There are many reasons why switching to a flexitarian diet is beneficial. It’s good for the planet, your conscience, and your health. But it can be easier said than done. Many meat-eaters want to try plant-based alternatives but struggle with the new set of rules.
Be kind to yourself.
Switching from meat and three vegetables every night can be a hassle. After all, cooking meat is easy and it’s a great source of protein. It can take some time to learn how to create good vegetarian meals while making sure your dishes have all the nutrients your body needs.
Unlike vegetarianism or veganism, a flexitarian diet doesn’t expect you to be perfect right away. Most people who transition from meat-dominant meals try Meat-Free Mondays – one day a week where you eat entirely vegetarian.
When you feel like you’ve built up enough recipes and skills, add another meat-free day. Do this until you’re ready for vegetarian eating to make up 90 percent of your diet.
Or, if that’s too much, make meat the side dish instead of the focus of the meal.
The great thing about being flexible is you’re able to enjoy the food you love. While you could save a juicy burger for your cheeky meat meal, we suggest experimenting with meat-free options.
These days, the market is saturated with vegetarian meat products, from beef burger patties to chicken schnitzels. But, sometimes, they can be more expensive than meat. Instead, try a veggie burger patty from an online recipe.
They can be made from inexpensive ingredients like black beans, sweet potato, and rice.
Protein is vital for your health, but meat isn’t the only source available. Switch up your meal ideas by adding in other protein sources, such as tofu, tempeh, beans, mushrooms, leafy greens, and vegetables.
Try to replace half of your meat protein with another form of plant protein. For example, if you’re making spaghetti bolognese, do half beef mince and half beans or mushrooms. You’ll be surprised how much it improves the flavor! You can also add protein powder to smoothies.
The Secret Ingredient
Umami is one of the five key taste profiles that your tongue can sense. Umami foods have a full-bodied, savory flavor. It’s present in all types of meat, cheese, and seafood, along with some plant-based foods such as tomatoes, mushrooms, seaweed, asparagus, and potatoes.
Some vegetarians and vegans feel like this flavor profile is missing from their home-cooked meals. However, you can add it by using soy sauce, miso paste, beer, or the plant-based foods listed above.
Switch It Up
If you’ve been a meat-eater your entire life, sometimes you just can’t avoid it. Whether it’s a family dinner or when friends surprise you with a meal at a steak restaurant, you’ve just got to roll with the punches. Even minimizing your meat consumption is helping the environment.
Don’t beat yourself up – use these experiences to enable you to make smarter choices next time. Could you have ordered from the sides menu? Or was there an option that could have been adapted to be vegan? It never hurts to ask and most restaurants are accommodating.
Did you know that the Heart Foundation now advises people to limit their consumption of unprocessed beef, lamb, pork, and veal to 350 grams a week? That works out to be about three lean red-meals a week.
This article originally appeared on our sister site, Now to Love.