Growing awareness of environmental, health, and animal welfare concerns are leading many of us to consider a vegan diet. Yet the process of making the switch still seems to hold a bit of mystery and fear.
The truth is, it doesn’t need to be an ‘all or nothing’ thing. As far as your body and the planet are concerned, any increase in your intake of plant-based foods is good. It took me a few years to gradually transition away from animal products, so don’t get hung up on being super strict with it – just do what works for you.
If you have been considering eating more plant-based meals, let’s take some of the mystery out of it by looking at three practical ways you can make it work for your lifestyle.
1. Eating plant-based before 6pm
This is a great idea for anyone who does not want to completely remove animal products from their diet. Essentially it means eating a plant-based breakfast (e.g. oats, avocado on toast with tofu scramble, or my Choc Mint Smoothie Bowl on Centr) and lunch (e.g. a bean burrito or veggie wrap) – simple as that!
Studies in recent years have found that eliminating animal products from our diets could be the single biggest way we can reduce our environmental impact on the planet.
The typical vegetarian diet includes a lot of dairy (an industry high in greenhouse gas emissions). By going plant-based before 6pm and opting for chicken, fish, pork or eggs at dinner time, your eating choices may have even less environmental impact than regularly eating vegetarian.
Plant-based nutrition has never tasted so good with our Choc Mint Smoothie Bowl.
2. Eating plant-based on even dates
By eating meat or dairy on the 1st, 3rd, 5th of the month, and plant-based on the 2nd, 4th, 6th, and so on, you would reduce your intake of animal products by half over a full year. Entourage actor and environmental activist Adrian Grenier eats this way and has dubbed it ‘halfetarianism’.
This is a great example of someone getting creative with their dietary choices to benefit the environment – Adrian says: “You don’t have to give up entirely. You don’t have to become a vegan – you can do something very moderate but extremely impactful.” And he’s right!
3. Swapping red meat for legumes & dairy milk for plant-based milk
I consider these swaps one of the greatest returns on investment you can get for your health and the planet’s health.
While dairy can play an important part in providing essential nutrients like calcium, we do have other options like leafy greens, soy and nuts.
Swapping red meat and dairy for plant-based alternatives has also been connected with a possible reduction in our risk of heart disease.
As for the Earth we live on, dairy and red meat farming rank very high in terms of food industry contributors to the acceleration of climate change, and are also responsible for enormous amounts of deforestation, ocean acidification and water use.
If you want to make moves towards a plant-based diet, don’t let the pressure of labels get to you. Any dietary choice is only a good one if you can sustain it – so find an approach that works for you and see where it takes you.
Simon Hill is making plant-based nutrition simple and accessible through his Plant Proof podcast and with delicious recipes on Centr. A sports physiotherapist and nutritionist, he holds a Bachelor of Physiotherapy and a postgraduate degree in nutrition. He is the author of The Proof is in the Plants and the creator of our favorite vegan burgers.
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