8 Reasons to Go Plant-Based (and 10 Hacks to Help You)
First things first - you cannot make someone go plant-based. Nor is it generally a good idea to attempt to persuade someone to go vegetarian or vegan against their will.
Unless they have an appropriate motivator for making the switch, it simply isn’t going to happen.
But things are quite different when it comes to those who are on the fence about the whole thing. They’re curious about going plant-based, but haven’t yet taken the plunge. They may even have every intention of cutting out animal products, though cannot seem to find the right moment.
In these instances, a gentle nudge in the right direction can be just the thing. Particularly given how once you go plant-based, it’s hard to imagine ever going back.
The time for New Year’s Resolutions has come and gone, but positive lifestyle changes aren’t exclusive to January. Whether it’s a vegetarian diet or a full-scale vegan lifestyle you’ve been considering, the potential benefits in both instances are pretty similar.
Consider the following 8 reasons to go plant-based (partially or predominantly) this year:
1. Your Conscience Will Thank You
Research suggests that by going vegan, you prevent the deaths of up to 200 animals each year. When you eat meat and dairy products, you contribute directly to the suffering and mistreatment of more animals than you probably realise.
2. It Could Do Your Health a World of Good
If thinking of going plant-based primarily for health reasons, doing so could make all the difference in the world. Statistically, a person who eats a 100% plant-based diet is likely to be significantly slimmer and lighter than a comparable meat eater. Whether looking to slim down or simply boost your everyday wellbeing, a plant-based diet could be just the thing.
3. Plant-Based Diets Reduce the Risk of Deadly Disease
There’s a long list of dangerous and potentially deadly diseases that vegans are less likely to develop than those who eat meat. Just a few examples of which include high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and various forms of cancer. You still need to make sensible dietary choices, but going plant-based has strong associations with disease prevention.
4. Going Plant-Based Does Not Mean Compromising
These days, almost every popular meat product is available in the form of a plant-based imitation. Many of which are so realistic that they’re frowned upon by some, but are nonetheless fantastic for freedom of choice. Going plant-based no longer has to mean giving up your favourite dishes, or making any major adjustments to the way you cook them. You simply have to stock up on the right ingredients - you probably won’t notice the difference with the final result.
5. It Could Actually Save You Money
There’s a common misconception that going plant-based is too expensive for most people to afford. In reality, switching to a vegetarian or vegan diet could actually save you money. When you think about it, the vast majority of vegetarian and vegan staples (beans, rice, pulses, pasta etc.) cost next to nothing. In addition, shopping seasonally can ensure all the fruits and veggies you need are never too expensive.
6. Restaurants and Cafes Have You Covered
Going plant-based does not mean having your work cut out to find something decent to eat at a restaurant or café. In fact, the number of predominantly or exclusively plant-based eateries in the UK has skyrocketed over recent years. Even where an establishment isn’t specifically vegan or vegetarian, you’ll scarcely find a place that does not cater well to plant-based preferences.
7. You’ll Be Doing Your Bit for the Environment
Slowly but surely, the world’s most influential scientists and environmentalists are joining the campaign to discourage excessive meat consumption. The pollution produced by the meat farming industry each year is catastrophic to local ecosystems and the world as a whole. Meat farming has been outed as one of the main causes of climate change, which some fear has already reached the point of no return.
8. It’s the Perfect Excuse to Get Creative
Last but not least, switching to a plant-based lifestyle gives you the perfect excuse to get creative in the kitchen. Vegan cuisine at home and abroad is an absolute joy to experiment with. Whether you use meat substitutes is up to you, but you’ll find no end of wild, wacky and wonderful recipes to try out. Most of which will make you wonder why you ever bothered with meat in the first place.
Helpful Hacks for Plant-Based Cooking
Experimentation holds the key to discovering the limitless possibilities of the everyday essentials you already have in your kitchen. As promised, we’ll now be taking a look at several helpful kitchen hacks the plant-based population swear by.
Each of the following will undoubtedly find its way into your everyday repertoire, but feel free to experiment with your own plant-based creations to see what you can come up with:
1. Overnight Whipped Cream
For an alternative to whipped cream that’s even more delicious than the real thing, simply pop a can of coconut cream in the fridge overnight. The next day, add some powdered sugar and a little vanilla extract for a decadent treat that wipes the floor with real dairy cream.
2. The Magic of Aquafaba
This is one slightly weird fluid you’ll find in a typical tin of chickpeas. It’s not the most pleasant stuff in its raw form, but pop it in a mixer for a few minutes and the result is an absolutely fantastic vegan substitute for egg whites. At which point, it can be used in place of egg whites in almost any sweet or savoury recipe you have in mind.
3. Instant Banana Ice Cream
The quickest and easiest way to make vegan ice cream is to simply place a bunch of bananas in the freezer, take them out once frozen and blast them in a blender. You can eat the resulting banana cream served as it is, or throw some peanut butter, cocoa powder, vanilla anything else you like into the mix for extra flavour.
4. DIY Buttermilk
If any of your favourite recipes call for buttermilk, there’s a quick and easy alternative you can make with vegan ingredients. All you need to do is take 250ml of your chosen dairy free milk, add a modest tablespoon of lemon juice (or apple cider vinegar) and give it a whisk. After 10 minutes or so, it will get the job done every bit as good as real buttermilk.
5. Substitute Butter for Avocado
There are various different types of plant-based butter available, but it is actually just as easy to use avocado. Simply swap out the butter in the recipe for the exact same quantity of ripe avocado, which has more than enough at hand creamy goodness to get the job done right. And just in case you wondered, the answer is no - the resulting dessert will not have even the slightest avocado taste.
6. A Quick and Easy Vegan Mayonnaise
You can experiment with your own quantities of the ingredients for this vegan mayo, while adding as many different spices and extras (like garlic) as you like to spice things up. Basically, you simply need to blitz oil, soy milk, salt and a small amount of vinegar in a blender, until the resulting mixture has the desired consistency.
7. Homemade Vegan Parmesan Cheese?
Seriously - don’t knock it until you have tried it! Nutritional yeast is a slightly odd ingredient to get your head around in the first place, but is nonetheless packed with key nutrients and has a distinctly cheese-like flavour. By popping some in a blender together with some salt, garlic powder and nuts, you instantly have yourself a surprisingly convincing substitute for parmesan cheese.
8. Make Friends with Liquid Smoke
Liquid smoke is basically just smoked water, which makes it both a 100% natural ingredient and a 100% vegan ingredient. Used the right way, liquid smoke can be pure gold in the kitchen, adding a rich and savoury smoky flavour to anything you care to cook up. It’s a little like liquid bacon, though with none of the guilt (or cholesterol) of the real thing.
9. Use Soda Water Instead of Eggs
In a fair few recipes, fizzy soda water can be used in place of eggs. Oil is the most commonly used substitute for eggs in cakes, but adding a blast of soda water as an alternative can also work and keeps the fat content to a minimum.
10. Sour Cream from Cashew Nuts
Last up, here’s a neat and nifty way to create an easy and convincing sour cream substitute. All you need to do is soak a bunch of cashew nuts in hot water for around 20 to 30 minutes, before grabbing a hand blender and blitzing them to a creamy texture.