I have to laugh at how humans fight the concept of plant-based eating.
I was reminded of it again as I was watching the current season of Yellowstone recently (I’m a little behind, just now binging through it.) Without revealing too much, there’s a scene where Kevin Costner’s character yells at a protester about the problem with quinoa. Growing quinoa, he states, depletes the fields of mice, snakes, and all the good critters the land needs. The implications are clear: grazing cows don’t have the same problems.
Yep, I chuckle now, even thinking about it. Because it isn’t an uncommon argument.
People have all kinds of stories to justify meat consumption. Ever heard: “tomatoes have feelings too?”
Okay, maybe quinoa production does something to the little critters scurrying around on the ground. I don’t actually know; I’ve never researched it. But let’s talk about corn production used for cattle feed. Corn is a part of monocropping, which means the same crop is planted repeatedly, year after year. It depletes all the nutrients in the soil over time. And after years of mostly corn production throughout the Midwest, I’ve read numerous stories showing we’re quickly reaching problematic levels of dead soil.
I’ve kind of gone on a tangent here, but I’m doing so for a reason.
I see these messages periodically in movies and television shows. And I get it. We’ve eaten meat for a very long time.
But doing something “forever” doesn’t necessarily make it the best choice.
We’re human. We’ve come a long way in the short time we’ve been on earth. And despite how much we try and keep things the same, we’re constantly moving forward and figuring things out (even if it feels like we haven’t sometimes.)
For example, the World Health Organization lists red meat as a group 2a carcinogen. Processed meat moves up to a group 1 carcinogen, with strong evidence showing it causes cancer.
Just knowing that has made me think differently. Maybe meat isn’t always the best choice.
That’s why plant-based eating is growing.
What’s the one thing holding you back from moving to a plant-based lifestyle?
A study suggests one of the main holdbacks for people moving to plant-based lifestyle centers on taste. Could veggies ever taste as good as an omnivorous diet?
People are generally aware that eating more plants will make them healthier. That equates to feeling better. And that is one of the other top reasons people list for moving toward a plant-based lifestyle.
Yet people are anxious about making the switch because they’re nervous about giving up on flavor.
Most omnivores don’t understand that a plant-based diet is actually more vibrant and better tasting than they’ll ever find with meat products. But you have to give it time to understand plant-based cooking, and do it right. It took me a while to learn that, but once I did, I now eat some of the most flavorful meals I’ve ever consumed.
Plant-based advocate and author Dr Neal Barnard said in one of his books, “You will find that your taste buds have a memory of about three weeks.”
After a few years of being plant-based, my daughter started working at a new restaurant. As a part of their soft opening, they invited friends and family to dine and help work out any kinks in the system.
I’m plant-based. That means I focus on the quality of my food, and eat plants at every meal. I avoid meat at all costs, and try to avoid animal products when possible. While I don’t use them at home, occasionally, we’ll eat ice cream at a party, or consume cheese on a pizza. My goal is to live a happy, healthy, gorgeous life, and part of that is making the best choices for the situation.
The staff at this new restaurant raved about their milkshakes. So my husband and I decided to split one because they sounded good. Ice cream has always been a part of our lives, yet we hadn’t had a milkshake in years. We were reminded of some of the best shakes we’d ever had, so we said “yes.”
The milkshake didn’t taste as good as I remembered. And hours later, when we were both bloated from consuming dairy, it made us rethink our eating choices once again.
How to make plant-based food the most flavorful foods you’ve eaten
The number one reason people feel plant-based food isn’t flavorful is because they attempt to eat plant-based food in an omnivore’s world. What do I mean by that?
I’ll use restaurants as a perfect example. When you first move towards plant-based, you start by making more conscious choices at your favorite restaurants. These restaurants cater to omnivores, and rarely have high-quality plant-based entrees. So you eat at the same places you always have, with chefs who cater strictly to meat-driven consumers.
They don’t understand plant-based eating, so their selection (which is usually only one or two entrees anyway) is “boring” at best.
And because you only get one or two choices, you tend to eat the same things over and over again. This leads to a very dull meal plan, and makes you jump back to a meat-eating diet.
Cheese is another big concern. Omnivores complain about not being able to give up cheese. And it is hard to find meals in restaurants, or even recipes for that matter, that don’t use cheese.
