There are many reasons to increase your intake of plant-based foods while downsizing your intake of meat. It’s good for individual health, better for the environment, and friendlier to animals.
As you begin your journey towards plant-based eating, make small, realistic dietary changes, and then build on them one day and one meal at a time. Here are some tips on how to add more meatless meals to your diet.
Start with the familiar
Identify plant-based meals you are already eating (e.g. chickpea curry, veggie burgers, tofu stir-fry, black bean tacos or a green salad with lentils) and rotate them into your menu more often. Even a breakfast of fruit and whole grain toast spread with almond butter counts as a plant-based meal.
Introduce plant-based meals on a regular basis by instituting a “meatless Monday”.
Shift the focus of your plate
Downsize the importance of meat, poultry, fish and eggs at meals. Three quarters of your plate should be filled with plant foods like grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables. Aim for all your meals to be 75% plant-based.
To do so, add more plant foods to your meals. Increasing the proportion of plant foods at your meals means you’ll be cutting back on your intake of animal foods.
Eliminate animal foods you don’t eat often
Think about your diet. If there an animal food – or two – that you eat infrequently? Red meat? Eggs? Milk? This will be the easiest food to drop completely since you’ll hardly miss it. For many of my clients – myself included – red meat is the first to go.
Eat plant-based snacks
Vegan snack ideas include fruit and nuts, raw vegetables and hummus, whole grain crackers and nut or seed butter, bean soup, soy lattes, soy smoothies and plant-based energy bars such a Larabar, Kind Bar, Simply Protein Bar, Vega Snack Bar and Genuine Health’s Vegan Proteins+ Bar.
Look beyond dairy
Fortified plant beverages made from soy, rice, almond, hemp, oats or coconut provide just as much calcium, B12 and vitamin D as cow’s milk. Only soy beverages, however, are a good source of protein matching what’s found in milk (8 grams per cup).
To cut added sugar, choose an unsweetened plant beverage. Use a milk alternative any place you’d normally use dairy milk: over cereals in smoothies and shakes, in French toast and pancake recipes, in cream-style soups and in coffee and tea.
Keep it simple when starting out. If cooking plant-based meals from scratch seems overwhelming to you, take advantage of vegetarian convenience foods such as bean soups or frozen entrees like tofu lasagna, pad thai, lentil curry, vegetable pot pie, rice and bean burritos or soy cheese pizzas
An increasing number of food companies offer a variety of protein-rich, meat-free patties, burgers, crumbles and vegetarian “chicken” products that can be used in place of meat and poultry in many recipes.
All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.