5 Ways to Make Plant-Based Eating Easier
When I first became interested in plant-based eating, I was most excited by the prospects of taking charge of my health and being gentler to the planet. But like many people in this beginner phase, I was confused about what I should actually be eating.
Reimagining my plate from one with a hunk of meat in the middle, to one full of plants, was a challenge. I fell into the all-too-familiar trap of thinking all I could eat were smoothies and salads.
Thankfully, it was then (2014, to be exact) that I got a job at Natural Gourmet Institute - the legendary plant-based culinary school in New York City. Working alongside their brilliant chefs and nutritionists, I learned how vast and exciting the world of plant-based cooking can be.
Since then, I’ve been on a journey to make plant-based eating as delicious and exciting as possible (for myself and my followers). Here are my top 5 tips for how to make plant-based eating an easier, more fun part of your life.
1. Embrace Variety
A balanced plant-based whole-foods diet consists of whole grains (like brown rice, quinoa, and farro), legumes (beans, chickpeas, lentils, tofu, and tempeh), nuts and seeds (including nut and seed butters), and fresh fruits and vegetables. The possibilities for these delicious, nutrient-dense ingredients are literally endless, yet we all fall into that trap of buying the same things and cooking the same recipes over and over again.
Eating a variety of different plants is key for our overall health and immunity - and also for being excited about our meals! - so you’ve gotta switch things up. Find some new blogs (might I suggest mine?), crack open your cookbooks, and get inspired.
Another fun thing to do is to buy one new-to-you ingredient on each trip to the grocery store.
Get Inspired by Restaurants
Most of my favorite recipes are inspired by meals I’ve had in restaurants. I’m especially intrigued by the different cuisines of the world and love incorporating their flavor profiles into my meals, like this vegetable coconut curry, Vietnamese summer rolls, mushroom bourguignon, and chana masala.
Pay Attention to Tastes and Textures
I find that the most satisfying recipes are those that have a variety of textures in them. When assembling your meals, challenge yourself to include creamy, chewy, and crunchy elements. The same goes for the five different tastes - salty, sweet, sour, bitter, and savory. For example, if you’re making a creamy butternut squash soup, add some citrus to create balance, and sprinkle on some toasted nuts or seeds at the end for a little crunch.
Eat What You Like
Transitioning to a plant-based whole-foods way of eating is a lifestyle, not a crash diet. There’s no use in forcing yourself to eat things you don’t enjoy, because healthy eating can only be sustainable if it’s delicious. If you’ve given kale a fair chance and still hate it, try arugula instead. If you really can’t stand the texture of tofu, just eat more chickpeas! You get the idea.
It’s Not All or Nothing
You don’t have to go entirely vegan to get the benefits of a plant-rich diet. It’s the small steps - like switching from dairy to plant milk, making more room for vegetables on your plate, or trying Meatless Monday - that can lead to big changes over time.