Friday, May 17, 2013

An Omnivore's Guide to Eating Plant-Based

While talking with my dad a while back, he mentioned that my mom wasn't really ready to go full-vegan. I'd been trying for months to get her to eat more plant-based as a way to reverse her diabetes. A friend of mine also said that she was thinking of eating more plant-based meals recently, and that really had me thinking. I know many people aren't interested in going full plant-based and still want to eat animal products. I have accepted that as a fact, and no longer expect everyone I know to go vegan overnight. With all of this in mind, I thought I would write up a few tips for those omnivores to dabble with meatless dishes without fully committing to veganism.

1. Add a meatless dish into your weekly meal plan. Meatless Mondays are a great way to ease into eating more plant-based, and it's not too tough to remember which day you'll give veganism a try, even just for on meal. Starting with one meal a week is not too daunting and you may even begin to look forward to planning that one meal a week or day. If you need some ideas, check out my Recipes page or my Pinterest board with over 500 recipes.

2. Make a smoothie in the morning as you run out the door. We bought a Nutribullet (a glorified blender) and it's super easy to make a quick smoothie before I head to work. Buy some fruit in the frozen section of the grocery store instead of stocking lots of fresh fruit that may go bad before you use them. I like to buy strawberries and bananas, a berry mix, a melon mix or pineapple. Then I toss in a cup of frozen fruit, almond milk, ground flax seeds, a handful of spinach, vanilla extract, almond extract, and blend until smooth. This healthy smoothie can keep your hunger at bay while you work through the morning and is probably better than not eating anything like I used to do!

3. Veganize your favorite dish for your next family dinner. When I went fully vegan cold turkey, the toughest part was missing my old favorites. Then I realized that you can pretty much Google your old favorites with the word "vegan" in front of it. We've figured out to make kale mac & cheeze, a meatless lasagna, ice cream, and even pudding. Before you say, "It can't be as good as the 'real thing'," try out a recipe. And if it's not a good recipe, find another one! I'm still on the hunt for the "World's Best Vegan Macaroni & Cheeze", and I've tried a few different recipes that totally sucked. I haven't given up just yet!

4. Purchase a carton of almond, soy, rice, or coconut milk. I'm not a big fan of soy milk (it's almost too thin for me), but I did finally find a brand of original almond milk that I love. I've never tried rice milk, but coconut milk is perfect for baking. Cutting out cow's milk and adding a plant-based milk is a great idea for those who aren't ready to make the full switch just yet. You'll start to getting used to using it for all kind of things (did I mention smoothies?!), and hopefully it can become a staple on your weekly grocery list.

5. Cook a grain to pair with your dishes for the week. If you have a rice cooker, this one is super easy. Early on in our adventures into plant-based cooking, we found that making a grain (such as brown rice, barley or quinoa) was an easy way to make the meals stretch a little further. Not only is it more filling, but it's a good foundation to almost any meal that you're making. We would cook a few cups and use it throughout the week during our lunch breaks to help us stave off hunger before dinnertime.

How are you working more plant-based meals into your diet?

Kelsey is a passionate vegan living in Houston, Texas, spreading the word about the benefits of eating a healthy, plant-based diet. She's also a minimalist enthusiast, a self-proclaimed financial guru of her household, and founder of The Little Red Journal.

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