Have you ever considered reducing the amount of meat you eat and substituting protein-rich legumes such as beans and lentils? These plant-based foods may not be top of mind when you think about protein, but they are excellent sources of this essential nutrient, and contain less fat and fewer calories.
Consider swapping beef, chicken and even milk or eggs for foods like chickpeas, black beans, peas, almonds and pumpkin seeds. Vegetarian proteins may reduce your risk of heart disease by helping you maintain healthy cholesterol levels and lowering your blood pressure. In addition, studies have shown that plant-based foods may cut your risk for Type 2 diabetes and obesity, and their high-fibre content helps keep you regular – a plus for both digestive and general health.
Eating less animal protein shouldn’t mean switching to store-bought highly processed faux meat like veggie burgers and veggie dogs, which are loaded with salt and hard-to-pronounce ingredients. Eliminating meat just one a day a week from your diet offers more than just health benefits: it’s good for the environment, and meatless meals usually cost less.
More than fourty-four countries now promote ‘Meatless Mondays,’ an international movement that encourages people to reduce their meat consumption. So why not jump on the bandwagon? Consider making curry chickpeas instead of chicken curry or prepare burgers using brown rice and mushrooms instead of ground beef. Top your salads with toasted sunflower seeds instead of bacon bits. The options are endless. You will thrive with less meat in your diet as long as you choose whole, real foods that nourish your body, mind and soul.

By Karen Gilman