Spring just does it to us, doesn’t it? All that time cooped up inside, bundled up in layers of clothing, dreading the frosty jaunt from car to building, and then suddenly the world starts getting green again and the weather gets warm and we want to be out in it, enjoying the fruits of nature, indulging in blissful sun, dreaming up big plans for the days to come. Ah, it’s just fantastic.

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Spring is also a fantastic time to make the switch to a more plant-based diet, the one that maybe we’ve been putting off. Or, perhaps, for some of us, we can start reinvigorating the one that has devolved in the slim seasonal pickings of the late winter market. Whatever the case, spring is not just the time for a fresh perspective on the outdoors but also, most definitely, a time to make the most of fresh produce.

The Veggies are Stellar

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There are lots of vegetables finally coming into their own after a long winter’s hibernation. Check out quirky seasonal classics like rhubarb, fennel, asparagus and artichokes (Awesome!). Also, look out for root vegetables, the beets and carrots and radishes, and think about throwing them on that first round of fresh greens—arugula, assorted lettuces, green onions—that are coming up. Peas will also be around to provide a protein-rich punch to the mix. These things can make for some vibrant soups and funky garden salads.

The Fruits are in Season

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And, by all means, if funky garden salads are on the menu (and why wouldn’t they be?), then take advantage of some of the delicious fruits that should start popping up everywhere. Grapefruits and navel oranges, kiwi and cherries, strawberries, apricots—now is the time to start getting juicy with what nature is providing. Toss some fresh fruit in those salads, whip up some afternoon smoothies or just eat them as they are. The wasteland of winter is over now, and ‘tis the time to help your hunger with the harvest.

Lighter Is Better in Warmer Weather

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No denying that in the frigid throes of February, it’s hearty sustenance that we need, something that sticks to the bones and makes us warm from the inside out. That means starchy soups, plate-bending stews and general heavy chow. However, with warmth, well, our bodies just seem to beg for something a bit loftier, lighter, something that we can eat and not have to wait to digest before going outside to play. Fresh, green produce just fills this criterion to perfection. Plus, if plant-based living is a new thing, it’ll likely help with shedding a few pounds before swimsuit season roles around.

Be Good to Yourself, and the World

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Hey, the verdicts are in, and folks are just getting more clued into the fact that plant foods are the way of the future. We’ve long known that fruit and veggies do the body good. That’s why we are supposed to eat more of them than any other food category (even the heavily lobbied government admits it!). Not to mention, the choice to go plant-based is also going to help keep the environment rolling, help it continue getting healthier this year and in the years to come. Use the spring inspiration to make some big changes for yourself and the planet. Replacing one animal-based meal at a time with a plant-based option will do wonders, and if you keep doing that meal by meal over the course of a month, you can easily eat completely plant-based before summer even arrives.

Farmer’s Market = Another Reason to Be Outside

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Once spring rolls around, many of us just can’t find enough reasons to go outdoors. We hike. We garden. We lounge. We picnic (Do it green!). We jog. We go to the park, barbecue, clean out the garage … any reason we can think of to be outside and make the most of our being able to wear sandals, to feel the sun on our shoulders and soak it all in. Well, a weekly weekend trip to the farmer’s market is right on the money. The freshest food to sample, a lively atmosphere, and excitement over all the new stuff become available; it’s worth going plant-based just to go the farmer’s market to buy some plant-based foods!

Personally, I’d love for everyone to go the full course, learn to live on plants and let the animals be; however, I know for sure that it makes a major difference—to us all, to the environment, and especially to animals—if we just consistently make reachable goals of plant-based living. Frankly, spring is the perfect time. The assortment of fresh produce is just coming, with several months to follow, all those berries and tomatoes and watermelons just around the corner, the squashes and beans and corn after that. The plant-based feast is just beginning.

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