There are several benefits to switching to a plant-based diet or simply reducing your meat intake. First, it’s healthy, as study after study has shown that eating less meat and more vegetables reduces your risk of heart disease, diabetes, some cancers, and other health conditions.
Additionally, plant-based diets are more environmental than diets that rely on meat. Meat production requires huge amounts of energy, using large quantities of fossil fuels throughout the production process. Livestock also consumes more protein, water, and calories than they produce, having a net negative affect on the environment, specifically clean water supplies, habitat loss, and deforestation, not to mention the emission of greenhouse gases and other pollutants.
The good news is that adopting vegetarianism doesn’t have to happen overnight. Just cutting meat out of one or two of your dinners each week can have a tremendous impact on the environment and possibly your waistline. To give you some ideas, here are a few ways you can eat less meat.
Easy Plant-based Substitutes
Substituting vegetable-based foods for meat is the first step to eating less meat. It’s also one of the easiest. Here are some substitutions you can easily make.
These legumes are surprisingly high in protein, with 9 grams per 1/2 cup (cooked). Their hearty texture and flavor make them a highly satisfactory replacement for ground beef in many recipes. Lentils come in a variety of colors to choose from, cost less and ounce for ounce cost than meat.
It seems strange to think of a fruit like this as a substitute for meat, but the texture of jackfruit is actually quite similar to shredded chicken and pulled pork. Although it can look a bit intimidating, it’s easily found canned alongside other meat substitutes in your grocery store.
This one is quite well known but definitely a go-to for vegetarians. Tofu is really a blank canvas when it comes to flavors. Tempeh, although similar to tofu, has a nuttier taste and a firmer texture.
Seitan is a wheat based replacement something referred to as the vegan white meat, since it has a near mouthfeel to chicken.
Simple Plant-based Recipes
Here are a few easy, delicious, and meatless dishes you can prepare.
- Brown rice
- One small head of broccoli
- One chopped onion
- Brown mushrooms
- 1 tsp of coconut oil
- 1 tsp agave syrup
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- 1 tblsp of hummus
- A handful of canned beans
Cook the rice as directed on the package. While it’s cooking, cut up the broccoli and mushrooms. About 5 minutes before the rice is done, add the broccoli into the rice with a splash of water and steam until they reach a bright green color.
Saut? the onion in coconut oil using a small saucepan for 2-3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and continue to saut’ for 5 minutes before adding the agave and soy sauce. Stir, and let cook for 3-5 minutes.
Warm the tortillas in the microwave or oven (optional, but recommended), then spread the hummus on them. Layer the beans and the other ingredients, fold, and eat!
- 3 cups of cauliflower
- 2 cups of cooked brown rice and quinoa
- ? cups breadcrumbs
- Spices of your choice
- 4 eggs
Blend the cauliflower and rice-quinoa mix in a food processor until smooth. Then, transfer these into a new medium sized bowl with the breadcrumbs, the eggs and your favorite seasonings. Mix thoroughly until the mixture becomes tacky and balls can be formed. Fry in a pan on medium heat until golden brown.
- 1 cup flour (125 g)
- 2 tablespoons organic sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ? teaspoon salt
- 1 cup non-dairy milk(240 mL)
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- maple syrup, to serve
In a medium bowl, add the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt, and stir to combine. In another medium bowl add nondairy milk, apple cider vinegar, and vanilla, and stir. Pour the liquid mixture into the dry mixture and whisk until smooth. Let the batter rest for 5 minutes, then pour about ? cup (65 grams) of batter onto a nonstick pan or griddle over medium heat. When the top begins to bubble, flip the pancake and cook until golden. The pancakes are ready to serve warm with maple syrup.