Dive deep into plant-based living, and you’ll find a variety of things you can use instead of cheese. Some of the homemade cheese alternatives are amazing! I use one in place of ricotta for one of my favorite lasagnas, and another one that makes the classic potato soup healthier and better tasting.
If you want to go plant-based, but have had trouble sticking with it, here are my biggest tips that have swayed me towards plant-based living for life.
Tip #1: Sauce is everything
If you throw a bunch of tofu in a pan and bake it, it will be tiresome at best. But if you marinate it, the flavors kick in and can change your opinion forever.
Of course, that applies to more than tofu.
Sauces change the flavor of everything you cook: Vegetables, tofu, soups, pastas, and even fruits.
One of my favorite marinades for tofu:
- 4 tablespoons soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
Cut a 16-ounce package of extra-firm tofu into small blocks. Mix the sauce in a bowl, add the tofu and thoroughly coat. Marinate in the fridge for several hours. You can pan-fry the tofu, or bake it at 400F for 30 minutes, turning once during the baking cycle.
Get really good at your sauces. I even have a cookbook dedicated to sauces. It’s made all the difference.
Tip #2: Invest in quality spices
Open up your pantry right now and look at your spices. When were they purchased? Not sure? I feel your pain. I’ve been in your shoes.
When you work with old spices that no longer have any flavor, you’ll get more of the same with the foods you cook.
I would highly recommend throwing them all away and starting over.
Then start experimenting with different spices. You’ll notice flavors changing almost immediately. I can’t live without:
- Bay leaves
- Garlic salt
- Onion powder
Others will pop up occasionally, but these are the basic spices that should be in any pantry.
If you cook enough, you’ll empty bottles long before they dry out and lose their flavoring. If not, you can rotate them out regularly to keep the flavors fresh. How about changing out your spices on the first day of spring and fall? It works, because your recipes will typically change with the different seasons.
Put as much thought into buying spices as you do the rest of your plant-based foods. Don’t just buy a bottle from a store, pulling it from the back of a shelf. You can find high-quality spice shops online, where you’ll notice the difference just by unscrewing the cap. Mmm… the aroma!
Tip #3: Focus on plant-based cooking
Plant-based options are in abundance. And this doesn’t mean going to the grocery store and picking up plant-based burgers and chicken. Do a quick search and you’ll find restaurants nearby, cookbooks by some fantastic people, and even Instagram accounts that will whet your appetite.
I recently added Unbelievably Vegan to my collection. Charity Morgan is a plant-based chef. She’s also the wife of an NFL player, and had to convince her husband and friends that plant-based foods taste good. Her cookbook is the result!
Her recipes are great tasting and resemble authentic meals people grew up with. It’s not just pasta and salad.
As you start looking, you’ll find many foodies happy to share their plant-based recipes.
And they are absolutely incredible!
Plant-based ideas are everywhere.
But here’s the thing; just because it’s plant-based doesn’t always mean it’s good for you. Tyson, one of the largest food producers, has proven that. When they first released their “plant-based” line, it contained eggs and milk. That’s misleading at best, and creates confusion about what’s truly in the foods you buy. While they’ve since pulled eggs and milk from the ingredients, it serves as a warning for other big-name producers jumping into the plant-based marketplace.
To be a good cook doesn’t mean you have to find quick meal starters. Think of the plant-based chicken and meat products that are being introduced as a way to move away from meat. Use them as substitutes as you move towards plant-based. It’s an easy way to substitute plant-based products into the meals and recipes you already love.
But don’t stop there. Use cookbooks to find your favorite meals in plant-based format.
Here’s a tip: I Google recipe ideas all the time. Pad thai is one of my favorite meals. I Googled “vegan pad thai” multiple times until I found a recipe I truly love. Now it’s in rotation as one of my favorite recipes. Give it a try!
The only way to move to plant-based eating is one day at a time
Right now, I’m plant-based for life. With over a decade of eating plant-based, researching food and nutrition for almost three decades, I can tell you nothing will sway my desires and the way I eat.
I’ve made it my goal to shorten the time frame between decline and death, choosing to be as healthy as possible for life. I choose Gorgeous Wellth.