The Health Benefits of Cutting Back On Meat
No need to be 100 percent vegan to eat a more plant-based diet. "Shifting plants to the center of the plate will displace some meat," says Lindsey Kane, R.D., a dietitian in San Francisco, California, and the director of nutrition at Sun Basket. "This simultaneously reduces the saturated fat and cholesterol you consume and increases health-promoting nutrients including fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants."
Get inspired to eat a bit less meat (and cut your risk for several chronic diseases) with these plant-based diet recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert.
Breakfast: Whole 30 Paleo Breakfast Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
"Plant-based eating ditches the 'all or nothing' diet mentality," says Kane. "Instead, it recognizes that even small changes count." So yes, spuds are still on the menu! This Paleo plant-based potato tastes like dessert, yet only requires six ingredients and five minutes of prep time.
Get the recipe: Whole 30 Paleo Breakfast Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
Breakfast: Peach Green Smoothie Bowl with Cauliflower
Pretty much everything in this vibrant, vegetarian bowl is a plant: avocado, spinach, peaches, mangoes, coconut water, and cauliflower are all in the bowl's blend. Beyond that, it's just the optional honey (or your liquid sweetener of choice) and whatever toppings your plant-based heart desires.
Get the recipe: Peach Green Smoothie Bowl with Cauliflower
Lunch: Vegan Poke Bowl
No wheat and no meat make this tofu recipe one of the most crowd-pleasing lunch recipes around. Seaweed (AKA nori) is just the start of the produce quotient in this deconstructed sushi bowl. Leafy greens, carrots, cucumber, cabbage, avocado, and green onions are invited to the poke-palooza as well.
Get the recipe: Vegan Poke Bowl
Lunch: Peanut Crunch Salad In a Jar
Meal prep the plant-based way with this mason jar meal. With 10 grams of fiber and 19 grams of protein, this quinoa and edamame creation will keep you full for hours.
Get the recipe: Peanut Crunch Salad In a Jar
Lunch: Roasted Vegetable Buddha Bowls
Appetizer: Tuscan White Bean Toasts with Garlic and Tomatoes
Yes, bread is allowed on a plant-based plan! "Most 'diets' involve rigid rules and extreme restrictions. On the flip side, plant-based eating is welcoming and all-inclusive," says Kane. "It celebrates any increase in plant consumption, no matter how big or small, and does not require exiling animal products from your plate altogether." Whole-wheat bread and white beans are included, but let's be real: the stars are the beautiful burst cherry tomatoes.
Get the recipe: Tuscan White Bean Toasts with Garlic and Tomatoes
Appetizer: Baked Zucchini Fritters with Corn and Hatch Chiles
Summer tastes like these little savory pancakes made with shredded squash, fresh sweet corn, and mild hatch chiles. For an equal mix of decadence and nutrition, those veggies are held together with gluten-free brown rice flour and plenty of cheddar cheese. Top with a dollop of plain Greek yogurt for a protein-rich crown that will chill out any of the kick from the chile.
Get the recipe: Baked Zucchini Fritters with Corn and Hatch Chiles
Side Dish: Cheesy Low-Carb Cauliflower Tots
Kid-friendly and plant-based recipes need not be mutually exclusive. While they don't taste like it, these tots are almost all cauliflower. (Egg, mozz, avocado oil, and garlic round things out.)
Get the recipe: Cheesy Low-Carb Cauliflower Tots
Side Dish: Ratatouille
Make like the cutest little cartoon chef and cook a casserole of thinly-sliced summer vegetables to accompany any dinner with loads of potassium and vitamin C. On top of a tomato-herb sauce, simply stack onion, zucchini, eggplant, and fresh tomatoes. A sprinkle of cheese on top is optional but highly recommended if you're not dairy-free or vegan.
Get the recipe: Ratatouille
Get the recipe: Ratatouille
Dinner: Sundried Tomato Pesto Pizza
Slash the sodium, calories, and cholesterol in your slice by trading corn kernels and zucchini coins for sausage crumbles and pepperoni pieces. This plant-based pesto pizza amps up the nutrition even more by calling for a whole-wheat crust and blending heart-healthy walnuts into the pesto mix.
Get the recipe: Sundried Tomato Pesto Pizza
Dinner: Eggplant Parmesan Stuffed Eggplant
"A common concern of plant-based eating is protein, but the truth is the average person is consuming far more protein than the recommended amount," says Kane. "We can certainly meet our protein goals by simply eating a variety of plants, legumes, nuts and seeds, whole grains, and vegetables—yes, even veggies have some protein." This hearty vegetarian meal is proof of that concept: A half cheese-stuffed eggplant offers 19 grams of muscle-building protein power! (To put that into perspective, the average woman requires about 46 grams per day.)
Get the recipe: Eggplant Parmesan Stuffed Eggplant