Six things you can do while stuck at home!
During this coronavirus outbreak, many of us are either forced or choosing to stay home to keep the virus from spreading. This can be frustrating, but I urge you to look on it as an opportunity to take some time to move toward a more plant-based diet, or if you’re already following a plant-based diet, to try some new recipes. This will enable you to use your time constructively, improve your overall health, and have fun trying some new recipes!
Here are some options for steps you can take, depending on your starting point, while you’re stuck at home!
Take the time to learn more about the impact of your food choices on your health, on the environment and on the animals in particular. We’ve been writing articles on these topics for many years, so our website has many, many articles to choose from. Just enter a word or two in the search box in the top right-hand corner, or click on a topic in the Article Categories box (in the right hand column on wider screens). Enjoy reading and learning!
Clean out your kitchen
If you’re just starting to think about changing your diet, you’ll no doubt have all kinds of food in your kitchen that you no longer wish to eat. Check best before or use by dates. Read the ingredients list of packaged food, looking particularly for any animal products.
Here’s a list of ingredients that you may not realize are animal products:
- Albumen – egg protein
- Carmine or Cochineal – a food-coloring agent used for its red color, derived from an insect
- Casein – milk protein
- Gelatin – derived from animal hooves
- Keratin – animal-derived coating agent
- Lactose – milk sugar from dairy sources
- Lanolin – oil from sheep’s wool
- Magnesium Stearate – used as a coating and may be either plant or animal derived; the label usually indicates which
- Renin or Rennet – coagulant used in dairy industry but derived from cow stomachs
- Whey – protein from dairy
You can also aim to reduce the amount of junk and snack foods. Eliminate any junk or snack foods with animal ingredients. If you have vegan snack and junk foods, reduce them an occasional treat rather than a regular staple. The better ones are low in fat, salt and added sugar and high in fiber. Read the labels! Don’t forget to check the foods in your fridge and freezer too.
Research recipes and products
Look for plant-based recipes and food products that will fit your lifestyle, and give you a balanced diet using whole grains, beans, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. Find good plant-based cookbooks, such as our Veg-Feasting Cookbook, or check out recipe websites such as vegetariantimes.com and www.eatplant-based.com. Take a tour of a natural food market, or natural section of your local supermarket. Read the ingredient labels and find new products that you want to try, as substitutes for things you no longer wish to eat. Make lists of recipes you want to try, products you want to find a better substitute for, and ingredients you want to buy.
Restock your kitchen
Our plant-based shopping guide can be very helpful for this step. Buy foods in small quantities to start with, until you’re sure you’re going to use it regularly. Consider buying containers for bulk items like grains and dried beans, so that you can make use of the bulk bins to lower your costs and reduce packaging. Consider cooking some dried beans, and even whole meals in batches and freezing them in meal-sized containers, so that you have them ready when needed.
For fresh produce, don’t buy everything at once – you might end up wasting a lot of food if you don’t get around to making all those recipes. Pace yourself – try a few new products a week. Accept that there will be some products you try and reject. That’s OK – everyone has different tastes, although you should know that your taste buds will change as you get used to new foods.
Test out your new recipes
Make a small batch the first time. If you have children at home, involve them in the preparation, and ask for feedback from all your household members. Sometimes minor tweaks to a recipe, such as increasing or decreasing the spices, can make all the difference. Enjoy the experiment!
Make a plan for a week
Finally, make a plan that you feel you can stick to for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack times. Then you can start to buy larger quantities of those products and ingredients, knowing that you will use them. You can gradually add more recipes and products to your plan in the future, but you’ll be off to a great start!