5 Simple Plant-Based Swaps to Try in 2020

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New year, new resolutions. But let’s face it – most of us start out strong only to peter out by February. But that doesn’t have to be the case! When it comes to setting and achieving goals, keep in mind that slow and steady almost always wins.

Plant-Based Jackfruit Salad | Vitacost.com/Blog

If your goal is to go plant-based in 2020, don’t start by throwing everything away in your kitchen. Simply replace old products, item by item, with their plant-based counterparts. Below are five simple swaps you can make this year to adopt more of a plant-based lifestyle – even if the other members of your household aren’t on the plant-based train (…yet!).

1. Nutritional yeast

Bob's Red Mill Nutritional Yeast | Vitacost.com/Blog

Nutritional yeast is a must-have in any plant-based kitchen. Not only is this product a great source of B vitamins and protein, with its nutty and cheesy flavor, nutritional yeast won’t leave any plant-based eater missing the taste of dairy! Add this pick to pasta dishes to replace the Parmesan in pesto and other sauces. You can also shake some nutritional yeast onto salads to kick them up a notch in the flavor arena. Whether garnishing your morning tofu scramble or your after-dinner air-popped popcorn, nutritional yeast is a great addition to almost any savory meal.

2. Hemp milk

Living Harvest Tempt™ Hempmilk | Vitacost.com/Blog

Dairy is so last year! Due to the environmental consequences and ethics that surround this industry, many have started to remove cow’s milk and other dairy products from their diets. And now, more than ever before, dairy substitutes are plentiful! However, it’s important to keep in mind that not all dairy alternatives are the same quality. When looking to swap out cow’s milk for a dairy-free option, keep in mind that (in addition to flavor and consistency) the nutrition profile should be considered.

Beware that there are tons of low-protein dairy alternatives on the market. Check the nutrition labels and look for varieties with high protein profiles, such as hemp milk! You can use this milk the same way you used to use your dairy, but without the guilt (or tummy troubles). High in protein and flavor, hemp milk is a must for any plant-based fridge.

3. Soy Curls 

Teriyaki Soy Curls with White Rice | Vitacost.com/Blog

Just because you’re going plant-based doesn’t mean you need to toss out your shredded chicken and pork recipes! They’re just going to be switched up a little. Soy curls are an amazing option to create pulled “pork” sandwiches and shredded “chicken” wraps. This pick is made from tofu, and as such, has the ability to absorb the flavor of whatever sauces you marinate them in! Although jackfruit has become the rage for these types of dishes, keep in mind jackfruit isn’t very rich in protein. But your soy curls are, making sure your protein needs are being met in a delicious and flavorful way!

4. Meat alternatives

Sophie's Kitchen Vegan Toona | Vitacost.com/Blog

As newcomers enter the plant-based scene to navigate vegetarian and vegan cooking, meat alternatives are a fantastic and delicious option. These mock meats have all the flavor of their animal-based counterparts, helping those transitioning to a new lifestyle to take the plunge more comfortably. But be careful, as they can also be a source of excess sodium, sugar, fat and preservatives. Which is why, when including these products in your new plant-based way of eating, moderation is a great idea.

5. Dressings

Daiya Dairy-Free Homestyle Ranch Dressing | Vitacost.com/Blog

Salads aren’t the only item on the menu for plant-based eaters, but for many of us, our dairy sources are hidden in our salad dressings! If you’re a fan of ranch or creamy Italian, you can still enjoy the tastes of both with a delicious, plant-based twist. Of course, these dressings can be homemade, but if you’re not ready to make your own yet, don’t worry! You can find fantastic options that are full of flavor, not just calories. If you want to enjoy more salads this year, great! Just remember to bulk them up with beans, vegetables and grains to make a truly balanced meal before topping with a delicious dressing of your choice!