While eating is a primary need for everyone, there are many ways to enjoy food. Fueling our bodies might be the main reason why we eat, but there’s also a fun and social component to gathering around the table and sharing a meal with family and friends. The same happens with what we eat. Depending on your preferences, you can choose to eat in any way you choose whether that be enjoying everything to following a more flexible vegetarian diet or a strict vegan lifestyle.
What Does Plant-Based Mean?
As we become more aware of different dietary habits and environmental issues, there’s a lot that can be said about a plant based diet, but what does that mean and what does it have to do with the environment? The idea behind plant-forward eating is to make plant-based foods the center of your meals. In fact, cutting down consumption on foods like meat and dairy is proven to place less stress on the environment and so people say that by making the effort of packing meals with more veggies, you’re also leaving a lighter environmental footprint.
Interesting, right? Whether plant based sounds exciting for you, or if you’re a bit on the skeptical side of actually enjoying your greens, we at Success® Rice went on a mission to debunk a few myths around this trending way of eating, and there is a lot to find out that you might not have known.
Myths Surrounding Plant-Based Diets
This myth-busting unit is meant to explore the truth behind how eating plant-based is not about following a restrictive diet that prohibits everything apart from vegetables, but making the switch to eating more plant-based foods!
Myth 1: Plant-forward eating means only eating vegetables
Absolutely not! While plant-based diets tend to limit animal-derived foods, there are more than just veggies within the list of plant-based food categories.
Myth 2: Vegetarian is a synonym of Plant-Based
Eating plant based doesn’t necessarily mean going vegetarian, vegan, or never eating meat, dairy, eggs or seafood again. It is more of finding a balance in what you eat and building your meals with more plant forward foods. You can eat plant based but still enjoy some poultry, cheese or yogurt a few times a week/month – depending on how restrictive you want to be.
If you’ve never tried making a major switch in your dietary habits, start off small like a flexitarian diet – that means eggs and dairy will still be part of your diet, while seafood, poultry, and meat will become occasional foods. For a tasty semi-vegetarian meal, try our Flexitarian Tacos with Shrimp and Jasmine Rice.
Myth 3: All plant based foods are good for you and your body
Let’s just say that some foods are labeled as plant based but are not what your body needs to fuel-up. Make sure to review labels and go for options with true natural ingredients, rather than sugary, over-processed foods.
And remember, no matter what or how you choose to eat, the most important part is that your body feels energized, you find a balance that works for you and that you feel good about your choices.
Facts: Plant-based Eaters Can Enjoy a Varied Diet
Those who choose to eat a plant-based diet can enjoy something from every essential food group. We’ve focused on a few facts surrounding the groups that are non-animal derived and included a few recipes for you to get inspired with hassle-free and delicious meals to try your own plant-based meals.
1. Whole Grains
Whole grains are the entire seeds of a plant and include wholesome grains and cereals such as oats, millet, whole wheat, and our favorites, quinoa and brown rice. Before we jump into the tasty ways you can enjoy them, visit our full guide to whole grains to learn more.
These grains are an excellent base for any meal, as they will keep you energized and satisfied, no matter what you combine them with. Plus, superfoods like Success® Tri-Color Quinoa are not only packed with protein, but also contain all nine essential amino acids. Enjoy whole grains in any meal throughout the day, with these recipe ideas:
- Breakfast: Apple Cinnamon Quinoa Breakfast Bowls
- Lunch: Mediterranean Rice Bowl with Zucchini Fritters
- Snack: Pine Nut Strawberry Rice Bars
- Dinner: Quinoa Green Bean Casserole
An easy way to make any recipe more plant based is learning to substitute a few ingredients. If the recipe calls for margarine, use ghee instead. Or swap in whole wheat flour for all-purpose flour.
2. Fruits and Vegetables
This is probably the widest group of foods – there are so many fruits and vegetables to be eaten out there!
When making plant based meals, one of the greatest challenges is learning to season and cook vegetables properly, to enhance their flavor and make them taste great. There are many ways to do this, such as exploring different flavor profiles with seasonings, sauces and spices, or trying creative preps like stuffing the veggies.
For a veggie-packed, vegan and tasty twist on a classic, try our Brown Rice and Mushroom Meatloaf.
Including all kinds of beans, plus chickpeas and lentils, legumes are also essential for a plant based diet.
Did you know? If you combine a legume with a grain, it creates a complete protein. So, if you combine lentils and rice, like in this Autumn Vegetable and Rice Power Bowl, you’ll be enjoying a protein-packed veggie dish.
4. Vegetable Proteins
Speaking of protein, tofu, tempeh and seitan are products that can be used as great alternatives to meat. The main difference between them is that tofu and tempeh are soy-based while seitan is wheat gluten and water.
While these foods are easy to swap in any recipe for the animal-protein, to ensure tastier results, it is best to build meals around them, and not only consider vegetable protein alternatives for recipes just to replace meat. Give marinated tofu a try in this Vegetarian Pho Rice Bowl – inspired by the traditional Vietnamese soup.
5. Plant Based Dairy
You might be surprised at all the options available if you’re looking to reduce dairy in your diet. In the milk aisle you might find anything from rice milk, coconut milk and hemp milk to nut milks like cashew milk or almond milk. There are also yogurts and cheeses that are made with these vegetable milks and dairy-free ice creams or even vegan sour cream.
While most of them are interchangeable with regular dairy products, when making a recipe, make sure that vegetable products will work the same.
Want to try something with vegetable milk? Try this tasty Creamy Coconut Tropical Quinoa recipe with coconut milk for tomorrow’s breakfast.
Now that we’ve debunked the myths and straightened out the facts, eating plant based as a lifestyle or a few times a week is worth a try! Remember that it is not only about ditching, but limiting some foods in your diet as much as you feel comfortable with.
Plus, it is also a great idea to force yourself to step out of your comfort zone and try new recipes and flavors – and you can count on Success® Rice and Quinoa to be there to help you along the way!