The idea of celebrating ‘World Plant Power Day’ on March 7 every year, might be a fairly new concept but the popularity of plant-based foods started many years ago. There has been a drastic shift in the perception towards plant-based foods and we are seeing a movement towards a more sustainable lifestyle. “Be it the food that we consume or the beauty products we use, people have started to shift towards more organic, ‘free-from’ and plant-based food items and essentials. Vegetarian eateries always existed but now even vegan eateries are popping up. Social media influencers and vegans often speak about the benefits of a plant-based lifestyle,” says Sheela Krishnaswamy, nutrition and wellness consultant.
People prioritise plant-based consumption as a sign of concern towards health, ethics, and environment. However, shifting to an all-vegetarian or vegan lifestyle has also raised a few concerns. “The most common concern amongst vegetarians/vegans is that consuming plant-based foods might not provide adequate protein. However, well-planned plant-based diets are not just healthy and nutritious, but may also help to prevent heart disease, type-2 diabetes, hypertension, and obesity,” she tells indianexpress.com.
Ahead of World Plant Power Day, here are four plant-based foods that you can add to your diet if you are a vegetarian or vegan, or thinking of becoming one:
Consuming almonds every day is probably an integral part of many Indian households. Almonds are amongst the world’s most popular tree nuts. They are a rich source of protein and can be consumed as a protein-rich alternative to an unhealthy snack like potato chips. “In 100 g of almonds, you get 21.15 g of protein. They are also rich in over 15 nutrients such as vitamin E, magnesium, protein, riboflavin, and zinc. Having a handful of almonds helps to keep hunger at bay in between meals. Almonds also help in lowering total and LDL cholesterol improving your heart health. Almonds make a delicious and healthy snack, so, be sure to include a handful of almonds in your diet and your family’s diet every day,” says Krishnaswamy.
We have been consuming citrus fruits like oranges, lemon, grapefruit, and sweet lime our whole lives. The best part of consuming citrus fruits is that they are high in fibre and low in calories. They are an excellent source of vitamin C, antioxidants, folate, and potassium. Vitamin C is known to give your immune system a boost, and also to assist in iron absorption. Also as they contain a high degree of moisture, they also help you stay hydrated.
Some of the most widely consumed root vegetables are onions, beetroot, potatoes, sweet potato, ginger, carrots etc. They stay fresh for much longer when compared to the other vegetables. They play a role in keeping our bowel habits regular. They contain antioxidants that can help to fight free radicals. They also provide carbohydrates, which is a source of energy for the body. The best part is that root vegetables are easily accessible and are available at most times of the year.
Lentils, popularly known as ‘dals’ come in red, yellow, and white variants (moong, tur, channa, masoor, urad). They all belong to the legume family and contain high levels of protein and fibre. Lentils are a staple in most Indian households, although the way they are consumed varies across states. They are easy to prepare and are a good source of protein. They provide many of the essential amino acids to the human body. However, they need to be consumed in combination with cereals to obtain all the essential amino acids. Lentils can be consumed in a variety of ways: dal tadka, sambhar, dosa, idli, khichdi, and so on.