Here are 5 simple tips for those of you participating in Meatless May, or for anyone leaning toward a plant based diet at any point.
1. Write out a list of meatless foods you already enjoy
Some may include peanut butter and jelly, pasta, oatmeal, rice and beans, carrots and hummus, bagels, fruit, etc. This list can help you start off the month because you can increase the frequency of these foods, as you discover new options.
2. Start a recipe archive
Unlike eating a standard American diet, eating a plant-centered diet requires more planning, especially if you are unfamiliar what a meatless diet can look like.
Find at least 5 recipes you are open to trying. Then you can use the recipes you like on a “meal rotation” until you get more comfortable with eating meatless. If you are newer to cooking, search for “5 ingredients or less” recipes. If you are more comfortable with cooking, you can use what’s already in your kitchen to create healthy, meatless, balanced meals. Stay open minded to new cuisines you may have never tried before. You may find this experience expands your palate!
Feel free to follow me on Pinterest for ideas:
3. Get the goods
Stock up on the items you need to make this a success. These will be based on the recipes you choose.
Staple items may include some or all of the following:
potatoes, onions, carrots, garlic, fruit & veggies
tofu or tempeh if you’re open to trying it!
oats, brown rice, whole wheat pasta
beans and lentils
canned tomatoes, salsa, mustard, ketchup, peanut butter, jelly, dressing
frozen fruits & veggies
other frozen goods like veggie burgers, whole wheat waffles or meat alternatives
snack foods like tortilla chips, rice cakes, roasted chickpeas, popcorn and/or nuts/seeds
4. Load up on legumes!
Worried about not getting enough protein? Don’t fret! Replace meat with beans or lentils.
There are so many options for beans, such as chickpeas, black beans, kidney beans, cannellini beans, black eyed peas, adzuki beans, etc.
Some of my favorite ways to incorporate beans are:
black bean burgers
cannellini beans in pasta dishes
chickpeas to top salads
chickenless chickpea salad sandwiches
3 bean salad
Some tasty lentil options are:
lentil sloppy joes
lentil shepherd’s pie
lentil taco "meat"
pasta made with lentils!
*Here's one of my favorite recipes to make with lentils
Perhaps you have had a bad experience with beans before, you dislike the texture or you never liked them growing up. That was then, this is now! There are so many new inventive ways to utilize both beans and lentils so don’t knock them until you’ve tried them. And remember, it will take a while for your gut to adjust to the fiber, so be patient with the process, as your digestive system adapts to your healthier eating habits.
5. Browse local restaurant menus
Check out nearby restaurant menus to see what options are available when you aren’t feeling like cooking or don't have the time. You may be surprised at all the meatless options you find.
Tomorrow I will be posting about my favorite plant based restaurant meals in RI, so if you’re from the area, this can give you some inspiration. Stay tuned!