The current focus on increasing plant-based eating and being more aware of where your food comes from is welcomed by us at Greener Greens, our local growers and our nutritionists – it fits right in with our core values of making those small day-to-day changes that can help the environment, as well as improving our own health, so that everybody wins!
Sceptics among us worry that plant-based eating and Veganuary is becoming more of a marketing ploy – and whilst we are very excited by the current trend of having a meat-free diet and eating higher quality, locally produced foods, we also believe that radical changes in diet should not be made without understanding what is involved and how to do it successfully so that you remain healthy and happy whilst making sure that you are doing your bit for the environment.
One of our customers made the change to a vegan diet after a lifetime of eating meat and dairy and was astounded by the results as she explains:
A recent switch over the last 6 months to a plant-based diet has reaped definite benefits to my health and wellbeing. This has included an improved sleep pattern, less frequent and less intense migraines, glossy and well-conditioned hair, more healthy and natural glow to skin tone. Along the way excess weight has disappeared and energy levels have improved.
The most amazing part of this journey into adopting a plant based diet? My firmly entrenched carnivore husband has dropped all resistance and is a convert too!
Her experience is echoed by many people that we speak to. They find that the everyday feeling of good health is far greater than just the science-based health benefits – which include weight loss, lower blood sugar, improved kidney function, a lower risk of heart disease and a reduction of arthritis.
Here are a few tips which we have collected from our clients and nutritionists which will help you to start your journey on a successful transition to a vegan or vegetarian diet:
– Get enough protein Try to incorporate at least one high-protein item in each meal (legumes, seeds, nuts, soy foods)
– Add Vitamin 12 This is important for the creation of red blood cells and more. Vegetarians source B12 from eggs and milk, but vegans often need to use supplements or products such as Engevita flakes (a highly nutritious and delicious addition to most foods)
– Eat enough calories Vegetarian/vegan diets tend to be lower in calories, so make sure that you’re eating enough!
– Drink more water Many of us drink insufficient water anyway, but if switching to a vegetarian or vegan diet your fibre intake is likely to increase. Fibre needs water to aid its movement through the digestive tract, so make sure that you drink more water
– Get enough iron Iron which is derived from meat is a form known as heme iron which is easily absorbed by the body. Iron sourced from plant-based food is non-heme iron which is not so easily absorbed by the body. Make sure that you eat plenty of foods that are rich in iron such as lentils, bens, leafy greens, nuts and seeds. Pair these with foods rich in Vitamin C (found in many vegetables and fruit) as this helps with non-heme iron absorption.
– Get enough calcium Needed for bone density and many other functions, make sure that you include calcium rich foods such as kale, collard greens, broccoli, pak choy, figs and oranges in your diet
– Eat enough Omega 3 fatty acids Often derived from fatty fish, a vegan should include chia seeds, walnuts, hemp seeds, flax seeds, brussel sprouts in their diet
– Use wholefoods, not processed There are many processed foods that are plant-based, but often these do not contain the nutrients, minerals and vitamins that are important to any diet. Cook from raw. Make things easier for yourself by preparing larger amounts of a dish and having it for more than one meal. Use the 80/20 rule – if you stick to the rules for 80% of the time you are likely to be able to afford to break a few rules!
And remember – those cravings like butter on toast can make any diet transition daunting but substitutes do exist – and you may not even notice the difference!
– Dairy Use nut butters or avocado or coconut oil with a pinch of sea salt on toast, coconut milk in coffee and oat or nut milk on cereal
– Desserts and cakes Make meringues with chickpea liquid and coconut sugar, cream from whipped solid coconut milk and cakes/cheesecakes using dates and maple or agarve syrup
– Meat texture Jackfruit flesh is very meaty and full of nutrients, minerals and vitamins, This vegan mainstay is available in tins either plain or ready marinated. Portobello mushrooms can be used to make very meaty tasting burgers….that are always moist!
And to all of you vegan converts out there – what advice do you have?