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The University of Victoria's independent newspaper
Feeling bored of your everyday meals? Looking for a way to eat more sustainably? Or maybe you’ve just got Beyond Meat on the brain? Sounds like it’s time you try out a plant-based diet.
A plant-based diet is one that does not include any animal by-products. That includes foods like milk, eggs, meat, fish, and honey, as well as anything made with these ingredients.
There are countless reasons to go plant-based. For starters, it has huge benefits for the environment. By going plant-based, you save roughly 600 gallons of water per day. Eating plant-based is also great for your health, as plant-based diets tend to be high in fibre but low in cholesterol and sodium. 
But transitioning to a plant-based lifestyle can feel overwhelming, especially if you don’t know where to start. Here are five simple tips to set you off on the right foot.
Whether you love chicken strips, Greek yogurt, or milk chocolate, odds are there’s a plant-based alternative for your favourite food. One of the easiest ways to transition to a more plant-based diet is by swapping out animal products one at a time in favour of plant-based ones. When you’re new to eating plant-based, meal planning can feel intimidating. By slowly eliminating animal-based staple foods, you can continue to make meals that are familiar to you, while still reducing your overall consumption of animal products.
Once you’re ready to branch out beyond your regular recipe repertoire, another way to take the stress out of meal planning is by getting the hang of a few quick, easy recipes. There are tons of plant-based recipes that can be made with 10 ingredients or less, and in under 30 minutes. Grain bowls, burritos, stir-frys, and pastas are some of the easiest dishes to add to your weekly meal rotation. 
If the majority of the ingredients are shelf-stable, you can make sure to always have them on hand for when you’re in need of something simple. Once you’ve found a few recipes that you love, practice making them with a different modification or new ingredient each time. Before you know it, you’ll have a roster of trusted plant-based recipes, and you’ll never have to wonder ‘What’s for dinner?’ again. 
One of the trickiest things about going plant-based is that occasionally you’ll find yourself in situations where there aren’t any plant-based meal options. Maybe you’re making a quick Tim’s run before class, and all you want is an easy, on-the-go breakfast. In moments like this, it can be tempting to reach for animal products to tide you over. (Timbits, I’m looking at you.) 
To avoid this less-than-ideal scenario, try keeping at least two different plant-based snacks in your bag to satiate your hunger. It helps to have one fruit or veg — apples and oranges are perfect backpack snacks — and something high in protein, like trail mix, roasted chickpeas, or a protein bar. While these snacks may not exactly fill the Timbit-shaped void in your heart, they will stave off your growling stomach until your next hearty meal.
Support local plant-based restaurants
Although cooking for yourself is a rewarding and exciting experience, let’s be real — sometimes you just want some takeout. In Victoria, we’re lucky to be surrounded by dozens of plant-based-friendly restaurants, including several that are completely plant-based.
As you incorporate more plant-based foods into your diet, take the time to discover the city’s plant-based food scene. Some of the most beloved plant-based places in town include Virtuous Pie, where you can grab plant-based pizza, ice cream, and brunch on the weekends; Lotus Pond, a plant-based Chinese food restaurant with wonton soup, ginger “beef,” and everything in between; and Fern Cafe, a must-try plant-based spot for coffee, pastries, and breakfast. Who knows — amongst these plant-based places, you may even find a new favourite restaurant. 
Transitioning to a plant-based diet won’t be without its challenges, and there will inevitably be some hang ups along the way. What’s important is that those setbacks don’t discourage you from accomplishing your goal, whatever it may be. Eating plant-based looks different for everyone; whether you’re aiming to go meatless on Mondays or everyday, figure out what strategies are feasible for you and incorporate them into your everyday life. Above all, don’t sweat the small stuff — going plant-based isn’t about perfection. It’s all about making small adjustments to initiate greater change.
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