I used to think change was hard. After a while, I realized that it wasn’t the change itself but
all of the anxiety and ‘what if’s’, and excuses that came before making the decision. Once I made the decision, my life aligned itself and it was as if I had always been doing the new activity.
When I had my health battles to deal with, I was credulous. Not only did I have to learn new ways to shop and eat, but I also had a family to consider. I didn’t want to impose my restrictive diet on them but I also didn’t want to have to cook completely separate meals. I came up with a plan that has kept everyone happy and satisfied.
1. Stop eating casseroles and one-pot meals
Reduce or stop the casseroles or one-pot meals that include sauces, gravies or cheese, including dining out. Sauces always taste great but tend to have very high salt and sugar contents, as well as gluten, dairy, eggs, and soy. You can still make a dinner with the same meat and veg but they are not mixed and cooked together. You can control the types and amounts of fats and sugars.
2. Use meats and poultry as a seasoning
Instead of serving large slabs of meat as the main focus on the plate, start slicing and dicing them to add as a flavor option, not as the main course. Don’t get me wrong. I do love to chew my food. But I don’t miss feeling really heavy, tired and weighed down after eating it.
3. Add beans
Many people say they don’t feel full if they don’t have meat. I understand. I was never a big salad eater in the past. I could drink a glass of water and get the same feeling without having to spend time chopping everything. All of that changed when I began to add beans. Different types of beans process differently in your body. If you don’t do well with pinto or kidney beans, try black, red, or garbanzo beans. The protein argument becomes a non-issue. If you want to lessen the amount of meat consumed, taper off by adding beans. Are you more of a sandwich person? Reduce the number of meat slices and add a spoonful of hummus instead of mayo. You’ll still get the ‘full’ feeling and won’t miss the extra meat.
4. Mushrooms and cauliflower make meat
In many countries with plant-based diets, there are many hearty meals that would fill up the healthiest and strongest people. Vegetables like mushrooms and cauliflower have very mild flavor on their own but can be prepared to have the taste and texture of meat. There are burgers made with mushrooms that have been sautéed or roasted with herbs and spices that taste and ‘chew’ just like beef. Cauliflower ‘steaks’ that have been roasted and caramelized make a warm weeknight meal.
5. Roasted, toasted veg, fruit, and nuts
Roasting vegetables and fruit at the beginning of the week gives us lots of creative choices for all meals. I add them to polenta or grits with a tiny bit of high-quality parmesan cheese for breakfast. It’s a savory meal that keeps me going all morning. Cooked fruit tastes amazing. Throw in a diced apple or pear with your pork chops. Sprinkle with a little cinnamon and nutmeg and bake. You’ll wonder how you could ever do without it again. Yum! One of our favorite additions to our meals is toasted nuts. We put them in everything; breakfast cereal, soups, stews, rice dishes, and salads.
Not only are are you reducing your meat intake but you’ll be adding fiber, plant proteins and healthy fats that make for a more balanced meal. If you have tips on how you’ve cut back on eating red meat and poultry, please leave comments. I’m always looking for ways to reinforce good eating habits.
Have fun and enjoy!