10 Ways to Eat More Vegetarian Foods
Last week we shared some of our favorite ways to go gluten-free easily and healthfully, and today we’ll share some of our favorite tips for sneaking more plant-based foods into your diet whether you’re an omnivore or a total veg-head!
If you’re new to a plant-based lifestyle, it might seem like eating vegan is challenging. But as long-time vegans and vegetarians will tell you, there might be a transition process, but after you learn your way around a veg-friendly kitchen and get some tips for handling potentially awkward social situations, you’ll be set to be meat-free easily.
From the veg-friendly team here at Life Foods, here are 10 ways to eat more vegetarian foods!
1. Try fake meat or meat analogs– but choose the right ones!
Veggie burgers, veggie sausages and other ‘meat replacements’ are great options as you transition into more plant-based foods. But be sure to read the labels on your faux meat products: many of them contain GMO corn and soy ingredients, and many of them are made with wheat gluten, which many people cannot eat. Look for whole-grain and whole food ingredients in your veggie burgers, and choose products that are organic, vegan, and soy-free for the healthiest options.
2. Learn to cook beans correctly
Beans and legumes can be a great part of your healthy diet. They are not hard to cook, but if they are cooked incorrectly they can lead to gas, indigestion, and an unpleasant eating experience overall. Be sure to soak overnight (except lentils), and cook until very soft.
3. Learn to cook grains correctly
Whether you prefer quinoa, polenta, wheat berries or buckwheat, whole grains are a healthful and inexpensive backbone for your meals, and cooking them well is important. As anyone who has eaten undercooked rice knows, improperly cooked grains (or beans) is the surest way to ruin a meal. Learn to cook in bulk (see below) so that you’ll always have grains on hand to enjoy for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
4. Bulk cooking
If you’re not accustomed to cooking often at home, planning out a week’s worth of food can get tiresome. But bulk cooking can save you. Bulk cooking simply means cooking up large batches of food and storing (usually freezing) for later. Beans, lentils, hummus, grains and more can be cooked in large quantities and then frozen for quick meal prep. Here are some tips to get started with bulk cooking.
5. Try one new vegetable or fruit each week
To be a healthy vegetarian you have to eat a lot of veggies, but if you stick with the same few staples you’re going to get bored quickly. Try to find one new veggie or fruit each week– use alone, as part of a favorite recipe, or as part of your new recipe– see below for recipe tips! You might find a few that you don’t like (hello, bitter melon), but trying new veggies will give you a wider range of flavors, textures and colors to cook with, making your diet healthier and more delicious
6. Try a new recipe each week
Trying to revamp your entire pantry with one shopping trip is going to be a drag, so take it slow. Commit to trying one new recipe each week, and slowly adding new ingredients into your fridge and pantry. As you get accustomed to them, you can start experimenting more with an even wider range of ingredients. Check out all our healthy recipes for using Life Foods products here.
7. Eat vegetarian meals when you go out
Maybe it’s hard to eat vegetarian at home because you’re not sure how to cook veg foods at home, so maybe you can make a commitment to just eating vegetarian or vegan when you go out to eat. There are so many options to choose from, as restaurants across the country are working hard to make menu options available for all types of eaters. Check with your favorite restaurants to see what veggie-options they offer, and try out fuly vegetarian restaurants to try something totally new.
8. Eat vegetarian before 6pm
Maybe you are having a hard time committing to a fully plant-based lifestyle, but there are many ways to make your diet healthier and more sustainable. You can choose to celebrate Meatless Mondays, just one day devoted to meatless foods. If you’re more comfortable with veg meals, you could also try the popular ‘Vegan Before 6‘ program coined by food author Mark Bittman. This will encourage you to try new vegan and vegetarian options all day, while falling back on omnivorous staples at night if needed.
9. Start each day with fruit and veggies
Fruit is an easy breakfast, and helps you ensure your daily dose of plant-foods. Choose smoothies, fruit bowls, whole grain bowls with fresh fruit for a quick, wholesome, and totally plant-rich meal. But you can still enjoy veg-friendly savory breakfasts like our savory Sweet Potato Hash (recipe coming soon!), Avocado Benedicts, and other favorite breakfast classics made with our Life Foods Breakfast Patties.
10. Think outside the square: As a kid, our meals were always meat + grain + veggies. But if you think outside the square, maybe your ‘main’ dish is roasted cauliflower served with a huge salad? Or what about a kaleslaw served with veggie burger croutons? Who needs a main when the ‘sides’ taste this good? This is especially true for holiday cooking, as the sides tend to be veg-friendly while main dishes are often meat-based. Stick to the sides, and not only will you be less stuffed, you’ll be eating better overall!