How to Add More Meatless Meals to Your Meal Plan

meatless meals

One of the ways you can reduce your footprint and reduce your toxics exposure is by adding more meatless meals to your meal plan. It’s one of the strategies I talk about in the Kitchen Module of my online program, Your Healthy Home. But for some, this can seem too daunting – either because of the time to find new recipes, or the fear that meatless meals won’t taste good or leave you feeling full.

But, like many of my tips, going meatless doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing. And to help you take steps to add more plant-based meals to your diet I reached out to holistic nutritionist Karen Gilman, who helps families eat properly on a vegetarian diet. Here’s what she had to say about adding meatless meals to your meal plan.

What are the benefits of eating meatless meals?

Protein-rich legumes such as beans and lentils may not be top of mind when you think about protein, but they are excellent sources of this essential nutrient, and contain less fat and fewer calories.

Vegetarian proteins may reduce your risk of heart disease by helping you maintain healthy cholesterol levels and lowering your blood pressure. In addition, studies have shown that plant-based foods may cut your risk for Type 2 diabetes and obesity, and their high-fibre content helps keep you regular – a plus for both digestive and general health.

Eliminating meat just one a day a week from your diet offers more than just health benefits: it’s good for the environment, and meatless meals usually cost less.

What should people watch for when adding meatless substitutions?

Eating less animal protein shouldn’t mean switching to store-bought highly processed faux meat like veggie burgers and veggie dogs, which are loaded with salt and hard-to-pronounce ingredients.

How can people get started, if going meatless seems daunting?

  1. Choose 1 day a week to eat completely meatless. Consider joining the Meatless Monday movement and eliminate meat completely on Mondays. Instead of adding chicken to your lunch-time salad add a cup of chickpeas or instead of making a beef stir fry for dinner use tofu.
  2. Have beans and lentils in the house. They can be canned or dry – though canned will make life a little easier {Emma adds, look for cans with a BPA-free lining}. Beans are nutritional powerhouses. They are high in protein and fiber, and depending on the variety, are a good source of iron, calcium and B vitamins. They are a good way to make a meal a little heartier.
  3. Add beans to soups, salads, stews or chili. Make black bean tacos instead of chicken tacos or have lentil Sloppy Joes instead of ground beef Sloppy Joes.
  4. Make grains and vegetables the focus of your meals. Prepare a quinoa pilaf with loads of veggies, curry paste and coconut milk. Cook up some rice with spinach, fresh tomatoes and feta cheese.

What are your favourite, easy recipes to help people get started?

There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to meatless meals. Experiment with different beans and grains until you find what you like.

Here are 13 Vegetarian Breakfast ideas, many that are easy enough to fit into busy morning schedules.

This Chickpea Salad makes a great lunch and gives you a break from lettuce-based salads.

These Moo Shu Wraps can be made with or without meat, just in case not everyone in your house is on board quite yet.

 

Have you made the switch from meat-and-potatoes every day to more meatless meals in your meal plan? Share some of your favourite recipes in the comments! And if you’re looking for more recipes and tips for this and more strategies to detox your home, check out my online program, Your Healthy Home: A Room-By-Room Guide to Detoxing Your Home here.

I’d like to thank Karen for sharing her expertise for this blog post! And if you’re looking for more tips to reduce your meat consumption? Join Karen’s 7 Days To Thriving On A Vegetarian Diet here.

Karen Gilman is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist TM and mom to two teenage (yikes!) girls, one vegetarian, one not. For Karen, preparing vegetarian meals for the past 30 years coupled with the Diploma in Natural Nutrition from the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition, has provided her with the insight and tools to provide help to families whose children are vegetarian. 

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