2019 has certainly been the year that plants got popular, with more than 30% of Americans scheduling meat-free days, and the Canadian government updated its dietary guidelines to promote a more plant-based diet. For some, a switch to a Vegan lifestyle brings obvious physical and spiritual benefits; for others, a more gradual approach into meat-free menu planning and so-called ‘flexitarian’ eating is a more palatable entry point. If you’re considering embracing the trend, here are some tips to make it as tasty as it is healthy.
Eat the rainbow
The CDC states that 87% of Americans aren’t eating enough vegetables, despite their proven benefits in reducing the risk of chronic diseases and helping to boost your gut health and immune system. Try to create a colourful plate of food; not only will this provide your body with a range of vitamins and minerals through its variety, but it will also brighten up the winter months. The USDA suggests prioritizing orange, red and dark green produce, but see how vibrant you can get.
Unleash your inner chef
When it comes to cooking vegetables, most people go straight to boiling, but research has shown that this actually causes vegetables such as broccoli, peas and zucchini to lose their nutrients. Scientists have confirmed that the ideal cooking method for veg to lock in both its crunch and its goodness is steaming. Furthermore, using a sous-vide technique – essentially a water oven with a timer and vacuum-sealed ingredients in a bag is another innovative and efficient way to ensure that your greens don’t lose essential vitamins.
Don’t forget that a plant-based diet is about much more than just traditional vegetables. You can pack a punch with legumes such as chickpeas, lentils and kidney beans, which are filling and packed with fibre and protein. Herbs and spices can help to lift your legumes out of the ordinary. Nuts and seeds are also handy for snack-sized portions of vitamin E. Support all of these with wholegrain staples; brown rice, oats and buckwheat are great for slow-release energy that can take you from the gym to the office without feeling hungry.
Making the move to meat-free living can seem daunting, but with the right cooking equipment and a little creativity, you can embrace plant-based eating on whatever scale you’re ready for. Given the proven health advantages (not to mention the environmental benefits), this is one trend that looks set to stay. Bon appetit!