A few long time readers might remember the 30 day Vegan challenge I did prior to the Houston marathon a few years ago, which turned in to almost a year of eating vegan. But my hubs never quite got on board and I eventually went back to incorporate meat…so I went in search of some ideas for transitioning to a plant based diet…for the Mid Western meat lovers in my life.
Have you considered starting a plant-based diet? Or maybe you’re already there, but finding it difficult to encourage your family or spouse to do the same?
After doing some research on different diets and healthy lifestyle methods, I told my husband that I wanted to incorporate more plant-based meals into our diet. This is not to say that I’m Vegan, so I’ll just get that out of the way! But I know the power of plants and want more!
What did he do with this suggestion?
Give me an intense look of skepticism, of course! Which simply made me more determined to prove we could both love the food and would feel better for doing it.
Why eat a more plant-based diet?
A plant-based diet has been recommended by many health experts and dietitians for years as a way to achieve optimal health and prevent certain diseases. According to the American Dietetic Association, those who consume a plant-based diet have:
- lower risk of heart disease and cancer
- lower low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels (the bad stuff!)
- lower blood pressure
- lower rates of hypertension and type 2 diabetes
A few other benefits beyond your immediate health:
- A plant-based diet can also aid in a slimmer waistline
- fruits and vegetables are loaded with fiber, which helps keep you feeling fuller longer
- better option for satisfying that sweet tooth than anything in a package
- fruits and vegetables at the market are cheaper than meat products helping you save money in the long run (take that all you nay sayers of healthy eating being too expensive)
5 Tips on How to Transition to a Plant Based Diet
Are you ready for the tips that have been used by many of my friends to transition to a more plant based diet, without feeling overwhelmed or underfed? Through a little trial and error here are some of the things that will help your meat lover enjoy more plants.
Do you usually eat meat at every meal? Start with Meatless Monday and build from there. EVERYONE thrives on routine, just like Friday is your pizza night it quickly becomes accepted Monday’s are meatless!
Once your family is comfortable with one plant-based meal a week, increase to 2-3 meals per week. And of course, there’s no rule that says by added more veggies you need to go all the way to being vegan! Instead just know every added veggie is making a difference for your family.
Need some Meatless Monday inspiration?
Checkout this round up of plant-based meals that are great for athletes>>
Sounds fancy, doesn’t it?
Umami is considered to be the taste sensation that makes food savory, complex and deeply flavorful. In a traditional diet, this sensation is largely achieved through meat-based dishes. However, the mouthwatering and satisfying sensation can also be achieved through plant-based foods, making vegetarian meals more appealing to the meat lovers in your life.
Examples of such foods include:
- fermented foods (such as soy sauce, liquid aminos and balsamic vinegar),
- nutritional yeast
- toasted nuts and seeds
- savory spices (such as cumin and rosemary)
- vegetable broth
If you want your meat eater to be ok with vegan meals, this is a key step.
Tip: When cooking whole grains, use vegetable broth instead of water to add an extra layer of flavor!
Sneak in Veggies A LOT More Often
Whether you have kids or a picky-eating husband, try and sneak in veggies where they go unnoticed.
One easy way to do this is to use ½ steamed cauliflower and ½ potatoes when making mashed potatoes. Your family won’t even notice and the texture will be still be smooth and creamy! Another way that I love to sneak in veggies is to add leafy greens to our smoothies. Interested in trying it out for yourself?
Check out my 21 sneaky vegetable recipes!One change that could make you healthier, slimmer, faster...will you try? #eatwell via @runtothefinish Click To Tweet
Don’t Forget about Protein!
A concern among many vegetarians is not consuming enough protein throughout the day. But many whole grains and vegetables that contain adequate amounts of protein:
- legumes (beans), edamame and lentils
- nuts, hemp and chia seeds
- tofu and tempeh
- spirulina and nutritional yeast
- even fun things like this high protein cookie dough
It definitely takes a little more thought and planning to ensure you’re meeting your protein requirements as a runner, but as Rich Roll and Scott Jurek have shown us it’s entirely possible!
Read more about making the switch as an athlete>>
Experiment with Different Flavors.
One of the ways that I get away with making so many vegetarian meals in my household is by frequently switching up the flavor profiles!
For example, one night I might do a Mexican quinoa bake and the next night an Asian-inspired dish.
Adding fresh herbs is another great way to keep plant-based meals extra flavorful! Next time a recipe calls for dried herbs, try adding the fresh version instead to enhance the flavors and brighten up the dish.
How does my husband feel about our diet change today?
He loves it! I get many compliments from him on the vegetarian meals I prepare and he’s noticed a huge difference in his energy levels. He even called me the other day to ask what I put in our green smoothies because he needed an energy boost. That my friends, makes my heart feel all warm and fuzzy inside!
Transitioning to a plant-based diet does not mean you have to cut out anything completely (we certainly didn’t!). The goal is to focus on consuming more fruits and vegetables throughout the day, that’s it. It’s not about what you can’t have; it’s about what you should be eating to improve your health today, tomorrow and the years to come!
Do you do meatless Monday in your house?
Have you considered transitioning to a plant-based diet?
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