With so many must do diets, cleanses, detox programs and pills promising immediate body transformation, why would something as simple as a few lunches or dinners without meat be the best pick?
The answer is so basic, it’s almost ridiculous.
It’s because plants are the most well-balanced foods you can eat. Without question. And if you’re neglecting the vegetables when you sit down to eat, you’re missing a key part of what will keep you healthy for the long run.
I know it’s not the popular answer. But it happens to be the truest.
Plant foods have everything you can find in the animal foods. But the reverse is NOT true. The plant world also has nutrients you’ll NEVER find in the animal world.
True, in meat and dairy you can find iron that’s more easily digestible, B12 in higher quantities and protein sources that are arguably much more popular to eat.
Animal foods have NO fiber, antioxidants, flavonoids, polyphenols or any of the other cancer-fighting immune-building, weight-managing, nutrients you’ll get from eating plants.
If you’re looking for a way to overhaul your lifestyle and upgrade your health status, meatless meals are THE place to start. Hands down.
If you’ve had a hard time bumping up the number of fruits and vegetables (and whole grains, beans or nuts) to your diet, start here for a few ways to make the transition from almost no plants to SOME plants.
Because every bit counts. And every extra serving adds up.
Is your family really into Mexican food? Do you make a mean chili? Are you a pasta fanatic?
Don’t try to reinvent the dinner rotation or lose your mind trying to find new lunch spot. Dig into your favorites and make the small changes that make a meat-full meal, meatless. Try the veggie burger instead of a turkey burger when you run out for lunch. Skip the sausage in your pasta dish and try a primavera instead. Order a salad without the chicken (an all veg salad, crazy I know). Make a three bean chili instead of the beef version.
Let beans, avocado, and veggies become your besties.
We aren’t talking vegan here, so don’t be afraid to ease the transition into meatless meals with a few foods that can support almost any dish.
A grilled veggie fajita or some black bean tacos with lots of guacamole. A morning omelet with onions and peppers. Even a couple eggs for a spinach quiche is a perfect way to get fancy while sticking to the meatless menu plan.
Don’t just make a bowl of ramen and call it a meatless meal.
A big part of this process is to INCREASE the amount of fruit and vegetables you’re eating. Not just cut the meat out. Make a cheddar grilled cheese with tomatoes and avocado or add grilled onions and spinach to a mozzarella and pesto sandwich. Or how about a veggie lasagna with a fabulous side salad?
The world of veggie meats has gotten a whole lot bigger in the last few years. Take advantage of it.
You can find anything from ground meatless beef and chorizo to chicken-less fingers and buffalo wings. There are so many options out there, you don’t have to feel confined to bland tofu anymore for your protein boost.
If you’re really pressed for finding meals that don’t have meat, start experimenting here. Add a fancy faux-meat sausage to your next pasta night. Give veggie bacon a try on your next BLT. Use ground meatless meat in your next chili instead of the beef. Or even easier, next time it’s on a menu try an Impossible or Beyond burger - you might really like it.
Sometimes the idea of doing meatless Mondays sounds better than the hassle of actually preparing meatless Mondays.
So, make it easier for yourself. Buy pre-chopped vegetables for a quick stir fry. Get cherry tomatoes instead of large tomatoes for easy salads. Get frozen vegetables that will stay fresh in your freezer so you always have a simple vegetable add-ins to any meal. Keep some beans and veggie sausage on hand for last minute meals.
There’s something for everyone.
Whether you’re new to this journey or have played around with meatless-isms in the past, this is a very good time to start exploring.
Eating meatless has never been so accessible, so diverse and so tasty.
So look around, sample a few options and give your vegetables a chance to shine.