Zurich Goes Plant-based

Food Zurich started off with a bang and for those unaware of this popular food festival, it is a celebration of everything that stimulates the taste buds! This recent edition also included an event that is all about plant-based eating, hosted by the newest hotspot in town, Beetnut.

It was an absolute pleasure being part of this mini workshop (…well more of a chit-chat over a glass of vegan wine) that’s all about plant-based nutrition and answering common questions about this eating approach. So, here are the most frequently asked questions as discussed on the night:

What exactly is a plant-based diet?

The name really says it all…A plant-based diet is one that is derived from plants and includes a well-planned variety of foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes and wholegrain, unprocessed products. It is also a diet that significantly reduces or eliminates the consumption of animal-based foods. Two keywords to keep in mind here are unprocessed and plants! Benefits of transitioning to a more-plant-based diet are endless – whether it’s improving health or the environment, going plant-based will evidently make you feel good from the inside out. Anti-inflammatory and immune enhancing benefits are the biggest plus since the bulk of this diet is, you guessed it, derived from antioxidant rich plants!

How does it differ from veganism?

Veganism is strictly avoiding any animal-based products which also includes honey as well as embracing an all-rounded lifestyle considering animal welfare, avoiding leather and any other material made from animals. Now, a plant-based diet can be seen as a big cloud that includes the different forms of vegetarianism with differing levels of eliminating animal foods.

Can I still call myself plant-based if I consume animal-based foods?

Frankly, I am no fan of placing labels on the way we eat as I am a firm believer that everyone can create their own template of eating that works best for them. Taking the best of what all the different diets have to offer and creating your own is one way to go. The term plant-based actually doesn’t confine you to one way of eating, which is what I like.

What are the best sources of plant-based protein?

Protein is normally one of the first nutrients people tend to get concerned about. We all exceed are protein requirements and to give you a basic estimate of your individual requirement – multiply your body weight (Kg) by 0.8 to get an estimate of how much protein in grams your body requires per day.

Plant-based sources of protein are abundant and include but are not limited the following:

  • Legumes: beans, lentils, chickpeas are both sources of healthy carbohydrates and protein. They are also a great source of iron.
  • Grains: quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat, wholegrain products
  • Nuts and seeds: chia, sunflower, pumpkin, flaxseed, linseed, walnuts, almonds, pistachios and organic nut butter, sesame, tahini
  • Tempeh, tofu and seitan (also known as wheat meat, seitan is based on gluten; the protein found in wheat)
  • Spirulina
  • Extras: plant-based protein powders made from lupin, peas, brown rice, hemp

How could I start making the transition to a more plant-based diet?

One of the easiest ways to start is to set one day a week to go meat-free or animal free. For example, I encourage my clients to follow the # meatlessmondays. It may sound easy at first but you will need to plan and focus on finding the right substitutes for a well-balanced meal.  Another option would be to just cut out dairy for a week and use alternatives based on soy, almond or coconut.

What do I need to consider when putting my meals together?

To make sure that you expose your body to a variety of nutrients and boost the nutrient density of your meals, think of the following steps:

  • 50 % of your meal should include vegetables with a minimum of 3 types of vegetables
  • Then, think of your choice of protein – lentils or tofu or tuna or eggs
  • Finally, pick a healthy carbohydrate – quinoa, brown rice, sweet potatoes..etc.
  • Think of additional healthy toppings: avocado, seeds or nuts, hummus or tahini
Fancy transitioning to a more plant-based diet? Get in touch now and be ready to feel and look bloody good!

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