The plant-based diet has been around throughout human history. Early civilizations lived off the land and ate fruits and vegetables that were abundant in their area. In recent times, there has been renewed interest in plant-based food as people are becoming more aware of the impact that animal food products have on health and the environment. A study published by Missouri Medicine on plant-based alternatives found that the popularity of plant-based foods is evident, with a market increase of 29% in recent years. This is welcome news for American consumers because a diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables can reduce their risk of developing cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and certain cancers.
With an increased interest in plant-based diets, many food companies have also broadened their services, providing more plant-based recipes or food options than ever before. Nymble categorically caters to people preferring a plant-based diet. We offer a range of 200+ plant-based recipes from over 50+ cuisines, many of which are curated by some of the best chefs in the scene today.
That said, transitioning to a plant-based diet can be a significant change, but it doesn't have to be an overwhelming one. With a bit of research and planning, you'll be able to make the shift smoothly and seamlessly. To help you get started, below is a comprehensive guide for shopping for plant-based foods:
10 Tips for Shopping for Plant-Based Foods
Before you begin stocking up your pantry with plant-based foods, you need to make sure that this is the proper diet for you. To prepare yourself with the right information before heading to the grocery, here are a few things you should do:
1. Research what being plant-based means
Before you start shopping for plant-based foods, take a moment to get educated. Learn as much as possible about what it means to observe a plant-based diet and how your choices will impact the world around you. The internet is full of resources on how to support this kind of diet. You can find everything from comprehensive lists of plant-based foods to recipes for making delicious plant-based meals for every occasion. You can even find articles about how plant-based fare can help save the planet. For starters, our blog is full of Nymble interviews featuring MasterChefs that you can use for expert cooking and prepping tips.
2. Check your pantry and fridge
Next, take stock of your pantry to see what plant-based foods you already have on hand prior to hitting the store. Remember, it's best to build upon what you already have before buying new products. Our '15 High Protein Plant Foods' post lists some of the most common staples in a plant-based diet, such as legumes, mushrooms, tofu, nuts, and oats. These food items are mainstays in American pantries, so you're likely to already have them at home. By doing a quick inventory of your cupboard, fridge, and freezer, you might be surprised by how many things you already have on hand that can help you get started with your plant-based diet. This is also a lot more practical as you're only buying what you need and not contributing to food waste. Once you've armed yourself with the information you need about plant-based foods, the following tips can help you prepare for your trip to the grocery store.
3. Shop around the perimeter of a grocery store first
One of the best ways to shop for plant-based foods is to focus on the perimeter of your grocery store. This is where you'll find fresh produce and other non-processed foods like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and seeds. These are easily recognizable because they are usually displayed in baskets, crates, or refrigerated shelves. If you fill your cart with these items, you'll be on the right track toward eating more healthfully.
4. Avoid vegan ‘meats’ that are highly processed
There is an abundance of meat alternatives on the market that mimic the texture and appearance of meat and poultry products. However, a BBC article titled ‘Are Plant-Based Alternatives Good for Your Health?’ explains that vegan ‘meats’ are essentially highly-processed foods. Vegan burgers, for instance, are full of salt, sugar, oils and lab-made starches, and flavorings. As such, these foods pose many of the same health perils typically associated with eating fried food or red meat. So think twice before switching to plant protein alternatives. Instead, reach for less processed foods with a similar texture to meats. Think beans, lentils, nuts, and tofu. As an added bonus, these all come with unique flavor profiles sans the excess cholesterol.
Looking for Plant-based Recipe Ideas? Here are 10 Delicious Tofu, Tempeh and Seitan Recipes.
5. Watch out for long ingredient lists
Of course, that's not to say that you need to stay away from every packaged plant-based food. After all, these can be just as delicious, nutritious, and easy to prepare. So, when shopping for packaged plant-based foods, look for food labels that are short and simple. If you see an ingredient list that runs five lines long, skip it! These foods usually contain many chemicals, additives, and fillers, which are antithetical to a plant-based diet's health purpose. You can tell that a food is made with natural ingredients if it has fewer and easy-to-understand ingredients on the label.
6. Explore plant-based milks
Plant-based milk is all the rage these days and it's one of the easiest plant-based switches you can make. In fact, CNBC feature on plant-based milk company Oatly shows how even Oprah Winfrey and Jay-Z are investing in popular non-dairy milk brands and large coffee chains offering them as dairy alternatives. Aside from being celebrity-approved, plant-based milk is relatively inexpensive and less irritating to different dietary sensitivities. For example, oat milk is celebrated for being free from lactose, nuts, and soy which means it's perfect for those with allergies. Aside from this, plant-based milk comes in various forms— the aforementioned oat, soy, and almond, to name a few—and each has a unique nutritional and taste profile.
7. Buy organic whenever possible
Organic fruits and vegetables are grown without pesticides and chemical fertilizers, which means they're safer for you and the environment. Some say they taste even better too! Organic brands also tend to have fewer ingredients on their labels because they don't need artificial preservatives or flavors to make their products shelf-stable. When shopping organic, look for products certified by the USDA. This way, you can be assured that the food was grown in compliance with national standards.
If you are considering going full vegan and need ideas to stay motivated - Read our blog post, The Only Vegan Guide You Will Ever Need.
8. Shop at local farmers' markets
The best way to maximize your budget is by buying fruits and vegetables that are in season, and this is where local farmers' markets come in. These markets offer the freshest produce straight from the farm. Plus, the products will be cheaper than those found in grocery chains since there's less of a markup. Farmers' markets also allow you to support local businesses, talk to people responsible for growing our food, and develop a deeper appreciation of plant-based food items.
9. Shop in bulk
Shopping at the bulk section of a grocery store or co-op is a great way to save money on plant-based foods since you can buy them in large quantities and then freeze or refrigerate them until they're needed. Organic grains such as rice, barley, quinoa, and farro can be bought in bulk at most grocery stores, which means you can avoid too much packaging and save money at the same time. Just remember to bring your own containers so you don't use up too much single-use packaging.
10. Shop with your menu in mind
One of the biggest mistakes people make when they start eating plant-based food is wasting food. This can happen by buying too many food items and not using them before they go bad. Because fresh fruits and vegetables are highly perishable, it's best to plan ahead by creating a grocery list and sticking to a meal plan throughout the week. With this in mind, your shopping trip will be more focused and intentional.
Shopping for plant-based foods can be a rewarding experience. Whether you're looking for a way to switch up your daily meals or shift to a plant-based diet for the environment, these tips can help you find the right items for your lifestyle.
Done with grocery shopping? Next up is meal-prep. Get started with The Ultimate Meal Prep Guide for Beginners.
Get the most of your Plant-based diet with Nymble
Apart from solving the problem of home-cooking, we have also paid special attention to diets, especially plant-based diets. We have been able to decode many of the issues associated with this type of diet that people face. The abundance of information on the internet can confuse many. So, we aimed to simplify the process of eating healthy. Not only we added 50+ plant-based recipes to the menu, but also equipped our cooking robot to act as your daily diet coach. Eating with Nymble gives you access to a lot of health-benefiting features. You can access detailed nutritional information for every recipe you cook, customize your recipes to the tee, curate your own plant-based recipes, choose your own ingredients and give specific feedback after every meal, so that it can improve them based on your inputs.