Over the past, 30 or so years I shifted from a typical American, then changed to an Australian diet and then one that focused on non-refined, fermented and plant-based wholefoods.
Its good to start with the basics- like changing white flour to wholemeal, canned and/or frozen or canned vegetables to fresh. It all takes patience but doing it one step at a time away from commercially and industrially refined foods and towards more plant-based eating is the best way to begin.
Are you aware that before processed and refined products make their way into your diet, many are laced with pesticides and other agricultural chemicals, processed with chemical solvents, and stripped of most of their nutritional value like vitamins, minerals, fibre and flavour? The good news is that the “processed refined-pantry” can be slowly replaced by delicious, nutritious alternatives.
The term plant-based wholefoods are open to interpretation, but here is what it means to me: minimally processed and refined, from plants and organic when available. Why would you want to eat just part of a food? Nature grew it one way so how about eating the whole food to get all the nutrients and vitamins.
Plant-based foods are whole–straight from the way that nature intended and they are made from whole ingredients, with as little processing as possible and no artificial flavourings, stabilizers, and preservatives thus keeping nutrients and original flavours intact.
They actually look, smell and taste different and choosing whole foods also means avoiding genetically modified (GMO) and chemically fertilized crops, as well as dairy products that come from cows treated with antibiotics and growth hormones. Plant-based generally means very little animal foods however some people do choose to use a bit here and there according to their needs and the season.
First baby steps….. One of the first steps for me was discarding all the white flour, pasta and white sugar from my pantry. Choosing Pasture-raised Organic Eggs, then learning how to add more plant-based proteins like tofu, tempeh, beans and all sorts of legumes, seeds and nuts and how to combine whole grains and legumes to get a complete protein.
As I began to feel more confident cooking and creating with these ingredients I had more energy, vitality and creativity. Once you are in the swing of it, shopping for and cooking with these ingredients isn’t any harder and doesn’t have to take more time than what you are already used to.
A few steps in the right direction:
1. Cook at home as much as possible. Choose organic, fresh, local, seasonal, and sustainably grown ingredients.
2. Introduce a new ingredient every other week or so and remove a refined one.
3. Get to know all the different whole grain flours, whole grains, pulses, plant-based proteins and organic produce at your local market or your favourite shop.
4. Drink filtered water and avoid plastic storage containers and water bottles.
5. Get rid of your “all-white” staples, start exploring new “whole” foods and ingredients.
6. Each week explore all the different plant-based proteins one at a time and add different grain, bean and seed combinations to increase your plant-based proteins.
Everyone is different and many people seem to be looking for ways to incorporate more meatless meals into their repertoire for a host of reasons, and I hope I can provide a bit of inspiration.