How to Change to Plant-Based Eating

How do you change over from your current way of eating to plant-based?

Here are some simple tips to follow:

  • Use the Traffic Light model developed by Dr Greger — and detailed in his book “How Not to Die”.
  • Remember BALANCE is key:  all food groups play a role in a healthy diet.
  • Consider your protein options — there are many.
  • Carbs (the unprocessed ones!) are also important.
  • Fats —which ones are better (green light) than others (amber/red light).
  • Do not count calories.
  • Do exercise as part of this new lifestyle.
  • Look for interesting recipes.
  • Plan a basic menu.
  • Make a shopping list.

Go plant-based in 3 easy steps:

STEP 1                 

TRAFFIC LIGHT MODEL

Use this as a guide to plant-based eating.

Aim to eat this way 80% of the time.

 DefinitionWhy?Daily foodsNumber of servings/day
GREEN LIGHT
= GO!

EAT MORE
Unprocessed plant foods
Nothing bad added, nothing good taken away
These foods have MORE of the protective nutrients and FEWER of the disease-promoting factorsLegumes*
Berries
Other fruits
Cruciferous vegetables
Green vegetables
Other vegetables
Flaxseeds
Nuts
Spices
Whole grains
Water
Exercise
3
1
3
1

2

2

1
1
1
3

6-8 glasses
1
AMBER LIGHT
= CAUTION

EAT FEWER
Processed plant foods
And
Unprocessed animal foods
Suggested role of these foods: to promote the consumption of Green-light foods, e.g. having oats porridge (green-light) with almond milk OR having legumes with a little tomato sauceExamples:
Refined grains (white flour, mealie meal, white rice)
Almond milk (almonds are green light)
RED LIGHT
= STOP

EAT EVEN FEWER
Ultra-processed plant foods
And
Processed animal foods
Suggested role of these foods: to promote the consumption of Green-light foodsExamples:
Packet sauces
Box foods
Sweets

The main point is that the healthiest diet is one that maximizes the intake of whole plant foods and minimizes the intake of animal-based foods and ‘junk” foods (high on sugar and/or salt and/or cholesterol and/or trans fats).

*Legumes include soybeans, chickpeas, lentils, butter beans, kidney beans and many many more.   SOYA should be a fundamental component of your DAILY diet due to its phytonutrient component and the fact that it is the only legume that it is a COMPLETE PROTEIN.

Soya Life has 3 products that make incorporating soya easy:

  1. Soya Life Premium Porridge 500g
  2. Soya Life Breakfast Porridge 1kg
  3. Soya Life Instant Meal Replacement Drink 500g

Look out for these in Dischem.

Tips:

  • Don’t be obsessive: try not to adopt an “all-or-nothing” approach to this way of eating, as this could potentially set you up for failure.
  • Remember that foods are not so much “good” or “bad” as they are “better” or “worse”.
  • Make this practical and tasty for YOU and YOUR FAMILY – see steps 2 and 3.
  • Adding salt to food takes it into the Amber- and Red-light zones.
  • Allow yourself a favourite food (e.g. pizza) once a month or on special occasions.

STEP 2                 

LOOK FOR INTERESTING RECIPES

  • Google WHOLE-FOOD, PLANT-BASED recipes OR buy a South African vegetarian/vegan recipe book. Always check if the recipes REALLY appeal to you, otherwise search further!.
  • Another tip: on Google, type in the ingredients (green-light) that you have in your pantry and find recipes for these ingredients, e.g. spinach, chickpeas, tomato, whole-kernel corn. These ingredients could be made into a delicious curry or even a salad with a few select spices/condiments.

STEP 3                 

PLAN A SIMPLE MENU

  • Choose 3 recipes that appeal to you for your MAIN MEAL of the day.
  • Rotate these 3 recipes until you get the hang of plant-based basics. And then find more recipes.
  • Plan breakfasts (Soya Life porridge/oats) and the light meal with easy options.
  • Develop a standard shopping list. This will change over time as you become more in tune with this way of eating.

Enjoy the plant-based cooking adventure – Your body will thank you.

References and acknowledgements:

Dr M. Greger: “How Not to Die”: this book is highly recommended reading.