Taking a slow approach, starting with one plant-based meal a day and then increasing it to two meals after mastering the habit, is one good way to begin a vegan eating plan, notes Roach. Though it’s important to choose the pathway that works best for you. She emphasizes the importance of consuming a wide variety of fiber rich foods such as whole fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts and whole grains in appropriate portions. And be mindful of overall saturated fat content. According to the American Heart Association, it’s best to consume less than 13 grams of saturated fat per day.
Eslinger encourages investigating the wide range of plant-based equivalents that are on the market, including vegan meat alternatives, dairy-free cheeses, plant-based milks and vegan versions of your favorite sweets. They can enhance your meals with variety and well-known flavors, she says. Read labels to assure these picks fit into your healthy eating repertoire since being a 100-percent plant-based item doesn’t mean it’s automatically 100-percent healthful.
A few fun and easy ways to incorporate vegan dishes into your eating plan, according to Burnstine, include:
- Use crunchy chickpeas to replace croutons in a salad or on a soup—they provide a good boost of protein, fiber, iron and minerals.
- Replace parmesan cheese with nutritional yeast to help fulfill your vitamin B12 needs—it goes great with popcorn and pasta. Consider combing nutritional yeast with some grated lemon zest for a refreshing twist.
- Use no-salt-added black beans in baked goods like brownies to boost their fiber and protein [and fudginess]
- Make your own veggie burgers with this basic template:
- ½ cup chopped onions
- 2 cups diced veggies
- 1 can of beans, drained
- 1 cup of whole grains as a binder (oats, cooked quinoa, cooked brown rice)
- 3-4 tablespoons of sauce (ketchup, BBQ, salsa)
- Spices of your choice like cumin, chili powder, garlic, and smoked paprika
Lightly mix (pulse) your ingredients in a food processor, form patties, add oil to a pan and cook for about three to four minutes per side, until cooked through.
Most importantly, notes Burstine, if you decide to embrace a vegan lifestyle, focus on all the foods you can eat, enjoy and know are good for you instead of the ones you’re giving up.
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