Plant power: Why eating 'plant-based' is a lot easier than you might think

It's a term you've probably heard bandied around either on your Instagram feed, in new cafes and restaurants, or maybe even in the news.

The world has seen a dramatic rise in the popularity of 'plant-based' eating, with millions globally increasing their veggie consumption, in response to increasing care and concern for environmental issues and more focus on health.

A recent report from Colmar Brunton shows more than half a million Kiwis are eating less meat, with increased interest in plant based meat alternatives. And it's not just exclusive to the millennial generation, who grew up with almond milk and pulse pasta alternatives. Major growth has been seen in middle-aged shoppers adopting flexitarian diets - up by 43 percent year on year. 

But in a world of confusing dietary jargon - paleo, vegan, keto - it can be tough to decipher what the term 'plant-based' actually means, and what's the difference between plant-based and vegetarian?

Newshub turned to Countdown nutritionist Deb Sue, who says unlike many fads that come and go, eating plant-based is something we can all be trying to do a little more.

Countdown nutritionist Deb Sue
Countdown nutritionist Deb Sue Photo credit: Countdown

"Everyone should be trying to have more plant-based foods in their diet. There are so many benefits to your health and the environment," she explains.

It's also not as scary as it sounds - you don't have to completely give up any foods you love.

"Plant-based just means the majority of the foods you are eating are things such as vegetables, fruit, whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds," says Deb. "It doesn't necessarily mean that you cut out all animal products like dairy, eggs, or even meat - just limit them.

"You also should consider the quality of the plants you're eating - aiming to include the more 'whole' foods and less of the processed ones. Like brown rice and wholegrain bread over white rice and bread."

Deb says she tries to cook 1-2 plant-based dinners a week for her family, using local fruit and vegetables to keep costs down.

"Right now, during winter, we're into our vegetable soup with crusty bread, and chickpea curries," she reveals. "Locally grown winter veggies are affordable, tasty, healthy and filling. Kumara, carrots, suede and silverbeet are abundant at the moment which makes it really easy."

Sounds like a pretty delicious way of eating to us.

If you're looking for some plant-based meals to whip up for your family or friends, the Countdown website has enough that will satisfy even the most carnivorous meat-eaters. Our favourite winter pick is this recipe for silverbeet rolls. 

This article was created for Countdown