How hard can it be to eat better? Go vegetarian or vegan? Give up deliciousness? Eat more greens? Purge the pantry?
Whether you’re considering plant-based diet options for health reasons, or to have a lighter footprint on our environment, or just because you want to eat foods that don’t come from animals, it’s simple to make the swap in a few small steps that will have a big impact. In fact, there are likely basic food staples already in your kitchen fridge that can be swapped out for plant-based foods that taste great, are better for you and the planet, and for which you don’t have to change your lifestyle.
Here are three non-dairy, plant-based food swaps to get you started.
Plant-based spreads—eat better, not butter
Dairy butter may be delicious, but it is full of saturated fats and has a huge impact on our environment. The good news is that today’s margarines are better than butter from dairy cows and there are plant-based, non-dairy spreads that are great substitutes for dairy butter. Think of these like butters from another mother—Mother Earth. They contain no animal products and no trans fats.
After a decade of innovation and a lot of taste-testing with consumers, today’s dairy-free plant-based spreads are made with oils from nuts, fruits and plants. They spread, melt, cook and bake like dairy butter. The upside is that plant-based is lower in saturated fats and are lower in cholesterol than dairy products.
Plant-based spreads like I Can’t Believe it’s not Butter! contain no trans fats and no hydrogenated oils, and are made with good fats from plant-based oils such as omega-3 ALA. Eating foods with good fats is part of a healthy diet. I Can’t Believe it’s not Butter! Original also carries the American Heart Association’s Heart-Check mark, which helps take the guesswork out when reading nutritional facts and label information, giving consumers peace of mind that what they are consuming meets the nutritional requirements of the American Heart Association.
Today’s great-tasting and better-for-you-and-the-planet plant-based spreads are not your grandmother’s margarine or the high cholesterol, saturated fat dairy products of today.
Cheese is one of the most common food garnishes used in the world. Sprinkled on pizza, melted into lasagnas and grilled sandwiches, or sliced atop a cracker, the good news is that consumers can enjoy plant-based vegan cheeses without giving up their love of the delicious taste of dairy cheese.
The vegan cheese market is exploding as more consumers demand tasty plant-based options. Popular in vegan circles, plant-based cheese brand Violife is breaking into mainstream supermarkets with block, slices, grated and creamy products that look, smell, feel, taste and melt like dairy cheese. From grated mozzarella and sliced cheddar to cream cheeses and specialty cheeses like feta and Parmesan, plant-based foodies can now enjoy the tasty goodness of plants with the bonus that they are 100 percent vegan—free of animal products, preservatives and GMO ingredients.
Having long been the choice for those who are lactose intolerant, the landscape is changing. Beyond being environmentally friendly to produce compared to milk from dairy cows, non-dairy milks also have health benefits, including no cholesterol and a healthy combination of mono- and polyunsaturated fats. They also don’t have the antibiotics, hormones or other additives of their dairy counterparts. These plant milks can generally be used in nearly every recipe where milk is needed, from baking chocolate chip cookies to your morning protein fruit smoothie. Here are a few options to try:
- 5-Minute Vegan Breakfast Smoothie
- Oat Milk Pumpkin Pie with Oatmeal Cookie Crust
- Dark Chocolate Tart
Almond milk has high levels of monounsaturated fatty acids and may also help reduce chance of getting cardiovascular disease. Oat milk is an option for those suffering from food allergies, plus it contains fiber that can help lower cholesterol. Soy milk is cholesterol-free and contains all the essential amino acids our bodies need.
Eat better with one plant-based food swap step at a time. Eating better has never been easier for the health-conscious and environmentally sensitive eater. Still not convinced? Too hard? Keep it simple. Swap in one plant-based food at a time—a splash of oat milk in that afternoon latte, a nibble of a plant buttery chocolate chip cookie just out of the oven, or a grilled cheese sandwich made with vegan cheddar slices and pulled apart to start from the melt-y middle. Finding healthy plant-based foods has never been easier or tastier. You’ll notice how deliciously simple it is to make the swap.