Beautiful healthy woman with strawberries

11 simple swaps towards living a plant-based lifestyle

by Laura McNamara, founder of Island Whole Foods

Eating a plant-based diet is not as hard as you’d think. Here are 11 simple swaps you can make towards living a plant-based lifestyle.

1 // Swap cow’s milk for plant milk

Have you ever considered ditching dairy for something plant-based? Maybe you’ve tried soy milk before and hated the taste, but did you know there are lots of other options out there and it’s so easy to make your own?

Whether you try almond, oat, coconut, rice, pea or hemp milk, you’ll be making a really easy switch. Our favourite is cashew milk, especially in smoothies. Just add a handful of cashews to your smoothie and replace milk with water.

Almonds and almond milk

Did you know it’s pretty easy to make almond milk yourself?

2 // Swap beef burgers for veggie burgers

It’s probably no surprise, but beef burgers don’t have a great deal of nutrition content and are often full of fat – especially if you buy the pre-made ones. Why not try out some veggie burgers which are often filled with lentils, chickpeas, tofu and beans?

You can easily pick up veggie burgers from the supermarket or you can make your own. Sweet potato and chickpea burgers are our favourite with house-made cashew cheese.

3 // Swap butter for coconut oil

If you’re mad on baking, try opting for coconut oil instead of butter. It adds a subtle coconut flavour that is full of fatty acids and boosts brain function.

As an added bonus, coconut oil has been seen to help boost your metabolism and reduce hunger.

Fruit smoothie

Yes, you did read that correctly – there’s a way to make your own guilt-free ice-cream at home.

4 // Swap ice-cream for frozen bananas

Also known and nice-cream, blending up frozen bananas creates a similar consistency as ice-cream without the dairy, refined sugar, preservatives and other nasties.

You can add anything you like to the bananas – think berries, mango, toasted coconut and nuts. Our favourite combo is placing a few frozen bananas in a blender with a tablespoon of cacao nibs, two dates and a handful of almonds.

5 // Swap meat for beans or mushrooms

Salads are a lunchtime staple in our house but rather than grabbing out a can of tuna or slicing up some chicken, we use beans to add that protein boost.

Four bean mix is a really nice option because it gives you some variety, otherwise chickpeas or lentils work really well, too. If you have time for a fry-up, fry a whole bunch of mushrooms with a little sea salt. You can even do this ahead of time and place in the fridge to add to salads or grains when needed.

Healthy salad with chickpeas

Looking for a plant-based-friendly protein boost in your next salad? Try beans, chickpeas or lentils.

6 // Swap eggs for chia seeds

When you’re baking a cake, muffins or other sweat treats, test out using a chia egg instead. It’s a tablespoon of chia seeds mixed in with two-and-a-half tablespoons of water. Just mix it together in a cup and let it sit for a couple of minutes. You’ll see the seeds puff up and become almost jelly like.

An added benefit of chia eggs is that they are packed with Omega 3 fatty acids and are loaded with antioxidants.

7 // Swap cream for coconut cream

When you need to add a little extra decadence to a cake or some berries, try whipping up a can of coconut cream instead of grabbing the dairy alternative.

8 // Swap mayonnaise for avocado

We never feel like this is a compromise because we love avos so much! They’re a great addition to a sandwich and add lots of flavour and moisture.

Plus, avocados are packed with so much goodness like potassium, fatty acids, fibre and can even lower cholesterol. You’ll never look back.

Zoodles and carrots

Zoodles are a great option if you want to cut back on carbs but still feel like you’re getting something in place of noodles.

9 // Swap egg noodles for zoodles

If you’re wondering what a zoodle is, it’s basically zucchini noodles that emulate the texture and shape of regular egg noodles. All you need is a spiraliser and a zucchini and away you go.

Rather than just the empty carbs you get from noodles, you’ll be filling up on a green veggie that’s nutrient dense and really tasty. Try making zoodles out of carrot or beetroot to jazz up your next stir-fry!

10 // Swap creamy dressings for tahini

Not familiar with tahini? It’s sort of like peanut butter consistency but it’s made with toasted and ground sesame seeds so it has a delicious nutty taste.

We make a great creamy dressing by whipping together tahini, lemon juice, a pinch of sea salt and coconut sugar and water.

11 // Swap milk chocolate for dairy-free

There are loads of vegan chocolate options available now with Loving Earth and Pana Chocolate being two of the most popular in Australia. You should be able to find these at your local health food shop.

But these chocolates can be a bit expensive, so you might like to try making your own chocolate by mixing together raw cacao, coconut oil and maple. Add in nuts, seeds, freeze dried fruit or coconut and you’ll create a delicious and wholesome treat.

You might also like: Soul Food: Pistachio matcha balls, Soul Food: Sweet potato and almond butter brownies and Soul Food: Activated charcoal detox smoothie with hemp granola.