Photo: Vegetarian Chili

by Sabra Rebo, R.D.

Have you been thinking about switching to a plant-based diet or incorporating more plant protein into your diet? There are many great reasons to do so, including your health, the environment, and compassion for animals. A well-planned vegetarian diet can reduce your risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and hypertension.1 Vegetarians also tend to have a lower body mass index (a measure of body fat)2. The health benefits of a vegetarian diet are great motivators to make the switch to plant-based eating! 

I am a big supporter of making changes that are both attainable and sustainable. We all know that change can be challenging. Let’s look at a few ways to help add plant-based protein and work towards a healthy and happy 2017.

Involve Friends and Family

With any change we make we are more likely to succeed when we have a support team. Involve your friends and family in recipe planning and cooking. Two heads are always better than one and you can come up with creative ways to cook and serve meat-free meals.

Plan with Plant Protein

Think about the meals that you eat most often. What easy plant-based substitutions can you make? If you eat stir-fry every week then you can easily substitute tofu in your stir-fry. If you make a pot of chili every week make it an all bean chili. You don’t have to throw out all your favorite recipes. Just plan with plant protein!

Keep it Simple

If the thought of looking for recipes is overwhelming in the beginning, start by making substitutions in easy meals you already know and keep some extra non-perishables on hand. There are a lot of great vegetarian canned soups that you can keep in your pantry. Pair the soup with whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables for easy meals. Canned beans are another option to keep on hand for easy burritos and tacos. Keep your freezer stocked with veggie burgers and whole grain buns for quick and delicious meals.

Incorporating plant-based protein into your diet is an excellent way to start 2017. Find attainable and sustainable ways to make changes in your diet and you will be well on your way. Wishing you a very healthy and happy 2017!

Footnotes: 

1 Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “Position of the American Dietetic Association: Vegetarian Diets”. July 2009. Volume 109. Number 7.
2 Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “Position of the American Dietetic Association: Vegetarian Diets”. July 2009. Volume 109. Number 7.