You do not have to be vegan or vegetarian to love plants! Fruits, vegetable, legumes, nut, seeds all add variety to our everyday eating and so much more.
A plant-based diet is made up of mostly plant foods: vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes (lentils, dried beans, and peas), nuts, and seeds. These foods provide the body with a ton of fibre, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals while usually being lower in calories than other types of foods.
The nutritional benefits of eating more plants are extensive. Plants are rich in fibre which helps keep you full and satisfied for longer periods of time. Plant fibre also feeds our gut microbiome. As you may have heard, our gut is known as the “second brain” and there is bidirectional communication between the gut and the brain. Our gut microbiome is critical for immune function and plays a role in mental health.
In addition, whole plant foods are also full of vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and antioxidants which reduces inflammation, supports your immune system and cellular regeneration, and recharges healing mechanisms to stay healthy and vibrant and energized. We have also seen a reduced risk of diseases such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer.
So if you are plant-curious here are 5 strategies to get started with plant-based eating:
Switch up your sauces: trade in your creamy sauces for plant-based options like Cashumel for pastas, casseroles, soups, dips, or top your veggies.
Cook a vegetarian meal at least one night a week. Build these meals around beans or tofu, whole grains, and veggies
Swap out cheese for heart healthy nuts/seeds; these can be great alternative on salads or in sandwiches
Up those veggies! Aim for ½ your plate at lunch and dinner to be vegetables (the more variety in colour, the better!)
Try something new! Curious about that plant-based milk, egg-substitute, or tempeh? Try adding 1 new food to your grocery cart every time you shop. You will be surprised what you like!
Source: Jenn Messina, Registered Dietitian, in Vancouver BC