Sarah MacDonald explains why we should shift our diet to be more plant-based whilst sharing her top tips on how best to do it.

If you’re reading this, I’m sure that you know at least one person who says that they could never, ever go plant-based. Maybe it’s your dad (seriously – do all dads just have to love steak?), or a friend. Maybe it’s you! Maybe you’re expecting me to now tell you to change your mind and your diet, eliminate all meat and commit to a vegan lifestyle right here, right now. Here’s the thing. I’m Not. I don’t eat a fully vegan diet. I eat fish, eggs and a little dairy from time to time. Eating this way is sustainable, flexible and enjoyable. However, I still consider my diet to be ‘plant-based’. Let’s unpack ‘plant-based’: what does it mean, and how is it different to veganism?

Well, a plant-based diet is one which is BASED around plants. This doesn’t have to mean only plants. Think of it like this: instead of basing your plate around meat and three veg, a plant- based plate would be a variety of plants supplemented by a little meat or non-plant protein. Plant-based meals might be a big salad with a boiled egg or a little fish, a veggie-heavy stir fry or a nourish bowl. You want to focus on plants, wholegrains, unprocessed foods and overall nutrient content and quality.

Eating in this way has so many health benefits. We already know that following a plant-based diet reduces your risk of heart diseaseas well so many other illnesses and diseases. Eating more plants means that you’re more likely to include variety in your diet, which supports your gut health and overall wellness. Eating this way can allow you to live longer and feel better.

Of course, our health isn’t the only reason to go plant-based. Eating more plants is also essential for the health of our planet. One serving of beef emits more than twenty times the greenhouse gases that one serving of vegetables does. Gram for gram, the protein in that beef costs 250 times the emissions of the protein found in legumes. Clearly, we need more plant-based people in the world.

The good thing, though, is that this doesn’t have to mean giving up animal products altogether. If that doesn’t appeal to you (or your dad, or your friend, whoever it is that needs convincing), you can still make a big difference to your health and your planet by just going a little bit more plant-based. You can still eat steak but eat it less. You can still have eggs, but maybe save them for your weekend brunch. Choose a vegetarian meal when you go out to eat. Happily, if you’re new to skipping the meat, there are now so many easily available, nutritious plant-based meals and products available. Nutritionally certified plant-based brands like Eimele Australia can give you easy, trustworthy options to get you started.

There are so many small, easy ways to shift your diet in a healthier direction without going all-in (at least, not all at once). Here are my top tips to ease yourself into a plant-based diet:

1. Go Meat-Free One Day a Week
Commit to it as a regular challenge – either stick to this as a fully vegetarian day, or if you’re already vegetarian, commit to going vegan one day a week.

2. Swap Processed Breakfast Foods for Wholegrains.
If you mostly eat processed breads or sugary cereals for breakfast, swap them for high-fibre wholegrains like oatmeal, quinoa or wholemeal bread. If you need something quick and convenient, or portable, Eimele Australia’s Oatmeal is a great healthy option.

3. Choose Your Plant-Based Protein.
Firstly, protein isn’t the be-all-and-end-all of nutrition. Most affluent Western diets are very high in protein and having too much can actually be bad for your health. However, protein is an important thing to consider on a plant-based diet. If you’re worried, you’re not getting enough, try foods formulated with extra plant-based protein. One of my favourite options is an Eimele Australia Soup Sachet – although all the soups are delicious plant-based flavours like Tomato, Basil & Lentil or Purple Yam & Squash, they’re all boosted with vegan protein.

4. Choose Plant-Based When You Eat Out.
By ordering a vegetarian entree or main when you eat out, you’re doing two great things: one, trying a new dish you otherwise might not, and two, sending a message to the food industry that there is demand for plant-based dishes. If you always just get a steak, try branching out to something greener (pun intended) – you might even end up discovering a new favourite food.

5. Make it a Salad.
Pretty much everything can be made a “salad” by either serving it on or alongside a bed of leafy greens. This provides an instant boost to the nutritional profile of your meal.

6. Go Homemade.
Obviously, this depends on how much time you have, but 99 times out of 100, the homemade version of something is going to contain less processed food and be better for you. For example, try making your own pasta sauce, muesli bars and baked goods.

7. If You Can’t Buy Homemade… Check the Ingredients!
We don’t all always have time to make our own muesli bars, and that’s fine. That’s life! If you do buy pre-packed snacks and bars, check the ingredients and opt for wholesome, balanced products. I recommend the Eimele Australia Snack Bars for this.

8. Think About Why You’re Making the Change?
Lastly, if you want to make a long-term change, be clear about why you do. Sit down and think about, or even write a list of, the reasons that this change would be good for you. There are so many, but I’ll start you off: this change will reduce my impact on the Earth. This change will improve my gut health. This change will give me clearer skin. This choice will make me a more responsible global citizen. This change will support animal welfare. I could go on… but you get the picture, and the reasons should be personal to you. Remind yourself of your reasons when you lose motivation.


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