Melbourne's Millie Padula on how to become a plant-eating pro.
More and more people are switching to a plant-based diet thanks to its proven health and environmental benefits. With the increase it switches, as well as the abundance of plant-based cafes popping up in Geelong, we got in touch with the lovely Millie Padula from Dietitian Edition.
She is a Melbourne-based Accredited Practising Dietitian, Accredited Nutritionist and Founder of Nutrition Consultancy company Dietitian Edition as well as an Inside Out Ambassador and is here to share some tips about making that transition to plant-based eats.
Here’s what she had to say:
A plant-based diet is a style of eating where plants form the basis of the diet yet animal products in all of their forms aren’t omitted. The words vegan, vegetarian and plant-based tend to be used interchangeably because the plant-based definition is a little vague and subjective.
As a dietitian, I am a huge advocate for a plant-based style of eating! After all, some of the most well researched and advantageous diets in the world are constructed around plants i.e The Mediterranean Diet. Most of us do need to prioritise including more plants in our diets but animal products do not have to be completely removed to lead a healthy lifestyle
When thinking of transitioning to a plant-based style of eating, the first thing to remember is that your mind-set is everything. It’s important not to go into this new chapter with a closed, restrictive, guideline-driven mindset. Plant-based eating is the exact opposite of that. It encourages you to incorporate more plants into your diet without being fixated on rules and restrictions. Plant-based diets allow for ‘all-foods’ and are a sustainable and highly enjoyable way of eating. Don’t forget that! For any lifestyle or dietary change to be maintainable, you must understand your ‘why’. In this case, why do you think it’s important to eat more plants? Is it to improve your gut health, your mental health, immune strength, disease risk, skin and sleep quality, environmental impact, animal welfare? There is no right answer, the purpose just has to align with you!
Secondly, think about all of the simple things you can do to slowly start implementing more plants in your diet. Remember, plant-based doesn’t necessarily mean excluding animal products all together, so before you become overwhelmed with the concept of plant-based, you don’t actually have to remove any foods, phew!
Knowing where to shop and what to put in your trolley doesn’t have to be too complicated. While I do prefer to shop local where I can, I appreciate that supermarket chains are the most convenient and accessible for most consumers. Thankfully, you can find everything you need for a well-balanced plant-based diet at traditional grocery stores.
When shopping, You don’t need to fill your trolley with expensive ‘fake-meats’ or ‘cashew cheeses’ and ‘vegan ice-creams’ which are often expensive and lack nutritional value.
Instead, you can find all the nutrition you need in everyday household staples. Fill your trolley with fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables (both are just as nutritious), tinned or dried lentils and legumes, nuts and seeds (buy these in bulk to keep costs at a minimum), and whole-grains and cereals such as rice, pasta, rolled oats, quinoa, cous-cous, wholegrain breads/wraps etc. I also think a great alternative to dairy milk is almond or oat milk, particularly a brand such as Inside Out, whose homegrown journey started in Sydney farmers markets and only uses Aussie almonds, oats and real ingredients with an abundance of nutritional value.
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Here are a few places to start your journey:
- Plan your meals at the start of the week and aim for 75% of the ingredients to be derived from a plant. Remember, plants don’t just equate to vegetables, they also cover fruits, nuts, seeds, lentils, legumes and wholegrains so get creative on how you can incorporate these types of foods into the meals you regularly cook at home. If that is too much for you – substitute 50% of the meat with a plant-based alternative. You won’t be able to tell the difference.
- Be smart with your snacks. Fill the fridge and pantry with plant-based snacks such as fresh/dried fruit, muesli bars with lots of wonderful grains/nuts/seeds, wholegrain crackers and dips made from legumes/vegetables (hummus and avocado varieties are my favourite).
- Start by swapping one animal-based ingredient at each main meal. I like to drizzle olive oil on my toast instead of butter, spread avocado on sandwiches instead of mayonnaise and lastly, reduce my meat intake at dinner and make up the rest of the portion with a new vegetable or grain I haven’t tried. Freekeh has been my new favourite grain as of late and I’m loving the nutty flavour and coarse texture it adds to my meals.
- You may wish to try a fortified plant-based milk such as Inside Out’s Almond/Oat Milk which contains the necessary vitamins and minerals you would find in traditional dairy-based milks. Add plant-based milks to smoothies, breakfast bowls, in your home baked sweet treats or as a substitute to cream and/or milk in savoury pasta dishes or curries.
- Lastly, your diet must be enjoyable to be sustainable. Start small, and build on each goal as it becomes a habit.
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For more information on Inside Out, visit www.insideoutng.com.au.