How do I make the switch to a Plant-Based Diet?
How do I Make the Switch to a Plant Based Diet?
Any step you take will help you, but the more plants and fewer animal foods, the better. Try these easy tips to help you design a plant-based diet:
Up your vegetable and fruit intake. Even if you don’t actively cut back on meat at first, adding more produce will help you develop a taste for plant foods and transition to a higher-fiber diet. “I recommend including vegetables at just about every meal and snack, even breakfast,” says Sharon Palmer, R.D.N., editor of Environmental Nutrition. “Try sliced radishes on your toast or have a side of baked tomato halves.”
Redesign your plate. Fill at least half of your plate with produce, grains, or beans, and downsize your meat serving. Think of a stir-fry heavy on the veggies and grains with thinly sliced strips of beef rather than a big steak with a spear of broccoli. Swap in chopped mushrooms or tofu for half of the ground meat you’d normally use in meatloaf, tacos, chili, or pasta sauce. Or try veggie-based dishes like burritos.
Pick the healthiest meats. You might want to focus first on decreasing the amount of processed meat you eat—bacon, deli meats, hot dogs, and sausage. A Harvard study linked a daily serving equal to one hot dog or two slices of bacon to an increased risk of early death from heart disease and cancer. Recently, a group of 22 experts from 10 countries convened by the World Health Organization categorized that type of meat as “carcinogenic to humans.” Each 1.8 ounces of processed meat eaten daily raises the risk of colorectal cancer by 18 percent, their report says. Red meat also has been associated with heart disease and cancer risk, but the evidence is less clear. When you do eat red meat, it’s best to stick to small amounts and choose lean cuts, such as pork tenderloin and top sirloin steak. And try to eat fatty fish such as salmon, which is high in inflammation-busting omega-3 fatty acids.
Find your semi-veg style. Plant-based meals once every seven days in the style of Meatless Monday—a campaign that encourages people to start each week with a day of vegetarian eating—are a great way to begin. You can try replacing your meat ounce-for-ounce with a faux meat such as tempeh or tofu, Palmer says. More restrictive but also forgiving is the VB6 approach, where you eat vegan—no meat, fish, dairy, or eggs—before 6 p.m. You’re free to have meat, fish, eggs, or dairy at dinner.