Jillian Harris Says Going Plant-Based Isn’t As Torturous As It Sounds
From friends to coworkers, seems everyone and their social media crush is jumping on the plant-based diet train.
Fuelled by vegan hotspot restaurants like (the super Instagrammable) Planta, and the growing number of options available in grocery stores as brands expand their vegan offerings, being a vegan isn’t only a hell of a lot tastier than it used to be, it’s also a lot more convenient.
Jillian Harris (The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, and Love It or List It Vancouver), who has adopted a plant-based lifestyle (“well, for the most part,” she admits) shares the things you need to know before going plant-based.
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Harris herself admits she grew up on a very basic diet of hot dogs, beef, and Kraft Dinner (as many of us did), and advocates starting off slow in adopting a plant-based lifestyle. “If you’re new to this whole plant-based eating thing, start out slow … you don’t have to go all or anything right out of the gate. Try introducing one plant-based meal a week or swapping your dairy products first,” said Harris. “I found this was the easiest place to start when we switched to a plant-based diet: replacing our milk, cream, butter, etc. with vegan options was a pretty easy transition for us.” She says an easy first step is swapping your butter for a plant-based option like Becel Vegan.
After a brief stint with a diet of gummy bears and spaghetti (before she knew gummy bears contain animal products), Harris says that in her early days of plant-based eating were filled with experimentation. Some recipes worked, she says, while others “totally flopped.” Like learning how to cook in general, trial and error – complete with tweaks and adjustments – is all part of the experience when adopting a plant-based diet ..
It’s (Actually) Flavourful
Over time, Harris has discovered a few tricks of the trade. “If you’re finding your plant-based meals to be bland, I would suggest adding white wine, tamari, miso paste, concentrated veggie stock, liquid smoke, herbs, garlic, and a bit of good ‘ol salt and pepper to up your flavour game,” says Harris. “I use most of these ingredients in my cooking on a daily basis.” She says things like lentils and diced mushrooms are flavour-rich substitutes to ground beef, as they are of a similar texture and you can season them as you would your meat.
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You Don’t Have to Say Goodbye to Comfort Food
As Harris highlights, vegan foods can be just as comforting and satisfying as their animal product-containing counterparts. “Vegan comfort foods are delicious. That’s right, you can still have comfort foods even if you’re eating plant-based,” she says with a laugh. “I think this is one of the main things that scare people away; they think if they go plant-based that they’ll have to eat salads for every meal … but that’s not the case! You can easily achieve rich comfort foods by adding a dollop of Becel Vegan to them. I use it as a substitute for butter in my pasta sauces, soups and all of my comfort food recipes as it helps to make them rich and flavourful, plus, it’s a great option for a heart-healthy diet.”
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I get lots of questions about transitioning over to a plant based diet… us girls were saying on our trip that Mexican food has got to be the easiest start! Guacamole, tortillas, refried beans, rice, cilantro, lime, salsa, corn,hot sauce…. it doesn’t get better than that! Mexican has to be my fav route go to vegan meal when I’m in a pinch! You can also make a great lentil or bean “meat” with Mexican spices!! YUM!!! ??????
It’s Cheaper Than You’d Think
For many, a vegan diet sounds great in theory, but the worry is that it will take a major toll on the wallet in a city where the cost of living is already sky-high. According to Harris, however, your grocery tab may increase at the start, but once you figure out your tastes and what works for you, it will actually level off eventually, if not become more affordable.
Don’t forget that adopting a plant-based diet is a major lifestyle change – and one that probably won’t happen overnight (personally, if I try it, it will be after BBQ season ends). “Eating plant-based takes time so make sure to be easy on yourself and try not to overthink it,” says Harris.
Featured image: Instagram/ @jillian.harris
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Erin is a Toronto-based writer, actor and queen of the side hustle. When she’s not writing the day away in a face mask, she’s taking in the city’s vibrant arts scene, doing a red carpet interview or brunching with her leading ladies. Follow me: @erinnicoledavis