Updated: Sep 22, 2020
Let me clear up one thing, being plant-based does not mean you are vegetarian or vegan. Most people think that if you focus on eating plant-based foods, you do not eat meat. This is simply not true! When you are eat plant-based, it means you are reducing how much meat you eat and replacing it with fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes (beans).
For me, I like to eat plant-based Monday through Thursday, but the remaining days I will eat meat or fish. I find eating plant-based during the week is easier than on the weekends. The weekends may not allow for plant-based eating when visiting family or friends or going out to a restaurant. The weekdays are easier for me to stay on a routine. Why do eat plant-based?
There are 4 reasons I decided to eat a plant based lifestyle:
1) FOR THE VARIETY
When I ate a mostly meat-based diet, it was very routine. Same type of poultry, beef, fish and pork dishes. But when I went plant-based, I couldn't believe the variety of meals that were out there and the amount of vegetables to try. Turnips, parsnips, Brussels sprouts, zucchini, mushrooms, peppers, avocado, cauliflower rice and red onions to name a few.
When I ate meat 7 days a week, I would stick to the basic vegetable sides like green beans and corn. A whole new world opened up to me when I went plant-based. Now I don't feel right if I can't stick to a plant-based meal plan during the week.
2) FOR BETTER GUT HEALTH
When you have gut health issues, life can be miserable and embarrassing. Symptoms include gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation and abdominal pain. Eating a plant-based diet helps to reduce inflammation in the body and feeds the good bacteria we have in our gut to help us stay healthy.
When eating plant-based, we naturally eat more fiber. Fiber helps our gut move food through our digestive system so we can absorb the nutrients we need and expel those we don't. I used to suffer from chronic constipation.
I didn't know chronic constipation was a health concern until I started studying to become a Certified Holistic Nutritionist. Did you know that if you don't poop every single day toxins and waste are accumulating in your body? The accumulation of toxins and waste can lead to illness and disease. Unfortunately, we are led to believe that our poop schedule is unique. Really we need to be told that eliminating waste at least once a day is the healthy choice.
One way I started having a bowel movement every day was to eat plant based. Another was to eat organic food whenever I can. Organic food helps reduce the toxin load on our bodies. Toxins not only lead to illness and disease, but can lead to weight gain, headaches, constantly getting colds, flus and viruses. These are just some of the symptoms of toxin overload.
More symptoms of toxin overload are gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, fatigue, lack of energy, moodiness, skin rashes, abdominal pain, brain fog, anxiety, frequent belching or stomach gurgling.
Trying to heal from these symptoms is hard and confusing. I am here to help!
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If we determine it’s not a fit, we’ll go our separate ways for now.
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3) FOR THE ENVIRONMENT
By eating plant-based, we can help reduce global warming and climate change. The World Resource Institute calculated that beef, lamb and goat have the largest impact on greenhouse gas emissions. Poultry and pork have a medium impact. Beans, fish and nuts have the lowest impact. Even if you only eat one night a week as a meatless dinner, you are helping the environment.
4) FOR MY HEALTH
When I decided to go plant-based, I had no idea the healthy effects on my body. One year after following a plant-based lifestyle, my cholesterol dropped 10 points. It wasn't even high! This measurable effect of choosing to eat more plants blew my mind. Plus, my energy levels have soared and I've been able to maintain my weight for at least 5 years.
When I look for plant-based recipes to try, they need to be fast and contain ingredients that are easily accessible. I have a very hectic schedule during the week so meal-planning breakfast, lunch and dinner is an absolute necessity. I need dinners that are easy to cook and can be made on the weekend then simply reheated during the week.
Below are some of my favorite plant-based dinners. Not only do I eat them, but so does my meat-eating significant other.
Now, here are the recipes!
Chickpea Quinoa Stir-Fry by My Plant Based Family. This recipe would need meal-prep over the weekend to make it a fast dinner. Quinoa takes 25 minutes to cook and is gluten-free, which is important for gut health. I chop all the veggies and use frozen vegetables as well to finish the meal. By prepping on the weekend, this meal can come together in 15 minutes. Click here for the recipe.
Sweet Potato Veggie Lasagna by Plant Based Cooking. This lasagna is a hearty meal. It can be made on the weekend for a quick and nutritious heat and eat dinner. Plus, there will be left-overs for lunches. I love it when left-overs become lunch! Makes my life so much easier. The recipe calls for tofu but you can skip it if you don't care for it. There are plenty of other ingredients in this dish so I promise, you won't miss it Click here for the recipe.
Middle Eastern Salad Tacos by Feasting at Home. What I love about this recipe is that you can make this really quickly and have it on the table in 30 minutes or less. Also, you can make this anytime of the year and simply substitute whatever veggies are in season. Click here for the recipe.
Vegan & Gluten-Free Green Falafel by Elephantastic Vegan. This recipe can substitute spinach instead of using collard greens. Don't let the word vegan scare you. It is simply because the recipe doesn't need an egg as a binder. The chickpeas are moist enough to make the falafel. Pair this with steamed broccoli or sautéed zucchini or eat on top of salad as shown in the picture below. Click here for the recipe.
Zucchini Noodle Cashew Stir-Fry by Table for Two Blog. This recipe can substitute spinach instead of using collard greens. Don't let the word vegan scare you. It is simply because the recipe doesn't need an egg as a binder. The chickpeas are moist enough to make the falafel. Pair this with steamed broccoli or sauteed zucchini or eat on top of salad as shown in the picture below. Click here for the recipe
I hope these plant based meals inspire you to try a plant based dinner at least once per week. It will help you and your family combine foods for healthy eating that aren't boring into your daily routine. Plus, you will be eating gut healthy foods with plenty of fiber.
Do you think you can eat at least one plant-based meal a week? Let me by leaving a comment below.