by Vesanto Melina
Have you been considering a shift to a plant-based diet? Does a sudden leap to an entirely vegan diet seem overwhelming? How about a whole day of vegan meals? Every plant-based choice you make helps the environment, animals and your health – provided it is composed of whole foods. Here are a few tips on moving gradually and smoothly in a plant-based direction.
A simple but impactful choice is switching what you pour over your morning cereal. Have you ever noticed those muscular young men in the grocery store with almond milk and ground beef in their shopping carts? Clearly not vegans, they are, like millions of others, opting for soy, almond, coconut, cashew, hemp, oat and other non-dairy milks instead of dairy. In fact, so many people are making this switch that America’s two biggest milk producers, Borden and Dean Foods, have recently filed for bankruptcy. Fortified varieties of non-dairy milks feature as much calcium and vitamin D as dairy milk.
When meal planning, it is natural and reassuring to gravitate toward a small list of lifelong favourites. However, in making a switch, we often discover we already have in our repertoire several meals we love that are entirely plant-based, or could be with minor changes. If your family’s occasional bean-based meal is unappealing, recognize there are over 20 types of beans, peas, lentils and soyfoods commonly used in delicious cuisines worldwide. You are entering a new world! Make a point of exploring vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, and fruits you have never tasted, and gradually expand your repertoire by trying a new dish every week.
Online groups such as Vancouver Vegans on Facebook can be a helpful resource for recommendations regarding local foods and restaurants. For face-to-face support, join a group such as Meatless Meetup. With over 4400 members, the group holds events all over the Lower Mainland. Explore their potlucks, restaurant meals, festivals, films, speaker events, and nutrition tours. Meatless Meetup is not aimed solely at vegetarians and vegans, or those attempting to become vegetarian or vegan. While their dining events are vegan, the group also welcomes those who simply want to eat more plant-based meals.
If you prefer to eat at home, an inexpensive ($20 US) online cooking series is available at bravopb.com. Chef Ramses Bravo teaches fingertip-saving knife skills and health-supportive food preparation. This excellent series is available and affordable for everyone.
Vesanto Melina is author of award winning books on plant-based nutrition and foods. nutrispeak.com, becomingvegan.ca and kickdiabetescookbook.com.
Meet Vesanto Melina at the Zoomer Show March 7 & 8, Vancouver Convention Centre.
Meatless Meetup mini-potlucks, at Vancouver Co-Housing, 1733 E. 33rd Ave. Vancouver February 15, 6:30 pm – Dessert Potluck Buffet! Love & the Plant Based Diet. March 14, 5 pm – Talk on Athletic Performance & the Vegan Diet. Info: www.meetup.com/MeatlessMeetup