With a new year comes new year’s resolutions, new goals and perhaps a change in lifestyle. Your new goals could be to exercise more, get enough sleep, or giving yourself that much needed “me time”. Or perhaps it starts with your food; maybe you want to eat less meat, or switch out your milk for a dairy-free alternative in your morning coffee?
By reducing animal products you will experience significant health benefits, leave a lighter footprint on the planet and save the lives of many animals. If you’re a bit apprehensive to jump on the veggie train, don’t worry! Here are a few top tips to make the move easier.
Using plant-based meat alternatives makes life so much easier
Cook exactly what you normally would make, but simply switch out the animal protein for plant protein.
Having this replacement not only helps to make the transition to a plant-based lifestyle easier but will also avoid being relegated to only eating veggies or confronted by stares and a barrage of questions.
Next time you’re at the supermarket, look out for meat alternatives such as The Fry Family Food Co. in the frozen food section; they have a range of meat alternatives that have the same texture and taste as meat.
Make one-pot meals
“While it is recommended to have a variety of food groups to make a healthy balanced meal, it doesn’t mean that your meals need to consist of several different dishes in order to be balanced. In fact, putting all your different food groups into one dish can help to reduce preparation time and wastage. Hearty pasta, bean chilli, curries or veggie bake are some great options,” says Jessica Kotlowitz, a plant-based dietitian, based in Cape Town.
Minimize chopping and cutting
Most of the time spent creating a healthy meal is not necessary when cooking but in the preparation. “This process is known as pre-preparation. This time can be minimized by investing in a good electric chopper, buying pre-cut vegetables, soup packs and stir-fry mixes or by pre-preparing your vegetables in bulk ahead of time. You may spend a little bit extra when purchasing these pre-cut items, but the investment in your health and time saved will be worth it,” further explains Jessica.
Be ready for social gatherings
Be prepared for events like outings, Sunday braais, parties, or work functions; they often always include animal products. Pack some options for yourself the night before so that you don’t have to go hungry. Again, meat alternatives are always a great idea to bring along as it allows you to participate in these events without feeling left out.
Make use of healthy and nutritious convenience products
“Natural dairy-free yoghurts, pre-cut veg sticks, commercial hummus, plain popcorn, dried fruit, nuts, seeds, whole-grain crackers, and pretzels all make for quick healthy snack options,” mentions Jessica.
Prepare. Prepare. Prepare.
As they say, “failing to prepare, is preparing to fail” and preparing food in advance for the week is a sure way to save time and stick to a healthy, plant-based diet. As Jessica explains, “From planning family dinners to pre-cutting veggies, or even batch cooking and freezing meals in advance, every bit of preparation helps!”
Find your tribe
There are many people who have followed a vegan diet for years or who are transitioning just like you. Perhaps some of them are friends who can offer practical advice or follow social media groups to participate in. You can also attend events that are happening in your city, like a vegan potluck, braai, market or meet-up to connect with like-minded people.
Variety is truly the spice of life
Having variety in your meals is key to keeping your new diet interesting, creative and fresh. You can use the same basic ingredients in 3 or 4 different ways. For example, you could use Fry’s Chicken-Style Strips in a curry, on a pizza or in a wrap. Additionally, invest in a few cookbooks (or download free e-cookbooks from the Fry’s website www.frysfamily.com) – these will inspire you and are an endless source of ideas.
In conclusion, with just a little bit of planning, preparation, and the use of a few healthy convenience options, a fun and nutritious plant-based diet is within reach. This type of diet will not only allow for healthier living but will also prevent many of the chronic conditions affecting the lives of many people and allow you to achieve your fullest potential.
Author: Mariska du Plessis
Mariska is the editor of Fitness Magazine, a writer, photographer, videographer and Wellness Blogger.
Follow her on Instagram: @justmariska_