As I introduced last week, I started my “6 Weeks to a Healthier You!” series. I’m happy to report back that week 1 was a success! OK, to be totally honest, I’ve been working on this one for a while. And I gotta say… I LOVE IT! Who knew cutting out so much meat could be so fun??
A “weekday vegetarian” is a term used for people who only eat meat once or twice a week (like on weekends!). The official diet we are working towards is called a flexitarian diet. Although, I hate using the word diet. That makes it sound pretty dreadful, when it’s just the opposite! All it means, is that we eat a primarily plant-based diet – vegetables, fruits, grains, and limited dairy and meat. We’re still having a hard time with the dairy thing (I’m pretty sure my body is 60% milk, not water…), but we’re doing great with the meat.
Even my husband, who could probably eat an entire cow in one sitting, is loving it. Adding mushrooms to a dish helps it taste “meatier” so sometimes he doesn’t even notice it’s vegetarian 🙂
Here are some of the reasons a “mostly meatless” diet rocks…
1. The best benefit? It’s healthier! I strongly suggest you all watch Forks Over Knives (it’s on Netflix). It explains how we do NOT need to consume large amounts of meat, and it’s actually pretty terrible for you. Limiting your meat consumption can decrease your risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, and all kinds of chronic diseases!
2. Meat takes longer to cook than veggies, so I save time in the kitchen! Score! And I hate touching raw meat, so I couldn’t be happier that all of that is in the past 🙂
3. Eating a primarily plant-based diet is cheaper than eating meat. Even with paying more for organic produce (which you obviously don’t have to do), I still save money!
4. Cooking without meat has helped us incorporate a lot more veggies and whole grains into our diet. When we removed the main part of our meal, we had to fill in the gaps with something else, and it usually ends up being vegetables! We’ve also had to be a little more creative when putting our meals together, which means we’ve tried a ton of new recipes – all of which are healthy!
Making the switch is so much easier than I thought it would be! I haven’t bought chicken or beef in months, and I don’t miss it one bit. We let ourselves have meat 1-2 times a week, and so far, that just means we eat it when we eat out at a restaurant.
The first question people ask me when I explain our new way of eating is, “well what about protein??” Guess what? LOTS of foods have protein! We just make sure we incorporate protein-packed foods into our diet, such as: beans, greek yogurt, nuts, quinoa, chia seeds, and peanut butter (yummm).
So if you think this is something you’d like to try (and I sure hope it is!), here are some meal ideas to get you started!
> Stir fry – Saute up any kind of vegetables (even just a bag of frozen veggies) and serve it over brown rice.
> Pizza – Use a homemade or store-bought whole wheat crust and top it with all kinds of good stuff. We’ve been loving a simple pizza with just cheese and pineapple!
> Salad – There are so many yummy salads to choose from! Head over HERE to check out our favorite. (It’s #10… we just omit the chicken now!)
> Pasta – You can throw in all kinds of veggies in there to make it more hearty and filling.
> Baked sweet potatoes – We eat these way too much. They’re just so good. Serve them with some veggies and a salad and it makes a fantastic meal.
> Quesadillas – Add cooked mushrooms, diced onions, and fresh avocado to kick things up a notch!
> Quinoa, quinoa, quinoa! – Probably our favorite food. Ever. We eat it multiple times a week! One of our favorite quinoa salads is the black bean and corn quinoa salad from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe. Simply heavenly.
I challenge all of you to try this out! At least for a few nights a week. With the “Meatless Monday” trend, there are plenty of yummy recipes out there to try.
Come back next week, to see how I do with my next goal – meal planning!