Thinking about trying to go Plant-Based or Vegan? It does not have to be an all-or-nothing switch.
Maybe you're interested in health reasons. Maybe you're about the environment. Or, perhaps, because your best furry friend Rover has you thinking about animal welfare. Whatever your reason, going plant-based or vegan should be a fun adventure.
Making different choices a few days a week or introducing alternatives for everyday items is a great way to start. We have all heard of meatless Mondays or Veganuary, which are initiatives that plant the seed (pun intended) for dietary shifts for a day or week. Some people swap one meal a day, everyday.
Try these quick moves to begin the journey:
Dairy: There are so many delicious dairy alternatives.
Try: A chocolate almond milk in your morning coffee. It's a bonus as almond milk is rich in antioxidants such as vitamin E.
Soy milk is a go-to lactose-free, plant-based milk. Due to its high protein content, soy milk is an excellent alternative to milk in recipes for baking and sauces.
Fiber: Become fiber-obsessed; your gut will thank you.
The gut is bubbling with bacteria, really, and good bacteria is critical to good health. Prebiotic fiber acts as a food source for healthy gut bacteria. A happy gut means lower inflammation and lowers the risk for cardiovascular disease. Who knew bacteria was not yucky?
Try: Lentils, beans, and other legumes. (A perfect swap for meat.) Of course, Cool Beans should be at the top of your shopping list as the wraps are a powerhouse of beans, whole foods and great taste.
Or try a smart loaf of bread. Look for bread where the first ingredient is the word WHOLE. Whole wheat flour, whole wheat, whole grain…. You get the picture. Just because you can see grains or the bread looks brown does not guarantee that it is the best option for fiber-obsessed.
Minimally Processed: Swap out highly processed foods
Highly processed foods might taste good, but they are piled high with hidden sugar, sodium, and unhealthy fats. Spoiler alert: What you see on the front of a package might be hiding what's in the nutrition facts. "High fiber" granola bars might have "added sugars" or corn syrup.
Plant-based foods are much less calorie-dense than animal or ultra-processed foods. This means you consume fewer calories in every bite.
Try: How about making a homemade trail mix (vs picking up something packaged and loaded with added sugar or candy). Try out some overnight oats - equal parts of rolled oats, your favorite non-dairy yogurt and your favorite plant milk, plus some chia seeds and fruit. It's loaded with more prebiotic fiber than your pre-packaged packets usually. And a favorite snack: try some air-popped popcorn with hemp seeds & olive oil, instead of an off-the-shelf package of puffs or chips.