In a previous post, I gave you some ideas on how to include more in-season fruits and vegetables into your diet. I want to challenge you to go a bit further and try a meal, or even one day a week, with no meat.
Going vegetarian for just one day a week can make a big change in your health and here’s why…
When you're subtracting the meat, you have space to add more whole grains, beans, lentils and vegetables which have huge health benefits.
Experimenting with a new grain choice on your next meatless day can provide fiber for normal bowel function, along with a variety of vitamins and minerals. Remember to keep it whole-grain and unprocessed — such as whole-wheat bread, whole-grain pasta, brown rice, oats, buckwheat, quinoa and millet — these can help prevent heart disease, certain cancers and diabetes.
Worried about not having enough protein? Don’t! Americans regularly eat more than enough protein, and adding beans or lentils to your meat-free meal also maintains an adequate protein intake. Providing about 16 grams of protein per cup cooked, nutrient-rich beans and lentils also are a great source of fiber, folate, iron and potassium.
And of course, vegetables are nutrient powerhouses and add color and texture to your meals. Try leafy greens such as kale, collards, bok choy and broccoli for good plant sources of calcium.
Need some meal ideas to get started? Here are a few...
Vegetable sandwich: Sliced tomato, pepper, onion, avocado and hummus stuffed in a whole-grain pita
Main dish salad with your choice of vegetables, beans, fruit and nuts
Vegetable burger or falafel with sauteed mushrooms and tomato on a whole-grain bun
Peanut butter and banana sandwich on whole-wheat bread with carrot and celery sticks
Chili made with beans with cornbread
Vegetable stir-fry with brown rice
Whole-grain pasta with tomato sauce plus vegetables (mushrooms, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers and onions)
Tacos or burritos filled with beans
Pizza topped with vegetables
I dare you to try it for a day and see how you feel! Already eating “meatless” some days? Comment your favorite vegetarian dish below for others to try.