Top Five Reasons to Eat More Plants

We all know about the importance of incorporating more vegetables into our diets, but plant-based eating is so much more than that! It encompasses everything from whole grains to berries, beans to lentils, fresh herbs to nuts and seeds. This week on the blog we check in with expert and Registered Dietitian, Brandon Gruber with Revive Wellness, and our very own Vegan Chef, Michelle Robinson, for their take on the benefits of adding in more plant-based dishes into your weekly meal repertoire.

Fibre is Fundamental

According to Health Canada, recommended daily fibre intake for Canadian women is 25 grams per day and men need 38 grams of fibre per day but most Canadians are only getting about half that much.

“Fibre is an amazing nutrient that seems to be greatly underestimated, and you can only really find it in plants,” says Gruber.

“It helps regulate the feeling of fullness, it stabilizes blood sugar, it helps with gut health and regularity. Most of the clients I work with experience an overall betterment in their well-being just by increasing their fibre intake with plant-based eating.”

High-fibre diets have also been shown to prevent certain illnesses especially in men and women over the age of 50. According to the Canadian Digestive Health Foundation, as the body ages, the digestive tract becomes less effective at absorbing fibre. A high-fibre diet helps stimulate the movement of the digestive system and can prevent related illnesses like constipation and diverticulosis.

Variety of Nutrients

Adding in more produce, legumes and nuts into your diet certainly offers a boost of nutrients, but wading into unfamiliar territory isn’t always easy.

“I’ve found that a lot of vegan recipes online can actually be very complicated and intimidating for someone who is looking to introduce more plant-based meals into their diet,” says Brandon Gruber.

If you’re just starting out, Brandon recommends trying a simpler approach, adapting recipes you already know and love using plant-based ingredients or finding foundational dishes like curries or tacos that you can change up based on your own taste preferences, adding in whatever you have on hand.

“It’s also important to work to find suitable replacements for favourite proteins. Simply just taking out animal proteins isn’t enough, you need to find the best way to supplement, and that will go a long way in terms of sustainability and energy levels,” says Gruber. “Tofu, tempeh, beans, lentils and seitan are always great options.”

“Michelle does such a great job of packing a large variety of ingredients and flavour into a single dish,” says Debbie Robinson of Good Stock Foods. “It’s the variety of spices, seasoning, vegetables and balanced protein that really make the food super nutritious and very tasty. A lot of our customers aren’t even vegan. They just love the food and they know it’s good for you too so they keep coming back.”

Supporting Local Businesses

There’s a growing list of options you can lean on to supplement your plant-based eating and support local businesses and farmer’s all at the same time.

“I didn’t even learn to cook this way in culinary school, how can you expect someone who is just starting out to be able to create some of these dishes in their own homes?” says Chef Michelle Robinson.

“We try to take the complication out of eating plant-based. These recipes are tested, re-jigged and tested again until we get it right, saving our customers and friends, the hassle of having to figure it out on their own. We really do our best to be an ally, and a support both for vegans and for families just looking to introduce more vegan options into their meal planning.”

Here’s a list of favourite local restaurants and suppliers that also offer plenty of yummy plant-based options:

Pushing Yourself Out of Your Culinary Comfort Zone

Western diets have traditionally been very animal protein centric and it’s by spreading our wings in the kitchen and exploring different ways of eating around the world that we can find new and exciting ways to feed our families.

“There’s so many different parts of the world that the base of what they eat is all plants,” says Gruber. “Try just picking a part of the world and exploring how you can adapt those dishes, whether it’s a curry, a soup or even a different method of cooking, and incorporating some of that international influence to the food.”

Achieving Your Health Goals in A Meaningful Way

People gravitate towards plant-based eating for a number of reasons, whether personal, health related or value-based, Gruber recommends exploring the root of those motivations before embarking on a lifestyle change.

“It’s not just about what you’re eating, it’s about how it factors into everything else that you’re doing. What is the meaning behind it?” says Gruber. “Whenever someone comes to me and says they want to eat more plant-based or vegan, I always like to have a conversation around the meaning behind it for them and their motivation, because if there is a particular motivation it’s more meaningful.”

He suggests considering the reasons behind the change and whether or not it’s practical for your life. In the long run, making these considerations will help you stick to your goals and keep your changes sustainable.

We would like to thank Registered Dietitian, Brandon Gruber, for participating in this article. We’d also like to share that this blog post is for informational purposes only and that you should always consult the advice of a doctor before making any changes to your diet.