I will attempt to tell you why I’ve done what I have done over the past 30 or so years to shift from a typical American Australian diet to one that is focused on minimally-processed, plant-based wholefoods.
Its good to start with the basics- the average ingredients found in most kitchens today. It all takes time but one step at a time and the journey away from commercially and industrially processed foods and towards more plant-based eating begins that way.
Before these processed products made their way into your house or flat, many were 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-pantry” can be replaced by delicious, nutritious alternatives.
The term plant-based wholefoods is open to interpretation, but here is what it means to me: minimally processed, from plants and organic when available. They are whole–straight from the plant-based ingredients 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 look, smell and taste different and wholefoods also means avoiding genetically modified and chemically fertilized crops, as well as dairy products that come from cows treated with growth hormones. Plant based generally means no animal foods however some people do choose to use a bit here and there.
First baby steps….. One of the first steps for me was discarding all the white flour, pasta and white sugar from my pantry. Then learning how to add more plant-based proteins using tofu, tempeh, beans, seeds and nuts came next. As I began to feel more comfortable cooking and creating with these ingredients I felt great and never felt compelled to look back. 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.
3. Get to know the unprocessed 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 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.