More and more people are moving away from using meat-based products in their diets, and for a variety of different reasons (health or moral reasons or the affordability of meat being a few of them). Even though there is a plethora of information out there on vegan and vegetarian options, there is still some uncertainty as to where to start with eating a veggie-based diet.
The most sustainable way to start is to add more plant-based sources into your daily diet and reducing the amount of meat over time (that is if you’re not wanting to start with cutting meat out entirely in one go). Here are some tips to help:
- Add more vegetables to your plate and reduce the amount of meat per serving
- Have vegetarian breakfasts, or go one day a week without meat
- Experiment with the types of food you cook – mexican bowls, curries and salads are easy and inexpensive meals to prepare and there are a ton of recipes online (Pinterest, anybody?)
- Cut one type of meat out of your diet (e.g. pork) – this is how I started and it worked well for me, with chicken being cut out at the beginning of 2018. I’m currently still eating seafood and dairy but I am trying to reduce the amount of these I consume
- Only eat vegetarian when you go out to restaurants to eat
One thing that I found while reducing the amount of meat I was eating is that there has been a definite increase in the amount of carbs in my diet, especially when I was first finding my feet in the veggie world. Now this doesn’t bother me too much, but for some people it might scare them off a bit at first. Keep in mind that so long as you are sticking to whole foods, and not automatically replacing all your meat sources with “fake meat” or high sugar or starchy options, you really should be good to go. Beans and soy products aren’t the only high-protein options out there!
Plant-based Protein Sources
- Chia Seeds (2.5g protein per tablespoon)
- Quinoa (4g protein per 0.5 cup)
- Spinach (5g protein per cup cooked)
- Peas (8g protein per cup)
- Beans (7-10g protein per 0.5 cup)
- Lentils (18g per cup cooked)
- Oats (6g protein per 0.5 cup uncooked)
- Nut Butters (5 – 7g protein per 28g, depending on the type of nut used)
Coming from a very meat-based culture, it can be difficult to change how you eat (especially if socializing involves food), but small changes add up over time and provide a sustainable way to create a new diet habit for yourself. Enjoy the journey, keep it interesting and experiment with your food!
Are you looking to eat less meat or are you already a vegan / vegetarian and what are your tips for those looking into changing their lifestyle to a plant-based one?