How to transition to a plant-based diet in South Africa

Thinking of reducing your meat consumption or ditching it all together? Consider the following tips to get started:

Across the globe, there’s been a rising trend of people ditching meat and dairy completely or reducing their meat consumption and opting for plant-based diets instead. A plant-based diet is a diet that consists mainly of plant foods like fruit and vegetables. Diets like veganism and vegetarianism are plant-based, although people who occasionally eat meat, poultry, seafood, and dairy can also be classified as plant-based, provided that they eat mainly fruit and vegetables.  Even though South Africa still has a long way to go in terms of providing food options at restaurants for those who live a plant-based lifestyle, there are ways in which you can easily transition to a plant-based diet in South Africa.


  1. Speak to your doctor

Before anything else, consulting a healthcare practitioner about your change in diet is important. There’s no one-size-fits-all diet and it’s important to know how changing diets could possibly affect your health.


  1. Go meatless on Mondays

Weaning yourself off eating animal-based products is a good place to start when you’re looking to transition to a diet that predominantly consists of fruits and vegetables. Meatless Monday is a global initiative that was started by Sid Lerner in 2003 to encourage people to eat less meat for physical and environmental health.

When you’ve mastered Meatless Mondays, you can then add another day of the week and so forth, until you’ve drastically reduced your consumption of meat and other animal products.


  1. Choose a new plant-based dish to cook weekly

Some people seem to think that eating plant-based foods equates to eating salad or ‘rabbit food’ on a daily basis. The truth is, there are thousands of plant-based dishes to choose from. With the internet, you can search for some delicious recipes to try out. Commit to trying at least one new recipe a week and challenge your cooking skills as well as your palette so that you’re accustomed to eating food that doesn’t contain animal products.


  1. Join an online plant-based community

It’s easy to get side-tracked or lose motivation when you don’t have someone holding you accountable. Join an online plant-based community where you can mingle with people who are on the same journey as you. This will keep you going when it gets tough and you can also exchange useful tips and tricks with your online community.


  1. Get creative with your orders at restaurants and gatherings

When transitioning to a plant-based diet, you’ll have fewer options to choose from at restaurants, particularly if you choose not to eat meat once in a while and are strictly vegan or vegetarian. This means you will have to get creative when ordering at restaurants or at gatherings, as some spaces don’t factor in vegetarians during food preparation.


  1. Buy majority fruits and vegetables and less meat

If you have no meat in your freezer or way less meat than you’re used to, you’ll automatically eat less meat. Do the same for dairy and other animal products if you’re keen on cutting them out completely. By buying majority fruits and vegetables, you’ll be encouraged to eat mostly fruits and vegetables.


  1. Look out for specials at grocery stores

A common misconception about eating less meat is that you have to buy meat substitutes, but this can actually be costly. Grocery stores that sell majority fruits and vegetables usually have lots of specials on their produce.  Local stores that are family-run or independently owned also stock fresh produce that is more affordable than purchasing at a well-known retailer.

By using the 7 tips above, you can get started on transitioning to a plant-based diet with ease.



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