There are many reasons to choose a plant-based diet. Most people want to live a healthier lifestyle, feel healthier and some feel that plant-based is a better moral stance. These are the top 3 reasons:
- Weight management – People who eat a plant-based diet tend to be leaner than those who don’t, and the diet makes it easy to lose weight and keep it off—without counting calories.
- Disease prevention – According to Medical News Today, a study from the Netherlands looked at almost 6,000 people; the team found that those who ate a high ratio of plant-derived protein vs animal-derived protein were at lower risk of developing coronary heart disease later in life. Certain cancers can also be prevented and diseases have been reversed by adopting a plant-based diet.
- Lighter environmental footprint – A plant-based diet places a lot less stress on the environment.
We asked one of our colleagues who has been plant-based for nine years, what health benefits he has experienced since choosing plant-based. Here’s what Duncan shared:
“I have seen innumerable health benefits. General health and well-being. No more colds and flu, no seasonal illnesses. Exclusion of dairy from my diet has cleared up my sinuses, lungs and skin. I experience no hay fever. Weight loss has been ongoing in healthy doses, increased energy levels and glowing skin. Clear and glowing skin is a good indicator of internal health and wellbeing.”
Where do you start the plant-based journey?
Start small. As with anything in life, balance is key. If you want to move your family over to plant-based eating this is especially important. Shop around for better prices concerning dairy-free and luxury items. For the rest of it, it’s pretty simple.
- Eat a variety of fruit and vegetables. Bright and deep colours are a great indicator of the nutritional value of vegetables. Leafy greens, peppers and beetroot are great examples of vegetables high in nutritional value.
- Cut out dairy and replace it with plant-based options. Start by using delicious dairy-alternatives. Unsweetened soya milk or almond milk is great for tea, coffee, cooking and baking. Dairy-free cheese options are also available at retail stores.
- Plan meals around beans, legumes, lentils and starchy or hearty veggies like butternut, chickpeas, mushrooms and cauliflower instead of meat.
- Include healthy fats into your daily meal plan. Avocado, nuts, seeds and olives or olive oils are super healthy and are essential to eating daily.
- Whole grains like oats, popcorn, bulgur wheat, quinoa and brown rice should also be included in your daily meal plan.
*Food items like avocado, olive, hummus, mushrooms and curry sauces made with coconut milk are fantastic hearty additions and bases for most meals. Sprinkle with chopped nuts and seeds and you’re on your way to a beautifully flavoured, textured and fragrant meal.
What is whole food?
According to Google dictionary the definition of wholefood is: food that has been processed or refined as little as possible and is free from additives or other artificial substances. This said wholefoods are natural, additive-free, process-free, organic, healthy foods.
So how do you get your kids and husband to eat plant foods?
As a wife and mom you always want the very best for your family. So how do you go about getting your husband and kids to enjoy plant-based eating?
- Include your family in this very important decision by explaining to them the health benefits and environmental benefits.
- Make it fun. Cut veggies into shapes and give them names.
- Ease out of meat, dairy and processed products and ease into more and more plants foods.
- Disguise some of their less favourite foods with yummy plant-based creamy sauces or tomato-based sauces. (They may not even notice )
- Introduce gorgeous fruit as dessert options and add treats like nuts to their meals.
- Eat family dinners. Research suggests more fruit and vegetables are consumed in households who dine together regularly. Of course this is great for family interaction too.
- Suggest the term flexitarian to your household and explain that this means you will still have meat or fish once a week or on the odd occasion. This may make them feel a bit more at ease with the whole idea.
*Flexitarian or semi-vegetarian means you still include some dairy, eggs and occasionally meat. This may very well be a great way to get into plant-based eating.
In conclusion, we all need a wide variety of nutrients for our bodies to function optimally. Therefore, it goes to say that we should eat a wide variety of fresh, whole foods to make up the full range of nutrients we need.
Here are a few essential nutrients that may seem tough to get from plant foods but in fact, if you just know what to include in your diet you’re well on your way to taking in optimal amounts.
Calcium – Soy, beans, peas, lentils, nuts, seeds, dark leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables.
Protein – Tofu, tempeh, and edamame. Lentils, chickpeas, peanuts, almonds, spirulina, quinoa, chia seeds, potatoes and mushrooms.
Iron – Legumes: lentils, soybeans, tofu, tempeh, lima beans, black beans, chickpeas. Grains: quinoa, fortified cereals, brown rice, oatmeal. Nuts and seeds: pumpkin, squash, pine, pistachio, sunflower, cashews, unhulled sesame. Vegetables: tomato sauce, Swiss chard, collard greens.
Omega 3 – Chia seeds, flaxseeds, hemp seeds, walnuts, kidney beans.
Vitamin B 12 – The only reliable vegan sources of B12 are foods fortified with B12 (including various plant milk options, soy products and some breakfast cereals) and B12 supplements.