By Ashton Jackson RDN, LDN
You’ve probably heard about or seen some of the newest “shock-factor” documentaries aimed at the American food environment, specifically regarding intake of animal products. If you read the latest health journals or watch the morning news, it’s also probable that you’ve heard about the positive impacts a plant-based diet can have on your health. The newest research and in some cases, scare-tactics, have encouraged many individuals to overhaul their diet. On one hand, it’s great that we are re-evaluating our eating habits. However, starting a vegan or vegetarian diet from scratch without a little planning can result in a daily intake full of refined grains and convenience products.
Evidence-based research tells us that shift towards plant-based foods can have a multitude of impressive health benefits including:
- Reduced risk of heart disease
- Decreased blood pressure
- Up to a 50% reduction in the incidence of diabetes or cancer
With all these powerful outcomes, it’s worth it to consider a dietary shift that reduces the amount of animal products you consume. Rather than diving in, consider a few gradual changes. Once you get your feet wet with a few meatless meals, it’s more likely that a long-term shift in this direction will be a sustainable one.
Here are a few simple ways to start swapping a few of your meat-based meals for a balanced, plant-based alternative (recipes included). Bonus: even these minor changes can have powerful health outcomes!
- Mix up a fiber and protein-rich salad. This one would be great served over greens.
- Skip the deli meat and try hummus.
- Load up a sweet potato.
- Add “meatiness” to your favorite pasta with mushrooms and lentils.
- Whip up a batch of easy black bean burgers.
- Crunch on roasted chickpeas. Try making your own!
- Pair apples and nut butter. These apple sandwiches are a fun twist on the classic.
- Give chia pudding a shot.
If you are looking to start converting your diet to include more plant-based meals, consider scheduling a visit with one of the providers at Lifestyle Medical Centers. We can help you ensure your nutritional needs are met and, even better, help you find more tasty, meatless dishes to try!