Plant-based diets have become extremely popular because many people are concerned about the health impacts of eating meat. They are also concerned with animal welfare and with the meat industry’s dangerous impact on the environment. However, the thought of eliminating a staple item from your diet may seem daunting and you may not know where to start.
Tara Haddad, the CEO of Modern Meat, explains the best way to transition yourself from a meat-eating diet to a plant-based diet, giving important tips on making sure you are getting enough calories and nutritional content to keep your body running in peak condition. It’s not easy, change never is. However, the transition and the terms are entirely up to you and in the end your body will reap the benefits.
Reasons to Switch to a Plant-Based Diet
Many of us don’t think about the entire process involved in animal factory farming. It is an acknowledgment that is hard to bear particularly as we sit down at the dinner table. Harvesting animals can be cruel and for this reason alone many people make their decision to not eat meat as they do not want to be involved in any part of this cycle.
Now let’s factor in the environmental impact of farming animals for our consumption. The resources used to farm animals takes a heavy toll on the environment. Between the extraordinary water use and C02 emissions it simply is not sustainable to continue consuming and farming as we do today.
Another good reason to switch to a plant-based diet is for your health. A well-balanced vegan or vegetarian diet provides the same amount of protein that meat-eaters receive, but the food is more nutritionally complete.
Steps Toward Switching to a Plant-Based Diet
It may be easier on your system to transition gradually to a plant-based diet. By doing so, you can avoid sudden changes in your diet and risking digestive upset and other side effects. By adding more plant-based proteins and taking away meat proteins, your body will gradually become accustomed to the new protein sources.
Think About Why You Want to Switch
Before you start on a plant-based diet, it is helpful to sit down and decide exactly why you are doing so. Plant-based diets are healthy for everyone, but you will need to make sure that you are getting enough protein, carbohydrates, whole grains, and healthy fats to keep your body running. Writing down your intentions can help you keep focused on your goals of eating a plant-based diet.
Cook What You Love
Spend time searching for plant-based recipes you want to try. It may be helpful to stay with a similar flavor profile that you’re used to at first. For example, if you love Italian food, focus on incorporating plant-based proteins like meat-free “meatballs.”
Exploring the world of plant-based foods may lead you to exciting world cuisines like Indian food. In India, much of the population is vegetarian, consuming only dairy products in addition to plant products and also avoiding eggs. This means that the vast majority of Indian recipes can be successfully made using no meat proteins whatsoever.
Check Your Protein Intake
When new vegetarians or vegans are just getting started, sometimes they do not eat enough protein. This can lead to fatigue and weight gain. It is helpful to track all of the calories you eat during a typical day and add up the amount of protein you are getting. Smartphone and computer apps like My Fitness Pal make this easy.
You should also know what makes a complete protein. Complete proteins contain all nine amino acids that people cannot make in their own bodies and need to survive: histidine, tryptophan, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, phenylalanine, methionine, threonine, and valine. Fortunately, if you eat a variety of plant-based proteins each day, you should get all of the amino acids your body needs.
Plant-based meats like Modern Meat can be hugely helpful in transitioning to a plant-based diet. These products are high in protein, low in fat, hypoallergenic, and gluten-free. When you buy plant-based meat, you will get a convenient substitute for animal meat that you can fit into the recipes you already cook each day.
In addition to switching to plant-based meat alternatives, you can swap the meat on your plate for vegetarian proteins. If you choose to eat dairy, you should be wary of including too many high-fat dairy foods and cheeses in your diet. Often, plant-based eaters who also consume dairy can over-rely on cheese as a source of protein. In place of cheese, try nutritional yeast as a sprinkle over your food. You may find that it is a satisfying substitute.
Try New Recipes
Changing your diet is a great time to branch out and learn new cuisines and new styles of cooking. Looking through vegetarian cookbooks like the Moosewood Cookbook can help you find new tastes and flavor profiles that can satisfy you in the absence of traditional meats.
Beans are a great substitute for meat and a high-protein alternative to eating plant-based meat every day. Vegetarian bean dishes can also be served with plant-based meat.
The Takeaway: Plant-Based Meats are On the Rise
Companies like Modern Meat are coming out with new products each year, providing satisfying, healthy alternatives to consuming animal products. Tara Haddad, the Founder and CEO of Modern Meat, believes that her products are making a difference in the world and helping to preserve the environment and animal welfare.