A beginner’s guide to plant-based diets 

Are you thinking about eating less meat and more plant-based? Are you looking for guidance on the perfect vegan diet? This basic plant-based guide for beginners should help. 

First off, what is a plant-based diet? 

This diet is rich in plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, legumes and grains. Traditionally it doesn’t contain animal products including meat, fish, eggs and dairy.  Many people following a plant-based diet swop their meat with meat alternatives like Fry’s to help them transition. But many also use meat alternatives to cut down on their meat intake a few times a week. That is called a Flexitarian diet and is very popular with those who want to just eat less meat. 

DON’T BE A CARBO-VORE 

Pasta, bread and potato chips are not the only vegan foods around. Make sure you are eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and grains. Variety is the key and will ensure that you are getting all the macro and micronutrients that your body needs to function, and will help you to feel energetic and sustained. 

PLAN AHEAD 

Not only will you need to factor in extra time at the supermarket to read all the labels, but you must ensure that every meal is delicious so that you don’t panic-buy frozen chips at the petrol station store.  

THERE IS NO NEED TO FEEL DEPRIVED 

Many meat-eaters have a preconception that vegans are restricted to a life of salad and uninspiring bowls of vegetables when that’s simply not the case. Opting for a plant-based diet does not mean you need to sacrifice the things you loved before. From burgers and sausages, ice cream and pies – there are some brilliant alternatives on the market (like Fry’s) that will make you wonder why you ever ate meat in the first place.  

LET SOMEONE ELSE COOK FOR YOU FROM TIME TO TIME 

Look for good vegan restaurants and flexitarian restaurants that offer vegan options – and support them when you are in need of something different. Game changer!  

GET CREATIVE 

Vegan meals can be exciting, delicious and full of flavour, so take this opportunity to try new foods and experiment with ingredients. There are thousands of recipes online with inspiration and ideas to help you cook amazing new dishes and interesting variations of your old favourites.  

Here are some essentials you need to know about a vegan diet: 

WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR PROTEIN FROM? 

Your body needs protein to make and repair cells. Protein is essentially a building block for skin, cartilage, blood, muscle and bones. 

The USDA recommends 0.8 g protein per 1 kg. At the moment, on average, people are eating almost double that in developed countries. If your kilojoule intake is derived mostly from fruit and vegetables and a wide variety of plant-based foods, rich in all essential amino acids, you will get enough protein. 

Vegans get their protein from a multitude of sources. It’s plentiful in wholemeal breads, beans, corn, lentils, peas, chickpeas, oatmeal, nuts and meat-alternatives like Fry’s

VITAMIN B12 

B12 helps keeps nerves and blood cells healthy. Yes, vitamin B12 is not found in plant-based foods but like humans, animals do not produce B12 either.  

So why do you need to supplement B12 if you are eating predominantly plants? 

B12 is created by bacteria and fungi that would normally be found on our food and in our water, but due to sterilisation and thorough cleaning followed by manufacturers and producers, the B12 is being stripped from the plants.  

Animals raised for slaughter usually drink dirtier water and foods with high levels of B12. When you consume these animals, you also consume the B12 that they have stored in their bodies.  

Plant-based sources of B12 include: B12 supplements (usually taken sublingually) and foods fortified with B12 (e.g. some plant milks, soy products and cereals). You can also get a B12 injection, which is usually recommended if you have issues absorbing this vitamin from your gut, such as people with Crohn’s disease or gastrointestinal issues. 

OMEGA-3S FROM VEGETABLE SOURCES? 

Omega-3 fatty acids are linked to heart health and brain development, and are critical to good long-term health and wellness. Fish oil supplements aren’t the only source of omega-3s: think flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts, hemp seeds and algae (which is available in supplement format). The essential fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) comes from plants and is converted to EPA and DHA (both essential omega-3 fatty acids) in the body. 

Remember, we are not Doctors or Dieticians and it is important to consult with one if you are making a big change to your diet. 

Essentially your diet is a personal choice and while many choose a vegan diet and lifestyle for ethical reasons, it is entirely possible to go plant-based without living a full vegan lifestyle. At Fry’s we believe that every choice made to leave meat off a plate is a positive one and that everyone is on their own journey