Easy food swaps for a plant-based diet

  • January 18, 2022

Ever thought about easing yourself into a plant-based diet? Ready to get started and see what all the fuss is about? As more and more of us look towards plant-based foods to help with our health or even environmental footprint – it’s becoming easier than ever before to make the switch. Here are a few simple substitutes you can make to your meat-filled meals each week, as you gradually introduce plant-based foods into your diet.

  • Lentil as anything

    If you’re ready to forgo animal meat for the immediate to long-term future – consider lentils your new best friend. Not only do these hearty legumes add much-needed texture to vegan meals, they also happen to be super good for you. Not sure how much to substitute by? Replace 500g of beef mince for around 150g of dried (and uncooked) lentils. Once you cook them, they’ll weigh in at 500g. Don’t forget – there are a range of different lentils you can use. From brown to yellow, red, green and black lentils, each one can be used as a meat substitute, and each has its own unique taste. Best of all, lentils are affordable and provide a range of nutrients including magnesium, zin, potassium and B vitamins.

  • Talk to me tofu

    Another plant-based meat (and also dairy) alternative is soya in the form of tofu. Made by curdling fresh soya milk and then and cooling it – tofu is a staple ingredient in Chinese and Thai cooking. Cook yours in a number of ways for a variety of textures including soft, crispy and crunchy. Filled with natural compounds known as ‘isoflavones’, these antioxidants help minimise oxidative stress (aging and the onset of some chronic diseases) caused by free radicals. Tofu may also help ease some menopausal symptoms and even support heart health by reducing cholesterol levels. Importantly, soya (including tofu) is a great source of plant protein, which includes nine essential amino acids needed for repair, immunity and growth.

  • Chic chickpeas

    We never met a legume we didn’t like, and when it comes to chickpeas, we’re doubly smitten. Why? Because these tiny guys are perfect when added to salads, soups or casseroles – or can be roasted for some heart-warming goodness. As an excellent meat substitute, chickpeas are full of plant-based proteins and taste great. There are two types of chickpeas to familiarise yourself with. Desi chickpeas (these are smaller) and Kabuli chickpeas (best known for their nutty taste and cream colour). Cool fact? We’re the world’s leading exporter of the humble chickpea.

  • Queue the quinoa

    Rich in carbohydrates, high in protein and filled with anti-inflammatory phytonutrients – quinoa is the gluten-free starchy grain of your dreams. Providing all essential amino acids while also being filled with minerals including magnesium, iron and potassium, quinoa is gluten free and delicious. In fact – quinoa is so popular it can be found in a range of crackers, pastas, cereals and bread these days. So, what makes quinoa extra special? Well, for starters, it may lower your risk of chronic disease, it may help balance your blood sugar and it may even help improve gut health as it acts as a prebiotic.

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