Eat better, play better and help the planet too!
We all have to take some personal responsibility to limit climate change but what will you do? We can switch to a green energy supplier, recycle more, waste less food and try not to drive short distances, but what about what we eat?
A new study has shown how food production and consumption pose major threats to the planet prompting scientists to say we all need to embrace ‘flexitarian’ diets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, water scarcity and pollution.
Sportsmen and women sometimes worry about how eating mainly plant-based foods might affect their performance, wondering how best to replace protein (for muscle repair and growth) and iron (for our bodies to produce enough healthy oxygen-carrying red blood cells) if they cut out meat.
But the fact is there are lots of vegetarian and vegan athletes, Venus and Serena Williams and Lewis Hamilton among them, who are at the top of their game and believe it gives them a competitive edge.
Adopting a more plant-based diet can be better for you (and your waistline) with more carbohydrates to fuel your workouts and more fibre, vitamins, antioxidants and minerals to help you stay fit and healthy. And you don’t have to rely on meat alternatives or ready meals which can be expensive.
For vegetarians cheese, milk, yoghurt, eggs and Quorn are all high protein while plant foods that are high protein include beans, seeds and nuts.
Soy-based foods such as tofu are also good protein sources while for iron and zinc include plenty of whole grains, greens and legumes. Rapeseed oil is a good source of Omega 3, an important fatty acid when it comes to reducing cancer, heart disease and stroke risk.
So how do you start to make a change and make it stick? Here are my top six suggestions:-
1 Try one new plant-based recipe a week to add to the meals you cook on a regular basis. The Meat-Free Monday campaign has had a lot of success
2 Use a meat substitute in a meal you already cook, such as spaghetti bolognese or chilli
3 Try going without or limiting how much red meat and processed meat you consume as they are typically the least healthy
4 Think about what you snack on and the staple ingredients you have in your fridge and cupboard and their vegetarian alternatives and put these on your shopping list instead
5 Give a vegetarian or vegan restaurant a try or pick the vegetarian option when eating out at your favourite places. There are lots of new and interesting ethnic foods out there so eat yourself around the world!
6 Plan ahead and cook ahead, making double and putting portions in the fridge or freezer for when you’re short of time.