Make the Switch to a More Plant-Based Way of Eating

Updated: Mar 20, 2019

By: Stephanie Forsythe, MS, RDN, CDN, CNSC



Plant-based eating is getting a lot of buzz lately, and for good reason. The focus on eating more foods that come from plants, such as fruits, vegetables, herbs, legumes, beans, nuts, seeds and grains tends to be more environmentally sustainable than eating a diet rich in animal products. Additionally, eating a more plant-based diet is associated with reduced risk of certain health conditions, including ischemic heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, certain types of cancer, and obesity.


All stages of the life cycle can eat plant-based foods, including those in pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, adolescence, older adulthood and athletes. Strict vegans, however, need reliable sources of vitamin B-12 from fortified foods or supplements.


Are you ready to make the switch to a more plant-based way of eating but not sure how to start? Below are some easy ways to incorporate more plant-based foods at every meal.


Breakfast

  • Instead of butter, mash half an avocado onto toast.

  • Try non-dairy milk. Soy milk has the most comparable protein content to cow’s milk. Use in coffee, cereal or smoothies.

  • Go nuts! Peanut butter goes with almost anything – try it with fruit, oatmeal, smoothies, or bread. Experiment with almond butter or sunflower seed butter, too.

Lunch

  • Switch up your sandwich spread. Use hummus instead of mayo.

  • Salad bar toppers – choose beans, lentils, nuts and seeds. Try adding whole grains into salad like quinoa or brown rice.

  • Super soup. Try bean chili, split pea, lentil, or minestrone.

Dinner

  • Add creaminess with coconut milk. Finish a soup, stew or curry with coconut milk instead of heavy cream.

  • Stir fry. Get out a wok or large skillet and sauté veggies and tofu with a sesame or soy based sauce. Serve with brown rice.

  • Be savvy on the go. Most restaurants have vegetarian and vegan options now.

Snacks

  • Nuts, popcorn, fruit, chopped veggies, bean dips

Reference:


(2016) Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Vegetarian Diets. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 116 (12). 1970-1980.