Trying to find a way to incorporate more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains into your diet? Want to cut back on processed foods and animal products, but want the flexibility to incorporate some? The solution might be a plant-based diet! You’re probably thinking that moving to a plant-based diet sounds like a great idea, but you don’t know where to start. Here at NaturaMarket, like any other dietary shifts, we want to help make this as easy as possible!
What Is Plant-Based?
There isn’t a rigid definition for following a plant-based diet, as this is more of a food-based lifestyle shift. What one person eats versus another varies greatly, usually depending on which animal products the individual allows. However, for the most part, the focus should be on consuming mostly plant-based foods, with as little processing as possible. The focus should be on foods like fruits, vegetables, legumes, unrefined whole grains, seeds and nuts. This generally also minimizes artificial additives, refined sugars and starches, and processed oils. This means some vegan-friendly, but highly processed foods might not be ideal!
Plant-based diets are becoming more and more popular, as the range and accessibility of plant-based products rises, giving many more options than just standard fruits and vegetables. And as people begin looking into the benefits of dairy- and meat-free meals!
Why chose a plant-based diet?
People love the flexibility of a plant-based diet! Because there is no strict definition, this gives each person a lot of choice in tailoring their new diet to fit their needs. One person might choose to eat no animal products, while another may eat small amounts on occasion.
Because a plant-based diet focuses on eating unprocessed, nutrient-dense foods such as fruits, veggies and grains, there is typically a higher intake of fiber, vitamins and minerals. The absence of meat, eggs, and dairy typically makes it lower in cholesterol. This can help improve your overall health and wellness, and can also help you lose weight (if this is your goal)!
And most of all, plant-based diets can easily be delicious! There’s no need to sacrifice flavour, with the wide range of fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains, which can easily be seasoned and prepared to your taste.
Tips for First Timers
- Don’t be afraid to start slowly! You can begin with one vegetarian dish per week, and slowly transition to a few plant-based meals per week. Animal products can also be phased out slowly, depending on what you do / do not want to include!
- Another tip for going slowly is to switch up your portion sizes in the meals you already love. Include more vegetables, and less meat / animal products! Incorporating a salad
- Plant-based diets don’t need to be expensive! Fresh produce, whole grains, root vegetables, and beans can go a long way with creating a delicious and filling meal that serves multiple people.
- The internet is your friend for finding new plant-based recipes! It’s never been easier to search and find meals which tailor fit what you need from your new diet.
- Watch out for highly processed foods. Some of these may technically be “Plant-based”, however, refined sugars / starches, and processed vegetable fats shouldn’t make up the bulk of the diet.
- Don’t be afraid to have a cheat day, or indulge every so often! Remember, food-based lifestyle shifts aren’t about being perfect all the time. It’s about transitioning the bulk of your diet in the direction of plant-based, minimally processed foods!
For those wishing to cut out meat and animal products almost entirely, animal-free protein sources will be important. Some of these include:
- Legumes like chickpeas, lentils, peas, and many types of beans
- Nuts like cashews, almonds, hazelnuts etc. (including nut butters and nut-based milks!)
- Seeds like sunflower, pumpkin, hemp, chia and flax seeds
- Whole grains like quinoa, buckwheat, barley, millet, amaranth, and wild rice
- Soy-based products (Tofu, Tempeh)
At NaturaMarket, we’ve subdivided the plant-based products we carry into 3 easy categories:
Plant-Based Pastas / Starches
These are your typical pasta and starch products, but made from plant-based ingredients! This includes pastas, rices, noodles, pizza crust etc. This makes transitioning your favourite meals to plant-based easier than ever! Common substitutes for the usual starch base of pasta are chickpeas, palm hearts, cauliflower, peas, lentils, almonds, cassava, and many more!
To browse the plant-based pastas / starches we carry, click here.
Cutting out dairy is a big part of a lot of alternative diets. Fortunately, the range of plant-based milks has never been wider! Almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, walnuts, macadamia nuts, oats, hemp, coconut, the list goes on! With all of the options, there is surely something to fit your taste.
To browse the plant-based milks we carry, click here.
Cutting out your favourite salty / sweet snacks can be the hardest part of following a new diet. Fortunately, the variety of plant-based snacks is constantly growing! These include plant-based versions of crackers, pretzels, and chips.
To browse the plant-based snacks we carry, click here.