Our country is a vegetarian utopia, where spiritual insight, endurance and austerity integrate in happy harmony. Opting for a change in your diet, irrespective of whether you are a vegetarian or a meat eater, in order to increase your quota of plant-based food is unequivocally a healthy choice. They also lower the risk of heart ailments, diabetes, obesity and certain carcinogens.
Eliminating meat for health, animal welfare or ecological reasons is irrelevant. Plant-based consumption can hint at several varied things. It is a diet that majorly centres on foods sourced from plants which help both a person’s health and the biosphere. By and large, this diet gyrates towards plants with lesser inclusion of animal products like eggs, poultry, meat, dairy and fish.
The basic idea is to make it the mainstay of your diet plan. A plant-based diet underscores foods like fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, oil seeds and limits intake of eggs, meats, and dairy products. From here, more limitations could get underway subject to how exacting you want to be. It may totally exclude foods from animals or just restrict consumption depending on the person’s preference. That implies seafood and meat are not necessarily forbidden – an individual might just resolve to curtail eating those items by choice.
Beware of deficiency
According to Pranathi Bollapragada, Head of Nutrition & Dietetics at Dharana at Shillim, “Coming to a plant-based diet, there are few nutrients like Vitamin B12, Iron and protein which may not be potentially available in only plant origin foods. Ensure that whenever you consume iron rich foods, it has to be combined with vitamin C foods in order to increase the absorption. Vitamin C food sources are lemons, orange, mosambi (sweet lime) and mango.”
Zesty mornings at Pavilion ITC Gardenia, ITC Windsor Bengaluru and across ITC Hotels Pan-India, is a novel breakfast initiative with thoughtfully chosen superfoods like sweet potato, amaranth, microgreen salads, toasted nuts, homemade granolas, puffed grains, salad stations and alternate milks out of seed, nuts, grains and soya. The mindfully prepared breakfast experience promises to make the first meal of the day nourishing and healthful.
Consult an expert
Plant-based diets involve the perils of deficiency of protein, vitamin and mineral. But, by including the right foods like soy, quinoa and nuts for proteins, and dals and leafy vegetables for iron, the risks can be overcome.
“It is highly recommended to consult a doctor or dietician before you start off with any diet plan as it is purely customised from person to person, to know the requirement to meet their Recommended dietary allowance of the day,” informs Pranathi.
“Macro and micronutrients are extremely important for our bodies to function. It is essential to consult a doctor to make sure you don’t land up with any deficiency that could end up affecting your health in other ways,” advises Rachel Goenka, CEO & Founder of The Chocolate Spoon Company. People opt for a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle for a number of reasons.
Nutritionist & Lifestyle Educator Karishma Chawla highlights, “Going by the concept of bio-individuality, one diet does not fit all. So check what agrees with your body. The trick is to eat a rainbow of foods with all food groups to avail of maximum nutrients and focus on gut health for full nutrient absorption!”
The switch to plant-based milk is gaining momentum as milk from dairy farms is considered to be contaminated with hormones and antibiotics. Another reason being some people are lacto-intolerant, Rachel Goenka opines, “There are options like soy, coconut, nut milk, oat, and hemp milk. If you are opting for nut milk as a protein source then you are better off consuming nuts since they have far more protein. Coconut milk has zero protein, but is low in calories. Soy milk contains the most amount of protein, but is higher in calories than almond or coconut milk so it depends on an individual’s reasons for consuming nut milk.” Besides, one has to be careful with soy milk as it is a gut irritant.
Foods to avoid
By just decreasing or excluding animal foodstuff does not inevitably entail that a plant-based diet regimen is wholesome and beneficial. It is equally important to cut down on or shun harmful foods like processed stuff, carbonated beverages, excess salt, refined flour and fried foods.
Chawla explains, “Herbs like cinnamon add sweetness in foods and minimal use of honey and jaggery is advisable since they do contain calories. Processed or packaged foods are high either on sugar, sodium or bad kind of fat. They lead to inflammation in the body which makes the body prey to diseases and add to fat percentage.”
Over time, eating plant-based food will become a habit. Here are ways to start:
• Begin your day with a breakfast of whole grains like quinoa khichdi, kuttu ka paratha, methi thepla, oatmeal with walnuts, seeds and fruits, and granola bars.
• Consume lots of vegetables – a rainbow variety – for lunch and dinner. Take veggies along with hummus, salsa, chutneys, and guacamole at snack time.
• Steam or stir-fry green leafy vegetables like spinach, spring onion greens, kale. Create a meal around a salad consisting of herbs, veggies and greens.
• Use good fats like olive oil, avocado or rice bran oil. Keep rotating them after every three months.
• Eat dates, raisins or dry fruits soaked in honey for dessert.
A diet plan for beginners:
Rolled oats with bananas, nuts and a spray of cinnamon. Whole wheat flour wrap filled with beans, peppers, onions and – salsa, guacamole or any sauce of your choice.
Sweet potato medallions with peanut butter sauce and lemon-dressed chickpea with rocket leaves (arugula) salad bulk up the plate strikingly. Methi paratha with raita and maa ki dal for mains.
Tofu saag/dal palak, quinoa pilaf and mango-avocado salad are a perfect combo of nutrients and taste.