With National Vegetarian Month and World Vegetarian Day (October 1st) right around the corner, we wanted to make sure you are prepared with some plant-based options! A plant-based diet puts emphasis on plant-derived whole foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, and whole grains. Increasing your consumption of plant-based products increases your intake of healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals. All of these nutrients can help decrease your risk of heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and various cancers.
Not only is a plant based diet beneficial for your health, it is also better for your wallet and the environment. Plant proteins tend to be less expensive and seasonal produce can be a cost effective and a fun way to try new fruits and veggies. In addition, plant based items can help reduce the carbon footprint, decrease greenhouse gas emissions, and help conserve water.
Similar to meat, poultry, and fish, plant proteins like soy products and quinoa contain all of the essential amino acids, making them complete proteins. Just like animal protein, plant proteins help rebuild and repair muscles, hair, and fingernails, produce hormones, and help improve your immune system. Plant based proteins are easily digestible and rich in antioxidants.
Try incorporating these plant based protein options into your meals for National Vegetarian Month!
- Pulses include beans, lentils, and peas. They are packed with micronutrients, protein, and fiber, keeping you feeling satisfied longer! Economical and long lasting, these plant protein options are great for dips, salads, sides, and burgers.
- Tempeh is a fermented soybean cake. Try steaming, baking, or sautéing this plant protein for a tasty dish. It is extremely versatile and will take on whatever flavor you cook it in.
- Tofu is also a type of soy protein. The firmer the tofu, the more protein it contains. Tofu can be used in both sweet and savory dishes. Bake tofu for a nice crispy finish or whip it up in smoothies or desserts.
- Quinoa is typically used as a whole grain but it is actually a protein-packed seed. It has a fluffy texture, a nutty flavor, and anti-inflammatory properties, making it a healthy and delicious addition to any meal.
- Nuts and seeds add a protein packed crunch to any dish. Sprinkle a handful on top of salads, soups, yogurt parfaits, and cereal for some added texture and plant based protein. Nuts and seeds also blend well to create yummy dips, dressings, smoothies, and even “cheese” alternatives.
How will you incorporate some plant-based foods into your meals next month?