The plant-based diet is a topic of conversation we often hear about at mealtimes; sometimes the subject even pops up while you’re busy grilling meat on the barbecue. And yet, no matter how often we hear about it, a lot of us are still clueless about this lifestyle.
For those of us who’ve never actually delved into the world of plant-based diets, the most common reference point for this lifestyle choice is, unfortunately, an extreme one – that of masked anti-meat protesters, wielding their photos and videos of slaughtered animals. A lot of people are put off by the idea of going plant-based because of these radical protests, but is it fair to completely relate the whole concept of this movement to these protesters? If this type of lifestyle is really extreme, then why has there been a significant increase in the number of plant-based eaters in recent times?
What is a plant-based diet?
The most common misconception about a plant-based diet is that it has to be completely free of animal products. This is true if you are a vegan, but being plant-based simply means you are eating far fewer meat products. This is true if you are a vegan, but being plant-based simply means you are eating far fewer meat products. Think about it this way: vegetables are your centrepiece, and meats are the side dish.
In other words, a plant-based diet means choosing more of your food from plant sources – and these are not only limited to fruits and vegetables.Plant-based meals can be made exciting and more nutritious by adding varieties of nuts, seeds, oils, whole grains, legumes, and beans.
The easiest way to imagine this kind of lifestyle is to think about Italy and Greece and the kind of food eaten there, which incorporates plenty of vegetables, famously known as the Mediterranean diet. There is nothing bland about Italian and Greek dishes, but there are plenty of benefits from consuming them!
Benefits of a plant-based diet
Yes, adopting a plant-based diet into your life can have long-term benefits for the environment, but the benefits are mostly for your health.
According to Roy Morgan Research, nearly 2.5 million Australians have chosen to become vegetarians, with a significant increase of 400,000 from 2016. That means one person decides to become a vegetarian every five minutes!
How to get started with a plant-based diet:
- Eat lots of vegetables
- Change what you think about meat – use it as a side instead of your main
- Choose good fats – olive oil, olives, nuts, seeds, avocados
- Dedicate one day of the week for vegetarian meal
- Include whole grains for breakfast
- Try variety of greens
- Build a meal around salad
- Eat fruit or yogurt for dessert
If you are interested in incorporating these meals into your club, here are some recipe references: