The nourishment derived from fresh, whole ingredients keeps body weight in check and is holistic. Plant-based diet is not restrictive to exclusion of meat.
Meat and seafood are not entirely off-limits. It only curbs or sidesteps animal products while emphasising on vegetables, grains, fruits, nuts and legumes. Refined foods such as white sugar, maida and processed oils are eliminated while organic food is encouraged.
An ingenious vegetarian regime is vital not only to amp your dietary needs but also to keep the risk of diabetes, cancer and heart ailments at bay.
Dr Pooja Thacker, head of Department Dietetic, Bhatia Hospital, Mumbai, says, “Plant-based diet is a Mediterranean diet with lots of fruits and vegetables, legumes and nuts. It is important to be aware of an individual’s nutritional needs to chart out a diet that meets the requirement.”
Start the ball rolling
For non-vegetarians, the changeover to a plant-based diet has to be measured and gradual while cutting down on meat and increasing intake of fruits and vegetable. Some find Mediterranean diet, a flexible version of a plant-based diet that incorporates fish and poultry, to be better.
Mohit Mathur, founder CEO OneFitPlus, says, “To start off on a plant-based diet, increase the number of meals without meat. Go for greens like spinach, cabbage, mustard greens (saag), lettuce and include microgreens in salads. Pick your favourite non-veg recipes and prepare them meatless. Substitute meat with tofu, soya nuggets, jackfruit or black beans.”
Diversify your culinary repertoire with vegetarian menus. A variety of dishes from other vegetarian cuisines will help meet your nutritional needs.
Get your breakfast right
Start the day with whole grains. For instance, a breakfast of oatmeal, quinoa, buckwheat, or barley with fresh fruits, beans and some nuts or seeds will help keep high energy levels all day.
Oats is a good source of carbohydrates and quality protein with good amino acid balance. It contains a high percentage of oat lipids, especially unsaturated fatty acids, minerals, vitamins and phytochemicals, all known to protect your heart, colon and lower your cholesterol.
Having skimmed milk or any dairy-free milk with breakfast cereals is a great option. Add oats as an ingredient in dosas, rotis, smoothies and chillas to up the fibre quotient while keeping the overall calories low.
“Including fresh fruits, chopped nuts or berries can also be a good way to enhance the nutrition value of your first meal of the day,” advises Raghav Gupta, founder of Oateo Oats.
“Oats is very beneficial especially for children as it regulates digestion, helps them curb unnecessary cravings by keeping them satiated. Packed with proteins and micronutrients, it boosts immunity,” he adds.
Read the label
First-of-its-kind report by LabelBlind® in collaboration with Bhaskaracharya College of Applied Sciences (University of Delhi) on ‘Consumer Perceptions and Industry Standards on Clean Label Products in India’, provided an impetus globally, with reputed food manufacturers steering product deconstructions and innovations to catch up with the burgeoning consumer requisites.
LabelBlind is India’s first Food Rating System designed and developed by The Nutrition Alchemy, a NutriTech firm that simplifies complex nutrition concepts and democratises principles of nutrition science to bring good health and wellness to people’s lives.
“The platform reviews and rates food products based on a proprietary assessment tool that takes into consideration 14 vital nutrition parameters. LabelBlind® is free-to-use for consumers and collaborates with the food regulator, food businesses and corporates to design nutrition solutions that impact food consumption habits,” says Rashida Vapiwala, founder-LabelBlind® and Author — Clean Label Report on Indian Packaged Food.
Say ‘No’ to processed food
Sometimes, we indulge in sweetmeats. A vegan cake may be healthier for the environment and it may contain fewer saturated fats than a non-vegan cake. “Packaged or processed foods contain excess sugar, sodium, trans-fat and heavy intake of these foods will lead to deficiency of essential nutrients for the body. It's not healthy food and shouldn’t be eaten too often. However, a slice of vegan cake is healthier than having two slices of vegan cake,” says Alisha Falerio, executive pastry chef, Academy of Pastry and Culinary Arts, Gurgaon.
Farm to table
The prevailing trend of farm to table provides fresh food directly from the frams to consumers. Raghav Gupta, founder of JIWA Foods, a health food company, says, “Farm to table is a powerful and potentially disruptive concept that includes planning, sourcing and distribution of food products across the supply chain in a manner that reduces food wastage, costs, transportation timelines, cuts out middlemen, preserves shelf-life and makes food available directly to end users without multiple handling.”
Good for the skin
Some of the food such as dairy and animal products can increase inflammation, while plant-based foods are anti-inflammatory. Dr Niketa Sonavane, celebrity dermatologist and founder of Ambrosia Aesthetics, Mumbai, says, “Due to high concentration of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients, it helps body’s defence against dangerous chemicals, thereby lowering chronic inflammation.”
She says that going dairy-free and meat-free can improve your skin and hair.