Here you’ll find a collection of tips for all of you wishing to eat more vegetarian and vegan – but perhaps not the tips you’ve seen a hundred times before. No, instead we’re hoping to share some new thoughts and inspiration, and that we together can work for a greener food norm. Remember that each plant based meal counts – for our planet as well as your health – and that no complete commitments are required to contribute to positive change.
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1. Rethink the look of your plate.
The typical animal protein – carb – veggie set up could work if you rely on meat substitutes a lot, but we’d like to say that’s a slippery slope to head down. There are great products on the market, no doubts about that, but switching out a piece of meat for a soy based replacement product is very likely just going to disappoint. And that disappointment could make you lose interest and dismiss vegetarian food altogether, which wouldn’t be one bit fair. It’s much wiser to zoom out a bit and learn how to cook with ingredients as opposed to products, and approach plant based food differently altogether, as the components are often more mixed together (or, that’s how it often tastes the best!).
2. Shoot for a plant based milk in your coffee/tea and – really – all things cooking.
It might take a while before you find your preferred alternative to go with coffee, but we’re convinced anyone could do it. Personally, we’re oat milk devotees, and oat milk comes with barely any CO2 footprint at all. For baking, pancakes, sauces or other purposes where you would normally go for regular cow’s milk, opt for a plant based option instead. There’s no way you could tell the difference!
Check out our oat milk taste test to find out which one we like best in our coffee.
3. Make tahini and peanut butter your new best friends.
With these two on hand, creamy dressings and cold sauces are just a bit of whisking away. Flavor variations are endless and a good amount of nutrients is part of the deal as well, and you’ll never have to fear a dry meal ever again. This way, you’ll shrink your dependency on, let’s say, sour cream and creme fraiche.
4. Expand your vegetable universe.
The classic meat and potato diet doesn’t quite involve a plethora of veggies on the plate, but often just a sad pile of lettuce and tomatoes on the side. Friends, this isn’t fair to the vegetable kingdom! Learn to cook with winter and summer squash, string beans, Jerusalem artichokes, celery root (celeriac), beets, parsnips, cauliflower, pak choi, kale, different types of cabbage, sweet potatoes, kohlrabi, salsify, spinach, chard, peas and more, and discover for yourself how easy and delicious it is to eat more green.
The most underrated vegetable – celery root (celeriac): Vegan “Fish” Tacos With Breaded Celery Root, Cabbage and Lime Sauce (left) and Creamy Celeriac Soup With Potatoes and Thyme (right).
5. Always cook enough for lunch the next day.
Only cooking for one meal isn’t smart for many reasons. Here are a few: 1. It doesn’t take twice as long to cook a double batch, but instead nearly no time extra at all. That means it’s an excellent time saver. 2. You only need to do one big clean up, which means water (and time) saved. 3. You only turn on stove and/or oven once, which means power saved. 4. You’ll be equipped with a home cooked plant based meal the next day, which means no risk of falling victim for meat temptations. Money saved, climate impact reduced.
6. Get into soups, stews and filling “salads”.
We say “salad” because the name may have some people think of a lettuce tower that isn’t a proper meal, but due lack of a better word, we have to use it. When we say salad in this context, we’re thinking of a range of filling, nutritious ingredients that have been tossed together in a salad-like fashion. You could find kale, chickpeas, quinoa, sweet potatoes, dried cranberries, various nuts and seeds in there, for example. But back to the original point: that you should get into soups, stews and salads. Why? Well, because we told you above to “rethink the look of your plate” and this is the practical application of that. Chances are infinitely higher that you’ll enjoy your first attempts at plant based food if you shoot for dishes where the ingredients are mixed together over those where you just replace the meat with, let’s say, a pile of beans.
Two of our favorite salads: Spiced Lentil Salad with Carrots (left) and Loaded Kale Salad With Sweet Potatoes and Tahini Dressing (right).
7. Flavor is your best friend.
Equip yourself with a range of spices and other flavor boosting ingredients and don’t be afraid to use them. Smoked paprika, chipotle paste, Dijon mustard, tahini, nutritional yeast and balsamic vinegar are all great items to have around.
8. Texture is key.
Or, should we say, different textures is key. Sometimes, plant based concoctions can lean mushy. That’s just the way it is. Rice and beans. Lentil stew. You get the point. Enter: a sprinkle of nuts or seeds. Few things can work such magic! Peanuts are excellent in stir fries and with any and all Asian dishes, whereas toasted sunflower seeds (or crispy chickpeas for that matter) are amazing as a soup topping. Toasted pumpkin seeds are unbeatable in salads. A bit of crunch makes a world of difference!
9. Master veggie patties.
Being able to make a ton of delicious patties in one go and fill up the freezer is truly a food hack – not just because you’ll save time and money, but also because these patties will be the perfect thing to replace the meat part on your plate with. We mentioned above how soups, stews and salads are such great dishes because they don’t come with the challenge of replacing, let’s say, a piece of grilled chicken or steak or something like that with a plant based option, but you can’t live off of those alone. At some point, you’ll want you roasted potatoes or root veggies and you’ll need something in place for the meat you’d normally shoot for. It’s of course totally cool to go for a meat substitute kind of product, but we’d really like to encourage you to learn how to make your own patties. Variations are endless. You can use lentils, beans, chickpeas, yellow peas etc as the main ingredient and add in grated carrots or zucchini, a cooked grain, corn or green peas, herbs, mashed potatoes, cooked sweet potato or winter squash, finely chopped toasted nuts… not to mention the flavors. You can go smoky, spicy, herby, lemony. And don’t forget to make many. Like 50 of them. Freeze them individually on a cutting board and then place in bags or containers for easy defrosting.
10. Cook other types of cuisines.
By expanding your food horizons a little and not just attempting to cook the way you always have, you might find that new flavors and types of dishes will help you transition much better and more easily. If you normally never eat Indian stews but try a plant based one with lentils, your focus will be more on the new flavors than the fact that there’s no meat in there, as opposed to a dish you eat all the time and are used to.
11. Keep yourself inspired!
Make sure you have an abundance of inspiring, intriguing and – perhaps most importantly – cookable recipes on hand, whether through a selection of food blogs, a few cookbooks or some go-to accounts on Instagram. Decide ahead of time what you’ll cook the upcoming week and create your grocery list as part of that, so when time comes to actually cook, you know you’ll have all the ingredients at home.
12. Track your spending.
In almost all cases, switching to a plant based diet will mean lowered food expenses. (This is another reason to mostly avoid meat substitutes, as these are much more expensive than beans, peas and lentils, whether dried or canned). If you make it obvious for yourself – by tracking your food spending – you’ll create a massive incentive to continue down the greener path.
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– Sophia & Michael