You would like to become vegetarian, or even vegan, but it seems complicated? Or have you tried but couldn't stick with it? Then why not incorporate plant-based nutrition into your current diet instead? If you're wondering what that means, it's simply eating more fruits and vegetables and substituting animal products with plants whenever possible.
3 solutions to implement plant-based nutrition
Plant-based eating is more manageable than vegetarianism or veganism, and you can do it gradually.
First, let's distinguish between these three diets. Vegetarianism requires the person not to eat meat at all. It includes red and white meat such as poultry, fish, and seafood. In short, vegetarians do not eat any animals.
Vegans do not eat any animal or anything that comes from an animal, such as dairy products or eggs. Despite being healthy, these two lifestyles seem at first glance to be more restrictive and can discourage many people. It is often difficult to integrate vegetarianism or veganism into our routine or keep at it.
The plant-based diet, on the contrary, favors replacing meat with plants as much as possible but without banishing it. You can improve your diet, health, and well-being more easily without depriving yourself, feeling discouraged, or even guilty.
And most importantly, there are only benefits. This practice has been proven beneficial for health, the environment, and the economy. Moreover, it is perfectly suitable for seniors.
What is plant-based diet?
According to the recent recommendations of Canada's food guide, your plate should contain between 75% and 100% of plant-based foods. Animal protein should not represent more than 25%. When you think about your eating habits, do you reach these numbers? If so, congratulations, and if not, don't panic! It is still time to improve your diet. As we will see later, it is possible and preferable to do it gradually.
A plant-based diet means choosing plant-based foods whenever possible. But to do this, we must be aware of the animal products we are ingesting. Beyond meat itself, we take animal products and by-products in what we eat, drink, and even through our cooking oils.
Plant-based nutrition begins as soon as you think about your grocery list and plan your recipes and meals. You need to ask yourselves if there are any animal products in our list and how to substitute them. It is possible to replace them and still be satisfied while eating equally tasty recipes.
Discover the benefits of a plant-based diet for your health and the environment
In addition to encouraging a diet rich in plant foods, the new Canada's food guide recommends that we focus on minimally processed products.
It also tells us that by adopting a diet rich in plants, we absorb more fiber, more vitamins, and less saturated fat. These changes reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. The low-processed vegetable diet also helps reduce inflammation, responsible for certain forms of arthritis, etc. Further proof that this diet is suitable for everyone, especially for seniors.
So you don't have to be a complete vegetarian or vegan to start enjoying the benefits of a plant-based diet. When you know that up to 40% of cancers develop as a result of your diet, eating more plant-based foods is a good idea.
When it comes to minimally processed foods, the benefits are twofold. We talk about products closer to their original form that lost less of their characteristics, such as their natural amount of vitamins and fiber. They also contain fewer additives and colorings, both potentially harmful to our health.
Moreover, studies show that by reducing our meat consumption, we help reduce the production of greenhouse gases, since livestock production is a major source. Since the production of plants emits much less, we contribute to the fight against climate change by changing our diet.
How to make a smooth transition to a more plant-based diet?
Experts will tell you that diets don't work. Unless your doctor tells you to change the way you eat drastically, it is better to make gradual changes to your habits. Even Canada's food guide recommends developing eating habits respecting your tastes and budget.
The plant-based diet does not require you to give up meat altogether. Just reduce your consumption. You can continue to eat meat without feeling guilty. It will help you to take the right turn step by step.
Plant-based food does not have to be a synonym for suffering! Think of it as a new world of discovery to explore. Dare to try new products. It is perfectly normal that you may not like certain things. Just keep at it and try new things.
Buy cookbooks or find some recipes on the Internet. If your budget allows it, try new dishes in a vegetarian restaurant. There are vegetarian restaurants in almost every major city in Quebec.
There are also many surprising recipes. Some are traditional Quebec recipes reinvented with a vegetarian or vegan twist. From faux ribs to faux shepherd's pie, even if you don't expect the same taste, it can be amazing!
In addition to finding new recipes, another way to eat more plant-based foods is to modify your favorite recipes. The food guide recommends 50% fruits and vegetables on our plate, but plant-based does not mean just fruits and vegetables, as it suggests no more than 25% meat. The balance can be filled with grains, legumes, oilseeds, seeds, or sprouts.
Why not accompany or even replace your steak with Thai-marinated tofu?
- Rice with soy sauce, fresh basil, and edamame?
- A salad with lettuce, hard-boiled eggs, cashews, dried cranberries, and a natural vinaigrette?
- Quinoa cooked in apple juice with raisins?
Any combination is good, as long as you like it. You can also add sweetness with natural products like honey or maple syrup. That is how you will feel like repeating the experience and changing your habits without realizing it.
However, if you opt for a 100% plant-based diet or eat very little meat, it is important to take supplements to avoid deficiencies, particularly vitamin B12. Your doctor or pharmacist can advise you on this. Vitamin D supplements, omega-3 and iodine, can also be helpful. But you may look for natural sources of these elements in your diet. After all, almost anything can be found in nature!
Finally, there are only advantages to reducing our meat consumption and favoring a plant-based diet.
Richer in vitamins and fiber, it also has virtues against:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Cardiovascular diseases
You will surely find a way to personalize it according to your tastes.
Now, it's your turn to discover a tasty and surprising cuisine!
Enjoyed this article? Do not hesitate to share it with your loved ones thanks to the simplified sharing buttons located on the left or at the bottom of your screen. Thank you!
Sources (mostly in French) :