From improved blood sugar and lower cholesterol to helping prevent chronic illnesses such as diabetes – not to mention the environmental impact – there’s a whole host of reasons plant-based diets are more popular than ever.
But with animal-based foods so ingrained in our diets, it can be tricky to know how and where to cut back. Whether you want to reduce the meat and dairy in your diet, or are considering a switch to veganism, read on to discover the nine simple swaps you can make for a more plant-based lifestyle...
Use Nut Milk
If you can’t get through the day without your flat white fix, consider swapping cow’s milk for a plant-based alternative. Supermarket shelves are teeming with dairy-free options – from almond to coconut and hemp.
Look At Your Supplements
A good multivitamin is essential to safeguard against any dietary deficiencies, just make sure yours doesn’t contain animal products. Most brands will state clearly on the label if they’re vegan-friendly – try the nutritionist-approved Solgar or pop down to your local Holland and Barrett for a wide selection.
Ditch The Honey
Before you next reach for the honey, why not try a whole-food sweetener such as a banana or some dates? They’ll add a little sweetness to your porridge or oats without adding any animal by-products.
Vegan-ize Your Smoothies
Green smoothies might be the ultimate health food, but if you’re using whey protein (a source of dairy), you’re not quite plant-based. Switch up your regular protein powder with a vegan offering – try Neat’s Vegan Protein, £34, or Purition’s Vegan Wholefood, £22.95.
Get Your Fix
If you’re trying to follow a plant-based diet but craving something creamy or cheesy, look to cashew nuts. Simply soak overnight and blend with lemon juice, nutritional yeast, garlic, salt and pepper to make a guilt-free ‘cheese’ sauce. Soaked cashews can even be used for cheesecakes and added to smoothies for a creamy protein hit.
Your favourite dishes don’t need meat to be delicious – try swapping mince for lentils and aubergine when you next make a spaghetti Bolognese or experiment with vegetarian lasagnes and lentil dahls for comfort classics that will keep you full.
Embrace Meat Free Mondays
Something as simple as changing your diet for just one day is a great way to embrace a plant-based lifestyle. Follow vegan and plant-based bloggers or treat yourself to a new cook book for inspiration – there’s a huge variety of plant-based recipes that will motivate you to get in the kitchen.
Banish The Butter
While there are plenty of vegan spreads on the market, not all are healthy. When baking, try using coconut oil instead of butter; try avocado instead of butter on toast and when sautéing or frying, use olive oil.
Go Darker With Your Chocolate
Obviously, milk chocolate is packed with milk. Switch to high-quality dark chocolate (at least 70%), for a healthier, reduced dairy option. Dark chocolate also packs a nutrition punch, being high in potassium, zinc and selenium, and can even increase serotonin levels in your brain.