Whether you’re looking to make the move to a vegetarian or vegan diet, or just looking to add more plant-based foods into your diet that also may include animal-based proteins - we can all benefit from eating more plants. We get vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other nutrients from plant-based foods and research shows diets rich in these foods improves cardiovascular health, supports a healthy functioning immune system and good gut health, better controls blood sugar levels, and improves brain health!
With all these great health benefits, let’s talk through some simple tips for incorporating more plant-based eating into your diet:
If you’re new to plant-based eating, you’ve probably got some new habits to master. You’ll be modifying the way you grocery shop, plan, and cook and developing new habits and skills takes time. Rather than completely changing your diet all at once, set some small goals that will help you build toward your end goal.
For instance, you could have a Meatless Monday and eat all plant-based for one day of the week to start, or even just pick 1 meal to swap for now. Starting small will allow you to navigate your new habits and adjust as needed as you work to scale up.
Replace meat with a plant-based protein in a meal you already make
Rather than starting from scratch with new recipes, adopt meals you’ve already mastered to a plant-based version. For instance, instead of a beef hamburger or beef chili make a bean hamburger or bean based chili. Instead of an egg scramble, make a tofu scramble.
Plant-based proteins include lentils, beans, nuts, seeds, soy, tofu, tempeh, edamame, quinoa, nutritional yeast, and spirulina. Keep in mind there will be nutritional differences between an animal protein source and a plant-based protein source and you may need more of the plant-based protein in order to meet your protein needs.
Add more plants to your current meals
Along the same lines, instead of swapping the protein source, you can simply add more plants to your current meals alongside animal-based proteins. Add extra veggies to your pasta sauce, to scrambled eggs, on a sandwich, in a smoothie, soup, or in a casserole, on a pizza, in stir-fry, or in tacos.
Pre-prep plant-based snacks
Including more plants in your diet can be accomplished in a number of ways throughout the day. Make eating more plant-based easier by pre-cutting fruits and veggies that you can eat as a snack. Pre-cut bell peppers, cucumbers, mango, and pineapple. Dip veggie slices in hummus or a cashew-based dip.
Order a plant-based meal at a restaurant
Eating more plant-based doesn’t always have to mean cooking at home. Try a vegetarian or vegan restaurant or order a plant-based meal off the menu. Check out ethnic restaurants - many Indian dishes are plant-based. Thai, Indonesian, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean restaurants typically have plant-based dishes as well.