5 Tips on Making the Switch to a Plant-Based Diet
Vancouver celebrity and passionate food reporter, Erin Ireland shares her top tips for eating vegan, and a favorite recipe to get you started.
Erin Ireland’s passion for food and healthy living led to her journey towards giving up animal-based foods and choosing a vegan lifestyle. Here, she gives her top five tips for anyone considering joining her in a plant-based lifestyle. Read to the end for a colorful and nutritious recipe to get you started.
Three years ago is when my plant-based journey began. It started with a documentary (Forks Over Knives) that proved to me - with the help of science - that a vegan diet would be best for my health. Though I knew this to be true, I didn’t become vegan overnight. A lifestyle change as major as one’s diet often needs a bit more time to take form. A few years of documentary-watching and book-reading later, and I’ve become a 99% vegan eater.
Why didn’t I restrict myself from animal-based foods the day I learned they were harmful to our health, our planet and the well-being of livestock? Because without proper plant-based diet knowledge, including vegan cooking practice and ingredient sourcing, I was doomed to fail early on. And failure is an emotion that might have discouraged my own evolution along this exciting new path. The only way I could expect myself to maintain healthy vegan eating habits was to make sure they were rewarding, fun and easy enough to accomplish so that I’d feel the positive reinforcement and the healthy satisfaction of achieving my goals.
I believe that when trying to incorporate change, it’s important to start by setting lower, achievable goals rather than less realistic lofty ones. By gradually working your way through your changing lifestyle, you can ultimately achieve the highest goals of change. But the process of getting there is easier if you feel the success of achieving smaller goals along the way.
Saje Wellness feels the same way and I’m thrilled to team up with them for their #SpreadWellness campaign, which challenges our community to set daily, achievable wellness goals. We believe personal wellness is a lifestyle that we can each take control of through education, dialogue surrounding health and by setting of goals for personal growth.
Why do I love Saje? Firstly, they are offer a wide selection of vegan products. They don’t use any animal products nor do they test on animals. Secondly, all of their products are made with plant-derived essential oils and natural ingredients. Did you know that in Canada, a company can call their product natural if just 30% of their ingredients are natural? And in US it’s less than 10%? Saje’s ingredients are 100% natural.
Founders Jean-Pierre LeBlanc and Kate Ross LeBlanc are on a mission to connect people with the healing power of plants. And, they are doing an amazing job. With more than 40 locations across Canada and new stores opening in the US along with an online shop, Saje products are more accessible than ever. Plus, why not support a family-run Canadian company over big corporations? As for my favourite product? The Saje ultrasonic diffuser which fills the home with delicious, healthy smells like Rain Forest.. Turning it on is the first thing I do most mornings.
Without further ado, here are my five easy tips for transitioning to a plant-based diet.
Empower yourself with knowledge
For me, it wasn’t hard to eliminate those delicious animal-based foods that I used to love when I learned more about how they were being produced and the effects they had on our environment and our health. These nuggets of info were the water droplets that extinguished my burning cravings for such foods.
My favourite documentaries: Cowspiracy, Earthlings, Forks Over Knives.
My favourite books: Project Animal Farm, Eating Animals, Diet For A New America.
Source good ingredients
There’s nothing like a watery almond milk or a strange-tasting vegan cheese to turn anyone off of plant-based eating. There are wonderful, and truly delicious alternatives available in Vancouver which are created without compromise to flavour or quality. For almond milk, try The Juice Box, The Juicery & Co. or Glory Juice. For nut cheese, order direct through vegan chef Karen McAthy or try Miyoko.
Know your restaurants
As in every realm of food service, some vegan chefs fail to excite. You are assured an elevated experience at many Vancouver locales. Head to Exile Bistro, Chau Veggiexpress, The Acorn, Heirloom, Eternal Abundance and Indigo for some of the best vegan eats around.
I feel forever indebted to certain recipe bloggers who have paved the way for the rest of us aspiring to go vegan. They’ve slaved in the kitchen to perfect their vegan parmesan cheese recipe, their vegan mac and cheese recipe and their vegan peanut butter pie recipe.
Visit farms and connect with animals
Many farms claim to be ethical and to raise their animals naturally. Sadly, these statements are often not true. The best way to discover the truth is to head there yourself to meet the farmer and the animals. Spending time with animals also allows us to witness their intelligence, their personalities and above all, their sentient nature. Since, nutritionally, we don’t need to eat them, why bother?
Now, back to my favourite part: the food. Here’s one of my new favourite plant-based recipes that’s beautiful, fun to make and super healthy. You really can’t go wrong and you don’t need all the ingredients listed below. I consider this recipe a bit of an art project, so have fun with it and use whichever vegetables you find most beautiful.
Psychedelic Salad Rolls
For the filling:
8 rice paper wraps
1 head purple cabbage
5 big carrots
1 candy cane beet
1 watermelon radish
For the sauce:
½ c almond butter
6 tbsp lime juice
5 tbsp tamari
1 tbsp maple syrup
4 shakes sesame oil
water (to thin, as needed)
1. Prepare your vegetables: grate your cabbage and your carrots, slice your beet, radish and avocado (a mandolin comes in handy here).
2. To make the sauce: combine all ingredients in a jar and shake until combined.
3. To assemble your wraps: fill a large bowl with hot water. Insert one rice paper wrap at a time for 20 seconds. This is all the time it needs to soften. Carefully, remove from water and place on your flat surface. Arrange vegetables in the center, and roll your wrap like a burrito to finish.
4. Dip generously in sauce and enjoy.