Put more plants on your plate
USE SIMPLE SWAPS
There’s no need to radically overhaul your diet, as small changes can boost your plant intake considerably. Switch half or all of the meat in favourite stews, curries and Bolognese-style sauces for beans and lentils. Kidney beans, white beans, chickpeas, black-eyed peas and lentils are all great choices and similar in texture to mince. Substitute meat in stews with chunks of firm tofu, jackfruit, mushrooms or root vegetables.
Make swaps that work for you. Try soya, oat or other plant drinks in your tea and coffee instead of cow’s milk. If you love toast and sandwiches, you might like houmous, nut butter, tahini or olive oil on bread instead of butter.
There’s no need to radically overhaul your diet, as small changes can boost your plant intake considerably.”
SHIFT THE BALANCE
Designate one day or more each week for plant-based-only eating. Or simply make your meat portions smaller – serve half a steak between two people, for example – and fill your plate with extra veg. It’s also healthy to widen the variety of plants in your diet. Breakfast is a great meal to do this. Add fruit, seeds and nuts, along with plant-based yogurt alternative, to your cereal. Or, if you like nut butter on toast, top it with berries or sliced fruit and a sprinkling of seeds.
If you’re worried that plant-based meals will lack richness and depth, try these simple tricks. Add umami (known as savouriness) to make your meals more intensely delicious. Umami is found in plant-based products such as miso, umami and tomato pastes, tamari sauce and Marmite. Stir in gradually to supercharge sauces, stews and soups, or combine with olive oil and add a slick to vegetables before roasting.
Low and slow cooking coaxes extra flavour out of vegetables, especially onions, which develop meaty notes when fried gently until sticky and caramelised. This will take longer than you think but is worth it for the extra depth it gives to bases for soups and stews.
Plant drinks and cream alternatives lend creaminess and richness as effectively as dairy versions. Or try stirring a spoonful or two of nut butter into the cooking pot (be sure nobody eating the dish suffers allergies) for extra depth and lusciousness: it’s wonderful in curries.
Make it your mission to try new plant-based recipes regularly, to help keep things interesting.”
TRY SOMETHING NEW
Make it your mission to try new plant-based recipes regularly, to help keep things interesting. Does your fruit and vegetable shopping basket contain all the colours of the rainbow? Add in any missing colours – it’s a great way to ensure you eat a wide array of fresh produce. Look for things you’ve never tried before, or try cooking your favourite vegetables a different way to avoid falling into a rut.
SMUGGLE MORE IN
It’s easy to sneak more plants into your favourite foods with minimal effort. Keep jars of nuts and seeds on the kitchen counter and add them to everything from smoothies and breakfast cereal to salad (cold and warm) and cake batter (grind them up first). Toast them to enhance their flavour, then add to soups, stews, sauces, curries and vegetable sides.
Finely slice green leafy vegetables – spinach, cabbage, kale and chard are lovely – and fold into dishes at the end of cooking. They’ll wilt down in the residual heat and add bags of extra flavour and texture. Most of us love mashed potato but raise your veg tally by mixing spuds with mashed cauliflower, sweet potato, squash or broccoli. Olive oil instead of butter in mash is also wonderful and raises the plant count even further.