Health is wealth is plant-based
Recent research conducted by Merchant Gourmet found that more than half of those questioned planned to cut down on meat and/or fish and/or dairy in 2021. Of those who intended to cut down on these foods, 68% stated their reasons as health, followed by environmental impact (54%), animal welfare (34%) and financial (27%).
The same reasons, plus convenience, were given by those questioned when asked what would persuade them to swap their favourite ‘meaty’ comfort food dish for a plant-based alternative.
Some of the reasons those questioned gave for why they might struggle with cutting down on meat and/or fish and/or dairy included not feeling full enough if they did not include meat in meals, being unsure how else to get protein into their meal, not knowing how to make vegetables the focus point of a meal and not having time to cook new recipes. The good news is all these concerns can easily be addressed:
How healthy any way of eating is depends on which foods and drinks are included, how often and in what amounts. Eating plant-based can be healthy, balanced, and tasty if you include variety, plan and choose suitable healthy choices in appropriate amounts from all the food groups (fruit and vegetables, protein, healthy fats including omega-3, starchy foods, fortified calcium rich foods) adequate fluid and necessary supplements such as vitamin D (and B12 for vegans).
‘I’m unsure how else to get protein into my meal’
In a plant-based meal protein is easy to incorporate with foods such as beans and pulses including lentils, red kidney beans and chickpeas, peas, nuts, seeds, wholegrains including quinoa, oats, buckwheat, wholewheat, soya in many forms (Tofu; tempeh; soya yogurt) and Quorn.
Eating a variety of plant-based sources of protein over the day at each meal and snack e.g. bean stew and brown rice, peanut butter on oatcakes, porridge with fortified soya drink, nuts and seeds as snacks, soya yogurt, as part of a balanced diet will provide the protein you need.
‘I don’t feel full enough if I don’t include meat in meals’
The great news about plant-based proteins such as beans, lentils are not only do they provide a source of protein, but they also provide fibre to fill you up. Meat, fish and dairy provide no fibre.
‘I don’t know how to make vegetables the focus point of a meal’
An often-overlooked fact about plant-based proteins such as beans, lentils is not only do they provide a source of protein, but they also count as one portion of vegetables towards ‘5’ a day’. Meat, fish, and dairy provide are definitely not vegetables! Some vegetables such as mushrooms are also a source of protein. Have a look at our delicious recipes here for some plant-based inspiration.
‘I don’t have time to cook new recipes’
One of the easiest ways to go meat-free is to simply swap like for like. In dishes where you would use mince such as Bolognese or shepherd’s pie use lentils instead (or swap half for half), in dishes where you would use chicken such as curry use chickpeas. To save even more time use ready cooked.
Merchant Gourmet have teamed up with passionate plant-based chef and influencer, Gaz Oakley, to give you easy, plant-based alternatives to the nation’s favourite dishes. So for all those looking to cut down on meat in a simple, delicious way but are worried about the overall flavour of the meal without meat, sit down to these tasty favourites and stand up for the environment.
 Merchant Gourmet One Poll Research, November 2020
By Sian Porter, Merchant Gourmet Consultant nutritionist, registered dietitian