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5 Ways To Ease Into A Plant Based Diet

Thinking of going vegan? Foodie and plant-based advocate MIRA WEINER shares her tips.

Mira loves recreating beautiful replacements for some of her favourite dishes. Her recipes are often allergy friendly and free from dairy, gluten and refined sugar, and include some nut- and oil-free dishes, too. Here are Mira’s tried-and-tested suggestions to transition to a plant-based diet.

How to transition into a plant-based diet 

Here are Mira’s tried-and-tested suggestions. 

 Just do it

Start now, where you are with what you have.  Eating more plants has incredible benefits for your health, animals and the planet.  Make a start now, small steps lead to big impacts.- You can include a weekly Meat-free Monday night, make one meal everyday 100% plant-based or swap out dairy milk for plant-based milks. There are lots of different kinds on the market from oat, organic soy and rice to almond, cashew, hazelnut and coconut milk – experiment and find your favourite. 

Keep things simple

Don’t over complicate things, keep it simple.  Find substitutes for your favourite meals and check out your local grocery store to see what vegan products they stock. I find it easiest to focus on whole foods as you don’t need to check long ingredient lists and work out if they’re vegan friendly or not.  Stick with items that have short ingredients lists and are not overly processed.  

Support local

There are lots of restaurants and local food catering businesses offering vegan options or whole vegan menus for home deliveries. If you’re able to now is a great time to support the local food industry. 

Vegan nutrition

it is important to remember that all bodies are different and that there are different lifestyles within veganism that work better from one person to another. I am a firm believer in kindness over cruelty always.  Learn to get to know your body and listen to what it needs. 

When it comes to daily meals you can learn to “veganize” your current diet by simply swapping out animal-based products for vegan ones (i.e. vegan dairy for animal based dairy or vegan fake meats for animal based meats).  However, you won’t necessarily get all your important nutrients this way and some vegan replacements are expensive.  Personally, I find the best way to eat in the beginning is with simple foods that are economical and not difficult to find or expensive to purchase. 

I like to look at my plate and divide it into sections: ½ veggies, ¼ whole grains or starches and ¼ protein (beans, legumes, organic soy, etc). Then you can add healthy fats in the form of a marinade, dressing or sauce.  I also like to treat myself to vegan treats so I don’t feel deprived.  If you want this way of eating to stick it needs to be sustainable. 

Community

Find your foodie tribe online, social media is a powerful tool and there are some wonderful groups that are great for recipe inspiration, tips and support. Follow local and international vegan food bloggers, content creators and influencers. You can also sign up to veganuary.com to receive daily tips, meal plans and information on the benefits of a vegan diet.   

Oat, chickpea and cranberry choc brownies 

Try Mira’s one-bowl nutrient packed vegan and gluten-free chocolate brownies with a twist!

Makes: 9 medium square brownies
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes 

This is one of my favourite recipes and they’re even better the next day.  They’re super quick and easy to make, plus they’re great for festive treats too.  They originated during lockdown and were one of my first baked recipe creations, they always come out a little different each time but they’re always a winner – gooey, chocolaty, fudgy and delicious! 

This is a great allergy friendly sweet treat and I love that I can indulge in something scrumptious, knowing it’s packed with nutrients and free from all the things including gluten, nuts, dairy, eggs and refined sugars.  They’re loaded with oats, chickpeas and raw cacao powder which means they’re packed with nutrients.   

Oats are highly nutritious and filled with fibre, vitamins and minerals.  They’re also high in magnesium, zinc and iron. Plus they support heart health, assist blood sugar levels and aid digestion.  Chickpeas are a great source of fibre and protein, packed with vitamins and minerals, filled with iron, zinc and phosphorus as well as B Vitamins. 

They improve digestion, aid weight management, assist gut health, support blood sugar levels and can protect against chronic illnesses.  Raw cacao powder is a wonderful superfood and contains protein, fibre, iron, magnesium and potassium.  It has amazing health benefits including assisting with blood sugar levels, improving circulation, reducing inflammation, improving brain function and has positive effects on depression symptoms and is a natural mood lifter.   

A healthy brownie treat, let’s bake them right now.   

Ingredients

¾ cup gluten free oat flour (blend gluten free oats into a flour)
¼ cup chickpea flour
2/3 cup coconut sugar
¼ cup raw cacao powder
6 tbsp unrefined (virgin) coconut oil, melted
1 cup plant based milk (oat, organic soy or almond (if not nut free) works well)
1 flax or chia ‘egg’ (1 tbsp ground flaxseeds or ground chia seeds with 3 tbsp filtered water)
¼ cup refined sugar free dark chocolate chips or roughly chopped chocolate
Handful of sulphur free dried cranberries
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp apple cider vinegar (with the Mother)
½ tsp pure vanilla extract
Pinch of pink Himalayan salt 

Method

In a glass or cup make the chia or flax ‘egg’ by combining the ground seeds and water together.  Let sit for 5-10 minutes.  Combine the oat flour, chickpea flour, raw cacao powder, coconut sugar and pink Himalayan salt together in a bowl.  Mix well.  Place the baking soda into the bowl and add the apple cider vinegar directly on top so it foams. Add the coconut oil to the mixture.

Slowly mix in the plant based milk, vanilla and the chia or flax ‘egg’.  Once combined, add the chocolate chips or roughly chopped chocolate as well as the cranberries. Allow the mixture to sit for 5-10 minutes to thicken.

I use parchment paper but you can also oil a baking tin (19cmx19cm) with some melted coconut oil and pour the batter in. I use my mini convection oven to bake these at 175 for 20-25 minutes, it’s so easy and you don’t have to preheat the oven! 

Once done, allow to cool and serve with your choice of toppings.  I love this brownie with salted date caramel sauce and a scoop of coconut ice cream or coconut yoghurt.  It also works super well with a drizzle of tahini, maple syrup, raw cacao nibs and toasted sesame seeds. 

For more delicious recipes, visit www.miraweiner.com.  

Words: Mira Weiner

 

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