Photo by Amie Chou

If you’ve taken a peep at our November edition of African Independent, you might have spotted our “Eating GREEN – the sustainable way forward” article in collaboration with Humane Society International – Africa (HSI-Africa). Eating plant-based boasts a variety of benefits too good to ignore, however, getting started and including more plant-based dishes into your diet might seem daunting. To ensure you thrive on a plant-based lifestyle, preparation is key! Leozette Roode, Media and Outreach Manager for HSI-Africa and Green Monday SA offers these simple tips to help set you up for your culinary experience.

  • Understand the difference: The first step to eating plant-based is to understand what this lifestyle entails. Plant-based meals are free from all animal-derived products, including red meat, chicken, fish and seafood, eggs, dairy, gelatine and honey. Fill your plate with a variety of plant-based alternatives such as vegetables, fruit, grains, nuts, seeds and legumes. Don’t worry, many treats like burgers, pizzas, pies, biscuits and chocolates are vegan too! 
  • Understand why: Educating yourself on the benefits of eating plant-based will make this way of eating even easier. Delve into books and articles, listen to talks and refer to documentaries and videos  to learn more. 
  • Build up a database of easy and tasty recipes you look forward to feasting on. Who says you need to give up your favourite foods when going plant-based? There are thousands of recipes available online to help fulfil your culinary desires. Leozette also recently published a cookbook called The South African Vegan Cookbook, packed with easy, home cooked meal inspiration. 
  • Plan your meals: Planning your meals will help you sail through this journey with ease. Not only will it help you follow a balanced diet and create excitement for what is to come, but planning also eliminates possible frustration or failure when creativity in the kitchen dives low.  
  • Play with your food: Give your old favourites a fun and tasty twist. You don’t have to give up the dishes you love, simply veganise them by swapping the animal-derived products with plant-based alternatives! Think lasagne, Shepherd’s pie, omelettes and even peppermint crisp tart
  • Stock up: Once you have your database of recipes saved and your meals planned out, it’s time to draw up a shopping list and fill your pantry and fridge. Make sure you have all the non-perishable essentials for daily use and think about how often you need to make a trip to the local market or retailer for fresh produce.
  • Prepare for emergencies: All too often the world throws us a curveball and cooking up a wholesome meal no longer fit our schedules. In case of emergencies, always have a ready-made, frozen meal or quick-to-cook alternative in the freezer. A good idea is to prepare a big batch of your favourite dish and freezing it in individual portions. 
  • Equipment: Preparing plant-based dishes require only a few basic kitchen utensils. A good blender and mixer will make your life (a whole lot) easier, but you can definitely whip up great dishes without spending your budget on new gear. 
  • Join a community: Taking on the challenge of adopting a plant-based lifestyle is easier when you’re not alone. There are many community groups, social media platforms, dinner clubs and events happening around the country that you can join or refer to for support.

With these simple steps you are set to kick-start your green eating regime! Remember, eating plant-based even just one day every week can help improve your health and the health of our planet. Take it day by day or meal by meal. The importance is not about the perfect plant-based eating plan, but decreasing your meat, dairy and egg consumption and increasing your plant-based food consumption! If you have any questions or want to find out more about the benefits of eating plant-based, visit www.greenmonday.co.za