Introduction to a plant-based diet:
We are still in the beginning stages of the year, in the month of January, and with this comes a lot of people making changes to their lives, routines and habits in order to improve for the better. A good example of this is the Veganuary movement which we have spoken about previously in another blog (https://africanplate.co.uk/food/happy-veganuary/). This is basically when people are encouraged to follow the vegan diet and lifestyle for the month of January in the hope that they will continue this for the rest of the year. Let us dive into what a vegan, Plant-based diet actually is and what it consists of. A plant-based diet is any diet that is based around the consumption of foods derived purely from plants. This can include a range of things like fruit, vegetables, grains, pulses, nuts, legumes and meat or dairy substitutes which leaves loads of choice for food.
Common misconceptions around a plant-based diet:
There is still so much confusion about what a plant-based diet is and all of the ‘rules’ involved can be quite off putting and daunting, so let us unravel some of the common misconceptions.
The first one being the idea that “Vegans only eat salads, how boring!” This is false. Vegans do eat salads, but they also eat loads of other popular foods which has been made possible in recent times. Modern companies are working harder than ever to recreate vegan versions of popular foods that people love. This means Plant-based eaters can still enjoy Ice Cream, Pancakes, Burgers, burritos, pizzas, sausages, stews and even curries that are made from vegan substitutes.
Another common misconception is that “a plant-based diet doesn’t provide enough nutrients needed to be healthy.” Contrary to this notion, a plant-based diet is one of the healthiest. This is because it consists of a balance of fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes which are all rich in calcium, protein, fibre and Omega-3.
The last misconception is that “A plant-based diet is only for the rich as it is very expensive.” Depending on what you purchase, some vegan foods can be expensive, however there are now a range of plant-based food products that are affordable and easily accessible. Besides, most of the staples found in a plant-based diet are the cheapest products in the grocery store. These are things like beans, potatoes, pasta, rice, single vegetables and fruits and legumes too. This means that regardless of your income bracket you can still enjoy a delicious vegan meal.
Benefits of eating Plant based food:
There are loads of health benefits to eating a plant-based diet. Let us see all the ways it can help your body.
Firstly, it supports and strengthens your immune system. The vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that are found in plants keep your cells healthy and allow for the immune system to function at its best, meaning you are better protected against germs, viruses and harmful diseases. Plants are also high in fibre which can lower cholesterol, lower blood sugar levels and help to maintain a healthy body weight. It has even been proven that Plants can reduce one’s risk of cancer, diabetes, heart disease and even improve your mental health.
It is fair to say that a plant-based diet is great for your overall health and so it should be encouraged as health is the best type of wealth.
Plant-based Food Favourites:
It is extremely likely that you already have some plant-based food in your kitchen already. This includes vegetables, fruits and all the whole grains that we have previously mentioned. However, let us talk about some of the plant-based substitutes that you can find in your local supermarket, so you do not feel like you are missing your favourite foods.
- Jackfruit is great.
It is a very versatile fruit that can be used in a range of dishes. It is a non-processed food that can be bought both fresh and in cans. It can mimic the texture of “pulled pork’ and is often used as a substitute for this dish and others like chicken stir fry, or tuna fish cakes. It is definitely something you should add to your shopping trolley.
- Seitan is also a great meat substitute.
It is made from wheat protein and is used as a substitute for duck, chicken, bacon, beef and sausages and can be roasted, grilled, fried in batter or oven cooked. This also means it is versatile and you can make many dishes using this.
- Tofu is also great for this.
Again, it is very versatile and can be used in a range of dishes worldwide. It is made from soybeans and is extremely healthy as it is less processed.
- There are now a range of dairy substitutes including plant-based milks, cheese, yoghurts, whole egg substitutes and spreads for your toast. There are loads to choose from and there is a variety of prices meaning there is something for everyone.
- Lastly, while everyone is trying to be healthy, you are allowed a cheat day occasionally. And there are even junk food substitutes that happen to be vegan. There are loads of processed foods out there mimicking chicken nuggets, burgers, sausages, fish fingers and seafood.
It can now be said that a plant-based diet does not have to be a sacrifice. There are loads of food choices and meals to choose from and so you can have a tasty and balanced vegan diet.
Regardless of what diet you decide to stick by and what food you decide to eat, it is still important to season and add that burst of flavour to your food. Shop our @africanplateuk range of snacks, spices and herbs to make your meals that extra bit special. (https://africanplate.co.uk/).
Will you be trying a Plant-Based Diet this year? Let us know down below.
Thank you again for reading….
Love from African Plate to you.