Let's face it, eating more plants in the form of vegetables, fruits, nuts, grain seeds, herbs and spices is better for us all and with soooo much deliciousness and variety out there you'll never get bored.
Vegetables are a great source of vitamins and minerals such as calcium, vitamin C and potassium, they provide us with fibre to ensure a healthy gut and they can help to reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and some cancers.
The beauty of vegetables, particularly when comparing them to meat and dairy, is that you can be 'full' with less calories, saturated fat and all without the hormones, antibiotics, saturated fats and cholesterol found in animal based foods.
Having said all that, not everyone likes vegetables or knows what to do with them to make them the star of the plate, so here are some ways to get more vegetables on to your plate...
1. Substitute where you can - when making a spaghetti bolongnese for example substitute beef for Quorn mince or mushrooms, when making fajitas, think about switching the chicken for black beans, if you are addicted to cheese in a salad try switching it for creamy avocado and salty capers to get a similar flavour profile.
If you're used to having meat and cheese of course vegetables will taste different but herbs and spices are your friend and they will add heaps of flavour so don't be afraid to experiment!
2. If you're eating out, why not try the vegetarian or vegan option - you'll be opening yourself up to new ideas, new options and this could help inform your own recipes. If you're going for pizza try leaving the cheese off and asking for avocado and rocket to be added when it comes out of the oven. If you're going for Indian food, try a Dahl. Eating Thai? Try tofu. Give new dishes a try...Yes there will be some things you don't like but the same is true of meat based dishes so be open to simply giving things a chance.
3. Create a new menu repetoire - on average we all have about 10 "go-to" dishes that we continually recycle and turn to when we want to rustle something up. If you can build up 10 plant-based dishes you will find it so much easier to prepare, eat and enjoy a diet rich in vegetables, grains and beans. Try adding two new meals each week.
If you're transitioning to a plant-based, vegetarian or vegan lifestyle think about introducing more days without animal based products and more days with just plants. I'm all for Meatless Monday's but I think we're capable of doing more so if you're currently doing one day without animal products how about increasingly this to two or three days? If you've gone without meat for lent, how about continuing for an extra week? You can find some delicious recipes online and these are my favourite sites Veganuary, Cooking on a Bootstrap, Oh She Glows and Post Punk Kitchen.
4. Batch cooking - I'm the first to acknowledge that we don't all have time to cook and when you are going without meat it can be tough to know what to cook so preparing dishes in advance can be really helpful. Try taking 2 hours aside on a Sunday afternoon and batch cooking for the week ahead - find 3 quick and easy recipes, make them up, fill your food containers with them and then freeze them for the week taking them out as you go along.
5. Pre-cut and prepare - Another way you can save time is by getting some containers and filling them with pre-cut vegetables and popping them in your fridge. Alternatively you can buy them pre-cut veggies like these carrot batons from Sainsbury's. This is a great way to save time because if you're cooking up something in the week or simply want a quick snack, so can just grab what you need!
Habits, habits, habits...Overall remember that the way we eat is generally based on habits and that these habits have taken time (often years!!) to form and so they'll take time to change and unlearn. After about 3 weeks things should start to taste different and more familiar because this is the time it takes for tastes buds to regenerate and for us to create habits. Why not challenge yourself a little - take a look at your plate and have a go at making 75% of it from plants, if you're already doing that then try 85% or how about 100%?
Comment with your thoughts and successes below and enjoy!
Rowena is a Wellness Coach and through 1-2-1 sessions empowers people to adopt healthy, delicious habits. Rowena works with people showing them how to shop for health-promoting foods, cook up deliciously nutritious dishes and also create menu plans that together improve well-being. To find out more click on "Work With Me" above or contact Rowena@V-Curious.com