A plant-based diet might have seemed radical a few years ago but today it’s all ‘in’ — and for good reason. We have heard our planet and our health are in trouble and a plant-centric diet is one way to address both these issues. A multitude of research and reviews in medical journals show that a diet based on whole plant foods leads to higher life expectancy and lower rates of cancer, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s and other chronic ailments.
Yet switching over eating habits isn’t that easy. Where do you start? Well, here…
- Don’t think all or nothing. How heavily you lean onto plants is your choice but places around the world where people live the longest and healthiest, diets are focused on whole plant foods with almost no added sugar or processed foods and between 0 to 10% of calories from animal products. No amount of processed food is health; comfortable? Yes. But the place we call as ‘blue Zone’ which has no processing and only fresh and whole foods as part of eating habits lead us to a different path with their exemplary healthier lives.
- Hero the plants. If you’re eating as most British do, animal products comprise more than ½ of your plate, ¼ carbs and rest plant-based. An easy fix? Invert the ratio. As your taste buds adapt to this new way of eating, gradually push animal products off your plate completely. Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine has a Power Plate formula, which divides a meal into four quadrants: whole grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes.
- Load up shelves with plant-based foods. Not just buy, but try and keep these products right where you can see. Within easy reach. Fruits can actually be the low hanging fruit. As they can satisfy your in-between meal hunger pangs. Next is, plonking your veggies in front shelves of the fridge. Just when you are battling the dilemma of what to cook, veggies should entice you with their puppy eyes.
- Do batch cooking. Whole grains, Beans, Veggies, lentils, choose any order you like. And cook them in bigger batches to store as per weekdays. Even salad cuts. Or soup dressings. And store either in the fridge or the freezer and pull them out as needed. Seems tedious for a day but makes a whole lot of sense as prepared food is more tempting to plate up instantly.
- Adopt the Meatless One-day habit. There’s a global campaign that encourages people to take the meat off their plate every Monday, and it’s a good entry point to eating more plants. One day off is another great way to commit to a start and feel the experience. After witnessing how easy it is or different and energetic one feels, you may be encouraged to eat meatless on other days too.
- Find support. Just like gym-ing or a yoga class, finding a partner is a good way to keep on track. Many advisors emphasize this as adopting a whole-food, plant-based diet is a significant change into your life and if you don’t have support, the change becomes more difficult. Even if your family isn’t on board, you can find support in friends, work colleagues and local meet-up or Facebook groups. Of course, changing habits can be challenging, shifting to a plant-based diet is like building one step at a time.
- Be a planner. Join online diets or fresh delivery services, which can help you plan for the entire week or days of the week as per your need. These services or just the plans available online can help you shop and book the deliveries. We can run a list of such sites and support groups in our next blog if you so desire.
From reversing heart diseases to feeling more energetic, the reasons and stories are aplenty. There’s also evidence that the current food system is unsustainable. Worldwide, animal agriculture provides only 37 per cent of protein but uses 83 per cent of farmland and one-third of the planet’s freshwater. If that’s not startling enough, how’s this! It is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than the world’s cars, planes, trucks, ships and trains combined.
What do you feel?