for Animal-Protein Faves
for Animal-Protein Faves
Inspired ideas (plus recipes!) that’ll have everyone in your clan excited to eat less meat and dairy.
BY MEGHAN RABBIT
The research is clear: Eating a plant-based diet is better for you and the environment. In addition to reducing your risk of heart disease, cancer, obesity and diabetes, you’ll also do your part in decreasing greenhouse gas emissions and habitat destruction.
Yet if you haven’t taken the plunge toward plant-based eating because you’re worried about feeling deprived, there’s good news: You don’t have to compromise flavor when you opt for healthy food choices powered by plants. You just have to know what to swap in for your old animal-protein favorites so that you’re still wowed by what you eat. Here’s a good place to start.
YOUR CURRENT GO-TO: chicken, steak, pork, fish
SMART PLANT-BASED SWAP: tofu, tempeh, seitan and other meat alternatives
With so many animal-protein alternatives these days, it’s easier than ever to give your favorite meals a plant-based twist. For the best results, try to match a similar texture when choosing meat alternatives, says Melissa Karch, R.D.N., a registered dietitian in Longmont, Colorado. “For example, a typical ground beef taco filling would taste great with soy crumbles or textured vegetable protein (TVP),” she says. “Swap cubed chicken or beef in a stir fry with baked, marinated tofu or tempeh. I also like to use canned jack fruit in place of shredded beef in a BBQ ‘beef’ sandwich and add roasted pumpkin seeds or roasted garbanzo beans to salads as a crunchy, flavorful alternative to bacon bits.”
YOUR CURRENT GO-TO: milk and cheese
SMART PLANT-BASED SWAP: non-dairy alternatives
Don’t knock oat milk and soy yogurt before you try it: Non-dairy alternatives to cow’s milk products have come a long way on the flavor front and can easily take the place of their dairy counterparts, says Karch. However, it’s wise to stay open to a little experimenting. “Coconut milk may taste great in your morning smoothie, breakfast cereal or favorite dessert—but may not be the best option when you’re making a savory cream sauce,” she says. Another one of Karch’s favorite plant-based swaps is to add a tablespoon of nutritional yeast to soups, salads and other dishes for a “cheesy” flavor that’s rich in vitamin B12—minus the added saturated fat.
YOUR CURRENT GO-TO: fast food
SMART PLANT-BASED SWAP: frozen foods
Craving a quick hit of comfort food? Before you head to your favorite fast food joint, consider what you might find in the freezer aisle. For example, Alpha Foods’ grab-and-go burritos and tamales are delicious, ready to eat in less than 2 minutes and filled with plant-based ingredients you can feel good about eating. All the convenience and flavor, minus the saturated fat and salt? Sign us up.
YOUR CURRENT GO-TO: condiments like ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, sour cream
SMART PLANT-BASED SWAP: spices and fresh herbs
One of the reasons why so many of us often find it tough to stick to a healthy diet is because American taste buds are rooted in a preference for high-fat flavors and lots of salt, says Karch. And the usual condiments you might use to flavor your food—think ketchup, mustard, mayo, sour cream and more—keep you in that pattern of craving high-fat, high-salt foods. A good way to break that cycle is to use more spices and a variety of fresh herbs in your recipes, says Karch. “When you do this, your taste buds will slowly start to adapt—and your body will thank you.”