‘The most ethical diet just so happens to be the most environmentally sound diet and just so happens to be the healthiest’ – Dr Michael Gregor
If you are thinking about introducing more plant based foods into your diet for health, ethical or environmental reasons, there are some really easy ways to start. Don’t be put off and think you have to become vegan, you don’t, although of course there is absolutely nothing wrong with that if you do.
Veganuary is a charity, set up in 2014, which inspires people to try vegan foods during the month of January. In addition, it aims to drive corporate change and create a global mass movement championing compassionate food choices with the aim of ending animal farming, protecting the planet and improving human health. In 2021, 580,000 people signed-up from 209 countries and the reasons they gave for taking part were animals (44%), health (22%), environment (21%) and other (11%)
You’ll know if you’ve been a regular visitor to my blog, that I follow a dairy free diet for health reasons. Through this, I’ve established that very often it’s safer and easier when I’m out for me to choose the vegan option as it contains no dairy. So, just to be clear, I’m not vegan but I often make vegan choices and, with one or two exceptions, they have all been excellent. It’s certainly opened my eyes to a new way of eating and cooking.
Over the years I’ve introduced more and more plant based items into my household, starting with vegetable oil spread and soya yoghurts. No one batted an eyelid. I then started using soya based cream and custard when making desserts. Again, nothing! I moved on to soups and creamy sauces, using coconut milk instead of dairy. Still no comment! As for non dairy, coconut milk ice-cream, it’s honestly amazing, and everyone loves it!
There are some things however, I would never get past the sceptics in my household. Non dairy cheese for example really isn’t great and certainly wouldn’t pass for the dairy version. If anyone in the UK knows of a good one, please let me know! Non dairy milk is another. There are so many options and I can pretty much guarantee you’ll find at least one that you like, but you might need to experiment with a few first. I mainly drink non-sweetened soya but it took a while to properly adapt to it.
Some things, such as plant based ‘sausages’, ‘burgers’ and ‘bacon’ for example, taste different to the meat equivalent but are tasty in their own right. So whilst you might not be able to sneak them into your family’s diet without them knowing, they are definitely worth trying. Experiment and if you don’t like the first one you try, don’t just write off all vegan ‘meat’ but try a different brand. You can also experiment with tofu, tempeh, lentils and even mushrooms to replace the meat in your dish.
Then there are the ‘accidentally vegan’ items. These are the things which don’t contain any animal products but don’t claim to be vegan or plant based. Plain crisps for example, popcorn, marmite, Mr Kipling Apple and Blackcurrant pies, many breakfast cereals and all nuts, fruit and vegetables. There are lots of other things too, you might be surprised!
Introducing more plant based foods into our diet is good for our bodies and the environment so it’s a win win situation. Be careful though, not everything that is labeled ‘plant based’ is automatically good for us so we still need to check labels for fat and salt content. From an ethical and environmental point of view, moving to plant based eating helps to reduce intensive animal farms and slaughterhouses. It means that food production doesn’t decimate forests, affecting the wildlife that lives there, or pollute rivers and seas, and it doesn’t contribute to climate change.
So the tiny tweak this week is a simple one – what can you swap for a plant based version? Have a look at what you’ve already got in the cupboards and fridge. You might be surprised! Then have a think about what you could experiment with. If you already follow a plant based or a completely vegan diet, what could you add to give yourself extra variety? Remember to try and eat the rainbow every day if you can!
Until next time xx
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