6 ways to go veggo without going hungry
Admission time: I’m a vegetarian and have been for 12 years. So it’s clear that I’m a fan of what I like to call, a plant based diet. If you’re thinking about giving up meat but are worried you’ll be hungry or won’t find enough foods to eat, you’re dead set wrong.
There are loads of reasons to opt for a plant based diet, from ethical and environmental, to general health or to help your body through an illness.
The thing to keep in mind is that everybody’s diet is going to look different, and so it should. I don’t necessarily recommend going 100% vegan, but I do recommend eating more plants. No one can really argue that eating plants (fruit, veggies, nuts, seeds, grain, legumes) isn’t beneficial.
Our diet is an ongoing experiment – some foods will make you feel great and some won’t. It’s important to take the time to tune in to your body and see how what you’re eating really makes you feel. There is no one size fits all.
This is more important than following any one particular diet.
When applied correctly, a plant based diet can offer synergistic and bio-available macro (protein, fats and carbs) and micro nutrients (minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, enzymes), that can restore health, encourage the body to cleanse, boost energy, immunity and digestion while leaving you feeling lighter and with a healthy glow.
And it’s hardly news that a diet high in whole foods is healthy, with studies showing those who follow such diets have reduced risk of weight gain, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
The reason I refer to this way of eating as plant based over vegetarian or vegan is because those two diets/ lifestyles don’t necessarily mean that you are eating majority of plant foods (veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds, grains, legumes). You can definitely be an unhealthy vegetarian or vegan. Which is why I think describing this way of eating as plant based allows one to more immediately access a healthier way of eating.
Here are my 6 top tips to help you get started:
1. Serving size:
Bite for bite, animal products are usually higher in kilojoules than plant foods, so initially you will need to rethink portion sizes – I’m talking a family sized salad bowl for one for lunch or dinner! This just gives your body the opportunity to fill up on more of the good stuff as it adjusts. Include gluten free grains such as wild or brown rice, quinoa, as well as nuts and seeds with your salads or veggies to bulk them out and get some extra protein and fibre in.
2. Just add flavour
Flesh out the flavour with cracked pepper, Himalayan pink sea salt, fresh herbs such as basil, mint, coriander, parsley or dried spices such as chilli, cumin or oregano. Simple but tasty dressings can also transform a salad; stock up on sesame oil, tamari sauce, mustard, cold pressed olive oil, apple cider vinegar, tahini, lemon and organic miso paste. Put your desired ingredients in a jar, shake and pour.
3. Snack mindfully
In between meals keep your energy levels up with plant based healthy snacks such as nut, seed, date based bliss balls, raw chocolate, green smoothies, fresh fruits or cold pressed vegetable juices.
4. Think protein
You do need to be certain you’re getting enough protein. A 68kg woman needs around 75gms of protein a day. Plants really are a valuable source of protein. My top sources include:
Quinoa: 1 cup – 9 grams
Chickpeas: 1 cup – 14.5 grams
Almond or nut milks: 1 cup gets you 7-9 grams of protein.
Hemp – 30 grams of hemp powder in your smoothie gives you 11 grams of protein.
1 cup broccoli – 5 grams
1 cup spinach – 5 grams
1 cup of sweet potato – 5 grams
1 cup of tempeh (fermented soy beans) – 30 grams
5. Healthy fats
Include healthy plant based fats with each meal (in moderation) as they supply your body with an even and gentle dose of energy and aid absorption of fat soluble nutrients (vitamins A, D, E, K & D). Be sure to keep these portion sizes considered; you can overdo these types of fats as well. When it comes to fat sources you need to ensure you are eating them in their freshest form possible – this means organic cold pressed oils, stored in dark glass bottles, or organic nuts/seeds that have not been exposed to light. Too often we consume fats that are rancid (they’ve been sitting in clear plastic packets/ bottles under fluro lights for months). These fats are toxic when consumed, and have little nutritional purpose.
6. Pre and probiotics
To get the most out of your food your digestive system really needs to be in tip top shape. Luckily a plant based diet can easily provide your body with the fibre it requires to keep your system gently cleansed. Cellulose (insoluble fibre found in plants) is fabulous fuel for your gut micro flora as are fermented foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut, coconut kefir yoghurt, kombucha or kefir water. I personally include 1 cup of sauerkraut with my lunch every day to ensure I’m keeping my micro flora healthy and balanced.
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