I’m a big believer in plant-based eating, and it really doesn’t have to be hard. To give you some inspiration and ideas for just how easy it can be, I asked author of ‘One Part Plant’, Jessica Murnane, to give her top ten tips to help you get started…
1. Make something you actually want to eat
I know this might sound obvious, but hear me out. A lot of times when we’re changing our diet or trying to eat more plant-based foods, we make what we think is the “healthiest”. And sometimes that isn’t going to be the most delicious. Plant-based eating can be lasagne, tacos, curries, and all the things you actually want to eat. It’s just about adding more plants into whatever it is that you’re eating.
2. Ease into it
It doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing. Start with one plant-based meal a day (One Part Plant!) and see how it goes. Maybe the next week, go for two. Feeling like you have to go all-or-nothing with your diet and lifestyle can be really intimidating and can set us up to fail. Baby steps are ok.
3. Spice it up
Experiment with different spices in the kitchen. You can transform a vegetable just by seasoning it. Steamed carrots are boring, but roasting them some with paprika, cumin, and cinnamon takes them up a notch. Give your veggies some extra care and attention with spices.
4. Invest in a solid blender
I’m not saying you need to buy a £500 blender (I mean, if that’s in the budget… go for it!), but it might be time to upgrade that dusty old blender you’ve been hanging on to from university days. A good blender changes everything in the kitchen. Besides a chef’s knife, it’s my most valuable tool.
5. Always be prepared
In my cookbook, One Part Plant, I focus a lot on my Top Ten Pantry Ingredients. If I have these and some fresh fruits and veggies, anything is possible in the kitchen! I always make sure I have them stocked at all times. After a long day of work or staying home with the kiddos, making dinner has got to be easy.
6. Switch it up
Whether you’ve just changed to a plant-based diet or you’re a pro, it’s easy to get in a rut in the kitchen. We end up making the same dish again and again, and feel uninspired. You have to make sure you switch it up!
Next time you’re at the store, buy an ingredient you’ve never bought before and then go home and find a recipe online to make with it. Or have your family randomly open a page in a cookbook and make that recipe no matter what. You’ll find your kitchen groove again in no time.
7. Up your storage game
Invest in some nice glass jars with lids. You can use these for smoothies in the morning on your way to work, load in stacked salads for lunch, or bring snacks in them for travel. They also just look prettier in your fridge.
8. Make it easy
If dehydrating something for 12 hours is not your style, or making your own nut milks sounds like a pain, don’t do those things. Make cooking work for you. I personally stick to super simple recipes. If one involves 20 ingredients and multiple hours in the kitchen, I don’t make them. Do what works for you (and it is ok if you just like easy).
9. Go out
Yes, home-cooked meals are usually the best. But it’s ok if you don’t want to cook every single night. Finding plant-based options outside of the house can become a fun food adventure. And if you’ve got too big of a tribe to go out… order in. More and more restaurants are offering healthy, plant-based options. Get online and explore what’s around you and have a picnic at home.
10. Remember – nobody’s perfect
When I first started cooking plant-based meals, I “failed” a lot in the kitchen. A LOT. But just like anything new that we do, it takes practice to get good. Find a couple recipes that make you excited and make them. And then make them again. And then make them again, until you’ve nailed it. Nobody, not even the best chefs, are perfect in the kitchen.
And remember to trust yourself. If you think a recipe needs more salt or seasoning or lemon zest, add it. The recipe doesn’t always know your taste buds best – you do.
‘One Part Plant’ by Jessica Murnane is out now, £16.99, published by Bluebird