The Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet
When many of us think about our dinner plates, the first thing that comes to mind is meat and potatoes, and possibly something green. Reshaping that plate to include more plant-based items and less animal protein not only helps preserve our bodies and the environment, but also our pocketbooks! Now that spring is here, with more choices in the produce aisle and farmers markets, it’s much easier to transition our plates from drab and less healthy brown and white to a colorful array bursting with fruits and vegetables.
When it comes to eating meat, chicken and turkey contain less saturated fat than red meat and provide healthier choices, while fish, with its heart-healthy benefits, is an even better option. But whereas many people think they need animal protein to be healthy, only 10 to 35 percent of calories in an average diet need to come from protein, and those protein sources do not need to come from animals. Beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, tofu and grains such as wheat germ, quinoa, barley and brown rice all contain protein and boast many other health benefits as well. Indeed, studies show that those who follow a plant-based diet often have higher intakes of fiber, vitamins and minerals.
Another consideration: Animal protein can be expensive, especially if you buy organic, sustainably raised and not factory farmed. Meatless meals can save you money with their emphasis on fruit, vegetables, grains, legumes and nuts.
How can you get more plant protein into your daily diet? Try dishes you and your family already love, but with some new ingredients, like burritos with black beans and black rice, a Vegetarian Chili with Kretschmer Wheat Germ or a Tofu, Asparagus and Red Pepper Stir-Fry with Quinoa.
A plant-based diet is rich in fiber, vitamins and other nutrients. Try making the switch, even if it’s just one day a week!